Everything you need to know about buying a diamond engagement ring
If a diamond is a girl's best friend, make sure you pick a good one. You'll be seeing her "best friend" from here til eternity. Whether you're buying an engagement ring or diamond earrings, there are some things you should know before approaching the jewelry store counter.
You may have heard about "The Four C's"—cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. The most important characteristic is the cut. The least important is clarity.
Make the Cut
Look at the diamond under magnification to inspect the cut. If the angles line up correctly, then the diamond will reflect the maximum amount of light—the most sparkle.. Even a diamond that has great color and clarity will appear dull if the cut is poor.
There are ten cuts to choose from. The most common cut is round (90% of men choose this shape). The rest are usually princess cut, asscher cut; cushion cut; emerald cut, heart cut; marquise cut, oval, pear, radiant and baquette. If you look at the gallery of diamonds to the left. You will be able to see a visual of each cut.
Diamonds are graded based on their lack of color. The less color, the higher the grade—a D scores the highest. The GIA color grading scale starts at D (colorless) and ends at Z(muddy yellow or other color). A diamond you would never want to buy would receive a Z. Look for diamonds with a color grade of J or better. If it's K or below, forget it.
H-VS2 isn't a number that goes with proof of purchase. H stands for color and VS2 (Very Slightly Included) refers to clarity. Clarity is simply a measure of how clear the diamond is. Most diamonds have inclusions—tiny flaws like bubbles, scratches, or blemishes—that detract from the diamond's beauty. Here's the rundown on all clarity grades:
FL: Completely flawless
IF: No internal flaws; external flaws can be removed by further polishing the stone
VVS1 - VVS2: Only an expert can detect flaws with a 10X microscope
VS1 - VS2: You can see flaws with a 10X microscope, but they take a long time to find
SI1 - SI2: You can see flaws right away with a 10X microscope
I1 - I3: You can see flaws with the naked eye
If you're budget conscious, consider a VS2 clarity grade as opposed to a flawless clarity grade. Avoid I1-I3 altogether.
Diamond prices jump at the carat and half-carat marks, so try to buy just shy of these levels. "Instead of a 1 carat, look for a .95. You'll save a significant amount of money, and the slight size difference will never be noticed.
The Buying Process The buying process is an adventure. You can read about diamonds on line, you can endlessly look at pictures, you can even use create your own ring applications. However, no matter how much time you spend looking at diamonds online you will never get the feel of the diamond, it's size or how the ring looks until you enter a store and see it for yourself.
Getting in the Door
When you enter a jewelry store, you may start shaking in your khakis because you're about to spend all the money you've saved on something you know nothing about. First, find a jewelry expert in the store with whom you feel comfortable and who seems genuine and knowledgeable. "Understand that the people in the store are there to help you," says David Sternblitz, vice president & treasurer of the Zale Corporation. "They are there to guide you through a very difficult process and educate you on styling and how the 4 C's relate to the cost of the diamond."
When it comes to finding the right diamond for your lady, you'll know it when you see it, Sternblitz says. "Nothing can compare to actually holding the diamond and turning it to appreciate its beauty," he says. "When you find the ring, you'll know it's the one because nothing else will make you feel that way. And imagine how she'll react when she sees
The setting for a diamond is as important to the ring as the frame is to a Da Vinci masterpiece. You want the display to bring out the brilliance of the diamond. There are many settings to choose from.
Solitaire: This is the most popular setting because it allows the diamond's center position to catch the most amount of light, according to adiamondisforever.com. A four-prong setting shows more diamond, while a six-prong setting creates a more secure surrounding.
Setting with side stones: Side stones can be imbedded in the ring's band in a channel setting to surround the main diamond.
Setting with a matching band: These settings are designed to complement the wedding band, if both are to be worn on the same finger.
Three-stone rings: The three-stone ring includes one large diamond in the middle and a smaller diamond on each side to symbolize the past, present, and future.