Buying an engagement diamond can be a fun or anxiety producing experience. It is a symbol of your love. You want it to be perfect. It is also a major purchase – perhaps one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make. To help you through the process, here are 10 important things you need to know to find the perfect diamond.
1) Decide your price range.
Whether you plan to cash, use your credit card, or opt for store-provided financing, you need to decide your price range. It will keep you on target with your budget. It will also help your jeweler to know which diamonds to show you.
What should you spend? There is no true guideline on how much to spend on an engagement diamond. The idea of spending two months salary came from a highly successful DeBeers marketing campaign. There is, however, no “right” formula.
2) Learn About the Diamond Grading System.
Known as the 4Cs – color, cut, clarity, and carat weight - these are the characteristics by which every diamond is graded to determine it value.
On the color scale, a diamond without much color is considered much more valuable than a diamond that has a brown or gray cast. There are some mountings, however, that will better conceal a less-than-perfectly colored stone. Larger diamonds show more color. With smaller diamonds, color is not as significant.
Regardless of size, color, and clarity, when a diamond is poorly cut, it will appear lifeless and dull. Diamond cutting requires painstaking attention to proportion and symmetry. The exquisite properties of brilliance and fire that make diamonds irresistible can only be achieved by precise and talented gem-cutters.
Clarity pertains to flaws that can be seen either by the naked eye or only under a microscope. The more visible the flaws are to the naked eye, the lower it is graded. Certain cuts, such as the emerald cut, require high clarity to look attractive. Other cuts are more forgiving.
Carat refers to the weight of the stone. Depending on the cut, a smaller carat weight gem can look as large as a heavier stone, while costing less.
If you are set on a particular carat weight, in rank order, the properties to look for in importance are cut, color, and then clarity. If you buy something that is a little under a full carat weight, under 1.0cct, 2.0 Ct., and so on, you will pay less per carat weight.
3) Popular diamond cuts.
The Round brilliant-cut makes up almost 75% of all diamonds purchased. The brilliant-cut is exceptional in bringing out a diamond’s extraordinary brilliance and fire. Its round shape makes it easy to pair with the shapes of additional gems.
The Princess cut is a square brilliant-cut with sharp corners and sides that look like inverted triangles. It is the second most popular cut after the round brilliant-cut.
The Princess cut is less expensive that the round brilliant-cut because less of the raw material is lost in cutting. It has exceptional brilliance and fire. It is works quite well with other gemstone shapes.
The Radiant cut is a brilliant-cut that is square or slightly rectangular with its four corners clipped. Radiant cut diamonds come close to the brilliance and fire of the round brilliant cut.
Oval cut diamonds are a modified brilliant-cut. They offer excellent brilliance and can appear larger than their actual carat weight. They can also give the illusion of elongated the finger.
The Pear-shape cut is a modified brilliant-cut. It looks like a tear. Traditionally, the pointed end of the gem faces away from the body and toward the fingernails. This cut requires good symmetry for the most pleasing appearance.
The Marquise cut is a modified brilliant-cut, similar to a pear-shape cut. It is pointed at both ends. It can appear larger than diamonds of similar carat weight. It can also give the illusion of lengthening the finger.
The Cushion cut is square or slightly rectangular with softly rounded corners. It has large facets that emphasize its brilliance and the gem’s clarity. It has a softer sparkle than the radiant cut.
The Emerald cut has facets that are step-cut, from wide to narrow. It can give a much larger look per carat because much its top surface is exposed. It does not have the flash of other diamond cuts, but it is considered elegant and understated.
Because the Emerald cut easily shows imperfections, it requires gems of exceptional clarity and color.
The Asscher cut is usually square or slightly rectangular. The facets are step-cut similarly to the emerald cut, but the Asscher has more brilliance.
The Heart shape cut is a modified brilliant cut requiring exceptional symmetry for a pleasing appearance, as well as a slight rounding before the point. It is considered a truly romantic shape.
4) Find out which shape to buy.
Your partner may already have stated a preferred gemstone shape. If your partner has other rings with gemstones, look at their shapes. Does one shape predominate?
If you are buying the diamond as a surprise, think about his/her hand size, finger length, and lifestyle. If you are not sure, keep in mind the overwhelming popularity of the round brilliant-cut diamond for engagement rings.
5) Decide where to shop.
You are always safest when you can work with a local jeweler with a good reputation. When you can compare a number of diamonds, side-by-side it will help you to decide which 4Cs characteristics are the most important to you.
Find a jewelry that has been certified by an accredited gemology school. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is one of the most highly regarded of these schools. It adheres to stringent examination methods.
Ask about the jeweler’s affiliations with other gemological organizations. Check online reviews about the company and ask your friends for their recommendations.
6) Ask for an independent grading report.
When you find a diamond you like, ask for an independent grading report. Diamond grading reports done in-house can be subject to bias. Ask for a non-biased report prepared by a grading institute like the GIA.
Their report will have a map a map that shows any inclusions, give the precise carat weight, and include the grades for color and clarity. Each report will have a number that corresponds to your exact diamond.
7) How to avoid conflict diamonds.
Conflict diamonds, also known as “blood” diamonds, are those illegally mined and sold by terrorist military factions to finance their illegal activities. These terrorists force local citizens to become slave laborers in diamond mine.
Your jeweler should know each diamond’s origin. The countries with the worst reputation for conflict diamonds are Zimbabwe and Angola. Do not buy gems from those countries.
Countries known to adhere to ethical mining and worker safety standards include Canada, Botswana, and Namibia. DeBeers’s “Forevermark” diamonds are guaranteed to come from conflict free sources.
8) Ask about the return policy.
Ask if there is a return policy and its terms. Can you get your full money back? Some will accept a return from 3 or up to 30 days after purchase, but others do not have a return policy. Make sure you are clear on the terms. Is there a restocking fee? Can you only get store credit? Ask their policy on exchanging one gem for another.
9) Check on upgrade policies.
Ask if your jeweler has a policy on trading up to a larger diamond in the future. What percentage of the original retail sale can be applied to the new diamond. Some companies will apply 100% of the full retail price paid for the original diamond toward a new diamond.
10) Have your insurance ready to go.
Let your insurance dealer know in advance of your plans. They need to be ready to put into effect your insurance of your purchase the minute you buy it – not until after the engagement.
We invite you to visit our store, Turley Jewelers, in the Village of Pinecrest, Miami, Florida. We are family-owned and operated. We treat our customers like guests and are dedicated to making shopping with us relaxing and fun
We carry a wide inventory of the finest quality loose diamonds at prices to suit every budget. We have a private viewing room for your comfort. We believe in a no pressure approach to helping you find the perfect diamond.
We offer unique ring mountings and luxury wedding bands for men. If you would like something that is exclusively yours, our master jeweler, Eddie DePaula can create a custom design that you will love. We hope to see you soon!
Learn more about Finding the Perfect Wedding Ring.