How to Pick the Perfect Diamond for an Engagement Ring
When beginning the journey of picking the perfect diamond for your proposal, there are several factors to consider. Although this can seem like a stressful purchase, it doesn’t have to be. If you start the process by getting educated, it can be a very exciting and memorable experience.
Selecting a Diamond Shape
The first step is deciding the shape of the center diamond. You want to select a center diamond that your partner will love for years to come. This may be a transparent conversation you two have together, or you may need to do some detective work.
A good initial approach is to see if they have a Pinterest board. If they do, you might just find they have pinned their dream engagement ring styles. If there are several shapes posted such as round and pear cut, see what shape they gravitate to the most. If there is no Pinterest board, try chatting with their closest friends or relatives; they may be able to give you some great insights. If all of their options are a bust, think about your partner’s style. If you would consider them classic, think round, oval, or emerald cut. If they typically seek to stand out from the crowd, think pear or radiant cut.
When you journey off to the hunt, do some research on jewelers, read their reviews, and pick between two to four places to start. Prior to going in, call and chat with them, tell them what shape or shapes you are interested in and give them an understanding of your budget. This will allow them to be prepared for your arrival, they should have several options in different sizes and qualities for you to choose from, not just one diamond.
Getting Your GIA Report
Before viewing diamonds, do some research and get educated. There are several factors in selecting the perfect diamond. One of the most important things to do is purchase a diamond with a GIA report.
The Gemological Institute of America is the only non-profit grading laboratory with a mission to protect the consumer. What does that mean? The GIA has your interest first. They grade the quality of diamonds very strictly to ensure the diamond you purchase is in fact the quality the jeweler explained to you it was.
This takes out the benefit of the doubt and protects your purchase. One very important thing to understand is, just because you are buying with a GIA report, doesn’t mean you are buying the right diamond for you. You must get associated with the quality factors of diamonds to ensure you check all your boxes on the GIA report.
The 4Cs of Diamond Grading
Understanding the 4Cs of diamond grading can seem daunting, but in actuality, it is quite simple.
The first C stands for carat weight, carats is how they measure the mass of a diamond, there are 100 points in 1 carat. Carat weight affects the price of the diamond. For example, a 1.50-carat diamond will be priced significantly higher than the price of a 1-carat diamond. If you are looking for a 2-carat diamond, you definitely want to explore 1.80-carat or 1.90-carat diamonds for the extra dollar savings.
One of the most overlooked things in carat weight by the consumer is the measurement of the diamond's table, how big the diamond faces up. You don’t want to purchase a 1-carat diamond that faces up as a .90-carat, but you do want to purchase a diamond that weighs .90 and faces up as a 1-carat.
The second C of diamond grading is color. The color chart for diamonds starts at D and goes all the way to Z. For engagement ring diamonds it is best to stick between D-J, but there are variables in this based on the shape you choose. The higher the color grade of a diamond, the more colorless it is. A D colorless diamond will be perfectly clear like that of a pure drop of water.
Further down the color chart, you will see hues of yellows, browns, and sometimes even greens. Round diamonds carry color wonderfully: you can shop in the range of D through J. The oval cut diamond is a shallower cut and carries color more predominantly. It is best to stick to D through H in color.
One of the most important things to remember is that you are looking for a colorless diamond that refracts the rainbow, not a white diamond. When viewing diamonds it is best to view a range of colors to see what is the best fit for you. You may find you are in love with the colorless range, or you may find that the near-colorless range is just as beautiful to you and having a larger diamond is more important.
The third C is for clarity. Clarity refers to natural inclusion that occurs in a diamond when it is formed, where the crystal structure is not formed perfectly. There are flawless diamonds, but most people purchase a diamond with some flaws that are not visible to the naked eye, as flawless diamonds are some of the most expensive.
The clarity chart starts at Flawless and goes all the way to Included 3. From VVS1 to SI2 the GIA is saying, YES natural inclusion has occurred but they are not apparent with the naked human eye. What is important to understand is that in the SI region, what may be not apparent to one could be apparent to another. You want to purchase a diamond that the inclusion is not eye visible, as this will become the focal point of the diamond.
Purchasing an SI1 diamond is very common as you can put more of your budget towards carat and color which are more apparent with the naked eye, but just because two diamonds are graded SI1, does not mean they are equivalent.
You want your SI1 inclusions to not be dead center, they should be hidden in a facet, or off the table of the diamond. There is a strategy in this purchase and you want to ensure the jeweler you are working with has your best interest. Always be sure to view the diamond under a loop, locate the inclusion, and then look with your naked eye. If you can then clearly see the inclusion, that may not be the diamond for you.
The 4th C is Cut, this is your sparkle factor. This is very important, as we all love diamonds for how they scintillate the light. If you are buying a round diamond, it will have a cut, polish, and symmetry grade. If you are purchasing a fancy shape diamond, (any shape not round), it will have a polish and symmetry grade but no cut grade. All of these factors are important and it is best to check all the boxes.
Cut, polish, and symmetry are graded with the same terminology and independently: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor. It is best to stick with excellent or very good for cut, polish, and symmetry. If you are purchasing an oval diamond it could have excellent polish, and excellent symmetry, but you may find you like the luster of an excellent and very good grade better. This is why it is so important to view a diamond before purchasing; sparkle is to not only be graded on paper, but by your personal eye.
Selecting the perfect diamond should be fun, it is indeed one of life's most exciting times. You don’t have to be a diamond expert, but knowing the basics is the best way to pick a diamond that you will undoubtedly love!