Are you curious about diamonds, confused about all the different shapes, or grades they can be given?
Let’s break down all the things to know about diamonds plus some tips and tricks before purchasing an engagement ring.
First, let’s break down all the diamond shapes
The Round brilliant is traditionally the most popular diamond. It is the only shape that offers an unmatched brilliance. Rounds are the only shape GIA gives a cut grade. Rounds are also the most expensive shape per carat.
Oval diamonds are recently my most requested style. Their elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size and also makes the finger appear longer and slimmer. Beware of the Bow-Tie effect. An oval is an ideal choice for a customer who likes the fire and brilliance of a round diamond but wants something more unique.
Also called “teardrop,” a pear cut diamond gets its name because of its single point and rounded end. The unique shape is a way to make a bit more of a statement. Like ovals, Pear cut diamonds have a slimming effect on fingers, especially when they have an elongated length-to-width ratio but can also have a bow-tie effect. More than any other diamond shape, Pear cut diamonds appear the largest for their carat weight. Pears mask inclusions very well but tend to show warmth in their tip in lower colors.
Marquis Cut diamonds are similar to a Pear Cut diamond but they have two points, instead of one. They have an elongated shape which makes them appear larger than other shapes and also finger flattering. Marquis can have a bow-tie effect just like the Pear and Oval Cut diamond. They hide clarity well but can show warmth near the points.
Radiant cut diamonds have straight edges and cut corners, just as the Emerald, but feature brilliant faceting. Radiant diamonds hide both color and clarity very well, making them an excellent value.
The standards for Cushion cuts vary more than most other shapes, and personal taste will dictate choice. Cushion cut diamonds often have lots of fire, which is part of their appeal. Cushions hide inclusions very well and are known for their soft, pillow like shape.
The Emerald Cut diamond stands out from its other diamond counterparts because of its clean lines and rectangular facets. Very finger flattering due to their long shape. They’re a very rare and distinctive diamond cut. Emerald Cuts require an eye-clean clarity grade because their straight cut and open facets do not hide imperfections like other diamonds. Emeralds have a more glass like-look.
The Asscher Cut diamond is also known as the square emerald. They also have a step cut with clean lines and rectangular facets. They have cropped corners, giving them a somewhat octagonal shape. However, they do produce more brilliant than an Emerald Cut diamond.
The Princess cut looks like an inverted pyramid from the profile view and has sharp corners. Princess-cut diamonds are extremely brilliant which helps hide inclusions well. A princess-cut diamond should always be set with prongs that protect the four corners (the most likely location for chipping).
Now that we know our diamond shapes, let’s talk about the diamond basics and the infamous 4 C’s. The 4 C’s are known as color, clarity, cut and carat weight.
Color is basically how white the diamond is.
The diamond color scale starts at ‘D’ which is completely colorless. With each step down in color, the diamond becomes warmer, meaning it becomes more yellow. The color scale goes all the way down to ‘Z’, which would be completely yellow. Color ‘DEF’ are considered colorless, and J is near colorless. This is usually the range we recommend staying between, making sure your diamond faces up bright and white.
Clarity is probably the trickiest of the 4C’s.
A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number and size of natural imperfections and/or blemishes found in and on the stone. In the industry these imperfections are referred to as inclusions. Most of these inclusions are so tiny you would never be able to see them with the naked eye. Here is the clarity scale:
- Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions or surface marks are visible to a skilled grader using magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under magnification
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious to the naked eye
If you are looking for a diamond, don’t get too hung up on the clarity. As long as the imperfection is not visible to the naked eye, you are good to go. We recommend staying in the SI range for an eye-clean diamond but seeing a diamond in person is always a must.
Cut is how well-proportioned and how well the diamond is cut.
These grades start at Excellent, then Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Only Round Cut diamonds are given a cut grade because they have the most standardized proportions. For the other fancy shapes, you have a polish and symmetry grade instead of a cut grade, but the range is the same.
Carat Weight is very simple.
This is just how much the diamond physically weighs. Most people associate how much the diamond weighs with how large the diamond looks. All though that is a factor, it also depends on the dimensions of the diamond itself.
Now that we have learned all about the diamond basics, let’s talk about tips for purchasing a diamond.
Most people have heard the rumor that you have to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring, but that is just not true! Your budget is personal and probably the first significant purchase. There is no rule saying you can only spend so much or so little. Especially this day and age, it is time to start making our own rules. It doesn’t matter if you want to spend 1 weeks’ salary or 6 months’ salary on a ring, as long as you:
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Know how you want to spend your money
- Be realistic with what your budget can get you
– First, pick a number that you are comfortable spending. No budget it too big or small.
– Next, determine how you want to spend your money. Do you want to put all of your money into the diamond and have a plain mounting or do you want a mounting with a bunch of diamonds? This depends on the style you are going for and personal taste. There are some people that would rather have a larger or higher quality diamond in a simple solitaire mounting, while there are others who care less about the size or quality of the center diamond and prefer a blingy setting. Either way, this is something you should know from the beginning.
Most importantly, be realistic with what your budget can get you. Take my advice and don’t look at anything above your budget. If you have no clue what you can get for your budget you can always reach out and ask me, I would love to help.
When shopping for an engagement ring, some people find that their budget doesn’t get them the diamond size that they were hoping for. But we have some good news! There are several things you can do to get the most bling for your buck. One of the most popular tips is adding a Halo!
Halos are great for enhancing the size and look of your diamond, making your diamond look a carat or two larger than its actual size. A halo is essentially a frame of smaller diamonds surrounding your center stone. If your diamond isn’t as large as you would like it to be, setting your diamond into a halo is the answer! This will give you the look of a larger stone without having to spend the extra money.
Lastly, let’s talk about some Do’s and Don’ts before the big ‘I DO’
Buying an engagement ring can be an overwhelming process. Not only does it mark a new chapter in your life but also tends to be a big investment. Making this once happy experience a very stressful one. Follow these helpful tips and relax!
- Work with a trusted source. Just like people, no two diamonds are the same. Options are endless and can be overwhelming. That is why you should have a trusted advisor guiding you through this process and ultimately providing you with a curated selection of high-quality diamonds.
- Have a firm budget & stick to it. There are no real rules that dictate how much someone has to spend on an engagement ring anymore, so find a price that you are comfortable with & draw the line. Don’t look at diamonds outside of your budget!
- Before shopping around, have an idea of what style your significant other wants. If you’re thinking of getting engaged, chances are they have dropped a few hints of what kind of ring they want. If you didn’t catch on to these hints right away, consult with their close friends/family.
- Buy based off the certificate alone. Buying a diamond from the certificate alone can be very dangerous. Even if two diamonds have the same grade on paper, there is a chance they look very different. Each diamond has its own unique characteristics and inclusions. As important as it is to buy a diamond with a certificate, the certificate is just a supplement to the diamond to assure that you are getting exactly what you paid for. Protect your investment, see the diamond in person and don’t buy strictly based off the certificate.
- Do all of your shopping at once. This is an important purchase, so don’t rush it! Be sure to shop around, viewing all of your options before deciding which one is perfect.