How to Select a Diamond Engagement Ring

So you’re ready to pop the question, but you need one more thing: the ring. How do you go about getting one – and the right one? How do you make sure that glittering diamond staring up at her will be appealing and something she’s proud to show off to her friends?

If the diamond engagement ring is from you,she’ll be proud to wear it, but if it’s also tasteful and spectacular, she’ll be excited to show that diamond around. Most ladies have strong opinions about fashion, so it’s time to start listening – and looking.

What does her other jewelry look like? Does she pick out her accessories herself? Are there friends and relatives whose opinion on jewelry she values? These people could be helpful to you in your selection.

Don’t be afraid to ask her about her fashion opinions on other jewelry she looks at – Is gold de rigueur? Is platinum passé? Is there such a thing as too big a diamond? She’ll be flattered you’re taking an interest in her opinion. Just don’t be too obvious about what you’re after, or you’ll spoil the surprise.

Once you’ve got an idea of what she likes, it’s time to translate that into diamond engagement ring buying lingo. Learn how to look for cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

The “Four C’s” are best assessed when looking at a loose diamond. You can select and purchase a loose diamond and a setting separately for your diamond engagement ring and any jeweler will set the loose diamond for you.

The safest way to know what you’re getting for your money is to purchase a certified diamond. There are many independent laboratories which certify diamonds, including the Gemology Institute of America (GIA), The International Gemological Institute (IGI) and The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL).

Cut is the most important of the “Four C’s” and refers to the proportion of its angles, which determine its brilliance. To get an engagement ring that really sparkles, be careful to select the right cut. The standard rating for cut used by the Gemology Institute of America (GIA) and the diamond industry is Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.

Note that diamond cut is not the same as the diamond shape. Cut includes the reflecting surfaces on the sides and bottom surface of the diamond, while shape refers to the outline of its diameter. Standard diamond shapes are: Round Brilliant, Pear, Marquise, Oval, Heart, Cushion, Princess, Emerald, Radiant, Trilliant, and Asscher. The diamond shape you select is purely your (or her) personal preference. All of these shapes are appropriate in a diamond engagement ring.

Color ranges from clear to colored, and is ranked alphabetically, from D, for a perfectly clear diamond, to Z for the darkest color. Unless you’re looking specifically for a colored diamond, it is recommended you stay as close to D as you can get. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) ranks J as the last of the white colors. Clarity is judged by the number and size of inclusions within the diamond. Inclusions are mineral deposits inside of the diamond – also called flaws, crystals, feathers and clouds, depending on their appearance. A diamond engagement ring with the least number of inclusions is the most desirable. Certified diamonds will have a clarity rating issued, which will be one of the below:

FL – Flawless. The highest rating. Extremely rare and high quality.

IF – Internally Flawless. A diamond may have surface scratches that can be polished out.

VVS1 – Very, Very Slightly Included, 1st rank. Very difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification.

VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included, 2nd rank. Still an excellent quality diamond.

VS1 and VS2 – Very Slightly Included. Inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.

SI1 and SI2 – Slightly Included. Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible with the naked eye.

I1, I2, I3 – Included. Easily detectable by the naked eye. These clarity rankings are not recommended for a diamond engagement ring.

One diamond carat is equal to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. Diamonds are weighed most accurately when they are loose diamonds – not mounted in a setting. Each carat is divided into “points.” A 1-carat diamond has 100 points, 1/2 carat would have 75 points and so on. The larger a diamond is, the more carats. Very large diamonds are very rare, so the larger a diamond is, the more each additional point will cost you. So how do you use all of the Four C’s to get the best diamond engagement ring for your budget? Consider that you could get a diamond with perfect color and clarity but it would be very small.

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