How to choose a diamond ring

“ Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
(Marilyn Munroe in the movie “Gentlemen prefer Blondes”)

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me
are the number of carats in a diamond”
(Mae West)

For many people, a diamond is the natural choice for an engagement ring. Because of its intrinsic and commercial value – as well it’s magical sparkle, a diamond is believed to be the only gem suitable for expressing one’s love and level of commitment. “A diamond is forever” claimed the famous De Beers marketing campaign slogan that subsequently made the connection between romance and diamonds in everyone’s minds. Today, there is still a mystique and emotional value attached to a diamond engagement ring. It has been estimated that over 75% of all engagement rings, sold every year, are diamond.

The dilemma for many guys, however, is not whether to choose a diamond, but how to choose a diamond ring that’s big and sparkly enough to prove to his loved one, the amount of commitment he is willing to make. The quality as well as the size is so important in ensuring that you present your love one with the ring of her dreams. So let’s take a look at what you need to know:

1. What to look for in a diamond?

For many people the ideal ring is a diamond ring. The most popular diamond ring, is a solitaire – and subject to your budget, the bigger the better. You may have heard about checking out the 4C’s (ie the Carat, Cut, Clarity and Color)before buying a diamond. But if not, this is what they are all about:

The Carat:

This relates to the size and weight of a diamond. The most popular and most frequently purchased sizes of diamond are between 0.5 and 1.5 carats. However, if you can afford more, I’m sure your loved one will be more than delighted. Many years ago in the 1960’s, the actor Richard Burton bought his wife Elizabeth Taylor, the Krupp Diamond that weighed a massive 33.19 carats and cost £305,000. She has apparently worn this ring nearly every day since. However, since we can’t all be rich movie stars, the next best thing to buying a large rock is making sure that it’s got an excellent cut – then your girl can have a sparkly ring and feel like a movie star too!

The Cut:
Diamonds, as with many gemstones, can be cut into many different shapes. However, the quality of cut will determine how much light the diamond will reflect and the amount of sparkle a diamond can have. The higher the quality of cut, the higher the price of the diamond ring will be. Categories of cut are defined as follows:

  • Ideal cut (this reflects nearly all the light that enters a diamond)
  • Very good cut (reflects almost as much light as an ideal cut)
  • Good cut (reflects most light but not as much as the above)
  • Fair cut (reflects quite a lot of light but will not be as brilliant as the ideal cut, very good cut or the good cut)
  • Poor cut (very little light reflected and therefore will not sparkle much)

It is therefore important that if you cannot afford a very large diamond, then get one that has a good cut, to maximise the sparkle factor. A s the saying goes: “Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you can do with it that matters!” – and sparkle does matter!

The Clarity:
Clarity is assessed by the lack of flaws (otherwise known as Inclusions) in a diamond. Most inclusions are microscopic and therefore not visible to the naked eye. However, where there are visible inclusions then these can reduce the diamonds natural lustre. The clarity of a diamond is graded in the following way.

FL (Flawless) and IF (Internally Flawless): These are very rare and expensive

VVSI and VVS2: These are very, very slightly included and the flaws cannot be seen without a microscope)

VS1 and VS2: These are very slightly included, but not usually to the naked eye)

SI1 and SI2: Some inclusions may be visible to the naked eye, but the diamond is still considered to be of a good clarity standard)

I1, I2, and I3: The inclusions are visible to the naked eye and the diamond is considered to be of poor quality

The most popular and frequently purchased diamonds are the VS!, VS2, SI1 and SI2 as they are good value for money diamonds

The Color:
A pure colorless diamond is the most sought over since this contributes to a diamond’s ability to sparkle. The color quality of a diamond will vary from colorless to those with a yellowish tint. Diamonds are color coded as follows:

D This is the purist most colorless grade and also very rare
E-F Colorless and also fairly rare
G-H Very nearly colorless and an excellent quality diamond
I-J Nearly colorless but still a good diamond
K-M Has a noticeable tint of color and not considered to be of good quality
N_Z The poorest quality diamond

The most popular and most frequently purchased diamonds are ones between F and J

Whilst not one of the above 4 C’s, there is a 5th C, which stands for Certification. You should always make sure when buying a diamond that your ring will come with a certificate of authenticity, guaranteeing that the ring you purchased is of the quality that was advertised. The two most respected authorities that grade diamonds and provide certification are: The GIA (Gemological Institute of America and the (AGSL) American Gem Society Laboratories. Check to see whether your diamond ring will come with a certificate from one of these authorities before you buy.

  • Which metal to choose

Whilst yellow gold works well with many of the colored stones, an increasing number of women are choosing to have the silvery tones of white gold or platinum – especially if it’s for a diamond ring.

The advantage of platinum is that it is more durable than white gold, which loses it’s white shine over time and will need re-plating at some stage with rhodium. However, platinum is more expensive than white gold.

Yellow gold is a traditional choice and whilst it can become scratched with general wear and tear, it is much easier to repair than white gold.

The first thing to consider is your girlfriend’s likely preference for a metal. Is the metal of her current jewelry mainly silvery or gold in color? Has she ever indicated her preference for platinum, white gold or yellow gold? If she’s a yellow gold person then the decision is simple, but if she prefers silvery tones and you’re working to a tight budget, you may have to opt for white gold instead of platinum if you want to go all out on the size and quality of the gems.

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