Diamonds are remarkably durable, resist scratching (except by other diamonds) and maintain their brilliance over time. But diamonds aren’t indestructible. They can be chipped by a sharp blow, become loose or lost in a weakened setting, or be damaged by contact with other diamonds. Wear diamond jewelry with care. Store it in padded boxes or soft bags separate from other jewelry. Clean your jewelry by wiping it with a lint-free cloth or with warm water, mild soap and a soft toothbrush, or by dipping it briefly in a commercial cleaning solution. Have your diamond jewelry periodically cleaned and its setting examined by a professional jeweler to maintain its beauty and integrity over time.
What is the most important engagement ring buying tip? Know what you want to spend. The engagement ring buying process presents a dizzying array of choices. Have a price range in mind. Going in with fairly specific parameters will help your jeweler find the right engagement ring to fit your budget.
What kind of jewelry does she already wear? Is she more classic or modern? Feminine or sophisticated? Does she wear more silver or gold? Do her pieces tend to be more delicate or chunky? Simple or ornate? Have these preferences in mind when you are considering buying an engagement ring. If you buy something similar to what she already likes, you can’t go wrong.
Know her ring size. It’s the starting point for buying an engagement ring. If she wears rings, borrow one she already owns. Trace the inner circle on a piece of paper, or press the ring into a bar of soap for an impression. You can also slide it down one of your own fingers and draw a line where it stops. A jeweler can use these measurements to identify her approximate ring size.
If she doesn’t wear rings, estimate in the following manner: The average ring size in the US is 6 (based on the ‘average’ US female being 5’4″ tall and weighing 140 lbs.) If she’s more slender, or fine boned, her ring size is probably in the 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 range. If she is heavier, larger boned or taller, her ring size is probably in the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 range. It’s always better to buy a ring a bit bigger than you think she’ll need, because sizing a ring down is much easier than increasing its size.
Are her preferences hard to pin down? Consider buying an unset diamond. If you choose the diamond first and have the setting made later, you can include her in selecting the style and final details of the ring (always a good idea) and avoid the awkwardness of choosing an engagement ring that’s more to your taste than hers.
Know what diamond shape suits her. If she hasn’t made it easy for you by already voicing an opinion on the subject (or admiring someone else’s engagement ring), here are a few things to keep in mind when considering shape during the engagement ring buying process:
- She will be wearing this ring 24/7 every day of your married life. It will need to go with everything from jeans to evening wear. If you’re uncertain about her shape preference, it’s sensible to stick to the classics. They became classics because they appeal to most people most of the time.
- Cutting styles with fewer facets, such as emerald cut or rose cut, require higher clarity.
- Certain shapes pair more successfully with other gems in multi-stone rings. Round, Oval and Marquise all work well. Pear and Heart shape are more challenging.
- 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, like the Emerald Cut or Princess Cut. If she tends towards the traditional, a round shape rarely misses. More bohemian types tend to favor more unusual shapes, like Trilliant or Marquise.
What Engagement Ring Setting Makes Sense?
While there are an unending variety of patterns, details and metal choices, there are four basic types you are likely to encounter while buying an engagement ring:
- Solitaire – A single stone. Still the most popular choice when it comes to buying engagement rings. The head secures the diamond. Prongs allow the diamond to catch the most light. A four-prong-setting shows more of the diamond, but a six-prong setting is often more secure.
- Sidestone – Diamonds or other gemstones, flank the main stone for additional sparkle or color. Popular sidestone settings include ‘channel’, which protects stones by keeping them flush, and ‘bar-channel’, which allows more light to enter the sidestones.
- Three Stone – One diamond for the past, one for the present, and one for the future. Typically, the center diamond is larger than the two side stones.
- Pavee (pah-vey) – The main stone is surrounded by tiny diamonds to add sparkle and the illusion of greater size.
As to actual setting design, consider her lifestyle, and how well a certain setting will fit into it. If she’s more active or outdoorsy, look for lower profile, less ornate, more sturdy choices, which are less likely to get knocked or caught on things. If she’s more of a glamour girl, look for statement settings, with a higher stone profile and more intricate ring detailing or unique motif.
Understand the 4Cs of Diamond Quality
The GIA 4Cs of diamond quality will help you learn how to buy a diamond. This basic knowledge will not only unlock the mystery of a diamond’s quality, it will also help you understand a diamond’s value and price.
- Diamond Color In most diamonds, the term actually refers to the absence of color. The less color in the stone, the more desirable and valuable it is. Some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, but directly impact the overall quality and price of the stone.
- Diamond Clarity measures the amount, size and placement of internal ‘inclusions,’ and external ‘blemishes.’ Grades run from ‘Flawless,’ with virtually no imperfections, to ‘Included,’ which contain a significant number of imperfections.
- Diamond Cut does not refer to a diamond’s shape, but to the proportion and arrangement of its facets and the quality of workmanship. The amount of brilliance, sparkle and fire in a diamond is determined by cut. Grades range from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Poor.’
- Diamond Carat refers to a diamond’s weight. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone. Two diamonds of equal carat weight, however, can have very different quality and price when the other three Cs are considered.
No matter how beautiful a diamond may look you simply cannot see its true quality. Knowing more about the 4Cs of diamond quality will help you learn how to buy a diamond. The 4Cs provide you with the information you need to know the diamond’s actual quality.
Choose a jeweler as you would choose a doctor
Your jeweler should be armed with expert training, open to questions and able to explain how to buy a diamond in clear, simple language. A jeweler’s professional training can help you evaluate how knowledgeable he or she is. Preferably, their training comes from a highly recognized and internationally accredited program, such as the GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) or Applied Jewelry Professional (AJP) diploma programs. As your personal diamond-buying guide, an educated jeweler will not only explain the 4Cs of Diamond Quality to you, but will also be able to demonstrate the differences between apparently similar stones. They will encourage you to compare a number of diamonds that fall in your budget.
Insist On a Diamond Grading Report
A diamond grading report from an unbiased, scientific source such as GIA is more than important information, it’s proof of what you are buying. The differences in diamonds can be so subtle, even a trained jeweler can’t recognize them without lab verification. Insist that any diamond you buy come with an indisputable verification of its quality.
Protect The Purchase
Once you’ve purchased the right diamond, have it appraised and insured. Appraisers and insurers rely on diamond grading reports to accurately evaluate the value of gems. As an additional measure, consider having your diamond laser-inscribed with its GIA report number, to provide verification if it is ever lost or stolen.
To put it simply, diamond carat weight measures how much a diamond weighs.
A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’
All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Color, Clarity, and Cut.
While now you know what carat means, it’s also important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, and not just carat weight.
Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, heart, oval, marquise, pear), but what diamond cut actually does mean how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond.
Achieving the best cut for a diamond reflects in the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze. To determine the cut grade of the standard round brilliant diamond – the shape that dominates the majority of diamond jewelry – GIA calculates the proportions of those facets that influence the diamond’s face-up appearance. These proportions allow GIA to evaluate what the best cut for a diamond is, by studying how successfully a diamond interacts with light to create desirable visual effects, such as:
- Brightness: Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond
- Fire: The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow
- Scintillation: The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond
GIA’s diamond cut grade also takes into account the design and craftsmanship of the diamond, including its weight relative to its diameter, its girdle thickness (which affects its durability), the symmetry of its facet arrangement, and the quality of polish on those facets.
The GIA Diamond Cut Scale for standard round brilliant diamonds in the D-to-Z diamond color rangecontains 5 grades ranging from Excellent to Poor and is the definitive scale for classifying diamond cuts.