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Engagement Ring Know-how: The 4 "C's"


Some quick facts to help you select a quality diamond
for your engagement ring

Every one loves diamonds.  From the hallmark song "diamonds are a girls best friend" to the massively overdone rings that celebrities don on a daily basis, diamonds have become the central figure for an engagement ring where the cardinal rule is easily observable: the bigger the better! 

But not everyone can afford a huge diamond ring.  Moreover, not everyone can afford an acutely detailed ring where the additions of filigree and milgrain, and dozens of pave diamonds, extends the price of your dream ring by a hefty chunk.  Of course there are always the basic questions of what type of diamond, what size of diamond, what type of metal, etc. etc. to decide on as well- each decision from clarity to cut to carat weight also directly affects your price tag.  Every decision executed towards picking a diamond ring directly affects the final cost.  So where exactly do you draw the line?  To help you realistically budget your special purchase here are a few facts to keep in mind when out "diamond hunting"...

When trying to purchase a ring always keep in mind the following items about diamonds; The first four are known as the classic 4 C's in diamond selection:

  • Color- do you want a white diamond, or is your fiancée particularly interested in a colored diamond like a yellow, pink, or blue colored stone?  When looking for a white diamond (also referred to as a colorless diamond) be sure to ask for the color rating.  Color ratings rate from D-Z with D being a white diamond and Z being the most light yellow in diamond color. The closer the stone rates to D the more valuable it is.
  • Cut- the cut rating reflects the total number of facets in the stone and its ability to produce a brilliant effect by maintaining good proportion and shape with respect to its overall shape and size. The more facets and the better the proportion, the more valuable the diamond.
  • Clarity- what is the clarity rating of your diamond?  Can you see visible inclusions (flaws in the carbon of the diamond: usually either clear or black)?  Are the inclusions detectable by a loupe, or do you need a magnifying glass to spot the inclusions?  Are the inclusions carbon-based (which will appear black in color) or do they simply look like tiny cracks in the internal structure?  The fewer the inclusions the more valuable the stone.
  • Carat Weight- what size do you want your center stone to be?  Are you looking for a solitaire or a center stone with adorning side stones?  Every additional diamond increases cost but in general, a lot of small diamonds will cost less than one large stone because the larger diamonds are more rare, and thus more valuable.

The "5th C"?

  • Conflict Diamonds- With DeBeers controlling 50% of the diamond market many people are opting not to purchase these so called "conflict stones".  If you do not want to purchase a DeBeer stone ask your vendor for the certification of the diamond or proof of its source.

More Diamond Quick Tips

  • Certification:  A certified diamond will contain a document approved by either the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the AGS (American Gem Society) that will confirm the "4 C's" of the diamonds you are looking to purchase.  A certificate does not give an appraisal value for your stones.
  • Viewing the Diamond- Always look at your prospective diamonds under a loupe, a magnifier, or both before buying!  Honest jewelers will allow you to look at a stone against a white backdrop which reflects the true properties of the diamond.  A black backdrop will make the stone look more brilliant and falsely enhance its characteristics.  When viewing your diamond always be sure to look at it either with no backdrop, or with a white backdrop.

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