Diamond Ring Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
If there is one jewel that is of greater importance to a man than it is to a lady, it must be the diamond engagement ring! Strange as it may sound, this stone plays a pivotal role in deciding a man’s marital bliss. One small mistake in choosing the perfect ring, can not only break his heart, but can also leave him potentially broke, financially! This is reason enough to do some serious stone-searching.
An Engagement ring and a diamond ring have almost become synonymous. There are so many options available in the market but there is very limited information available for the general public. Even the facts available are given in complicated technical jargon that it is hard to understand.
The aim of this guide is to give you a clear picture of what you should know about diamonds, how to select the perfect one, and the common mistakes that can be avoided. There are tips on how you should care for the diamond jewels and how to insure these priceless stones. Have a read and acquaint yourself with these valuable facts before you buy the invaluable jewel of a lifetime.
The basics of buying a Diamond ring
It has become customary to seal a loving relationship with a diamond ring. After all, diamonds are forever and they are a women’s best friend! But they are arguably the costliest of stones.
Diamonds have that allure. They have a rich past. Full of magic and mystery. We have all grown up listening to fairy tales and folk stories featuring mystical rings of diamond. These startlingly beautiful stones have fired the imagination and riddled the minds of several generations. Diamonds supposedly have paranormal powers, antidotal ability of neutralizing any poison, and pave the path to your immortality, to name a few! It is considered an emblem of undying love and trust. A diamond ring is a symbol that represents the sanctity of a relationship which it seals.
If you plan to buy a diamond ring, you’d better get your basic Cs right – Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat weight.
Every diamond is unique. Nature has ensured that the diamond you are to gift your loved one is peerless! It is one of a kind. Unparalleled.
A diamond’s color is graded by GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The GIA color scale categorizes colors on a scale of D (colorless) to Z(light yellow/brown). It is extremely difficult to find a colorless diamond and most of the jewelry is made with colorless diamond with a brown or yellow tint. A diamond is color graded by comparing it to a master set. Each letter denotes a specific color and grading is done by observing how noticeable that color is.
The GIA standard for cut of a diamond ranges from Excellent to Poor and applies to diamonds that are color graded by GIA standards. A polished diamond’s beauty depends on its interaction with light. How the light strikes the surface, the amount of light entering the diamond and the way it finally reaches the eye of the beholder, will determine the diamond’s sparkle.
There are three attributes to the cut.
- Brightness is the total of all white light that is reflected from the interior as well as the surface of a diamond.
- Fire refers to the flares of colors that are emitted by a diamond.
- Scintillation is the flashes of light observed whenever the diamond, observer or the light moves.
All these attributes contribute to the overall quality of a diamond. So, it is important to cut a diamond in perfect proportions and symmetry. It must be polished to optimize its reflective quality and have maximum brightness, fire and scintillation.
The GIA has eleven grades for judging the clarity of a diamond. It starts with Flawless, which is nearly impossible to find. Since diamonds are formed as a result of being subjected to very high temperature and pressure, some innate characteristics are unavoidable. In fact, these very ‘imperfections’ are helpful in distinguishing an original from a fake!
There are flaws in the form of cracks, bubbles, or other imperfections that will affect clarity. Diamonds are categorized into one of these six groups according to degree of flaws.
F = Flawless
IF = Internally flawless. Some flaw exists on the surface.
VVS1-VVS2 = Very Very Slightly Included. Minute inclusions are difficult to detect with 10X magnification.
VS1-VS2 = Very Slightly Included. Small Inclusions are difficult to detect with 10X magnification.
SI1-SI2 = Slightly Included. Inclusions are slightly easier to detect under magnification than VVS or VS.
I1, I2, I3 = Included. Inclusions are visible to the naked eye.
It is advisable to avoid buying I1, I2, I3 quality diamonds for your engagement ring.
One carat of diamond equals 200 milligrams in weight. If the weight is lesser than this, then points are used. Each carat is equal to 100 points.
So, 1/2 carat = 50 points and 3/4 carats = 75 points.
Terms used to describe diamonds
Blemish – This is a clarity attribute that is perceived on the surface of the diamond. Due to environmental factors to which a diamond is exposed to, there will be some natural blemishes on the surface.
This is the brightness that appears to come from the heart of a diamond. Diamonds have a level of light -reflecting capability that is unique and cannot be matched by any other stone.
This term refers to the imperfections called included crystals that have a dark appearance than a white or transparent appearance, when viewed through a microscope.
It is also known as ‘fire’. It refers to the manner in which light is broken and reflected.
This is a term used in the jewelry industry to describe a diamond that has no blemishes or inclusions visible to the eye.
The smooth, flat faces on the surface of the diamond. Facets allow light to enter and reflect at different angles, creating a play of colors.
A unit of measurement used to describe the weight of diamonds. One point is equal to one -hundredth of a carat.
Shape of diamond
While selecting a diamond for your engagement ring, your first priority is to choose a shape. Every diamond shape has a different aesthetic appeal to it. Different shapes also have a different degree of sparkle and radiance.
The shape of a diamond does not refer to its cut. The shape is the outward contour and outline of the diamond. Here is a list of the more popular shapes.
- Round – This is a typical, brilliant diamond shape frequently sought.
- Princess – This is a square diamond with pointed corners.
- Emerald – A rectangular diamond that is cut with elongated facets and a flat surface.
- Asscher – A square diamond that is cut with the same elongated facets and flat surface of an emerald shape.
- Cushion-cut – These diamonds have a square shape but include rounded corners and large facets.
- Marquise – This style of cut emphasizes on brilliance and creates the illusion that the diamond is larger than the weight suggests.
- Radiant – Such diamonds are square cut stones with trimmed corners.
- Pear – This is a brilliant cut diamond, popularly called a teardrop.
- Heart – This cut is considered to be the most romantic of all.
Size of the diamond and the ring
Size of the diamond for your engagement ring is purely a personal choice. It also depends on your financial situation. For finding the size of the ring, follow the chart below.
Metal and Setting
Diamond engagement rings are the sole focal point of the entire event. Naturally, the diamond will be cynosure of all eyes. But the metal band on which the diamond is to be mounted and set is also very important. Select the metal with future wedding band in mind.
Platinum, Palladium, Silver, gold, and white gold are the most common metals preferred. Most metals can match with diamonds, white gold and silver highly suit black diamonds.
There are four main types of settings for diamonds.
- Prong or Tiffany – Four prongs raise the diamond from the band and hold it in place.
- Channel – The ring contains a channel into which diamonds are placed.
- Pave’- Paved settings have many diamonds that are set to cover the entire top surface of the ring.
- Bezel – This setting encloses a diamond within a metal ring. This raises the diamond from the band, but also protects it.
Common diamond buying mistakes and how to avoid them
There are two ways to shop for diamonds. There are buyers who shop at their favorite jewelry shop, online. Some customers feel comfortable to go to a traditional jeweler and see various diamond sizes, shapes, and quality, first -hand. This allows them to interact with the jeweler and be aware of the shop’s service policy and reputation before investing a huge amount on the special ring.
In either case, remember these important guidelines in mind.
- The biggest mistake made when purchasing a diamond is to be misled on cut quality. Cut is most often misrepresented or simply ignored because it is very difficult to define than color or clarity. Take extra notice of the cut of diamond.
- When you visit a jeweler, you may be shown a few diamonds of different cut qualities, and you will have to choose the best among them. But remember that those diamonds are not necessarily the best-cut diamonds. They are just the best available in the shop. You will better off choosing from a much wider selection that is available online.
- Beware of the diamond switch! There are some unscrupulous jewels who will switch your loose diamond with other diamonds of inferior quality. In order to avoid this scam, you must ensure that the diamond in the finished engagement ring is the same diamond that was selected and purchased. It is easy to switch the chosen loose diamond because it usually takes a few weeks to set the diamond in the band and customize the ring. It is almost impossible for you to ascertain that the diamond is really the one you chose. To avoid this, always buy from a reputed or a family jeweler who is trustworthy.
- It is helpful to know that setting a diamond usually takes only about 20 minutes. You must have the diamond in front of you all the while. Even a variation of diamond by one color grade can affect its value significantly. So it is definitely better to wait and keep a watchful eye on your diamond till it is set.
- Pay particular attention to the lighting system in the jewelry store. Extremely white and bright lights are not uncommon. Be especially beware of lights that have a blue tint. Blue tint in the lighting system will make a yellow diamond look white since the blue cancels out yellow tones. This will also make the diamond appear brighter than it actually is.To avoid this pitfall, observe the diamond in different lighting condition. A dimly lit spot in the shop or an area near the window may be able to give you an idea of the diamond’s actual color. It would be a good option to insist on examining the color of the diamond in natural sunlight. Honest and traditional jewelers will have no qualms about allowing you to do this, accompanied by a security personnel.
- Save yourself from the lure of blue-white diamonds. These diamonds are often marketed to unsuspecting buyers as ‘special’ and ‘rare’. Diamonds that have a blue fluorescence are of inferior quality. Fluorescence can affect the appearance of the diamond under lights that have UV rays, like sunlight.
- If at all you are buying a blue-white diamond, it must be sold at a discounted price. However, blue-white diamonds may be purchased if they are with a ‘L’ or ‘M’ color rating. This is permissible because the blue off-sets the yellow tone in ‘L’ and ‘M’ color graded diamonds.
- If you are buying a colorless or near-colorless diamond, avoid fluorescence, because it could give the diamond a white cast, as if it has been dipped in milk.
- Don’t get fooled by ‘spread’ or wide diamonds. In reality, a wider diamond is worth much lesser. A large table size can make the diamond look larger, but it will lose its brilliance. The diamond is designed to have certain depth. The facets are arranged at certain angles so that light is reflected to give brilliance and sparkle. An improperly cut, wide, 1-carat diamond will be less brilliant and less valuable than a well-cut, 1 carat diamond with standard diameter.
- Don’t fall for baits of ‘low-priced’ diamonds. There are no such diamonds in existence!
- It is better to opt for a slightly larger diamond of lesser clarity than to choose a smaller diamond with extreme clarity.
- Remember that total carat weight is the weight of all the stones in the ring. Unless you are purchasing a solitaire, it becomes very complicated to evaluate the true value of the jewel. When you make a purchase, insist on getting the carat weight of the primary stone, as well as the individual weights of the secondary stones.
Purchasing a diamond engagement ring is a brilliant milestone in every man’s life. Understanding the basics characteristics of a diamond and being aware of the deceptive practices involved in buying a diamond ring can be truly educational. It keeps him a cut above the rest!