Engagement Ring Buying Guide: Part II

diamond_ringThis is the second part of a two-part series called Engagement Ring Buying Guide. In the first section, I discussed what you need to do before and after you buy the ring. Today, I’ll get into the specifics of finding a good ring and getting the most for your money.

Everything you need to know pretty much boils down to the 4 C’s.

THE FOUR C’S
The four C’s stand for Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight. These are the four main factors for determining the value of a ring.
CUT


Cut refers to the diamond’s reflective qualities. The better the cut, the more the ring will sparkle. A cut that is too deep will leak light out the bottom, while a cut that is too deep will leak light out the side.

 

There are five levels of cuts: ideal, premium, very good, good, fair & poor. Blue Nile breaks down a description of each here.

Cut often gets confused with shape. They are different…

Shape
There are a number of different shapes to diamonds: round, princess, emerald, asscher, marquise, oval, radiant, pear, heart, and cushion.

From what I’ve seen, round, emerald and princess seem to be the most popular. I decided to go with a round cut. There is really no right or wrong choice here. This is basically a matter of personal preference. As I mentioned before, try and find out what shape she likes beforehand. This will make your final decision a lot easier. Blue Nile can show you a closer look at the shapes.

CLARITY


Clarity is the measure of the number and size of imperfections in a ring. Almost all rings have imperfections. The different grades of imperfections are listed below:

 

FL, IF: No internal or external imperfections. FORGET ABOUT THIS. This is like the Titanic diamond. Even if you find it, you won’t be able to afford it.

VVS1, VVS2: Very difficult to see imperfections, even under a microscope. These will cost a lot more and aren’t really worth it since no one can see it with the naked eye.

VS1, VS2: minute inclusions that can only be seen with magnifications

SI1-SI2: slight imperfections that can easily be spotted with magnification

I1-I2-I3- Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye

Your best bet is to go with the VS1, VS2 or SI1, SI2 range. That way you still get a quality ring without spending too much.

CARAT WEIGHT


A carat is unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. The larger the carat, the more the ring will cost. Larger diamonds are rare, and hence, cost more.

 

You should consider your budget, the size of her finger and her setting when choosing the carat size. A 1.5 carat diamond on a size 4 finger will look a lot bigger than it will on a girl with chubby fingers. So if you’re getting engaged to a fat chick, you’ll probably have to spend more.

COLOR


Color grade refers to the lack of color in a diamond. Less color is better. More Light will shine through a diamond with less color, which will cause the diamond to sparkle more. Color is rated on a scaled from D-Z, with D-F considered colorless and K-Z having noticeable color. Don’t bother buying rings with any of these grades. Colorless diamonds are extremely rare. You also don’t want rings that have noticeable color either. So you’ll want to find a ring that ranks from G-J. These are near colorless diamonds that can only be noticed by a gemologist.


 

Other Frequently Asked Questions

 Platinum or White Gold?
One other tough decision is choosing between platinum and gold.  GO WITH WHITE GOLD.  Platinum is considerably more expensive and tends to dull quickly and scratch easily.  Platinum will require a yearly trip to the jewelry store for a polish to keep its original shine. Save your money and go with white gold.

What is the most important characteristic to consider?
Many people seem to think that Carat is the most important factor. However, according to Blue Nile, cut and color are the two most important factors. This is because the human eye tends to detect a diamond’s sparkle first and color second. Clarity is the least important factor because imperfections don’t affect the diamond’s beauty in a noticeable way.

How much should I spend?
The general rule of thumb is to spend two months salary. However, that isn’t set in stone. I think you need to be comfortable with what you spend. You don’t want to cheap out on the ring but you also don’t want to sell your body for a nice ring either. Buy a quality ring that won’t put you out on the streets.

So there you have it. That’s pretty much everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring. Hope the advice helped.

4 comments for “Engagement Ring Buying Guide: Part II

  1. Jabberwock
    December 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks for breaking that all down. Most of the sites I’ve visited just say you need to know about the 4 Cs without explaining them.

    So, a quick question about the ring itself. If it needs to be a white metal, would you recommend going with platinum or white gold? From what I understand platinum is more durable but white gold is cheaper. Any other pros and cons?

  2. December 8, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I forgot to mention that. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll add on to the post about that. Basically don’t waste money on platinum. Every jeweler I talked to said it’s not worth it. Platinum scratches easily and gets dull quickly. Platinum will require more maintenance. I think white gold is the way to go.

  3. Jabberwock
    December 10, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for adding that info. So I looked more into this and supposedly you have to take white gold in to get it replated or else it starts to yellow a little bit. I guess it comes down to which you consider the lesser of two evil since we’re stuck doing maintenance either way :/

  4. Future Mrs. S
    December 11, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Yes, you do have to do that every once in awhile (once a year, maybe) since white gold is plated with platnium since there really isn’t such a thing called “white gold” But platinum is overpriced and under rated. My best friend’s dad is a jeweler and he said platinum isnt’ worth the money. That’s one reason we went with white gold. It’s all about preference and price! Good luck :)

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