Dec 21, 2016 5:50:05 PM

Engagement Rings 101: Learn About Diamonds

Posted by Raffi Rupchian tag icon Learn About Diamonds

That diamond ring you’ve been eyeing on your morning commute doesn’t have to break the bank. You put in a hard day’s work at the office and you want to impress your fiancé with a surprise diamond ring of the highest quality. Don’t let price become a barrier. There are actually affordable options for guys in the market for a diamond ring.  

For the price of tickets to a Lakers playoff game at Staples Center (when they get back to the NBA postseason), you can wow your future wife with a sparkling, gleaming diamond that she will cherish forever. Let’s break it down and learn about diamonds -- classification, style, and budget.

Certification and Classification

Before you rush off to buy that engagement ring, make sure that it is has been graded by the Gemological Institute of America. You want to make sure that your diamond has the seal of approval from this world-renowned organization.

There are four criteria diamonds are classified by, known as “The Four C’s.” They are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

Cut

While it is natural to assume that the cut refers to the shape of the diamond, it actually refers to how light is transmitted through and bounces off the diamond, according to the Gemological Institute of America. This is what gives diamonds the signature sparkle we are all used to seeing on the halftime commercials of our big screen TV down in the man cave.

Color

Lack of color makes a rare diamond. A perfectly rare diamond is as pure as a drop of water -- completely clear with no hues. When assessing your diamond, make sure it is crystal clear with the highest color grade by the Gemological Institute of America or the European Gemological Laboratory.

Clarity

Cleanliness is what we are after when we talk about clarity. Are there any flaws or blemishes when viewed under a microscope? Can those same impurities be seen with the unaided eye? The closer you get to 100% clarity, the rarer the diamond.  Most important of all, - do not confuse clarity with the cut. In the context of diamonds, clarity is only a measure of the amount of impurities within a diamond. It DOES NOT affect sparkle and brilliance - that characteristic is influenced by the diamond’s cut. Many consumers realize that clarity grades at either VS2, SI1, or SI2 yield eye-clean options while escaping from paying high premiums for rarity.

Carat Weight

The carat weight is the weight of a diamond measured in carats. A metric "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams. Large diamonds are rarer than smaller diamonds and thus considered more valuable and have a higher price point. However, it is important to consider that a diamond’s price is ultimately a factor of all four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

Style

What is your fiancé’s wardrobe looking like? Her taste in music? Movies? Fashion sense? Consider what defines your fiancé’s style when choosing an engagement ring. You aren’t just choosing a diamond, but a setting -- the metal framework that your diamond is mounted on -- and that will perhaps be even more important in terms of style than the diamond itself. The band is also important. Common choices include platinum, gold, or a mixture of the two.

Budget

Back to where we started. Can you afford a diamond engagement ring that doesn’t look like a cheap imitation? Of course. But you will need a budget. Figure out your budget limitations and start putting aside money now.

There are different designer collections to consider or it might make more sense to consider a jewelry store with original in-house designs.

Ring options include engraved, pavé set, halo, rose gold, microprong, and solitaire among others.

According to The Knot, the average ring costs $5,978. There are options for bringing the price down.

You can choose a smaller stone but make it appear larger with halo setting -- smaller stones that circle the main stone. Another way to make it look like there are more karats on that smaller center stone is to line the band with pavé diamonds -- crushed diamonds that will make the entire engagement ring sparkle. You can also make your diamond appear bigger by opting for an emerald cut that isn’t as shiny but allows the diamond to cover more surface.

The prong setting means less metal and thus means a lower price. So choose prong. Choose less metal. Choose a lower price point.

You can save money as well by purchasing carats just shy of the whole number, for example, choosing 1.8 ct.  instead of 2 ct. Also, don’t be a perfectionist. As stated above, color and clarity can make a big difference in price. You can save money with a few flaws and blemishes and the color a bit off. Nothing is perfect and your diamond doesn’t have to be either.

While you will likely spend a few thousand bucks on your engagement ring, remember that you are committing to the love of your life for, well, life. So what is a couple of paychecks when compared to eternal love?

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