Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Guide

by Primestyle

Easy to understand guide to buying diamond engagement rings from an expert in the field.

Choosing an engagement ring can be overwhelming experience, especially for a younger man (or woman) who has never bought a diamond before. In this article we shall explore the various options and point out things to be considered. Not least of which is how much to spend and how to make sure you get value for money - as well as impress your bride to be.

The last thing you want to do is end up over paying (and yes - there are some unscrupulous dealers out there) or to end up with a fake diamond. Although there are plenty of ways to make certain your diamond is genuine, people do get fooled occasionally. As with everything in life - Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) applies.

First things first

Choosing a Diamond Engagement Ring

First one needs to choose what type of ring is required, and onlyChoosing a diamond engagement ring a fool would suggest not gleaning some information from the intended bride. If she hankers for a Princess cut and you hold out a Radiant cut, you are already on a loser. Some styles of cut are appropriate for engagement rings, and some are not, so for goodness sake, take the trouble to investigate which is which - and most importantly - check in with the bride to be!  What type of jewelry does she already own? How active is she? Does she prefer modern or antique rings? etc etc. For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume this is a man asking a woman - and for the record - we have no problems with same sex marriage - especially if they buy their rings from us!

So - once you have some sort of idea as to what your intended might prefer, the second step is to set a budget. Think long and hard about how much money you are prepared to invest on this one-off purchase. Once you have established a budget - for goodness' sake - stick to it. Be reasonable about how much you can sensibly afford, and although we all want  to impress the lady, she generally won't be too impressed if you bankrupt yourself in the process of asking her the Big Question.

Third, and you could argue that this is the most important step - make sure you buy from a reputable jeweler. If they are an online jeweler - see if they have a presence online and genuine references. If they are a bricks and mortar dealer - same applies - get some recommendations and ask around about them.

Facts about Diamonds

Once you have done these three things, it is time to look at your options and decide what sort of diamond and ring is appropriate.

The next part of the article will deal with your options once you have determined the lady's preferences, your budget and made a short list of dealers (of which we sincerely hope we are one) :)

 

Diamonds

There are a number of things to understand when choosing a diamond. All diamonds are chosen based on these 4 characteristics:

  1. Cut
  2. Clarity
  3. Color
  4. Carat weight

Cut

The "cut" eventually determines the shape, look and brilliance of the diamond. Generally, diamonds are cut in order to show off their brilliance as much as possible, while getting as many good quality diamonds as possible from a given rough diamond. These are the most popular cuts for diamond engagement rings:

  • Princess cut (square)
  • Round cut (round with usually 58 facets)
  • Emerald cut (rectangular with cut corners)
  • Marquise cut (oval with pointed ends)

There are numerous other cuts, but these work well for "traditional," diamond engagement rings. Here are some examples of the various cuts:

Some diamond Cuts

Diamond cuts
Diamond cuts

Clarity

The Gemological Institute of America has instituted a grading system to adequately identify different diamond clarities based on how flawed (almost all natural diamonds usually have a flaw of some kind even after the best cutter has cut them) and these are the designations according to the GIA scale:

  • Flawless category (FL) diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless category (IF) diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x magnification, only small blemishes on the diamond surface.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included category (VVS) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.The VVS category is divided into two grades; VVS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VVS2. Pinpoints and needles set the grade at VVS.
  • Very Slightly Included category (VS) diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The VS category is divided into two grades; VS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VS2. Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however infrequently some VS2 inclusions may still be visible. An example would be on a large emerald cut diamond which has a small inclusion under the corner of the table.
  • Slightly Included category (SI) diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to very easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The SI category is divided into two grades; SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
  • Included category (I) diamonds have obvious inclusions that are clearly visible to a trained grader under 10x magnification. Included diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible without magnification or have inclusions that threaten the durability of the stone. The I category is divided into three grades; I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the unaided eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to threaten the structure of the diamond.

There are other international organisations who also offer similar grading systems, but for the purposes of this article this is enough.

 

Color

Color is somewhat more complex to explain and demonstrate than clarity, but basically - the less color, the more valuable the diamond. Colorless diamonds (except certain "fancy colored" diamonds) are considered the most desirable, and therefor the most valuable.

Colors are graded thus:

  • Colorless
  • Near colorless
  • Faint Yellow
  • Very Light Yellow
  • Light Yellow

Anything exhibiting color more distinct than this are classed as "fancy colors," and are generally not used in diamond engagement rings.

 

Carat Weight

Carat weight is probably the most easily understood of all the diamond measurements. Put simply - 0.2 grams = 1 carat. But - one carat  made up of four small diamonds will be far less expensive than one carat of a three carat single stone. Bigger stones are more rare than smaller stones, thus Big = Expensive.

Bear this in mind when shopping and don't allow the fact that you may be only able to afford a smaller stone to affect your buying decision. Remember to stay within your budget!

Choosing a Setting

The other part of the equation is the setting and ring. Once again - check in with your intended before making a decision. Does she like antique jewelry? Is she very sporting and might need something she can turn inside her hand when participating in sport? Is she likely to need to take the ring off for work? All these type of questions speak to the practicality of the ring.

But most importantly - what does she like and how much can you spend?

These are a few examples of settings and ring styles:

Choosing a dealer

Once you have researched and decided on the following:

  • Budget
  • Preferred style
  • Approximate diamond size
  • Her ring size!

It is time to choose a dealer to buy from. Obviously, we recommend ourselves, but here are some things to ask when choosing a dealer:

  • References and recommendations from real people?
  • Do they actively seek out conflict free diamonds?
  • Are the backed up by any trade organizations?
  • If they are trading online is there buyer protection in place?

Once you ave satisfied yourself that the dealer is trustworthy - then it is time to go shopping. Good luck and - please come visit us and check out our selection of discount diamond engagement rings if you are in the market for a diamond engagement ring - or any other diamond jewelry for that matter - we stock a wide range.

Useful Links

Primestyle llc
Discount diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewelry

Gemological Institute of America
Useful information on diamonds and other gems.

European Gemological Center
Gemological services for the diamonds and gemstones industry, such as diamond grading and gem identification certification

Updated: 04/03/2013, Primestyle
 
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Rose on 12/24/2013

I like the oval cut diamonds. I echo what katiem said - a very useful guide.

Guest on 04/12/2013

Very informative. The images were great.

katiem2 on 04/07/2013

I appreciate this diamond buyers guide. I fall for diamonds so easily but really needed this knowledge. Thanks :)K

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