Engagement Diamond Shopping for Dummies

Maybe you’ve popped the question and she’s said yes. Or perhaps you are planning to present a ring when you propose. Either way, it’s time to buy the ring. Congratulations! Getting engaged is one of the biggest, most important decisions many people will make in their lifetime. So it only seems fitting that buying the piece of jewelry that accompanies that event should be nearly as momentous a decision. In fact, the history of man presenting a prospective bride with a ring dates back nearly 600 years, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria is believed to have commissioned the very first diamond engagement ring on record. Why diamonds? Well, emeralds are divine, rubies are spectacular, but everybody knows that a diamond is a girl’s best friend. Nowadays, the diamond ring has become a ubiquitous symbol for the newly engaged.

Given the price of diamonds, and the fact that the purchase represents a lifelong investment, its important that you educate yourself about the product, to ensure you are going to get the very best possible stone your budget allows. Any diamond shopper should know a bit about the “4Cs”, the variables that contribute to a diamond’s worth. Although people most often describe diamonds only by their carat weight, in fact, other factors play a more significant role in determining the value of the stone. In order of importance, the 4Cs are: Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity.

The diamond owes its sparkle to one thing: the cut of the stone. How well the diamond is cut determines how well it will return light to the top of the stone. A diamond cut too shallowly or too deeply will allow light to leak from the bottom or sides of the stone, diminishing the brilliance. Cut is so important that a poorly cut stone may appear dull, regardless of its clarity or color grade. Purchase the highest cut grade your budget will allow.

A diamond’s value is directly tied to its color grade. More specifically, a diamond’s worth is tied to its lack of detectable color. In diamonds, color displays as pale yellow. The more yellow the eye can detect, the less valuable the diamond. When shopping, choose stones rated as color grade G-H. These are what are known as “nearly colorless”, as the traces of color present cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Clarity refers to the tiny imperfections called inclusions. Diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades. Because most imperfections are undetectable unless under professional magnification, clarity is ranked third on the list of important characteristics to consider.

Although people commonly refer to a diamond’s carat weight as size, it actually refers to the diamond’s weight. A stone’s size appearance is directly impacted by the cut. For example, smaller carat weight diamonds will appear bigger with higher cut grades. This explains why carat weight is last on the list of important factors to consider. You can maximize your budget by opting for a stone with a slightly smaller carat weight, but a better cut grade.

Armed with this information, you are ready to begin your diamond shopping experience. While there is certainly no shortage of brick and mortar businesses that sell precious stones, online retailers offer an opportunity to really take your time assimilating all of your newfound 4C knowledge and making a selection without the pressure of a salesperson standing over you. If you are nervous about making such an important purchase from “the cloud”, be sure to do your research on online retailers. There are plenty of reviews such as this one: that will give you an idea of what to consider when choosing an online retailer for your diamond purchase. Good luck!

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