Diamond Engagement and Wedding Rings Buying Guide
The major cost of the engagement ring is often the sparkling diamond or shimmering colored gemstone that you select to adorn it. To avoid costly mistakes, it is very important to learn as much as possible about the stone you are considering. The best way to take the risk out of buying a particular gem is to familiarize yourself with the gem. While the average consumer can’t hope to make the same precise judgments as a qualified gemologist whose scientific training and wealth of practical experience provide a far greater data base from which to operate, the consumer can learn to judge a gemstone as a “total personality” and learn what the critical factors are; color, clarity (sometimes referred to in the trade as “perfection”), sparkle and brilliance, and weight, and how to balance them in judging the gem’s value. Learning about these factors spending time in the marketplace looking, listening, and asking questions before making the purchase will prepare you to be a wise buyer more likely to get what you really want, at a fair price.
Selecting a Diamond
The diamond engagement ring has emerged as the universal symbol of love and commitment between two people. Not only is it the formal beginning; visible “announcement” of your your engagement, but the centuries old symbolism surrounding diamond reflects both the preciousness of the moment and commitment made by two people in love to cherish each other forever.
While some woman prefer other gems to diamond, or opt for the special significant of a family heirloom, a diamond is the overwhelming choice of today’s bride.
Some brides to be have no doubt been taken by surprise with the unexpected presentation of an engagement ring, but it is probably safest to go about the task of selecting the ring together. While the element of surprise is very romantic, keep in mind that the engagement ring is meant to be worn for a lifetime. So it is especially important that the bride-to-be really loves it; that it reflects her personal taste and style. If you are a die hard romantic who wants to surprise her, we suggest placing a photo of a ring you like inside the “tiny black ring box” and presenting her with this instead; it combines romance with practicality, and you are sending another important message: not only do you love her, but you understand the importance of working together on such important decision!
The previous and following articles, we will give everything you need to know to purchase a diamond with greater confidence; whether you are shopping for an engagement ring, wedding or anniversary band, or simply a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry to commemorate an important moment. The greater your awareness of the elements that determine diamond quality, the better chances of knowing what you want, getting exactly what you are after, and deriving lasting pleasure from it.
– What is diamond?
Chemically speaking, a diamond is the simplest of all gemstones. A diamond is plain, crystallized carbon; the same substance, chemically, as the soot left on the inside of a glass globe after the burning of a candle; it is the same substance used in lead pencils.
The diamond differs from these in its crystal form, which gives it the desirable properties have made it so highly prized; its hardness, which gives it unsurpassed wear-ability; its brilliance; and its fire. (But note that while diamond is the hardest natural substance known, it can be chipped or broken if hit hard from certain angles, and if the “girdle” has been cut too thin it can be chipped with even a modest blow.)
The transparent white colorless) diamond is most popular variety, but diamond also occurs in colors. When color is prominent it is called a fancy diamond. Diamond is frequently found in nice yellow and brown shades. Diamond color such as pink, light blue, light green, and lavender occur much more rarely. In diamonds, the colors seen are usually pastel. Deep diamond colors in hues of red, green, and dark blue are extremely rare. Historically, most colored diamonds have sold for more than their colorless counterparts, except for light yellow or brown varieties. Yellow or brown in very pale shades may not be fancy diamonds but off color stones that are very common and sell for much less than colorless diamonds or those with true “fancy” color.
In addition to natural color diamonds, “fancies” that have obtained their color artificially, through exposure to certain types of radiation and heating techniques, are readily available. The bill of sale (and any accompanying certification appraisal, etc.) should specify whether the color is natural or induced. If induced, the price should be much less, although the gem will often be just as beautiful as one with a natural color.
– The four factors that determine diamond value
Diamond quality and value are determined by four factors. These are called the “Four C’s.” If we were to rank then based on their important in determining the value of a diamond, we would list them as follows:
– Color (body color)
– Clarity (degree of flawlessness)
– Cutting and proportioning (often referred to as the make)
– Carat weight (which affects the size)
In terms of determining beauty, however, we would rank them in a different order:
1. Cutting and proportioning
4. Carat weight
Tips on getting the diamond you really want, within your budget
If you have an unlimited budget, you may feel it’s important to have a large stone of the finest quality available; a “D” flawless with an ideal make. But for most of us who must work within a limited budget, selecting the correct ring is a matter of learning how to juggle, and discovering what factors will best meet our needs, emotional as well as financial.
– In diamonds, go for color and sparkle first
If you have a limited budget, you have to compromise on something; either the size, color, clarity (flaw grade), or liveliness. Of these four factors, one can see size, color, and liveliness. In terms of what most people notice on the finger, the clarity is the least important in our opinion. Personally, on a limited budget we would choose a stone with the best possible color and liveliness personality.
What most people don’t understand is that even in SI2 diamonds, flaws are not really noticeable when the diamond is being worn and, in most cases, can’t be seen at all without using a magnifier. In fact, if you take a well cut one carat D-color and FL (Flawless)-clarity diamond and hold it nest to a well cut one carat D/SI2 diamond, you will not see any difference with the naked eye. Contrary to what many think, it is not the clarity grade that determines how lively an brilliant a diamond will be, But its cut and proportioning. And you may feel much more sparkling yourself if you can spend $7,500 for a diamond, D/SI2, that could look like a $36,000, D/IF, diamond to anyone without a magnifier!
The diamond brilliance and liveliness is as important as its color. After all, that’s what sets the gem apart from glass and cheap imitations. A well cut diamond has more sparkle; more brilliance and “fire,” than any other gem. But the key to the sparkle is in its being well cut. We have seen diamonds that were so badly cut that they had no life at all. In fact, one might just as well be looking at a piece of glass.