Buying a diamond engagement ring can often be a confusing and intimidating experience for a man. Most men are simply not interested in diamonds. When they pop the question, they need an engagement ring but have no idea what to look for.
This article provides some simple, straightforward advice for guys who don’t have a clue about buying their first diamond engagement ring.
1. What style of engagement ring should I be looking for?
Unless your girlfriend has told you she has a particular style in mind, the safest bet is to buy a simple and elegant gold ring setting with a single diamond set at the top. This is called a diamond solitaire engagement ring. The gold setting alone will cost you less than $200. If she wants to choose a fancy setting later, you can remove the single diamond from this ring and use it as the center diamond in a fancy ring setting without sacrificing much on your first investment.
2. What color gold should you choose for the ring?
Take notice of what your girlfriend wears. Yellow gold girls usually wear bright colors and have olive or darker skin tone. Most girls these days prefer white gold. If she has dark hair and tends to wear a lot of black or white clothing, she is a white gold girl.
3. What size should the diamond be in her engagement ring?
This is the answer that’s going to hurt your wallet. A 1/4-carat diamond is out of the question, way too small for a solitaire engagement ring. A 1/2-carat diamond may be okay if that’s all you can afford, but it is not going to be an impressive engagement ring. A diamond between 3/4 and 1-carat is going to really get her excited. When she shows it to her girlfriends they will be a little envious that she got a man of status (you) and they didn’t. This is good for her self-image, and every woman needs a little boost in that department.
4. What is the best price I can pay for a big diamond ring?
If you make a smart purchase, you can get a 3/4-carat diamond ring for between $950 and $2000. You can get a 1-carat diamond ring for between $1200 and $3500. The trick is to find a lower quality diamond that is not downright ugly. You have to shop the right balance between diamond cut grade, diamond clarity grade and diamond color grade on the GIA rating scale. You should also buy a diamond that is certified by a reputable gem lab such as GIA, IGI, IGL, or EGL-USA.
5. Where should I shop for my diamond ring?
First take a trip to your local mall. Look, but don’t buy your diamond ring there. In a couple of hours you will become familiar with “The 4 C’s”, and you want to judge with your own eyes the difference between the lowest grade diamond, and a high grade expensive diamond. The jewelry salesperson will most likely pressure you to buy their most expensive diamond. Don’t be shy: ask to see their least expensive diamond as well. Then move on to the next jewelry store.
Retail jewelry stores generally make a 50% markup on their diamonds. There are plenty of reputable diamond dealers on the internet that make between 7% to 15% markup on the same diamond ring.
Get online and do a search for “3/4 to 1 carat certified diamond”. Make sure your diamond is certified by one of the labs mentioned above, and that the website offers a 30-day no questions asked return policy. Don’t try to buy a diamond from an auction website.
6. Narrow your diamond ring choices on several fine jewelry websites.
Now is when you need to exercise your smart buying ability.
About diamond Clarity: on the GIA grading scale certified diamonds are rated for Clarity grade by a gemologist using a 10-power magnifying loupe. A Clarity grade of SI or higher means that there are no inclusions (flaws) visible to the naked eye. This means that unless your friends have a magnifying glass handy, there is no perceptible difference between a Clarity grade of SI and VVS, but there is a large difference in price. Consider SI as your top Clarity grade. A clean I1 Clarity diamond can be a great bargain. If the visible flaws are white crystals or needles and they are on the outer perimeter of the diamond (the crown angle), you will save from $500 to $1000 over an SI Clarity and there won’t be much visible difference. You could get lucky with an I2 Clarity diamond, but be prepared to return it. A drop to I2 Clarity will save you another $500 to $1000 over an I1 grade. However, most I2-I3 diamonds are called in the trade “white smash” or “frozen spit”, because that’s what they look like. When your I2 Clarity diamond ring arrives, take it into the sunlight and examine it. If it is completely dull and foggy, return it. If it is full of black crystals and doesn’t refract sunlight, return it. If it is mostly clear in the center (the table) and you can see flashes of brilliance and scintillation (rainbow colors), then you have a good I-2 Clarity diamond and you have saved yourself some money.
About Diamond Color: if you want the largest diamond ring for the lowest price, judging diamond Color grade is pretty simple. Most people will not notice a big difference between a “colorless grade” (D-E-F) and a “near-colorless grade” (G-H-I) on the GIA grading scale. You can save money with confidence if the diamond is certified as a G-H Color. You may notice a warm cast if the diamond is certified as an I Color, but this has no effect on the brilliance of your diamond. A K or lower Color diamond will have a definite dirty-yellow cast, so you should not buy these Color grades.
About Diamond Cut: The Cut Grade of a diamond is the most important factor when it comes to the beauty and brilliance of your diamond ring. Some diamond certificates don’t state the Cut grade, so here is where you have to depend on the reputation of the dealer you are buying from. If you can be certain that your diamond is an Excellent or Very Good Cut grade, then you have made a good investment. An Excellent Cut diamond will return a shower of white light, fire, and scintillation to the viewer’s eye. A Fair or Poor Cut diamond, regardless of the Color and Clarity grade, will be lifeless and dull. Look for the highest Cut grade you can find.
7. Make your final diamond solitaire ring decision.
It’s not a bad idea to purchase two diamond rings on from different internet dealers. Make certain they have a clearly stated return policy for your full purchase price. Compare both rings side by side in the sunlight, and return the one you don’t like.
From everything you’ve read above, you can tell three things about saving money on a big diamond ring:
First, the “safe spot” is to choose a diamond of SI Clarity, G-H Color and Excellent Cut.
Second, the “best value” is to choose a diamond of I1 Clarity, G-H-I Color and Excellent Cut.
Third, the “possible bargain” is to choose a diamond of I2 Clarity, I-J Color and Excellent to Very Good Cut.
Make sure your diamond ring is lab certified, and make sure you can return it for a full refund if you don’t like it.