How to Buy an Engagement Ring

Those interested in buying an exclusive engagement ring, may want to first check out the book, 7 Ways to Buy an Engagement Ring She’ll Love.  This is the best way to start researching how you’re going to impress her with an engagement ring she’ll love.

Tacori engagement ring

First you’ll want to discuss the basic considerations you’ll have when purchasing a ring, such as the variety of ring styles, stone shapes and budget range. A diamond shape and cut are not the same thing.  A cut refers to the number of facets and how these facets are proportioned.  The shape is the way in which a stone is cut.  For example, Round Brilliant Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear cut.  You get the point.

Buyers should secondly take into consideration that they will be paying more for a higher clarity and color than simply the carat size alone.  A 2 ct round diamond that is Internally Flawless and a D color, is significantly more valuable than a 5 carat Vs2, J Color.  The higher in color and clarity the diamond is, the more valuable and expensive it will be.

You’ll want to go window-shopping for a ring.  You can do this alone or with her, though it might be good to nonchalantly ask her questions while window-shopping one day in order to get a sense of what she’s looking for!

If you choose to just simply pick out a particular stone, then you might want to consider having a jeweler place it on a very basic setting, propose and then pick out the actual setting together.  That way she can get the ring she wants and you can get the benefit of surprising her!

Engagement ring shoppers may also strive to find cost-effective ways to purchase a diamond ring. Keep in mind that you need not stick to that old saying that an engagement ring should be two month’s salary.  If you can’t afford that, consider going for a smaller diamond and accenting it with a wedding band.  You might also make use of a family heirloom and transform that into your engagement ring–something she is sure to appreciate because of it’s sentimental value.

Buyers Guide: How To Purchase Diamonds

Buying a diamond should be a great experience and one that is not confusing or overwhelming.  Like any other large purchase you make, education and knowledge is key.  Before purchasing your diamond make sure you have at least a basic understanding of the 4Cs, diamond shapes, diamond terminology, and what to look for on a diamond grading report.  This will prepare you to ask the right questions and will give you the confidence that the decision you make is the right one for you.

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Carat Weight, Color

Diamond Cut

Of the 4Cs, Gemologists believe that cut has the greatest influence on a diamond’s beauty.  Cut is the factor that determines the diamond’s fire, sparkle, and brilliance.   Diamonds have a unique ability to effectively manipulate light.  This unique quality can only be realized with an extremely high level of accuracy during the cutting and polishing process.  Where nature dictates the uniqueness of color and clarity, humans affect the cut.  While cutting diamond rough, cutters must not only consider the proportions of a diamond, but also the craftsmanship of overall symmetry and polish as well.

A diamond’s brilliance comes from light entering the crown and reflecting from one facet to another and returning back out the crown.  A diamond that is cut too shallow or too deep will not reflect light properly and the diamond will not be as brilliant as a diamond with an excellent cut.

Diamond Clarity

Clarity refers to the absence of clarity characteristics in the diamond. The GIA clarity scale consists of 11 grades ranging from flawless to included.  When determining a diamond’s clarity grade, GIA considers the size, nature, color, position, and quantity of clarity characteristics under 10x magnification.  The lesser the number of inclusions or blemishes a diamond has the higher clarity grade it will receive.  A diamond with no inclusions using 10x magnification will be considered flawless and is very rare and more costly.

Inclusions

An inclusion is a clarity characteristic either totally enclosed in a polished diamond, reaching or extending into it from the surface, or one that is caused by treatments or the cutting process.  Note – Inclusions caused by treatments or the cutting process may not always be documented on the diamond certificate.

Blemishes

A blemish or external clarity characteristic is on the surface of the diamond only and can be caused by wear, the cutting process, or may be a result of the diamond’s crystal structure.   Blemishes play a lesser role than inclusions do when determining the clarity grade, but may affect the polish grade.

GIA Clarity Grades

FLFlawless – no blemishes or inclusions under 10x magnification.

IFInternally flawless – no inclusions and only very minor surface blemishes.

VVS1 and VVS2 Very, very slightly included – very, very small microscopic inclusions extremely difficult to see under 10x magnification.

VS1Very slightly included – very small microscopic inclusions difficult to see under 10x magnification.

VS2Very slightly included – very small inclusions somewhat easy to see under 10x magnification.  These diamonds represent a good value to someone looking for a high quality diamond, as the very small imperfections do not affect the beauty of the diamond.

SI1Slightly included – small inclusions that are easy to see under 10x magnification. This clarity is an excellent choice for someone looking to stay within a budget, but wants a diamond that will look as good as a higher clarity diamond except when viewed under magnification.

SI2 – Slightly included – small inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. Depending on their location within the diamond, they may sometimes be visible to the unaided eye without magnification.  SI2 diamonds are attractively priced and typically no visible difference can be seen without magnification.  If you are interested in an SI2 diamond and would like us to personally verify if it is eye-clean, please give us a call at 1-800-979-1910.

I1* and I2Included – imperfect with inclusions that are obvious to the unaided eye and may affect the diamond’s durability.

I3*Included – imperfect with inclusions that are extremely obvious to the unaided eye and pose a definite threat to the diamond’s durability.

*At Since1910.com, we do not sell I1, I2, and I3 clarity diamonds.

Diamond Carat Weight

Carat weight refers to the size of the diamond.  Carat is the standard term used for the weight of a diamond and received its name from the seed of a carob tree.  The carob seeds were used by early diamond traders on scales as units of weight for small amounts of diamonds because of their consistent size.  The weight of the carob seed was 200 milligrams and the weight of a carat is exactly 200 milligrams or as it is know today, 0.2 grams

Many believe that the term carat represents the size of the diamond however; carat represents the weight of a diamond.  One carat is divided into 100 points.  So, for example, a quarter carat or 25 point diamond weights .25 carats (cts).   Diamonds weighing over one carat are expressed as carats and decimals.   They are measured to the hundred thousandths of a carat and rounded to a hundredth of a carat.   For example, a 1.25 stone would be described as one point twenty five carats.

The cost of a diamond is not measured in weight alone.   Several diamonds of the same weight can be priced considerable different.  When calculating the cost of any diamond, clarity, cut, and color are major factors as well.

Diamond Color

Color refers to the absence of color in the diamond.  Diamonds composed of pure carbon are colorless and extremely rare and costly.  Most diamonds contain nitrogen, boron, or hydrogen all of which impact color.  A majority of white diamonds sold on the market today contain traces of nitrogen, which causes slight shades of yellow or brown.  Small, subtle differences in color can make a substantial difference in a diamond’s value.

In a effort to eliminate confusion related to diamond color, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) implemented the color grading system in the 1950s which is still being used industry wide today.   Diamonds are graded on a scale beginning with the letter D (colorless) and ending with Z (light yellow or brown).   When creating the new color scale GIA chose to start with the letter D as a means of starting over.  Prior to GIA implementing the D-Z scale, other systems all of which were inconsistent and inaccurate, already used the letters A-C, numbers 0-3, and the Roman numerals I-III.  It is important to note that diamonds at the end of the color range with a noticeable yellow tinge are not considered fancy yellow color diamonds.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Diamond Color

  • When a diamond is well cut the diamond’s refraction and dispersion will often disguise certain degrees of color and may make a darker diamond appear whiter when viewed with the unaided eye (without magnification).
  • The size of the diamond will also affect the appearance of its color.  Color can easily be seen in larger diamonds as opposed to smaller diamonds.  Often times it is difficult to see color in diamonds under a 1/2 carat with the unaided eye.
  • The shape of the diamond will affect its color as well particularly step cut diamonds such as the Asscher and Emerald that have large open facets and do not display the brilliance of other cuts.  The center of these diamonds display a “window effect” where some of the color in the diamond can appear washed out and make it appear whiter then its actual color grade.  The shallower the cut of the diamond the more apparent this will be.

Diamond Shapes

Diamond shape is the basic outline of the diamond.   Here are some popular shapes sold today.

Round Brilliant is the most popular.  It consists of 56 to 58 facets and displays the most brilliance, fire, and scintillation of all diamond cuts on the market today.

Asscher is a stepped square cut also known as the modified square emerald cut.  It consists of 72 facets and resembles the shape of an octagon.

Cushion is not as brilliant as many of the more modern cuts, but has a classic romantic look that definitely stands out in a crowd.

Emerald is a cut that provides a very elegant classy look and is known for its long lines.  The pavilion is cut with large rectangular facets to create an open effect or optical appearance.

Heart is known as the most romantic of all shaped diamonds.  The heart consists of 59 facets and is essentially a pear cut with a cleft at the top.

Marquise resembles the shape of a football when viewed from above.  The marquise is bright, clear, and has a great deal of sparkle.

Oval is an adaptation of the round brilliant and usually looks larger than the round brilliant of the same carat weight.

Pear is half oval and half marquise.  The pear has 58 facets and displays the brilliance, fire, and sparkle of the round brilliant.

Princess is square shaped with uncut pointed corners.  The princess has 58 facets and is known for its brilliance, fire, and sparkle.

Radiant has 70 facets and has the brilliance and fire of the round brilliant.  The radiant is square/rectangle in shape with cropped corners.

Diamond Certificates

A diamond certificate (aka – diamond plot, diamond grading report) is a document certifying a diamond is genuine and is created by a group of gemologists after the diamond is carefully evaluated.  The report contains information such as carat weight, color, clarity, proportions, and a cut grade for round diamonds.   The certificate also contains a “blueprint” of the diamond’s clarity characteristics.

To understand all aspects of the diamond grading report, click on the GIA link below:

http://www.gia.edu/lab-reports-services/diamonds/diamond-reports/index.html

To understand all aspects of the diamond anatomy, click on the GIA link below:

http://www.diamondcut.gia.edu/05_diamond_anatomy.html

diamonds

Understanding Diamonds and Light

The GIA has studied and documented the relationship between light and a polished diamond for many years.  Research has allowed them to understand how different facet sizes, arrangements, and angles could either improve or reduce a diamond’s appearance.   This understanding led to the development of the GIA Diamond Cut grading system.

When diamonds and light interact the results are amazing.  The relationship between diamonds and light lies in how much light hits the surface of the diamond, enters the diamond, and how the light reflects back from the diamond.  The proportions of a polished diamond (its angles and measurements) and the relationship between them have an extraordinary effect on how light performs when it strikes the diamond.

A diamond has three visual characteristics: brightness, fire, and scintillation. Brightness (aka brilliance) is the amount of white light returned from the diamond to the observer, fire is the display of spectral colors created when the white light strikes the diamond’s facets, and scintillation is the flashes of light and contrasting dark areas seen when a diamond, the light source, or the observer moves.

A well-cut diamond will get the most out of its interaction with light.  Well-cut diamonds are brighter and more attractive than poorly cut diamonds even if weight, color, and clarity are the same.

To learn more about diamond proportions visit our diamond education section.

diamonds and light

What is an Emerald Cut Diamond?

The Emerald cut diamond received its name when a diamond cutter chose to cut diamond rough in the shape of an Emerald using the same method as they would for cutting an Emerald shaped gemstone.  Emerald shapes are cut with “stepped” facets, which means the facets resemble steps on a staircase.

emerald cut diamondThe Emerald cut provides for a very elegant classic look and is known for its long lines.  The pavilion (bottom portion of the stone) is cut with large rectangular facets to create an open effect or optical appearance.

Since Emerald cut diamonds are designed with larger facets, you need to be sure that you are familiar with the qualities of a good cut.  Like the Asscher cut you always want to choose cut, color, and clarity over weight.  An Emerald diamond makes a beautiful engagement ring as a solitaire or set with other stones.

To learn more about Emerald cut diamonds visit our diamond education section

What is an Asscher Cut Diamond?

The Asscher cut diamond was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland and is a variation of an Emerald cut.  The Asscher cut is a stepped square cut also known as a Modified Square Emerald cut.   This cut offers a small table (largest facet on a stone) high crown (top portion of the stone) deep pavilions (lower portion of the stone), and cut corners.   With its 72 wide step facets it resembles that of an octagon and sparkles like the Round Brilliant.

The Asscher was designed to draw your eye to the center of the stone.  Because of this, cut, color, and clarity are very important factors to consider when choosing this cut.  Always purchase the best stone within your budget.  When choosing an Asscher weight should be the last thing you consider.

To learn more about Asscher cut diamonds visit our diamond education section

Asscher Cut Diamond

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Diamond Cut

Of the 4Cs, cut is the most important characteristic of a diamond and it has the greatest overall impact on a diamond’s beauty.  Diamonds have the unique ability to manipulate light (aka fire, sparkle, and brilliance) that can only be realized with an extremely high level of accuracy during the cutting and polishing process.  Nature dictates color and clarity, but humans affect the cut.  When cutting diamond rough, the cutter not only considers the proportions of a diamond, but the craftsmanship of overall symmetry and polish as well.  Light enters and exits though the crown reflecting from one facet to another.  A diamond that is cut too shallow or too deep will not reflect light properly and the diamond will not be as brilliant as a diamond with an excellent cut grade.

Diamond’s Light Return

diamond cut chart

In early 2005, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) introduced a diamond cut grading system for round brilliant cut diamonds in the D-Z color range and flawless to I3 clarity range.  In January 2006, these new cut grades ranging from excellent to poor were added to all GIA diamond certificates (aka diamond plot).  To achieve the cut grading system, GIA calculated the cut results for 38.5 million cut proportion sets based on the evaluation of seven components.  The first three were related to appearance and brightness and the last four were related to overall craftsmanship.

GIA Cut Grades

Excellent

Very Good

Good

Fair

Poor

When purchasing a diamond, we recommend purchasing the best possible cut grade within your budget.  Unlike color and clarity; which are personal preferences, cut is extremely important.

Visit our education section for more on diamond cut.

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Diamond Weight

Diamond weight is described using two terms: carat and point.   Carat is determined by measuring the distance across the top of diamond and is always listed in millimeters.  When measuring diamond weight it is important to factor in the cut grade.  In a well-cut diamond, the maximum amount of light enters and exits through the table making the diamond look larger than a poorly cut stone.

Like color and clarity, carat weight is a key factor in determining the value of a diamond. Diamond prices vary by carat weight increasing at the full and half-carat weights.  Diamonds just below these weight changes will be less costly and a majority of the time size is undetectable.  For example, a 1.00ct diamond will be in a different price point than a .98ct diamond, but the size will not be noticeable.   Also, since larger diamonds are more rare and costly than smaller diamonds a 1.00ct single diamond will cost much more than several smaller diamonds equaling a total carat weight of 1.00ct.

Diamond Measurements

Carat = 100 points or 200 milligrams

Point = 0.01 or one-hundredth of a carat

diamond weight chart

What carat weight is right for her?

There are several important factors to keep in mind when determining carat weight.

Price – diamond cut, we feel, is the most important of the 4Cs and you should always choose a well cut stone over weight.  If carat weight is important to you and you would like a larger stone, you have some flexibility in terms of price with color and clarity.

Finger size – a 1.00ct diamond will look much larger on someone with a size 4 finger than a size 8 finger.

Setting – certain settings can make a diamond appear larger than it actually is.  Our personal shoppers can help you determine which setting is right for you if you don’t already have something in mind.

Visit our education section for more on diamond weight

The 4Cs of Diamonds: Diamond Color

Diamond color is one of the 4C’s and is a major factor in determining the quality and cost of a diamond.  Diamond color actually refers to the lack of color not the amount of color found in the diamond.  Diamonds composed of pure carbon are colorless and are extremely rare and costly.  Most diamonds contain nitrogen, boron, or hydrogen all of which impact color.  A majority of all diamonds sold on the market today contain traces of nitrogen that causes slight shades of yellow or brown.

In the 1950’s the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) instituted a color grading system to eliminate the confusion regarding diamond color that is still used industry wide today.  Diamonds are graded on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown).

Diamond Color Grade Chart

How to Choose a Diamond Color

D-E-F = colorless

G-H-I = near colorless

J-K-L-M = faint yellow

N-Z = very light to light yellow

Some key factors to consider when choosing a diamond color

Price – colorless diamonds are more rare and therefore costly.  A near colorless diamond provides a great value and looks beautiful with any metal type.

Cut – when a diamond is cut well the diamond’s color may appear whiter than it actually is disguising any color within the stone.

Size – the size of a diamond will affect the appearance of its color.  Color can be seen more easily in a larger diamond than a smaller one.  If choosing a diamond weight of 1.00ct or greater look for a diamond in the colorless (D-F) or near colorless (G-I) range.  If you prefer the warmth of a diamond with color choose a faint yellow (J-M) stone.  When choosing a diamond beyond the I color range you’ll want to consider your metal choice for the setting.  Some like the contrast between a white metal such as platinum, palladium, or white gold and the faint yellow tones of the diamond and some don’t want to see any color at all.  This is a personal preference and there is no right or wrong diamond color for any setting choice.

Shape – the shape of a diamond will affect color especially in a step-cut diamond such as an Asscher or Emerald.  With their large open facets they do not display the same amount of brilliance as other cuts and color can be easily seen through the table.

Learn more about the 4 C’s

Can you compare one diamond to another?

With shape, weight, and cut all being equal you can compare like diamonds in terms of color and clarity. Diamonds of the same clarity can differ quite a bit. Let’s take a SI1 clarity diamond for example. When looking at the diamond’s plot or at the diamond directly through at 10x loupe the clarity characteristics can be quite different and you’ll want to choose the one that is most appealing to you. Unless flawless, all diamonds will have clarity characteristics and only you can decide what you’ll be happy looking at each day. When comparing like diamonds I suggest looking at no more than 3 at one time. Keep narrowing it down always keeping your top choice each time.

Use our diamond comparison tool to find the perfect stone.

Diamond Shape vs Personality Type

Ever wonder if your choice of a diamond shape has anything to do with your personality? A NY based diamond appraiser spent 25 years interviewing over 50,000 people for just that. Here are his findings:

Round – home and family centered, dependable, easy to get along with, and security conscious

Oval – individualistic, creative, well-organized, dependable, and willing to take chances

Heart – sentimental, creative, feminine, sensitive, trusting, dramatic, and a dreamer

Rectangle/Square – organized, conservative, efficient, honest, and open

Pear – conforming, considerate, adaptable, and home & community centered

Marquise – extroverted, experimental, exciting, innovative, and career centered

Find the perfectly shaped diamond to match her personality