The engagement ring is a commitment to your future. Jewelers are there to help you make a well-informed purchase, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Professionals emphasize the importance of the stones, most commonly the diamond, in the engagement ring. They suggest focusing on the quality of the diamond rather than the setting, which can always be changed years later. Therefore, when searching for the perfect diamond, a good place to begin is with the “Five C’s”: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat, and Conscience. Experts agree that the following information is crucial to understanding what to look for in a diamond.
The visual beauty of a diamond is largely determined by the cutter and polisher when they transform the rough, natural-occurring crystal into the faceted, refined gemstone seen in the jewelry store. Ideally, the best cut will reflect the maximum amount of light back to the viewer. This reflection, called brilliance, is vital to determining value.
Cut also refers to the shape of the diamond. The most common shapes are round, pear, oval, marquis, emerald, baguette and heart. The shape of the cut contributes little to value. It’s the quality of the cut that counts.
To the untrained eye, the common diamond is somewhat colorless. However, most diamonds have a tinge of yellow, brown or gray. The completely colorless diamond is very rare and very valuable. But if a more obvious hint of yellow appeals to a couple’s personal tastes, they may get more diamond for their money. In addition to the colorless diamonds, there are rare and valuable “fancy stones,” diamonds with definite color rather than just a shade or tinge. Yellow, red, green, blue, canary and brown are some of the colors that make “fancy stones” valuable.
Since completely colorless diamonds and “fancy stones” may be out of the average couple’s price range, couples will wisely remember that shades of color lower the price of common, mostly colorless diamonds. So if a more obvious tint of yellow appeals to a couple’s personal tastes, they may get more diamond for their money.
Diamonds are formed deep in the earth from one simple mineral – carbon. As the carbon crystallizes into a diamond, imperfections make each crystal unique. Internal and external spots and lines form, lessening the clarity of the diamond.
A flawless diamond shows no surface blemishes (black or gray specs) or interior inclusions (tiny diamonds or other mineral crystals trapped inside the diamond when it formed) when examined at a 10x power magnification. Generally, the more irregularities there are, the lower the value of the diamond. However, all diamonds, except flawless diamonds, have these inclusions. Depending on the placement of these inclusions, one could still have a high quality stone. Value is also affected by those imperfections that interfere with light passage.
The weight of a diamond is expressed in carat fractions and points: 1 carat equals 100 points; 1/2 carat equals 50 points; and so on. The three other C’s discussed above – cut, color and clarity – play a greater role when computing diamond price than the weight of a diamond. If cut, color and clarity are equal, a 1-carat stone will be more valuable than a 1/2-carat. But a 1/2-carat diamond that has a better cut, color or clarity can easily cost more than the 1-carat stone.
Ask your jeweler to verify that your gem purchase is not fueling conflicts in many African countries. Many diamonds have conflict-free certification, such as those that have been through the internationally recognized Kimberley Process.
With knowledge of these “Five C’s”, you can purchase the perfect ring for you with confidence.
Engagement rings are not simply limited to diamonds. Because of the royal wedding and the Duchess of Cambridge’s stunning sapphire and diamond engagement ring, sapphires have once again witnessed a rise in popularity. Other commonly sought after gems and stones include fancy sapphires, rubies, pearls, opals, emeralds and tanzanite. Be sure to ask your jeweler for guidance, however, because these are often less durable than diamonds.