How to Select the Perfect Engagement Ring
How should you approach finding the perfect engagement ring? Some people look through bridal magazines or search online to get ideas of styles they might like, then head to the jewelry store with a few pictures on their cell phone. Some people go right to the stores to see what’s available, and try on rings until they find the one that meets the dual goals of being beautiful and affordable.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those approaches. But, what many people may not realize is that 80 to 90 % of the value in an engagement ring is the center diamond. The gold or platinum mounting and the small diamonds that may be part of the design usually only account for about 10 to 20% of the total price.
Of course, we all know that an engagement ring is a symbol of our love and our commitment. And we are often inspired by the romance, and enchanted by the beauty of the ring. But we also know it represents a substantial investment. Why not take the time to discover the diamond that embodies the characteristics that are important to you, and then locate the mounting to put it in?
As with many worthwhile things in life, selecting the perfect diamond involves some time and effort. Several factors need to be considered—starting with the well-known four C’s of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
• Cut: This is not the same as shape, cut refers to the diamond’s symmetry and proportions. The quality of the cut is what gives the diamond its sparkle, fire and brilliance. The Gemological Institute of America gives diamonds a cut grade of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor.
• Color: The diamond color scale begins at D (which is clear white), and goes through the alphabet to Z (with brown, grey or yellowish tints). Generally, colorless diamonds are more valuable than those with discernable tints of color. (There are exceptions for “fancy” color diamonds, which can be much more valuable than white or colorless.)
• Clarity: Almost all diamonds have small natural “birthmarks” within them known as inclusions. These do not necessarily affect the beauty, but the fewer inclusions, the more valuable the diamond. The GIA clarity scale begins with Flawless (Fl), which is extremely rare; then Internally Flawless (IF), with only a surface blemish; VVS1 and VVS2 (very, very slightly included); VS1 and VS2 (very slightly included); SI1 and SI2 (slightly included); and I1, I2, I3 (inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye).
• Carat Weight: This is the size of the stone. A carat is broken down into 100 points, so that a half-carat diamond is actually 50 points, written as .50 carat.
By selecting the right combination of these factors, you will be able to find a diamond that is just right for you and fits within the budget.
Rather than being seduced by a beautiful ring design, with little knowledge of the main element—the diamond, we should fall in love with our perfect diamond, then select the ring where it will live. After all, styles and trends change over the years, but a diamond is forever! If you have spent your time and effort selecting a quality diamond, you can always have it reset into a different mounting style five years from now. And on your 10th anniversary, when your husband upgrades your one-carat to a two-carat, you can have your original diamond set into a pendant, so that it always remains close to your heart. Now that is the true romance and beauty in an engagement ring.