Buying a Diamond – Picking the Perfect Engagement Ring

Not sure she’ll say yes? If you’ve got a tiny satin box with a tiny and shiny rock, you’ll most likely receive a positive response coupled with a tight hug, a kiss, a tearful “thought you’d never ask.” How can a lady resist a stone? This kind especially? She’s had her share of pebbles from the beach, she’s ready for the ones that were excavated from deep under the crevices of the earth.

Funny how a diamond can change a woman’s feelings overnight – it’s almost like the gods engineered it that way. It seems that for some lovers, a diamond is much stronger than a love potion.

Because you weren’t sure your lady love would say yes, you held off buying a diamond ring. In the last two weeks, however, she’s been dropping hints – like settling down because she’s tired of the dating scene and that she wants to start hearing the pitter-patter of small feet before her biological clock flies out the window.

You’re lying there, staring at the ceiling, and your gut instincts are saying, “ask her now before she shops somewhere else.” You scratch your head because you don’t know a thing about diamonds; what’s worse you can’t tell between a natural and a synthetic diamond.

Beads of sweat are forming on your forehead because you’re also worried that a small, insignificant rock is going to make you lose a year’s worth of salary. All of a sudden you think of your lawyer because you want to ask him if it’s legal to ask for the ring back if she decides to break up the engagement.

Relax, there’s no hanky panky to buying a diamond. First, talk to your friends who have bought one and decide what kind of budget you’re willing to allocate to this glitzy little thing that’s going to speak oodles of your commitment and undying devotion eternally and indefinitely.

What was that popular expression again – a diamond is forever?

Buying a Diamond: Tuck these Tips In!

Gather opinions

As suggested, talk to your friends and relatives who have bought diamonds for their beloved. Not only will you get a list of reputable jewelers, they may offer a few pointers so you avoid the usual pitfalls of a neophyte.

Fix your budget

Diamonds can cost thousands, even millions of dollars, but they’re certainly not the monopoly of the fabulously wealthy. You need not be filthy rich and notoriously famous to be able to afford a diamond. If you visit two or three jewelry stores downtown and speak to the sales person, you will be shown a wide selection of diamonds with their price tags. Be careful. Some sales persons succeed in getting buyers to “up the ante” so to speak, when they feel that a customer is ready to make a purchase. They’ll appeal to your emotion – as well as remind you that your girl is worth much more than what you have decided to spend. And they’ll dazzle you with the stones – how they give off a prism of light, how they’ll never be scratched, and all that.

And you know what? They know what they’re talking about.

Know thy 4Cs – Make that 5!

The 4Cs relate to color, clarity, cut and carat weight. One diamond expert said that people should add a 5th C – credentials. We’ll talk about the first four:

Color: when grading diamonds, color ranks up there. The most desired diamonds in the world are those that lack color. How does a gemologist test a diamond’s color? He takes the gem, lays it on a black background and exposes it to ultraviolet light. This is the test that will clue you into the fluorescence of the stone. Most diamonds give off a blue hue, but may show tints of brown or yellow. Years ago, the letter A was assigned to rate a diamond’s color but it caused a bit of confusion that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) decided to step in. They introduced a grading system beginning with the letter D to indicate colorless diamonds up to Z to demonstrate the complete range of diamond colors. This system has remained and is used throughout the industry.

Clarity: a jeweler will use his 10X magnifying glass to inspect the diamond’s appearance based on clarity. No one can do this just using the naked eye. Again, the GIA system of grading diamonds based on clarity is widely in use. People think that clarity shouldn’t be a major issue because they say that if you can’t see it with a naked eye, why worry about it? Perhaps they have a point. But for someone who is in the business of buying and selling diamonds, or simply wishes to put together a small collection, diamond clarity should be a crucial factor in evaluating a diamond. Clarity justifies one’s investment.

Cut: don’t confuse cut with shape. To help you make the distinction, think of cut as the process of converting – or transforming if you will – a rough stone into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Shape, on the other hand, is the actual form of the diamond whether it’s round, rectangular or oval.

There are three basic diamond cuts: the first is the brilliant cut. It has a minimum of 58 facets. If the diamond in the rough (coming out of the mines) has some flaws, a brilliant cut could camouflage them. While brilliant is the most popular cut, a potential diamond buyer would see variations of the brilliant cut. One such variation is what experts call the step-cut – that’s when rectangular is called the emerald cut – the second type of diamond cut. When a cutter combines the step cut and the brilliant cut, the rectangle becomes a radiant cut; and when combined with a square-shaped stone, is called the princess cut.

Innovations have begun to appear in the cutting industry. For example, 57 to 58 facets were the norm in the old days; today there are as many as 144 facets boasted by jewelers and cutters. The number of facets determines the degree of sparkle one gets in a diamond but the prices are steep.

Daniel J. Dennis, Jr. who wrote Gems: A Lively Guide for the Casual Collector (1999) recommends that when you buy a diamond make sure that the cut of the stone is in direct proportion to the shape. His advice: “Look into the stone face-up and check for dead spots visible to the naked eye. Make sure there is adequate depth by examining the stone from the side as well as the bottom. Most essentially, don’t be embarrassed to borrow a jeweler’s loupe for your inspection, if you don’t already have one. Any reputable dealer will be happy to oblige.”

Carat Weight: this is, believe it or not, the least important of the 4Cs, because bigger isn’t necessarily better. (That rule applies only to double whoppers). When buying a diamond, remember this fundamental rule: a smaller but higher quality diamond is more valuable than a larger, inferior quality gem. Pay attention to the first 3Cs, then consider carat weight if you must.

Dennis also says know the difference between a carat and points. One carat is the equivalent of 100 hundred points. Thus half a carat is equal to 50 points. If you had to compare diamonds where their color, clarity and cut were equal, the largest one would hold more value. The author also shares this great piece of advice. Let’s say you’re shopping for a diamond band ring and you’re faced with three choices:

a) choice 1 – has ten stones
b) choice 2 – has twenty-five stones
c) choice 3 – has 50 stones.

Each of them sells for $500.00. They’re all similar in quality. Which one should you buy? If you go with choice 1, bravo, you’ve nailed it!

The Fifth C stands for “Credentials”

In this context, credentials would be the certificates that you request if you’re buying an expensive diamond. Certificates are like legal, binding documents to confirm your investment. Before you sign a check or have your credit card swiped, speak to the jeweler about any certifications that come with the purchase of the diamond. He may present one from the American Gemological Society or Diamond High Council or the Gemological Institute of America. The Diamond High Council is based in Belgium, so there may be other European certifying bodies as well.



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