If you have ever read anything about wedding rings or ventured into a wedding ring store, you may have heard the phrase 'the four Cs' of diamonds. While it may sound complicated, you do not have to be an expert gemologist to understand the basics. 

1. Cut - When a wedding ring store refers to a diamond's cut, it is not referring to the physical shape of the diamond, but rather the way in which the cut reveals the beauty of the stone. A diamond that is cut well sparkles in the light. This C is graded from SI (super ideal) to P (poor) but is often considered the hardest C to grade due to the subjectivity of beauty. 

2. Color - The diamonds you typically think of are a clear stone. Color, in this case, refers to the lack of color in a diamond. Diamonds can be cloudy, have a gray tone, or even a yellow tinge. The more clear the diamond, the more desirable and valuable it is. 

3. Clarity - Like color, clarity has to do with how clear the diamond is. Diamonds can have interior flaws, called inclusions, as well as surface flaws and scratches. Inclusions appear as black dots under magnification, but some can be seen with the naked eye.  A diamond that is devoid of inclusions is flawless and considered quite rare. In fact, clarity has quite an extensive grading system, with 11 rating options

4. Carat - The final C is carat or the size of the diamond. Diamonds are a case where size does not always matter. A large, one-carat diamond could have multiple inclusion and surface flaws while a smaller, 1/4 carat diamond could be flawless and sparkle vibrantly.

When choosing an engagement ring, you need to balance all four Cs to determine which wedding ring is the best choice for you and your partner.

Bonus C: Cost - The old tradition of spending three months' salary on an engagement ring is no longer practiced, but it is a good idea to have a firm budget in place when you are buying a wedding ring. Cost is just as important as the other four Cs and it can be easy to get carried away without a solid plan. 

While the salesperson at the wedding ring store can help you make an educated decision before you purchase an engagement ring, it helps to have a basic understanding of the four Cs.