Buying a diamond engagement ring can be a very tricky business. When you do finally make your grand proposal and unveil the diamond engagement ring that is supposed to sit on your loved ones left hand for the rest of her life, you naturally want the ring that you have chosen to have the ‘X factor’! You want her to reaction to be one of overwhelming joy and for her to love her diamond engagement ring as much as she does you. But how do you do this without breaking the bank? We have some helpful tips to help you choose the best diamond engagement ring and still get bang for your bucks – and it’s all about the 4C’s:
Carat weight buying tips
The most popular carat weights for diamond engagement rings are between one and two carats. If you are working to a budget then look for diamonds that are just under the popular carat weights such as 1/2 carat, 3/4 carat etc. As these diamonds fall just under the popular weight, they are often sold at a slight discount compared to diamonds of full weight. For example, a 0.75 carat diamond will typically cost less on a price-per-carat basis than a full one carat diamond. Visually, they are difficult to distinguish; in fact a smaller carat weight diamond may have a diameter equal to that of a heavier diamond, making it appear the same size when viewed from above. If you do opt for a diamond that is less than 0.75 carats, consider a marquise cut which, due to its elongated cut, will give the illusion of looking larger than other shapes of equal carat weight.
Colour buying tips
To the untrained eye colour grades of diamonds are difficult to distinguish within one grade above or below unless diamonds are compared side-by-side in a controlled environment. Even when side-by-side, changes in colour are difficult to detect in I colour and higher diamonds.
Once a diamond is set into a ring and placed in an environment that contains colour (as opposed to the all-white background used in laboratory controlled colour grading) variations in colour become even harder to detect. For example, an H colour diamond may look as colourless as a D when set in a ring under normal lighting conditions, especially if the two diamonds are not in comparison side by side.
When shopping to a budget the best value for money in what would appear to the naked eye as a colourless diamond are G-J grade diamonds this is because colour is easier to detect in larger diamonds. Therefore choosing colour grade G-H for diamonds over 1 carat in weight, and I-J for those under 1 carat is the best option. Once placed in a ring setting set in a ring, these diamonds will look just like higher colour grade diamonds. So rather than investing in higher colour, invest in a higher cut which will ensure that the very most is made of the diamond’s brilliance. As diamonds with more facets reflect more light, they tend to hide colour better than other shapes. So, consider round, princess or other modified brilliant cuts over step cuts such as emerald or asscher if you are concerned about colour.
If your first consideration is about carat weight, and you are on a budget, then you would do well to consider a yellow gold setting and a brilliant cut diamond in the K-L colour range. The yellow gold will complement the faint body colour of the diamond.
Another suggestion when looking for a diamond engagement ring with the ‘x factor’ on a budget is to would be to consider buying Colourless (D-F) fluorescent diamonds. These sell at a 5-15% discount to non-fluorescent diamonds since some people perceive fluorescence as a defect, but like anything beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is only a matter of opinion. In addition the fact is that the visible effects of faint to medium fluorescence are visible only to a gemologist using a special UV light source and not to the naked eye of anyone admiring your engagement ring.
As the glow of fluorescence glow is usually blue (which is the complementary colour to yellow) fluorescence can make diamonds of I-M colour appear up to one grade whiter. For this reason, I-M diamonds tend to sell at a slight premium when they possess Medium to Very Strong fluorescence.
Overall, fluorescence should not be a major factor in the diamond purchase since its effects on appearance are negligible, if not slightly positive. The exception would be to exercise caution in purchasing a diamond with strong or very strong fluorescence in D-H colour diamonds (which do not possess enough yellow colour to offset the blue fluorescence).
Clarity buying tips
If you are a perfectionist and really cannot tolerate imperfections, even those which you cannot see, then you will need to select a diamond in VVS2 or better – about 10% of all diamonds sold fall into this category.
However for those on a budget, the most popular range is the VS1-VS2 diamond. These diamonds appear flawless to the naked eye, and are a fraction of the price of a truly flawless diamond. Almost half of all diamonds purchased fall into this range.
The next most popular range is SI1, where the inclusions are usually not significant enough to impact the appearance of the diamond to the naked eye. Many people will opt for this clarity range in exchange for a higher cut or colour grade. This combination often results in a beautiful, lively diamond with imperfections detectable only upon close inspection. In diamonds under 1 carat, the same can be said for an SI2 grade. In diamonds over one carat (where clarity is more important, and SI2 inclusions are often easier to detect), an SI2 is often half the price of a VS1 diamond. About one third of diamonds sold fall into the SI1-SI2 range.
If your primary concerns are size and price, I1 may be your best clarity option. While the inclusions are visible to the unaided eye, you may well find the sacrifice for what it affords in size to be worthwhile.
It always follows that the larger the diamond, the easier imperfections are to detect and it is her that Clarity really does become an important factor. For diamonds over two carats, a clarity grade of VS2 or higher is a wise choice to help you avoid any signs of visible inclusions. In diamonds between one and two carats, clarity grades of SI1 or better will not have inclusions easily visible to the naked eye. In diamonds under one carat, clarity should be considered the least important of the traditional 4 Cs.
Brilliant-cut diamonds (such as round, princess, cushion, oval, pear, and marquise) hide inclusions better than step cuts (emerald, asscher). When purchasing a step-cut, move up one clarity grade, for example choose a VS2 diamond instead of an SI1 if you desire the lowest grade that has no visible inclusions.
Cut and Shape buying tips
Cut and shape are two terms which are often confused by diamond buyers. The cut of a diamond is the most important part of the equation when it comes to creating an engagement ring’s stunning sparkle as the quality of the cut determines the stone’s overall beauty and dazzle. A diamond has to be cut to create its shape. But what’s referred to as the diamond’s cut isn’t the same as its shape, they are not the same but do complement each other.
The diamond’s cut is one way of grading it. How a diamond cutter cuts facets and angles on a diamond to let the light shine through is vitally important as it has a big impact on the beauty of your diamond in three important ways: proportion, symmetry and polish. These three factors interact with and against each other affecting the way light moves within the diamond. It is akin to the sun hitting a mirror and reflecting onto another wall, except there are numerous little reflective surfaces and facets bouncing the light all over the inside of the diamond.
In a well-cut diamond, light enters through the top, or table, and reflects off the angles between the flat places (the facets) on the sides (known as the crown and the pavilion) and exits back out the top. All that light bouncing around within the diamond creates the factors of brilliance, fire and sparkle:
- Brilliance which is the brightness created by a combination of the white light reflections on and in the diamond.
- Fire being the flashes of colour you see within the diamond.
- Sparkle this happens when a diamond or a light source moves.
These three factors are the reasons that a beautiful diamond catches really catches the eye and why it appears to have an inner glow.
In a badly cut diamond, the light goes in the top, leaks out through the sides and ends up looking dull. It may even be a bigger diamond by carat weight (and thus be more expensive), because not enough of the material was cut away to give you the sparkle everyone looks for in a diamond.
The diamond shape is usually the first thing most people think about when choosing a diamond engagement ring and most women will have a preference. However, if you are unaware of her preference or a liking for a particular shape has been expressed, then consider a round diamond (known as a round brilliant) or square diamond (known as a princess) for the engagement ring. Generally speaking, the round diamond is more traditional and is generally the most popular cut of diamond chosen for engagement rings with the princess-cut running a very close second being a more modern shape for diamond engagement rings. Both these cuts are known for their higher level of brilliance and sparkle than many other shapes; they accommodate almost any ring setting, and never go out of fashion.
Length to width ratio has a major impact on the shape of a diamond. Every diamond that Rêve Diamonds sell is shown in its correct length to width ratio so that you can easily see the difference between diamonds of the same shape (e.g. a a square vs. a rectangular princess cut). If you are not sure about your preferences, search for a shape you like, and then view diamonds of various length to width ratios within that shape until you find what you like. Then, focus your search on diamonds that are within roughly 10% of your ideal length to width ratio (e.g. if you decide that your ideal radiant cut diamond has a 1.50 L/W ratio, focus your search on radiants between 1.35 and 1.65).
Other options are known as fancy shapes, and include diamond shapes like pear, marquise, cushion and heart. Depending on how these shapes are cut, all of them boast the dazzling sparkle you’re seeking for your chosen diamond engagement ring.