Before you rush out to a jewellers to select a diamond engagement ring you should familiarise yourself with some of the basic terms involved so as to make the perfect choice. Diamonds have different characteristics which are graded by the diamond industry. To ensure you make the best choice possible you need to learn a little about the four C’s. Luckily for you this engagement ring buying tips guide was purpose built with the novice in mind. The four C’s are considered to be the most important aspect of grading diamonds and are known as cut, clarity, colour and carat.
Key Engagement Ring Buying Tips
The cut is really the most important thing to consider when selecting an engagement ring and can represent around 50 per cent of the price of the actual diamond. The way in which a diamond has been cut will determine its brilliance. It’s important not to confuse cut with shape. The shape of a diamond simply refers to its outward appearance so it may be pear, round or emerald shaped for example.
Cut means reflective qualities and a good cut will give a diamond a level of brilliance, which is the brightness that shines from the heart of the stone. It’s the finish and the angles of any diamond which will determine its ability to handle light which in turns means brilliance. A poorly cut diamond will enable light to leak out from the bottom or sides, rather than allowing the light to reflect directly back to the eye.
Many jewellers agree that the best cut diamonds follow a set of formulae which has been designed to produce optimum brilliance. If money is no object then you could consider buying an ideal cut diamond ring which has been made with the sole intention of giving the maximum amount of brilliance (think of a million mirrors shining in the sunshine). Other cuts include premium, very good, good, fair and poor which all have different levels of quality. Basically, your budget will probably dictate what cut you decide on.
The actual colour of a diamond depends on the formation of the stone. Colourless diamonds are considered to be the most desirable because of the way that they allow maximum light refraction. Diamonds which are not completely colourless may inhibit brilliance by absorbing more light. When diamonds are forming they usually contain carbon and other minerals and these factors can determine what colour the diamond will actually be.
Jewellers tend to use a colour scale for customers choosing diamonds and this scale starts at the letter D which is colourless and finished at the letter Z. The further along the alphabet that the diamond colour is the more colour it has and the less rare it becomes. It’s a scientific fact that there are actually only a few rare diamonds which are considered to be 100% colourless and this is simply down to the formation process.
Because diamonds are not made in a factory or laboratory they are bound to have flaws. This is down to the natural formation process. Most diamonds contain some flaws or inclusions which have occurred naturally. The visibility, number and size of these flaws will determine what the clarity of any diamond is. Clearer diamonds naturally create more brilliance so these are considered to be the most precious and are particularly the most expensive to buy.
Diamonds may also contain blemishes which are not an internal flaw. A blemish can be a scratch or chip which is confined to a diamond’s surface.
The clarity scale ranges from Imperfect to Flawless
F or FL – signifies a flawless diamond which has absolutely no inclusions when examined by a qualified diamond grader when using 10X magnification.
IF – means that a diamond is internally flawless so, contains no internal inclusions, but could have some minor surface blemishes.
VVS1, VVS2 – These diamonds are just slightly included and the inclusions are difficult to be seen by a trained diamond grader when using 10X magnification.
VS1, VS2 – Again, only very slightly included which may be detected by a grader when using 10 times magnifications, but perhaps with difficulty.
SI1, SI2 – Diamonds have slight inclusions which are noticeable or quite easy to spot under 10X magnification. Inclusions may even be spotted by the human eye.
I1, I2, I3 – These diamonds contain obvious inclusions to an experienced diamond grader when using 10X magnification and are easily noticeable to an unaided eye.
VVS1 and VVS2 are considered to be excellent choices for an engagement ring due to their appearance and general good value for money.
A carat is a unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Smaller diamonds are more common than larger diamonds and the price of a diamond will rise depending on the size. One carat equals 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. A diamond is rarer if it weighs more and so you would expect to spend a lot of money.
A general guideline is to spend 2 months’ salary on an engagement ring, but this isn’t set in stone so you should consider your budget. Take into consideration what your partner’s fingers are like. A smaller diamond will flatter a slender finger while a larger stone will not look good on a short, smaller finger.
Whatever you decide, if you take the four C’s into consideration you will have peace of mind that you have done your homework and this should enable you to make the best choice.