Congratulations! You’ve found the person with whom you want to spend your life, with whom you will have adventures, and likely, misadventures. With whom you’ll laugh and cry and love. Now that the easy part is done, it’s time to find the perfect diamond when buying an engagement ring!
A few tips to help you select the diamond that captures the beauty and promise of your life together, wherever it leads:
Set a Budget For Your Engagement Ring
Before the glitter and sparkle get in your eye, establish a realistic budget. You may have heard that you should spend the equivalent of two months’ salary. Thus, if you make $3000 a month (for easy math), you would spend $6000 on an engagement ring. Some “experts” recommend spending three months’ salary ($9000).
Here’s why you should take this advice - and completely ignore it. Millennial couples often juggle multiple financial obligations. They may be paying off college loans, saving for a house, or putting money aside for dream trips. Older couples may be saving for retirement, working to pay off mortgages, or putting their children through school. Reserving two to three months’ salary could be cost-prohibitive; it could be that the ring, while crucial, is not the primary focus of your finances at this time.
Great. Your life is your life, and you must budget for it as you see fit. At the same time, this ring is meant to last forever. It is an investment. The bottom line: find an amount with which you are comfortable, which allows you to meet your other financial goals, and which enables you to achieve the custom jewelry design you want. It can be done!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. Choosing the diamond itself.
Select Your Diamond Shape
Round brilliant cut diamonds are, by far, the most popular shape for engagement rings. They deliver exceptional brilliance, fire, and interaction with light. You cannot go wrong with this classic, versatile shape.
Round isn’t the only option, though: your significant other’s sense of aesthetics may best be met with “fancy” shapes. For example, princess shapes are more angular and contemporary (and still brilliant). If she loves a vintage vibe, cushion diamonds are a great choice.
Each shape has advantages: Asscher and emerald shapes are elegant and sleek, but they do not have the same fire as round or princess. Pear and marquise shapes can make the stone look larger, which can help you maximize your budget. They can also make the wearer’s fingers look longer
If you need inspiration, take a look at our guide to diamond shapes and the best settings for each.
Select a Diamond Size
When it comes to diamonds, many people think bigger is better. This is not always the case. There are many factors which influence the value and beauty of a diamond. Typically it is advisable to balance size (measured in carat weight) and cut to achieve the best results.
For example, a smaller diamond with a cut grade of very good or excellent will perform better than a larger diamond with a good to fair cut. It will interact with light more effectively and therefore appear much more dazzling.
Cut is widely considered the most important of the 4Cs. We recommend making it a priority when selecting your diamond as you’ll maximize impact. There are also ways to make smaller well cut diamonds appear larger.
One method is to use a halo setting; the center stone will be surrounded by smaller melee diamonds. A pavé setting, which features patterns of smaller diamonds, also works. These styles create continuous sparkle, enhancing the beauty of the center stone.
Weigh the 4Cs
As mentioned, cut is the key to beauty and quality. There is some “play” with the remaining two C’s, color and clarity. To work within your budget, you can sacrifice a bit in terms of color; opting for a stone with a grade of F-H, for example, will give you the colorless or near colorless appearance you want at a lower price than a D or E.
Clarity refers to the visibility of inclusions (imperfections) in the diamond. A diamond with a clarity rating of Flawless or Nearly Flawless costs more because they are more rare. You can opt for a stone with a rating of Very Slightly Included (VS1 or VS2); inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. In fact, it takes a skilled grader using 10x magnification to spot these flaws. Read up on the latest engagement ring trends.
When you purchase a diamond, be sure that your supplier provides GIA certification. GIA is a world-renowned independent grading lab; their report will cover the 4Cs and explain how your stone ranks in each category. You can be sure you are getting what you expect - and paying the appropriate price.
Note: GIA does not grade melee diamonds as yet because it is cost-prohibitive due to size. This makes choosing a reputable supplier essential; internal quality control measures ensure you are getting the best melee, unmixed with synthetic stones.
Another certification that matters documentation that your supplier adheres to the principles and practices of the Kimberley Process. This process is designed to keep conflict diamonds out of the supply chain. A Kimberley Process certificate includes a written statement that the diamond has been imported from a conflict free source.