How to Buy an Engagement Ring
Congratulations on deciding to ask your special lady to marry you! You’ve just made one of the biggest decisions of your life. Now comes the hard part – purchasing an engagement ring. Considering the following:
• The average guy spends at least the equivalent of one month’s salary on a diamond engagement ring.
• This ring will be the symbol of one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have.
• This ring, considering its’ cost alone, will be something both you and your finance will live with for years to come.
There’s no doubt that this is a decision you want to get right the first time around. By following a few standard rules on buying a diamond, you can avoid some of the most common problems. First let’s take a little history and geology lesson to help you better get to know the diamond.
Where Do Diamonds Come From?
Diamonds can be up to three billion-years-old. Of naturally occurring substances on earth, they’re the hardest. In fact, they’re commonly used in diamond saw blades to cut stone, concrete, and other hard materials. They’re .5% short of being pure crystallised carbon. Diamonds are formed deep within the earth’s surface in volcano feed-pipes. Eroding volcanoes eventually release these diamonds into higher levels of gravel, where they are found through mining processes. However, the above set of natural processes doesn’t just occur everywhere; there’s actually only a few diamond mining sites found throughout the world. Once mined, the rough cut diamonds are transported to specialized diamond-cutting facilities to be cut, shaped, and polished for immediate sale or placement in a jewelry setting.
How Did Diamonds Become A Popular Engagement Ring Stone?
According to legend, Archduke Maximilian, an Austrian in love with Mary of Burgundy, decided to celebrate his engagement in 1477 by giving his future bride a diamond ring. He decided to place the diamond ring on her third, left finger, which was the finger ancient Egyptians believed held the end of a vein running straight from the heart.
Okay, now you get to look super smart when you tell your fiancé all about how diamonds are created and how they came to be the premier engagement stone. However, you still need to know those rules, or rather tips, on buying a diamond to keep you out of trouble:
The Four Cs
Consider cut, color, clarity, and carat (the four Cs) carefully as you select your diamond:
1. Cut – whether round, pear, emerald, princess, marquise, oval, etc.., a diamond’s cut isn’t a characteristic decided by nature; this is man-made and subject to errors and bad practices that can ruin the defining sparkle of a diamond. The precise way light exits and reflects from a diamond is a direct result of the angling and sizing of the 57-58 facets on the surface of a diamond. A cut too shallow or deep causes the diamond to be less brilliant. .
2. Color- white, or colorless, diamonds are graded as “D” and are rare and extremely valuable. Fancies are diamonds with strong, distinct color. Colored tones continue up the scale to a “Z”grade.
3. Clarity – the tiny clouds, feathers seen through a jeweler’s magnifying loupe . They’re called inclusions, or nature’s fingerprints. The best, most expensive diamonds are graded" IF" for internally flawless, and this scale continues to" I3" to symbolize the worst diamond clarity. As long as a diamond’s clarity is at least graded" SI1," or slightly included 1, you’ll most likely live with the “imperfection” that can’t even be seen with the naked eye anyway.
4. Carat – from the female perspective, this measurement of weight, size is usually the big concern. One carat is the equivalent of 0.2gm. One to one and one-half carats is average.
Where Should I Purchase A Diamond Engagement Ring?
You have several options, including:
An experienced, reputable jeweler should automatically go through the 4 Cs. Also worth mentioning is that diamonds can legally be artificially treated with laser, fracture filling, or irradiation. While this must be enclosed to a buyer, sellers have clever wording, such as “clarity enhanced,” to throw you off track. When selecting a jeweler, keep these points in mind:
• Staff experience in gems
• A reputable gem certificate
• A detailed receipt of purchase
• Quality warranty and/or guarantee for merchandise
• Use of their loupe on a white background for you to check clarity
Another option to ensure a diamond is to your specifications is a cert stone, which is assessed, coded, and graded by laser through an independent gem laboratory, such as the Gemmological Institute of America. Cert stones help protect you from purchasing stones that are being sold as diamonds, but that are actually substituted with other nearly colorless stones, such as white sapphires or topaz. Even worse are diamonds that turn out to actually be nearly worthless cubic zirconia.
Other alternatives to the standard jewelry store might include a wholesale distributor; antique store; auction; or, if you’re really brave, a pawn shop. The internet is overrun with diamond engagement rings. That said, it may not be a prudent choice to buy an expensive diamond that you can’t see and touch. If you choose this route, at least stick to cert stones.
The 4 Cs should really be five, with cost being the fifth. The equivalent of one month’s salary is norm, but this is a personal decision that only you know what you can and want to afford. Keep in mind that diamond rings aren’t like houses, at least in that they don’t usually have the potential to appreciate in value. In fact, with retailers commonly marking their diamonds up 50%-100%, you might lose a large portion of value the moment you and your ring leave the store.
What She Wants
There’s the perfect engagement ring, and there’s the perfect engagement ring for your significant other. You want to ensure you have the second of the two. The best way to do this is, of course, asking her and letting her in on some portion of the process. If going it alone, do remember to think about what she’d like, not what you’d like:
• What shape stones does she like?
• Are most of her rings a single large stone or multiple small stones?
• What setting style does she like?
• Are most of her pieces yellow, white, platinum, two-tone, or sliver?
• Has she seen someone else’s engagement ring in person, in a magazine, or on T.V. that she really liked?
• What do her friends or family think she’d like?