Getting engaged is easily one of the most exciting events in a person’s life; it is the first step in preparing for a lifelong union that’s sure to be filled with memorable, happy, and challenging moments. Many couples choose diamond engagement rings to commemorate their promise because of the auspicious symbolism of the gem.
Diamonds are beautiful, timeless, eternal, and unparalleled in strength: The qualities of an ideal marriage.
Here at Natalie Diamonds, we recognize the importance of having your dreams for your engagement and marriage embodied in the diamond ring you choose. Thus, we have compiled this list of tips to guide you on how to choose an engagement ring.
Choosing The Diamond
These are the 4 qualities you should be examining when choosing the diamond to be featured in your engagement ring:
Amongst jewelers, these are called the “4 Cs” of a diamond. A diamond’s overall quality and worth is determined by its brilliance: the total amount of light it returns to the viewer. Each of the four Cs affect the diamond’s brilliance.
On that note, never hesitate to ask us at Natalie Diamonds for help on how to choose a diamond ring; the process can be quite tricky, especially without prior knowledge or experience.
The Cut Of A Diamond
Diamonds have an octahedral crystalline structure. This is why the ideal cut of a diamond is a round, brilliant cut with 57 facets: this cut will make the diamond reflect the most amount of light. The highest quality, most brilliant, and most expensive diamonds are cut this way.
A round, brilliant cut diamond has these main sections:
- The table facet, or the topmost surface of the diamond
- The crown, the slanted facets that connect the table to the girdle
- The girdle, the widest part of the diamond
- The pavilion, or the group of facets that go down from the girdle and meet at a single point at the bottom
- The culet, the point at the bottom of the diamond
A diamond’s cut is graded according to how the pavilion facets are angled, and how symmetrical the facets are.
The pavilion facets act as mirrors that reflect the light caught in the diamond back to the viewer. Ideally, they are at a 41-degree angle to the girdle in order for the diamond to achieve peak brilliance. A cut is graded according to how close to 41 degrees the pavilion cuts are angled.
Some jewelers cut diamonds that are a little off from this ideal measurement in order to maximize carat weight. A diamond with a “heavy make” means that it was cut specifically to retain its weight, while one with a “spready make” means that it is cut to be especially wide, for it to appear more massive when viewed from above.
There are also some instances where the cut strays slightly from the ideal measurements in order to minimize the flaws in the final gemstone.
These disparities can be negligible, as long as they don’t detract from the diamond’s brilliance too much. However, if the angle of the pavilion facets are too far off from the ideal 41 degrees, the gem’s brilliance will suffer, and so will its quality and value.
Another element that may affect a diamond’s cut grade is the width of the girdle. If the girdle is cut too thin or sharp, the diamond will be at risk of breakage and will receive a lower grade. Diamonds are widely touted to be the hardest substance in nature, so you may be wondering why they may break at some point.
Well, this holds true in that they are completely scratch resistant. However, a diamond may break if a blow lands on a fragile part of the diamond, like the girdle.
Of course, round cuts aren’t the only cuts diamonds are available in. Princess cut diamonds (which are square) and cushion cut diamonds (which are square too, but are slightly rounded) are also very popular choices for engagement rings.
These cuts may not make a diamond sparkle as much as they would when cut round, but they can be just as beautiful and classy as long as they are set wisely. Furthermore, diamonds in these cuts are more affordable than brilliant-cut diamonds.
The Color Of A Diamond
The most expensive diamonds are completely colorless. Diamonds are graded from D to Z. Grades D, E, and F diamonds are considered colorless, while those on the other end of the spectrum are saturated with bright colors (like pink or yellow).
A diamond’s value is not necessarily directly proportional to its color grading; many of the heavily-saturated diamonds close to Z-grade are also considered valuable because of their fancy color.
It might be tempting to choose diamonds of an extremely high color grade for your engagement ring, like the colorless D, E, F diamonds, or the grades G, H, I, J diamonds that are considered to be white. However, one can also consider grade K, L, M diamonds especially if you’re working within a budget.
Diamonds of this grade are called “set white”: they may be slightly yellow-tinted, but when set in yellow gold, they appear white or colorless. However, setting these lower-grade “set white” diamonds in platinum or silver is not the best option: the whiteness of the metal will set off the diamond’s tint. Natalie Diamonds does not sell diamonds above a J grade.
The Clarity Of A Diamond
An inclusion, or a scratch or recess inside or outside the gemstone, prevents small amounts of light from being reflected back to the viewer, hampering a diamond’s clarity and overall brilliance. The fewer inclusions a diamond has or the more “flawless” it is, the more brilliant it is, and therefore the more expensive. These are the letter grades used to measure a diamond’s flawlessness:
- F, for “flawless”
- IF, for “internally flawless”
- VVSI, for “very very small inclusions”
- VSI “for “very small inclusions”
- SI, for “slightly included”
- I, for “included”
- P, for “piqued”, which is the French word for marked
A diamond will be considered “flawless” or F grade if it has no visible inclusions at 10 times magnification. Diamonds that are graded SI or higher are considered “eye clean”, meaning that they have no inclusions visible to the naked eye. Natalie Diamonds does not sell F or IF diamonds.
Even though I grade diamonds are not ideal for being the focal point of an engagement ring, they are still considered gem-grade, which means that they are perfectly usable as accent stones alongside your feature stone. P grade diamonds are no longer considered to be gem grade because they allow so little light to pass through them.
However, they occasionally show up on the market because, after all, they’re still diamonds. Be on the lookout for these low-quality stones, and take care not to mistakenly purchase one whose quality does not match its price. Natalie diamonds does not sell I or P clarity diamonds.
The Carat Weight
As you may have gleaned from our discussion of the 3 most important factors in diamond quality, the size of the stone you choose does not matter to its beauty and value as much as you’d think. However, diamonds of larger carat weights are of course the most coveted of all, and can be a source of much pride and delight. One carat is equivalent to 200mg of gemstone material.
When considering feature stones of a larger carat weight, it will do you well to remember that a diamond’s price per carat increases with its size. For example, a half-carat diamond of a certain grade may cost you 900 USD per carat.
On the other hand, a one-carat diamond of the exact same grade may cost you as much as 4000 USD! Therefore, you must weigh your priorities carefully when selecting feature stones for your engagement ring. Our preferences in jewelry vary greatly, so of course, a stone’s carat weight may not matter as much to some as it does to others.
What’s important to us here at Natalie Diamonds is that you get your money’s worth by purchasing a feature stone and choosing a setting style that fits your needs and tastes perfectly. Please don’t hesitate to ask our Customer Service department to guide you carefully through every step of your journey.
Popular Engagement Ring Styles
Now that you’ve chosen the stone you’d like to feature on your engagement ring, the next tricky part of building your ring is choosing the style in which to set your stone. In our experience, these are some of the most popular engagement ring styles chosen by our customers:
Halo Engagement Rings
An engagement ring in the halo style of setting means that your chosen feature stone is surrounded by a host of smaller stones arranged in a ring or halo. This style is popular amongst customers working within a budget because having the feature stone surrounded this way makes it look larger (by almost half a carat, by some accounts!) and brighter.
The accent stones in the halo work very well to reflect the light back into the feature stone, making for a very stunning, eye-catching, and luxurious-looking engagement ring.
Pavé Engagement Rings
This style of setting is named after the French word that means “to pave”, because this style “paves the ring with diamonds”. It makes sense, because this style entails a row or several rows of small diamonds encircling the ring.
Combined with a well-selected feature stone, this style makes for a simple, elegant, yet eye-catching engagement ring because of the light bouncing off the diamonds in all directions. Furthermore, the placement of the accent stones along the band is especially great for retaining the focus on the size and brilliance of your chosen feature stone.
Cushion-cut Engagement Rings
Many of the young couples who visit and purchase from our site tend to look for options other than the classic brilliant round cut. This is likely because of the cut’s association with old-fashioned jewelry styles.
If you’re looking for a diamond ring that’s classy and yet slightly off the beaten path, we’d recommend that you get a feature stone in a cushion cut for your engagement ring. This cut retains much of the brilliance brought out by the round cut, but is a bit more versatile and modern-looking due to its slightly edgy shape.
Princess-cut Solitaire Engagement Rings
The word “solitaire” in the name of this style should be a giveaway on what makes it so alluring to many couples: having a single feature stone on a simple band is timeless, elegant, versatile, and yet affordable! Combining the solitaire style with a princess-cut diamond is a sure success, because the princess cut is edgy, modern, bold, and visually striking.
Having a princess-cut diamond of a good grade and carat weight to be the focal point of your ring makes for an incredible piece of jewelry that doesn’t break the bank. It only has one diamond, and it’s of a cheaper kind of cut than the classic brilliant round cut.