Find a perfect diamond
Buying an engagement ring
It should be one of the most memorable moments in your life. You pull an engagement ring out of your pocket and ask the love of your life to be your wife. You desperately want her to say yes and fall in love with her ring too, right?
You can make sure that happens if you follow these tips to pick out the perfect engagement ring:
DECIDE HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO SPEND
You will be confronted with a dizzying array of choices when it comes to engagement rings. Have a price range in mind before you start to shop. Going in with fairly specific parameters will help your jeweler find the right engagement ring to fit your budget.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
There’s a lot you can learn about diamonds before you even set foot in a jewelry store. Start with the 4Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight – so you understand how each influences the value of the diamond and adds to the overall appearance of the stone. You’ll learn what is most important to you and where you might want to compromise to fit your price range.
UNDERSTAND HER TASTE IN JEWELRY
Pay attention to the kind of jewelry she already wears. Is she more classic or modern? Does she wear more white metals or yellow gold? Do her pieces tend to be more delicate or chunky? Sleek or ornate? Have these preferences in mind when you set out to shop. If you buy something similar to what she already likes, you can't go wrong.
KNOW HER RING SIZE
The best way to determine her ring size is to measure a ring that she already wears on the appropriate finger. This can be tricky, because ring sizes vary based on being left or right handed as well as several other factors. You can also slide it down on one of your own fingers and draw a line where it stops. A jeweler can use these measurements to identify her approximate ring size. Another option is to leave the ring as its stock size and size the ring after the proposal. This is a very common way to ensure the perfect size.
KNOW HER FAVORITE SHAPE AND CUTTING STYLE
If she hasn't made it easy for you by already voicing an opinion on the subject (or admiring someone else's engagement ring), keep these thoughts in mind when considering shape:
She will be wearing this ring every day of your married life. It will need to go with everything from jeans to evening wear. If you're uncertain about her diamond shape preference, it's sensible to stick to the classics, such as a round or square shape. They became classics because they appeal to most people most of the time.
Certain shapes pair more successfully with other shapes in multi-stone rings. Round, oval and marquise shapes work well sitting side-by-side. Pear and heart shapes are more challenging.
These diamonds feature a range of shapes and cutting styles. From left: cushion cut, Ascher cut, emerald cut, princess cut, oval shape, marquise shape, pear shape.
Preference in shape may be reflected in other aspects. If she prefers clean, modern lines in furniture, for example, it's likely she'll react well to the same aesthetic in rectangular or square shapes. If she tends towards the traditional, a round shape rarely misses. Are her tastes eclectic or bohemian? She may favor more unusual shapes, like a triangular or marquise shape.
A diamond’s cutting style refers to its facet arrangement, rather than its shape. Round-shaped diamonds, for example, are cut in the brilliant style − an arrangement of 57 or 58 facets designed to maximize the diamond’s sparkle and minimize the appearance of inclusions. The fewer the facets, the more visible any inclusions will be, so a cutting style such as a step cut (a.k.a. emerald cut), for example, requires higher clarity in the diamond.
DECIDE ON A SETTING
Consider her lifestyle and how well a certain setting design will fit into it. If she's more active or outdoorsy, look for lower profile, less ornate or more secure mountings, which are less likely to get knocked against or caught on things. If she's more of a glamour girl, look for statement settings, with a higher stone profile, more intricate ring detailing or a unique motif.
While there are endless design choices you can make for her ring, there are some basic setting types you are likely to encounter:
A single stone and still the most popular style choice in engagement rings. If prong set, the head secures the diamond and the prongs allow the diamond to catch the most light. A six-prong setting is more secure than four prongs. A bezel setting is even more secure and protects the girdle of the stone, but allows the diamond to catch less light than a prong setting.
Smaller diamonds or other gemstones that flank the larger center stone for additional sparkle or color. Popular sidestone settings include prong, channel (which protects stones by keeping them flush), and bar-channel (which allows more light to enter the sidestones).
Typically, the diamonds are the same shape with the center diamond larger than the two sidestones.
The center stone is surrounded by tiny gemstones in a pave (pah-vey) setting, usually diamonds, to add sparkle and to give the appearance of a larger center stone.
DECIDE ON A METAL
A diamond engagement ring is meant to last a lifetime so it is often made of gold or platinum - highly durable metals that can withstand many decades of daily wear. Metal color is a matter of personal preference with gold providing more color options: white, yellow or rose. Metal color is also a consideration since the appearance of a diamond’s color is affected by its surroundings. Once you’ve selected your diamond, ask your jeweler to show you how it would look with different colored metals.
The 4 C's of Diamond Selection
Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats: one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip. (Don’t confuse carat with karat, as in “18K gold,” which refers to gold purity.)
Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other members of the Four C’s: clarity, color and cut. The majority of diamonds used in fine jewelry weigh one carat or less.
Because even a fraction of a carat can make a considerable difference in cost, precision is crucial. In the diamond industry, weight is often measured to the hundred thousandths of a carat, and rounded to ahundredth of a carat. Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. (For instance, a 1.08 ct. stone would be described as “one point oh eight carats,” or “one oh eight.”)
Cut quality is the factor that fuels a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. The allure and beauty of a particular diamond depends more on cut quality than anything else.
The GIA Diamond Cut Grading System for standard round brilliants in the D-to-Z color range is based on the assessment of seven components. The first three — brightness (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the pattern of light and dark areas and the flashes of light, or sparkle, when a diamond is moved) — are appearance-based aspects. The remaining four — weight ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry — are related to a diamond's design and craftsmanship.
In GIA’s system, each component is assessed individually, taking into account the relative importance of that component in the overall cut quality of the diamond. Each cut grade, based on a relative scale from Excellent to Poor, represents a range of proportion sets and face-up appearances. There are many different proportion sets that produce attractive diamonds.
For example, look at a side view of the standard round brilliant. The major components, from top to bottom, are the crown, girdle and pavilion. A round brilliant cut diamond has 57 or 58 facets, the 58th being a tiny flat facet at the bottom of the pavilion that’s known as the culet. The large, flat facet on the top is the table. The proportions of a diamond refer to the relationships between table size, crown angle and pavilion depth. It is important to note that a wide range of proportion combinations are possible, and these ultimately affect the stone’s interaction with light and how attractive the diamond is to the person viewing it.
While it is important to consider many components when assessing the overall cut appearance and quality of round brilliant diamonds, an individual's preferences also play a role. Because each cut grade represents a wide range of proportion sets, individuals have the freedom to choose which particular appearance they prefer within the grade range.
The diamond industry as well as the public can use cut along with color, clarity, and carat weight to help them make more informed decisions when assessing and purchasing round brilliant diamonds.
People often use the words cut and shape interchangeably. They think of cut as the shape or outline of the diamond, rather than the arrangement of facets needed to create an attractive face-up appearance.
Round is the shape used in most diamond jewelry. All other outlines are known as fancy shapes. Examples of traditional fancy shapes include the marquise, pear and oval. Hearts, triangles and a variety of others are also gaining popularity in diamond jewelry.
Diamond color is all about what you can’t see. Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness – the less color, the higher their value. (The exception to this is fancy color diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this color range.) Most diamonds found in jewelry stores run from colorless to near-colorless, with slight hints of yellow or brown.
GIA’s color-grading scale for diamonds is the industry standard. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or light yellow or brown. Each letter grade has a clearly defined range of color appearance. Diamonds are color-graded by comparing them to stones of known color under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions.
Many of these color distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
Because diamonds formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure, they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).
Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds without these birthmarks are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value. Using the GIA International Diamond Grading System™, diamonds are assigned a clarity grade that ranges from flawless (FL) to diamonds with obviousinclusions (I3).
Every diamond is unique. None is absolutely perfect under 10× magnification, though some come close. Known as Flawless diamonds, these are exceptionally rare. Most jewelers have never even seen one.
The GIA Clarity Scale contains 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.
- Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance