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How to Choose the Perfect Diamond for Your Engagement Ring and Budget
There is nothing a woman will wear that is closer to her heart than her diamond engagement ring. From the moment she slips it on, it becomes part of her - a sign of unending love and a ring that will be with her forever. Choosing such an important piece of jewelry requires time, knowledge and expertise.
We are happy to share our 50 years of experience with you when you come into the store, but we’d also like to help you take that first step right now, no matter where you are.
A great starting place is our Engagement Ring Buyer’s Guide. If you’re looking for even more background knowledge, read on for our Diamond Tutorial, created to help you understand the ins and outs of acquiring these precious stones.
Why are Diamonds so Valuable?
Every true, non-synthesized diamond is immensely old, formed long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The youngest diamond is 900 million years old, and the oldest is 3.2 billion years old. Each diamond is unique; there are no two stones that are exactly alike. The very name diamond comes from the Greek term adamas meaning unconquerable or invincible. This referred not only to the incredible hardness of the mineral but also its supposed magic properties in the ancient world.
Determining a Price
The method for pricing diamonds can be confusing. Our best explanation is to draw a comparison to the real estate market. A real estate agent can’t quote you a price for a house without knowing its size, condition and location.
Likewise, a diamond’s beauty and rarity, and therefore its price, depend on the interplay of the 4Cs - carat weight, clarity, color and cut. While all diamonds are precious, diamonds with a combination of the highest 4C ratings are the earth’s rarest and most valuable. Consequently, they are the most expensive.
Once you’ve established which of these characteristics are most important to you, a jeweler such as Brentwood Jewelry can then show you various options with quoted prices.
The 4Cs of Diamond Buying
This globally accepted standard for describing diamonds is the universal method for assessing the quality of a diamond.
Carat: While carat is often confused with size, it actually refers to the weight of a diamond. The word “carat” comes from the carob tree, whose seeds were once used as the standard for weighing precious stones. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams and is divided into 100 points - thus, a .75 (¾) carat diamond is equal to 75 points. As the diamond goes up in carats, the price goes up exponentially because larger diamonds occur much less frequently in nature. Less than 5% of all diamonds made into jewelry are larger than one carat.
Clarity: Every diamond is unique. Nature ensures that each diamond is as individual as the person who wears it. Naturally occurring features such as minerals or fractures, known as inclusions, appear as the diamond is formed in the earth and provide a special fingerprint within the stone. They may look like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers. Clarity refers to the presence of these inclusions in a diamond and is ranked on a scale of perfection. This scale, ranging from F (Flawless) to I (Included) is based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10x.
Color: Diamonds are found in almost every color of the rainbow, the rarest of which is red, but white-colored diamonds remain the most popular. These white diamonds are ranked on a scale of the absence of color, from D (colorless) to Z. Warmer colored diamonds (K-Z) are particularly desirable when set in yellow gold, while icy winter whites (D-J) look stunning set in white gold or platinum.
Cut: The cut of a diamond refers to its angles and proportions. Nature determines so much about a diamond, but it takes a master cutter to reveal the stone’s true brilliance and ultimate beauty. Incredibly, each stone loses, on average, more than half its original weight during cutting and polishing. Based on scientific formulas, a well-cut diamond will reflect light internally from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse and transmit it through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of fire and radiance. The quality of cut is imperative to the diamond’s final beauty and determines its value.
Diamond Cutting Styles
Cut and cutting style work in harmony to create a diamond’s brilliance. Cutting style is categorized into three basic types based on the number of facets, or edges, cut into a diamond. For example, a 58-faceted diamond will have 58 edges or planes cut and polished into it.
Brilliant Cut: The most common brilliant cut is Round, but this category also contains Heart, Oval, Marquise and Pear diamonds. All brilliants have 58 facets and are admired for their fire and sparkle.
Step Cut: This cut has rows of facets that resemble the steps of a staircase and are usually four-sided and elongated. Emerald and Baguette diamonds are examples of the step cut.
Mixed Cut: Mixed cuts combine the beauty of the step cut with the sparkle of the brilliant cut. In the last 20 years, mixed cuts featuring step-cutting on the crown and brilliant-cutting on the pavilion have become quite popular. Examples of mixed cuts include Radiant, a rectangular or square-shaped diamond; Barion, a brilliant square-cut diamond with 62 facets; and Princess, a rectangular or square-shaped diamond with 49-50 facets.
Diamond certificates, more accurately known as diamond grading reports, are commonly provided with the purchase of a significant piece of diamond jewelry. These reports are prepared by independent, certified gemologists from laboratories around the world and can help calculate the specific characteristics - the 4Cs - of your diamond.
There are many reasons to make sure you purchase a diamond with a grading report. While certification does not increase the value of your diamond, it does assure you of its authenticity and quality and helps to ensure its special characteristics. In addition, a grading report is an objective comparison and may be required by insurance companies if you’re planning on insuring your diamond purchase.
Visit Us Today!
Now that you know so much about diamonds, it’s time to come in and let us contribute our expertise to your search. With a certified gemologist on staff, not only can we assist you in choosing the perfect brand-new stone, we can also evaluate and appraise any type of jewelry that you may bring along with you.
At Brentwood Jewelry we have the knowledge and experience that comes from over 50 years of being in the business. Let us put that wisdom to work as we help you choose the perfect diamond for your forever ring.