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You can find a great ring, but it takes some work. Make sure to read up on diamond grading, and do your research before making any purchases. And remember: there's no such thing as a perfect diamond—you just have to find one that's perfect for you!
If you're looking to buy an engagement ring, congratulations! You're about to make one of the most important purchases of your life. But before you get swept away by all that sparkle, it's important to know what you're doing and avoid common mistakes.
Below are some tips to keep in mind before heading out on this exciting but intimidating journey:
Cut. There are many factors to consider when buying a diamond ring. The cut is the most important, as it affects the stone’s brilliance and sparkle. If you opt for a diamond with an excellent cut, then you will get more light out of your diamond than if you bought a poorly-cut one. Diamonds are graded from poor to excellent with “ideal” being best; these grades are based on the amount of light reflected through the stone's prismatic shape—the upper portion of which has been shaped by grinding and polishing so that it refracts (or splits) white light into its constituent colors as it passes through.
The cut also affects the clarity grade. If a diamond is cut too deeply or too shallowly, then light will be lost in the stone and it will appear cloudy instead of clear. The final thing to consider is color: Diamonds come in all colors from white to yellow, but only D-F color diamonds are considered “colorless” by jewelers.
Carat. Carat weight is important to consider, but it’s not the most important factor. A diamond’s carat weight is measured in points. One carat equals 200 milligrams (mg) of mass and is equivalent to 1/5th of a gram.
If you want a larger stone and don't want to spend too much money, you can get a bigger diamond by buying one with lower clarity or color grades. This will also save you some money on the overall purchase price!
The cut is another important factor to consider when buying a diamond. Cut refers to how well a stone is polished, and it can affect how much light refracts through the diamond. The more facets there are in a diamond, the more light will be reflected back out of it. If you want a larger stone but don’t want to spend too much money, then consider buying one with lower clarity or color grades. This will also save you some money on the overall purchase price!
Color. Color is the absence of color. It’s graded on a scale of D (colorless) to Z (yellowish), where D is considered colorless and Z has a noticeable yellow tint. Colorless diamonds are rare and expensive, so most people go for J or K diamonds.
Most colored diamonds are called fancy-colored stones because they’re not white, but different hues of yellow, blue, pink and green inclusions that have been trapped inside them during their formation over millions of years ago. These inclusions can be beautiful—Dana Rohrabacher's wife Lynne owns one—but they do affect the diamond's price: The more included it is with these little imperfections, the less valuable it will be as a gemstone and the more likely you'll be able to buy it. The most common diamond colors are yellow and brown, but there's also pink, blue and green. White diamonds are rare and expensive because they're so hard to find—they have to come from a specific mine in South Africa called De Beers' Venetia Mine.
Clarity. Clarity is the most important criteria when choosing a diamond. It has to do with the presence or absence of inclusions, which are tiny flaws that can affect how light reflects off a diamond and its sparkle. Inclusions are often microscopic and so small that you can barely see them with the naked eye — but they can still impact a diamond's appearance and value.
The best way to check clarity is by looking at your stone through 10x magnification; if you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask your jeweler! The best way to buy higher-clarity diamonds is by consulting with an expert who understands all the intricacies of grading diamonds by clarity and color.
Certification. A diamond certification is critical to ensure that you're getting a genuine stone.
There are two main certifying agencies: the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL). Both have been around for decades, so they are well-respected in the industry. Your jeweler should be able to provide you with proof of their certification if you ask for it.
A diamond certification will tell you about the carat weight, cut, color and clarity of your ring's center stone. It will also include information about any additional stones in the ring as well as its metal setting(s).
The cut of a diamond is what makes it sparkle. The cut is the ratio between the diameter and the depth of a diamond, and can be represented by letters like “Ideal” (ideal cut), “Excellent” (excellent cut), or “Good” (good cut).
A well-cut diamond will have all its proportions in harmony so that there are no weak points along its edges or corners to catch light. A poorly-cut diamond will have irregular facets that reflect light unevenly, resulting in dullness or even ugly flashes of color when you move your hand around it.
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