The following information will help you to be part of the 75% British men who purchase a diamond engagement band for their special lady. This is not something that you want to do wrong. You are about to spend a significant amount of money on an engagement ring (all women are familiar with the phrase about the fiance giving up at least one month’s salary). But you are also about purchase an object that will serve as a permanent symbol for the most important relationship in your life.
There are some universally accepted rules for buying diamonds. These rules will help you avoid common pitfalls.
A lesson in geology: Diamonds can be as old as one to three billion years. They are 99.95% pure, crystallized carbon. They are the most difficult naturally occurring substance and formed below the Earth’s surface by crystals of diamond found in volcanic feed-pipes. As volcanoes recede, they release diamonds through their feed-pipes to layers of gravel that are later mined. Diamond mines can only be found in a few places around the globe due to their rarity. Diamonds in rough form are sent to the cutting centers around the globe to be shaped, polished and set into jewellery. They become a girl’s best friend because of the brilliance, hardness and sparkle that they show during this process.
Let’s start with a brief history lesson. You might be interested to learn where this fashion originated. Legend has it that Archduke Maximilian, an Austrian lover, had an amazing idea in 1477. He suggested to Mary of Burgundy, a diamond ring, to mark their engagement. It was placed on her third finger, which is believed to be the site of a vein leading to the heart by ancient Egyptians. Although it isn’t known if the marriage was successful, you don’t have to worry.
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The Four Cs
Now that you understand why you want to buy an engagement ring with a diamond, it is time to familiarize yourself with the “Four Cs”, which are cut, colour and clarity, as well as carat. While all factors must be taken into consideration when comparing diamonds and should be treated equally, Tiffany and Co says that the most important factor in determining a diamond’s defining characteristic is its cut.
Cut: The only thing that a diamond can be determined by its own natural characteristics, the cut is susceptible to errors and poor practices. If a diamond is cut incorrectly, it will lose its defining sparkle. It is the way the 57-58 facets (the small planes that are cut into the diamond’s surface), are angled and sized, which determines how light reflects off the diamond. This effect is known as the “fire”. The diamond will not shine as brightly if the cuts are too deep or too small.
The shape of the diamond will also depend on the cut. The most popular shape is the round, but there are many others, including the emerald and the pear, marquise, princess, oval, heart, and the marquise. To ensure you are fully informed, ask to see any of these shapes in person, even if it is only in a photograph.
Colour: White is the most rare and valuable colour, which is to say it is colourless. With a grade of “D”, jewellers can classify absolutely colorless diamonds as being uncoloured. The scale goes up to “Z”, and between these extremes, some diamonds may display subtle coloured tones. Fancies are rare diamonds that have a strong and distinct color.
Clarity: People often get too concerned about the clarity of diamonds. You can see tiny “inclusions” in most diamonds if you use a magnifying eyeglass (a jeweller’s lens). These inclusions look similar to small feathers or clouds, but they are often invisible to the naked eye. Although inclusions can reduce the fire of a diamond, they are unique features that make it special and should not be considered a defect. You can’t see it so why worry about it? You should be fine as long as the stone has a SI1 (Slightly Included 1) grade or higher (best and most costly is IF or Internally Flawless; worse is I3, or Imperfect 3)
Carat: This is the measurement of the weight and size of a diamond. A carat equals 0.2gm or 200mgm. A carat can be divided into 100 smaller units, called points. Three-quarters of an average carat is 75 points. Most engagement rings have a diamond size between one and half a carat. Don’t confuse carats and karats. Karats are the unit of purity for pure gold.
A reputable jeweller will be able to explain the four Cs to you and even help you with displaying diamonds. If you aren’t comfortable putting your trust in a jeweller, a “certstone” is a diamond that has been independently graded, coded, and inspected with a laser. It is important to choose the type of certificate, because not all certificates are recognized worldwide. The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) is the most internationally recognized. HRD, IGL EGL and EGL are also popular certificates (see Diamond Certificate Issuers right). A grading certificate costs a fee depending on the carat of your diamond. However, you can contact specific laboratories for exact pricing. Don’t be afraid to arrange your own certificate, rather than accept the recommendation of a jeweller.
A cert stone is also a good way to protect yourself from buying substitutes for diamonds. Natural minerals like quartz, white sapphire and topaz can be almost colourless and used in place of natural diamonds. Moistanite and cubic zirconia are synthetic substitutes. These synthetic alternatives can be sold legitimately as cheap alternatives but they can sometimes be mistaken for real diamonds.
Artificially treating diamonds includes fracture filling, laser treatment, and irradiation. This is all legal as long as the seller discloses it. However, if you want a real, untreated diamond, be wary of terms like “clarity enhanced”.
What should I pay?
This is the fifth C, cost. While it is up to you to decide how much you spend, you can be sure that between one and two months of salary is the standard. One thing is certain about this: It seems to be a result of De Beers’ marketing machine. Spend what you can afford. De Beers holds a near-monopoly in the diamond industry, and is interested in what you spend. You should also forget about the notion that diamond rings are a good investment. A retailer could mark up a brand new diamond ring up to 100% and it could lose half of its value as soon as you leave the shop. It could take up to five years for a diamond purchased at wholesale prices in London’s Hatton Garden to recover its value.
Give her what she desires
You can know your IFs and I3s but it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the right ring for her. The most important thing to remember is to never surprise your partner with a diamond engagement ring.
You can take inspiration from the jewellery she already has to determine what her preferences are. Is she more into traditional or modern? Is she a fan of white gold, yellow, two-tone (white gold and yellow) or platinum (currently, the most popular metal for engagement ring),? How does she react when other women are wearing engagement rings? Is she a fan of a certain style? There is a good chance that she will share her preferences with you if you are able to trust her friends and family.
A classic diamond solitaire will be her choice. However, there are many other ways to present a quality gemstone on an engagement ring. Do you think she would like a Tiffany-style solitaire with prongs that hold the diamond high in a Tiffany-style setting? Perhaps a basket setting or another low-head design? Regardless, it is important to involve her in the decision-making process. Although it may be against your romantic instincts but she will appreciate you.
1: Buying from jewellers
You don’t have to buy an engagement ring directly from a jeweller. An antique ring can be purchased from an auction or shop, but it’s best to visit as many jewellers possible to see what is on the market. Keep in mind that the major high-street jewellers will be more expensive than London’s Hatton Garden jewellery centre. If you have the opportunity to visit multiple shops on one street, it is a good idea. Also, jewellers are most busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas and just before Valentine’s Day. August is their slowest month so this may be the best month to ask for a better price. This checklist should be used every time you go to a shop.
* Is the store well-respected locally?
* Does the staff have a solid understanding of gemmology? Be wary of unexplained and gratuitous jargon.
* Does the shop offer diamonds with a recognized gemmological certificate? If the shop is willing to sell you diamonds with a well-known gemmological certificate, be sure to keep the original and not a copy.
* Are you a member or not of a trade association? Which trade association is it?
* Does the shop provide a detailed receipt? This information is crucial for any future claim or repair.
* Does the shop seem to offer a busy repair service? This is a good indicator of customer trust.
* What warranties and guarantees does the shop offer exactly? Pay attention to them.
* Will the salesperson allow you to examine the diamond with a loupe on a white background? The eye is less able to perceive colour if diamonds are seen against a black background.
2: On the internet
It is not recommended to buy diamond rings online. You should see the diamonds in person to ensure that all details are covered. You should only purchase cert stones. Also, be sure to check the shipping terms and any tax or duty charges for foreign-based sites. The internet gives you the opportunity to do your research.
3: Only for brave
If you’re looking for the best deal in diamonds, you might consider some companies that are trying to disrupt the traditional supply chain. Hatton Garden wholesalers sell directly to retailers. They will often not be recognizable on the street, other than a bell to ring. However, they can sell loose diamonds at up to half the price of what is available on high street. They won’t take the time to talk with people who don’t care about their business and won’t be interested if they aren’t serious. But if you’re clear on what you want, you can give them a shot. For names and numbers, contact the jewellery trade associations.