Monday 18 January 2016

A Guy's Guide on How to Buy an Engagement Ring: Part 1

So, you've found the one – congratulations! Maybe you are planning to surprise her with a proposal on Valentine's Day? You must be Nervous? Excited? Anxious? Confident? No matter your state of mind, you’ve come to the right place. Follow these easy guidelines and you will feel confident and secure that you have purchased a fantastic engagement ring. With Valentine’s day right around the corner, this is the perfect time to go ring shopping. Let’s get to it.

Consider this: Would you buy a car without detailed research? Of course not. Diamonds and engagement rings are even more important. Do the research, and be prepared and you will get the best possible ring you can afford.

This brings us to the first point – The Budget.

The Budget
Have a budget in mind before you start ring shopping. The budget depends completely on you – forget about any advice you may have heard in the past. Take stock of your financial status and think about your future goals. Great diamonds and great rings may be more affordable than you think!

The 4Cs
Chances are, you know a little bit about the 4Cs – cut, color, clarity and carat. No matter what anyone else has told you the cut is the most important of the 4cs. Cut determines how the diamond will sparkle. And, let’s be honest, that’s the most important question – does it sparkle?

The cut refers to the way facets or polished flat surfaces have been cut on the diamond. When light enters through a diamond, an expertly-cut diamond will refract and reflect the most light. So, better cut equals better sparkle. Period.

The good news is that you don't have to take the jeweler's word on whether the cut is good or bad. Independent gemological labs such as the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and the AGS (American Gem Society) grade diamonds without any bias on all of the 4Cs. You should choose diamonds certified by these authorities to know what you're getting. Also, it becomes easy to compare engagement rings across retailers when they are graded by GIA or AGS.

Next, the color should be considered. The GIA grades color on a scale of D to Z. These grades signify the 'white-ness' of diamonds. The grade D signifies bright white diamonds, without the presence of yellow or any other tinge. Unless compared side-by-side against a white background, most people do not begin to notice color in a diamond until around the grade of I or J. Diamonds with a grade of Z show noticeable hue.

Insider Tip: Diamonds between the grades D to H are known as "face-up white diamonds". This means that when these diamonds are set face-up in an engagement ring, they appear white to the untrained, naked eye. You can save by choosing diamonds near the grade H as colorless diamonds are more expensive than the near colorless ones.

The clarity of the diamond should be considered next. Diamonds are formed under intense pressure inside the Earth's crust so they have some natural flaws that may mar their ability to reflect light. These flaws are called 'inclusions'. The less noticeable the inclusions, the more the diamond will shine and appear clear. The GIA has a grading system for these flaws. The most rare are FL or flawless diamonds. The chart below shows all of the clarity grades for diamonds.

Insider Tip: When you understand the concept of clarity, it is easy to get the best diamond within your budget. Diamonds within the grades FL to VS2 are considered as 'eye-clean'. Their flaws are not visible to the naked eye but there is a noticeable price difference between diamonds rated FL or IF versus diamonds graded VS1 or VS2. This means most diamonds between FL and VS2 look the same to observers without magnification – this can represent a significant price differential.

The easiest of the 4 C’s to understand is the carat. The carat weight may affect the size of your rock so it's important to understand it! But be careful – carat is a measurement of weight – not size.  What does that mean?  You should keep in mind all measurements of the diamond (Length x Width x Depth) when you think of the “size” of the diamond.  What factor determines the Length, Width and Depth of the diamond?  Oh, yeah – the cut.  Remember that one?  This is a good time to say this again:  No matter what anyone else has told you the cut is the most important of the 4cs.

Insider Tip: It is common knowledge that as the carat weight goes up, so does the price of the diamond. The price of benchmark carat weights such as 1.00 ct or 1.50 ct is considerably more than carat weights like 0.90 ct. or 0.80 ct. A 0.90 ct. (or a 90 pointer diamond) can appear as big as one carat if cut well and/or when embedded in the right setting such as a halo. This is also a great way of saving when you go diamond ring shopping.

Remember to not compromise on the cut. We recommend only GIA excellent (or AGS Ideal Cut) to get stones that sparkle brilliantly. Note: GIA only grades round diamonds for cut, AGS grades both round and Princess cuts.

Now that you have insider knowledge about the 4Cs, think about the shape of the diamond of your intended’s ring. Diamonds are available in a range of shapes but the round continues to be by far the most a popular choice.

A typical round brilliant diamond has 57 facets – all designed to reflect the most light. Other shapes are cut differently so they don't have the same brilliant sparkle. Think about this when deciding on a shape other than the round brilliant. This is also why grading labs like GIA and AGS do not grade ‘fancy shapes’ for cut – there are simply too many variables to know how the light will perform. With rounds (and Princess cuts) light performance is very predictable.

Insider Tip: If you are unsure what shape your intended might like best, sneak-a-peak at her social media pages, stack of magazine clippings or Pinterest posts to get an idea of what she likes!  If all else fails (and it is intended as a surprise) ask her sister, mother or friends to get an idea of what she likes.  While you are at it you can also ask or see what type of ring (setting) she wants for the diamond and maybe her ring size!

When you are ready to start looking – make sure you have a huge number of choices.  This is simple to do: shop online. Aside from the largest possible selection, you will also find that online shopping gives you the very best prices! Most online diamond retailers have reasonable markup charges (as low as 10% to 20%)  but mall stores and local jewelers can sometimes mark-up to 500%! These stores have the overhead of sales staff, rent or mortgages, and store upkeep which must be added into the cost of the diamonds. As online retailers don't have to bear these same costs, they pass on the benefit to their customers.

Maybe the best part of shopping online is that you can relax. You can shop in your sweatpants, without any judgment and find the perfect ring for your partner all without a pushy sales agent.

Now you have the knowledge you need to find a ring that will wow your soon-to-be fiance. Get started right away!


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