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The options for engagement rings are endless, and the price of diamonds can seem daunting. To get the best value for your diamond purchase, you need to make some choices. Take the following advice to pick the perfect ring that will not only make you look good, but that she will also treasure forever.
Give up the pursuit of perfection
More than anything else, engagement rings symbolize eternal commitment and endless love for one another. So it’s only natural that people would want a ring that represents a solemn commitment and is absolutely perfect. However, the quest for the perfect engagement ring can cost you more than it is worth. The reality is that the more perfect a diamond is, the rarer it is, and the rarer it is, the more valuable it is.
If you are willing to give up the pursuit of perfection and make a small compromise, the engagement ring will still be perfect in her eyes, and you won’t need to bleed yourself before you start your new life together.
Learn how to determine the quality of a diamond
Understanding how to get the best value for your engagement ring requires an understanding of the GIA’s 4C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. These are the universal standards that describe the quality of a diamond. The better the quality, the higher the price, as is the case with everything, and diamonds are no exception.
Each “C” criterion affects the overall appearance of a diamond in different ways. By determining which of the 4C’s is most important to you, you will know where to spend your money. Each of the “C” criteria is also evaluated differently, giving you a wide range of choices, which gives you more opportunities to make an informed buying choice.
As you read the following suggestions, please keep in mind that it is extremely important to inspect the diamond in person. Diamonds with similar 4C grades may look very different, and diamonds of different grades may look exactly the same. Only by visually comparing diamonds can you determine which combination of qualities you find most attractive and how to spend your money.
Diamond Cut – Don’t Save on Cut
If you are like most people, you want these two things when buying an engagement ring: a sparkling diamond and the largest diamond you can afford. So if you don’t want to read any further, take this advice: buy a diamond with a good cut.
The quality of a diamond’s cut represents the skill with which the diamond was made – the overall proportions, the symmetry of the facets and the quality of its polish. A well-cut diamond is bright and vivid, sparkling with brilliance and unmistakable diamond charm. Such diamonds are designed from the ground up to ensure solidity and perfect proportions, so you won’t pay for unnecessary weight.
The diamond cut will affect its visual size. Diamonds may be cut to retain the maximum carat weight possible, but the weight distribution is highly irrational. For example, the middle or bottom of the girdle may hide excess weight that is not reflected in its appearance. In fact, a poorly cut 1.20 carat diamond may appear to be the same size as a well-cut 1.00 carat diamond. A poorly cut diamond will appear dull, lifeless, and of an undesirable size.
Most flaws in clarity, color and even weight can be forgiven if the cut is excellent.
Diamond color – can you tell the difference?
Do you really need to spend a lot of money on a colorless diamond in the GIA D to F color range? Probably not. Once the diamond is set into the ring, it is unlikely that you will be able to tell the difference between a colorless diamond and a near colorless diamond (G to J color range). When buying a diamond, remember to compare the different color grades of set diamonds on your hand. You may find that you can accept a surprisingly wide range of colors. You may prefer (and some do) diamonds with color grades slightly below GIA D through Z (such as J or K) because these diamonds will exhibit a warmth.
Again, keep in mind that the appearance of a diamond’s color is greatly influenced by its environment. This includes natural and artificial lighting, the color of the clothing worn, and even the color of the metal used to set the diamond. Therefore, if you are going for a white setting metal like platinum and you value the colorless feel of the diamond, you may want to purchase a diamond with a color grade of H or higher. Starting with a J, K or L grade, if the mount metal is very white (platinum), the contrast in color will also become apparent. If you are going for gold, the lower color grades of faint yellow body color diamonds will not be as pronounced.
Diamond clarity – don’t pay for features you can’t discern
Diamond clarity – or the degree to which a diamond lacks inclusions and surface characteristics – is extremely symbolic. Some people buy engagement rings thinking that a flawless diamond means flawless love. However, diamonds with flawless clarity are extremely rare, and even jewelry professionals may not see one in their entire careers.
The diamonds you are most likely to see will have some inclusions. However, most clarity grades are in the Very Slightly Included (VVS), Slightly Included (VS) and Slightly Included (SI) ranges, and only a trained diamond grader can see inclusions under a 10x magnification. Within these grades, there is much more choice, as the difference is not visible to the naked eye. In fact, without a loupe, an SI2 diamond may look the same as a more expensive VS1 diamond.
If you are choosing an emerald cut diamond, you may want to consider investing more in the clarity of the diamond. The emerald cut diamond’s signature long rectangular facets make inclusions easier to see than the brilliant cut diamond’s more numerous and smaller facets. However, if the diamond has many larger clarity features, or if the clarity features are reflected by the multiple facets of the diamond, they are easily visible and are not affected by the shape or cut style.
Diamond Carat Weight – Below the Threshold
Carat weight is another symbolic factor. If you are looking for a large diamond to prove your fidelity to love, be prepared to spend more. Quality large diamonds are rare and therefore expensive. Because of this rarity, the price of all large diamonds does not vary geometrically, but exponentially with weight.
Prices also rise significantly when diamonds reach or just exceed certain weight thresholds, such as 0.50 carat, 0.75 carat, 1.00 carat, etc. These numbers have symbolic meaning for some consumers and thus are in greater demand and command higher prices. When buying a diamond, be sure to compare these types of diamonds to diamonds with carat weights just below these thresholds. If all other 4C characteristics are the same, you will not notice the size difference and thus save money.
Our advice on diamond cut quality needs to be repeated here: don’t save on the cut. A well-cut diamond will appear larger than a diamond of the same or higher carat weight with a lesser cut.