Buying a Diamond Engagement Ring
Lets be frank. If youre a guy, buying a diamond engagement ring can be pretty intimidating. Its an engagement ring, after all. Guys dont know about diamond rings. Guys know about cars and sports and stuff. Youre in over your head here. Who came up with the bright idea of making the guy pick out the diamond engagement ring anyway? Shouldnt that be the girls job? Isnt she the one whos going to wear it? What gives?
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down there, partner. We know its overwhelming, but get a grip. Now that youve decided you want to get married and propose, we can let you in on the most closely guarded secret of the Worldwide Male Fraternity. You ready for it? Here it is: Buying a diamond engagement ring is fun. And not only that, but it may well be the manliest thing youll ever do. (Just keep that on the down-low for now, though. Like we said, its a secret. You dont want us to revoke your WMF membership card, do you?)
A Monumental Purchase
Buying a diamond engagement ring is a monumental purchase. And as with any monumental purchase like a house or a car the first thing you need to do is research. We cant stress this enough. You can buy engagement rings online in this shop.
One of the most important things you can do in the pre-purchase process is find yourself a mole. This would be one of your girlfriends closest friends or relatives preferably a fellow woman who can take care of a little spy work for you. Once youve recruited someone, youre going to want their help finding out your girlfriends ring size, as well as any other pertinent information as to the kind of diamond your girlfriend might want. (Yes, there are multiple kinds of diamonds. And, no, that doesnt just mean big and small.) Its crucial that the spy you choose is someone you know you can trust with a secret. (As an incentive for keeping their lips sealed, why not offer them a chance to tag along when you buy the diamond engagement ring?)
Next up: Finding a vendor. There are many avenues by which you can travel on your way to ring-buying bliss. Many people feel most comfortable buying an engagement ring from a well-known jeweler or department store. Another great option is to find your local diamond district. There are also many reputable online retailers, which is a real plus for those who feel too pressured when shopping in person. Comfort, again, is key. This is one of the biggest, most important purchases youll ever make be comfortable with it. (And be comfortable with the return and service polices, too.)
Choosing Your Diamond Engagement Ring
Engagement rings are comprised of two parts. One is the setting, which is the band that goes around your girlfriends finger. The other is the diamond, which is… well, the diamond. Finding the perfect diamond engagement ring will involve a little mixing-and-matching on your part. The trick is to come up with the best possible combination at the best possible price.
1. Diamond Settings
A lot of guys dont realize settings are important. But the truth is, settings set the tone for the entire engagement ring.
There are two basic types of settings youll want to look at. One is called the solitaire. Solitaires are very popular because they feature a single, prominently displayed stone which is a great way to bring out the beauty of the diamond that you choose. A second type of setting is a setting with sidestones. This means there will be other, smaller diamonds or possibly diamond chips on each of your main diamonds sides. If youre looking for a little extra flair, a sparkly sidestone setting will probably do the trick.
Another thing youll want to consider, which your jeweler will probably alert you to, is the potential for an engagement ring with an available matching wedding band. Your girlfriend wont have to buy the matching band, but the option will be there for a luxurious one-two combo when you come back for wedding bands a few months down the road.
Finally, lets discuss precious metals. The two most popular options for settings are platinum and 18k gold. Now, gold, of course, is the old, reliable standard and a beautiful standard at that. The only problem with gold is that it tends to wither over time. Platinum, on the other hand, is the strongest, sturdiest metal in the universe. While platinum is tougher to fix once tarnished, it tarnishes less often than gold. Platinum is also pretty cool because it brings out a diamonds luster. However, it costs quite a bit more. A nice, low-cost alternative to platinum is white gold.
The best way to figure out whether your girlfriend will prefer gold or platinum is to check out the jewelry she already wears. Some girls swear by gold; others wont wear it. Take a look and see.
Diamond shopping isnt as simple as you might think. Which isnt to say that its hard just elaborate. Diamond shopping is sort of like a puzzle. There are five pieces: the so-called Four Cs (i.e., cut, color, clarity, and carat weight), as well as shape. Knowing that these elements exist ahead of time will help you narrow your search to the diamonds which fit both your vision of perfection as well as your budget.
Shape: The first thing youre going to want to decide is shape. Believe it or not, theres a wide range of choices. The two most popular, however, are round-cut and princess-cut (which is square). Oval and pear cuts also exist, as do a few others, but round and princess-cut are the standards because they have the most universal appeal.
Every girl has her own tastes, of course, but, in this case, it is probably best to err on the side of tradition. Some guys are drawn in by special heart-shaped diamonds, often uttering the phrase: Wow! I didnt know they made heart-shaped diamonds! Neat! Well, they do. And theyre certainly nice in their own right. The thing is, many women feel heart-shaped diamonds detract from the overall ring, because the shape becomes the star of the show. When in doubt, youre better off sticking with a nice round or princess-cut diamond. Save the creativity for the rest of the diamonds elements.
If you flip a diamond on its head, you will see that the bottom looks sort of like a pyramid, with multiple sides or facets coming to a point. The precision with which these facets are cut will determine how well the diamond sparkles once youve placed it on your girlfriends hand. Diamonds are prisms, you see. And prisms reflect light. But in order to do this, the facets have to have symmetry. Otherwise, the light that comes in through the top of the diamond will seep out through the bottom. We dont want that.
When choosing a diamond, we wouldnt recommend settling for anything less than a Good Cut. A Premium Cut is even better. And an Ideal Cut is ideal. These three grades will ensure that you dont have to worry about all the science in the paragraph above.
When light comes in through the top of a diamond, it is reflected back out as a spectrum of colors (sort of an Im rubber, youre glue phenomenon). For this to happen, though, the diamond itself must be as free of color as possible.
Gemologists rank diamond colors like teachers grade term papers the closer you get to an A, the higher the grade of the color. Diamonds rated D, E, and F are about as colorless as you will find. The only problem with those grades is that they can add a lot to the total price. Theyre sort of like having heated seats and a sunroof in your car; theyre nice features to have, but you dont have to have them. Diamonds graded G and H are considered near-colorless. These are nice, slightly less expensive alternatives, since youd need a magnifying glass just to see the color in them. Finally, grades I and J are also considered near-colorless; however, you may be able to see their color if you squint really hard.
Now that youre shopping for a diamond, its time to introduce you to a dirty little word called inclusions. Inclusions are basically birthmarks tiny blemishes commonly found on, or in, a diamond, which affect that diamonds clarity.
At the top of the clarity curve are flawless diamonds with no visible inclusions, which are rated FL (Flawless) or IF (Internally Flawless). These are very rare and very expensive. If you plan on buying one, bring a saw with you itll be the best arm and a leg you ever spent.
Next are diamonds with small, practically imperceptible inclusions. These are divided into two categories. First, there are diamonds with Very Very Slight Inclusions, which receive grades of VVS1 and VVS2; these inclusions are difficult to see even under magnification. Then there are diamonds with Very Slight Inclusions, which receive grades of VS1 and VS2; usually, these inclusions wont be visible to the naked eye.
Which brings us to SI1 and SI2 diamonds with Slight Inclusions, which may, in fact, be visible to the naked eye. Generally speaking, you wouldnt want to go quite this low on the clarity scale. (Nor would you want to drop down to I1, I2, and I3 i.e., blatant Inclusions.) If you find yourself contemplating anything lower than VS1 and VS2, you may want to consider sacrificing another aspect of the diamond, such as size. Clarity dramatically affects a diamonds overall beauty.
Diamond Carat Weight
Precious stones are measured in carats. Carat weight, therefore, refers to the actual size of your diamond.
The common misconception when it comes to diamonds is that bigger is better. Dont get us wrong: It certainly can be. But it isnt always. In truth, the perfect size is the one that will look good on your girlfriends fingers. A smaller hand will make a medium-sized diamond look big. Thats great. But by that measure, if the diamonds already big, a small hand will make it look like the Empire State Building. If thats what you want, thats a-ok. Just keep in mind, though, that some girls arent used to wearing jewelry. Some might feel clumsy with giant diamonds. Some might be on the go or play sports too much to wear them. And sometimes, a little bit less is a whole lot more.
Finally, it helps to know that diamond price tags usually depend on certain magic numbers, which are carat weights that signal dramatic price increases. For this reason, the difference in price between a .98-carat and .99-carat diamond is much smaller than the difference in price between a .99-carat and 1.0-carat. Playing around with these thresholds is a great way to reduce the effect carat weight has on the overall price (especially if youd like to put that money towards clarity, color, or cut).
Odds & Ends
Of course, in the end, the Four Cs are merely official particulars starting points. When you find the right diamond, theres a good chance youre going to know it. You may even fall madly in love with it as you stand there, staring at its brilliance in the store. Do keep in mind that its important to get a hold of your diamonds certifications. This will ensure that the diamond is everything your jeweler claims it to be. Take this paperwork to your insurer and have the paperwork filed. Ring insurance is often inexpensive. And better safe than sorry!