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How to Buy Engagement & Wedding Rings

Choosing an engagement ring is a monumental task. It is the ring that your sweetheart will wear for the rest of her life and is the ultimate symbol of your love and commitment to her.

Your most important task when shopping for rings is to always keep the bride's taste in mind. If she is not involved in the design process, your choice needs to reflect her sense of style. After all, she will be wearing your ring for the rest of her life!

These three simple steps will assist and educate you on the task at hand:

Step One: Learn About Diamonds:

Step Two: Set a Budget

Step Three: Design the Ring


Step One: Learning About Diamonds

1. The Four C's of Diamond Grading


CUT

Cut should not be confused with a diamond's shape. Cut refers to the diamond's reflective qualities and determines the brilliance and fire of a diamond. The angles and finish of the cut establish the diamond's ability to reflect light.

Proportions are key and will discern an Ideal cut from a Poor cut. Cut is graded in 5 steps from Ideal, to Fair and Poor.

  • Ideal Cut: maximizes brilliance and is only used on round cut diamonds.
  • Premium Cut: also maximizes brilliance and is almost equal to an Ideal Cut diamond, although most often priced lower.
  • Very Good Cut: diamond cutters might stray from the preferred proportions of an Ideal Cut to maximize the size of the diamond. These diamonds will reflect most light and produce a good deal of brilliance. They are priced lower than the Premium Cut.
  • Good Cut: provide excellent cost-savings to customers as the diamond cutter has chosen to create the largest possible stone by sacrificing proportions, therefore compromising reflectivity.
  • Fair and Poor Cuts: reflect only a small proportion of light.

CLARITY

Clarity refers to the natural flaws (inclusions) caused by gasses or minerals trapped in the diamond during its long formation period. Truly flawless diamonds are extremely rare and account for about 1% of all stones.

Inclusions refer to air bubbles, cracks and non-diamond minerals in a diamond. Clarity is graded from Flawless to Included 3.

  • F: Flawless
  • IF: Internally Flawless. Some surface flaws.
  • VVS1, VVS2: Very, Very, Slightly Included. Minute inclusions.
  • VS1, VS2: Very Slightly Included. Inclusions detected with difficulty under 10x magnification.
  • SI1, SI2: Slightly Included. Inclusions detected slightly more easily under 10x magnification.
  • I1, I2, I3: Included. Inclusions visible to the naked eye.

It is not recommended to drop to the “I” grade clarity when purchasing a diamond. Your diamond clarity should be mapped out on a certificate that plots out the diamond's inclusions. This unique “fingerprint” is proof that the diamond purchased is the diamond received, and is different to an appraisal.

COLOUR

Colour refers to natural colour present in white diamonds. The whiter the diamond, the more valuable it is because more light is able to pass through it which increases the sparkle and fire.

Diamonds are graded on a scale from D (colourless) to X (light yellow).

  • D - F: Colourless
  • G - I: Nearly Colourless
  • J - L: Faint Yellow
  • M - O: Very Light Yellow
  • S - X: Light Yellow

D – F are the most valuable, but G – I show almost no colour to the untrained eye. Diamonds falling in the J – M category may appear slightly coloured to the naked eye.

Your choice of setting will impact the look of your diamond. It is recommended to set higher quality diamonds in platinum or white gold to maximize their brilliance, whereas a yellow gold setting will off-set the discolouration in lower grade diamonds, thus making them appear whiter and more brilliant.

Fancy colour (pink, yellow, blue etc.) diamonds do not follow this grade classification. They are extremely rare and very valuable for their colour.

CARAT WEIGHT

Diamonds are measured in carats. The name is derived from ancient times when carob seeds were used to balance the scales. A common mistake is to confuse Carat and Karat. The former refers to diamond weight, and the latter refers to the purity of gold. One carat measures about 200 milligrams. Larger diamonds are more rare and (depending on their Four C's) will most likely be more expensive.

Bigger is not always better when you take the value in clarity, cut and colour into consideration. If size is important to you, but your budget does not allow for a large diamond, try shopping for rings with multiple stones and a high combined carat count. Another way to buy on a budget is to look for diamonds that fall just short of the full carat – a 1.90 carat diamond will cost a lot less than a comparable 2.00 carat diamond – yet to the untrained eye, appears very similar in size.


2. Diamond Shapes


Round Brilliant Diamonds
Most popular shape. Maximum fire and brilliance achieved through a 58-facet cut.

Princess Cut Diamonds
Square or rectangular in shape and best suited to long fingers.

Radiant Diamonds
Rectangular in shape but cut with the same brilliance of the round diamond.

Emerald Cut Diamonds
Rectangular with cut corners. Stones with superior colour and clarity are best suited for this shape.

Marquise Diamonds
Elongated and pointed at each end. Named for the Marquise de Pompadour and was inspired by her bright smile.

Cushion Cut Diamonds
Antique cut that works with larger facets.

Heart Shaped Diamonds
The ultimate symbol of romance.

Pear Shaped Diamonds
Resembles a sparkling teardrop. Best suited for rings on small to average hands, or for pendants and earrings.

Oval Diamonds
Flattering for small hands or short fingers due to their elongated shape.

Trilliant Diamonds
Triangular in shape.

 


3. Diamond Ring Settings


The setting refers to how the diamond is set into the ring and is an integral part of the design. Most common metals chosen for settings are yellow gold, white gold and platinum.

Prong Setting
Used most often for solitaire rings as it allows to maximize the diamond's brilliance. Also used for setting multiple stones and allows them to sit close without metal interference.

Three-Stone Setting
Symbolizes past, present and future.

Channel Setting
Diamonds are set flush into a channel. The bar channel setting is a variation where metal plates rise between the stones. Most common with round and baguette shaped diamonds.

Cluster Setting
Abstract arrangement of many smaller stones.

Pave Setting
Resembles a sparkling cobble stone surface, hence the name. Each diamond boasts a 58-facet cut.

Bezel Setting
A collar of metal wraps around the stone. Half bezel settings only arc part way around the diamond.

Accented Setting
A traditional solitaire can be accented with smaller round, baguette or taper-baguette diamonds, or coloured gemstones. It has also become popular to work filigree and lattice work into the metal settings.

Flush/Burnish Setting
Subtle setting technique that sinks stones flush with the metal band.

Ballerina Setting
Tapered baguettes flow out from one centre stone resembling a ballerina's tutu.

Bead Setting
Similar to the pave setting, but sports more intricate and decorative gold work.

 


Step Two: Set a Budget


The traditional guideline sets two months salary as an effective measure of what to spend on an engagement ring but it is important to remember that it is not something you should bankrupt yourself over. Educate yourself thoroughly on your options – there are alternatives out there that will meet both your sweetie's expectations and your budget.


Step Three: Design the Ring


Often times, fine online jewellery stores will display ring settings without a centre diamond. This essentially allows you to design your own ring. To begin the design process, you should evaluate what is most important to you and your bride: is it the shape and size of the stone, or is it more important to you to have a platinum setting, for example? Whichever ranks higher in importance should form the base of your design.

You may also want to think about wedding bands at this point. Engagement rings can often be purchased in a set with a wedding band. If you wish to design your own band take note of the shape of the engagement ring: engagement rings should fit neatly together with the wedding band aesthetically, as well as in a physical sense. Wedding bands have evolved from a traditional gold band, to elaborate sparklers - it has become very popular to accent the centre stone of the engagement ring with stones in the wedding band. Some ring sets include two wedding bands to flank the engagement ring.

Engagement Rings
Diamond Engagement Ring 1/2 Carat (ctw) in 14K Yellow Gold, Size 5.5
Diamond Engagement Ring and Three Stone Anniversary Ring 1.50 Carat (ctw) in 14K White Gold, Size 5.5
Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring 1.25 Carat (ctw) in 14K White Gold (Certified), Size 7.5
Miore Watches Women's Ring M0615WP
at  Ashford.com

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