When it comes time to start shopping for an engagement ring, many men find diamonds intimidating. Not only are they expensive, but the diamond will be worn by their fiancé and later wife for the rest of her life. There is a lot riding on this purchase, and most want to make sure that they do their homework to ensure everyone is happy.
Here are some steps to help get you started…
1. Before you start on your quest to understanding diamonds, you’ll first need to find out what your available budget is. It doesn’t matter whether you have saved cash or intend on financing your engagement ring, you will still need to find out what your realistic budget is. The diamond industry advises 1-2 months salary, but of course this is a personal decision and really depends on what you can afford. This is a crucial first step because it will help to determine other factors towards your engagement ring purchase. For example, this is the first question that I always ask when readers contact me because this gives me an indication of what color and clarity characteristics I can work with to maximize your carat weight for your given budget.
2. Find out what diamond shape your soon-to-be-fiance likes. If she hasn’t mentioned what she wants, then perhaps you can ask her family or friends for hints and tips on what to get her. If you are still clueless and want to keep your engagement a secret from everyone, then most men choose either a traditional round brilliant diamond or princess cut diamond as these are the two most popular shapes. For the more adventurous, another popular diamond shape is the cushion cut diamond shape. Overall, this should be a fairly simple decision that you may already have an answer for.
3. With regard to a diamond’s carat weight, you want to ensure that your diamond is proportioned correctly. For example, you do not want a round brilliant diamond that is cut too steep/deep. “Steep/Deep” is an industry term for diamonds that carry more carat weight in the pavilion or lower half of the diamond. Many diamond cutters cut diamonds for weight rather than beauty. This is because they can get more money for a higher carat weight diamond. However, smart diamond buyers know that the best diamonds are well proportioned, no matter which shape they are.
Carat weight has the biggest influence on a diamond’s price. Therefore, if a diamond is cut to carry more carat weight in the pavilion, although it may be a 1.00ct diamond, the diameter of the crown portion (top) of the diamond may actually be smaller than a correctly proportioned “ideal” cut diamond. To illustrate this point, consider that it is very common to come across a 1.00ct “ideal” cut diamond that looks visually BIGGER than a 1.00ct “good” cut diamond. This is because the ideal cut diamond has a diameter of 6.5mm while the “good” cut has a of only 6.2mm. Due to their cut, their visual size appears either smaller or larger.
4. When it comes to a diamond’s cut, always go for an Ideal or excellent cut stone. These diamonds are cut to a precise mathematical formula that ensures each facet is in proportion to one another. Ideal and excellent cut stones reflect back the most light and look more visually appealing. This goes for all diamond shapes, though the most popular and easiest to purchase are round brilliant and princess cut diamonds.
Keep in mind that a diamond’s cut directly influences it’s “sparkle” or brilliance (light that is reflected back to you visually). A poor cut stone will look dark and dead with no personality. Cut is by far the most important “C”, so it is best that you invest your money in this characteristic. Unfortunately, most online diamond vendors are still selling diamonds as if we were in the stone ages. They have no magnified pictures, no light reflector technology (ASET or ideal-scope images), no videos, etc. This is because most diamond websites do not own any of their diamonds, and instead just post a virtual list of diamonds that are actually owned by other vendors. If you want to purchase from an ethical and trusted online diamond dealer, then check out Brian Gavin Diamonds as they are one of the few that actually own their ‘Signature’ in-house diamonds. If you are interested in fancy colored diamonds then Leibish&Co are the most trusted authority in these rare beauties. ODBA also recommends other retailers ( Zoara, Enchanted Diamonds or Ritani) that do adopt the virtual diamond business model with actual diamond images and videos, but these vendors do require additional time and effort to fully evaluate a given diamond to ensure that it has top cut quality for light performance and brilliance.
5. You just need to buy a diamond that is “eye-clean”, in other words a diamond that has no visible inclusions to the naked eye. Diamond clarity refers to the number and size of tiny imperfections that occur in nearly all diamonds. The imperfections can occur on the surface of the diamond (blemish) or within the diamond (inclusion) itself. You do not need to purchase a flawless diamond to ensure that it is beautiful or brilliant; remember the CUT of a diamond is what makes a diamond brilliant. All of ODBA’s recommended diamond vendors supply 20x’s magnified pictures of each diamond in their inventory with a “virtual loop” to see what inclusions are in each diamond. You may see these diamonds in ODBA’s Diamond Search. I highly recommend purchasing your diamond online from any of these retailers as you know exactly what diamond you are getting in addition to significant cost savings.
6. Assuming that you are looking for round brilliant diamond, you would be perfectly fine to look for a diamond that is H, I, or J in color (for white gold/platinum settings) or K – M color for yellow gold settings. Diamond’s are graded on their lack of color and the most expensive diamonds in this category are the colorless diamonds (D, E, and F) and then the near colorless, (G, H, I, and J), continuing down the alphabet until you get to Z. Because color is a rarity characteristic, you can save a lot of money by purchasing a diamond that has a lower color grade. Other diamond shapes can retain color more than others, so if you are looking to save money on a fancy shaped diamond (anything other than round brilliant) then please contact me for more info.
7. To keep things safe and simple, it is best to stick with either the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gemological Society (AGS) for a diamond certificate. These two labs are the most consistent in their grading and stick to similar quality standards. Other laboratories like IGI, EGL, and HRD have been found to show greater inconsistencies across the board and generally are not reliable. Click here for an indepth review on GIA vs AGS cut grades.
8. You will find the best deals for diamonds online because they don’t have the overhead that would result in a significant diamond mark-up to the consumer. Other great advantages to purchasing your engagement ring online, is that many online diamond vendors are staying competitive by offering a) 3rd party appraisals b) 30 day money back guarantees and 3) even life-time upgrade policies.
These simple ‘Diamonds For Beginners 8 Steps’ is just a crash course in purchasing diamonds either in a store or on the internet. Don’t let the diamond buying process intimidate you. It is fairly straight forward if you know what to look for. When you think you have found a decent diamond, be sure to contact me and let me know so I can give you my opinion. I don’t sell diamonds but I do work with select vendors that are able to source through the thousands of diamonds online to ensure you get a perfectly proportioned, structurally sound diamond that will sparkle like crazy.
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