Buying The Right Diamond Engagement Ring for You
How to buy the right diamond for you.
It’s that time when you are ready to take your relationship to the next level and propose to the love of your life. You’ve planned the proposal from start to finish: the location, the music, who will be there and who won’t, and the hour and minute when you’ll ask the big question, and now you are ready to get that perfect diamond ring that will top off your plans perfectly as a cherry on an ice cream sundae.
If you’ve never thought about it before you quickly realize there are a couple of things you didn’t think about before. No worries, here you will find an easy guide and recommendations to follow when purchasing the perfect diamond engagement ring for that perfect someone.
When considering what diamond to put in your engagement ring there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself and a couple of categories to consider when searching for the right diamond.
The first thing that you need to consider when buying your engagement ring is your budget. How much can you comfortably afford for the entire engagement ring and not just the diamond.
Determining your budget is a decision that can only be made by you. Try to avoid the traditional marketing myth that you need to spend at least 3 or 6 months of your salary. Base your budget on how much you feel comfortable paying without feeling stressed in managing to pay minimum payments every month. The purchase of the engagement ring symbolizes your love and should represent that and that alone, not stress and regret. Set your budget and stay within its perimeters.
The second question you want to ask yourself is what shape diamond you want.
Diamonds are cut in different shapes and each shape has its own beauty, but not everyone feels the same way about every diamond shape.
The commonly known diamond shapes are:
Princess Cut (square)
Other Fancy Shapes: Star, flower, butterfly and even a horse head can be an option.
Like with any fashion, engagement rings can be influenced by the current trends in bridal jewelry and fashion jewelry, where one year the round brilliant cut diamond is the shape to have, and the next year the emerald cut diamond is the hottest look around, because an actor received it from their loved one. The only way to truly know the diamond shape that you truly love is to try it on and see how it fits your finger.
The next step in purchasing the diamond for your engagement ring is deciding on the quality of your diamond. The quality is determined by four categories universally known as the 4 C's of diamonds: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat,
Cut: This category grades the dimensions and measurement of the diamond, based on commonly agreed upon industry standards. It is also attributed to the level of fire and brilliance the diamond show when it reflects light back to the observer. Currently the only shape that has its grade shown on a certificate is the Round Brilliant Cut.
Color: This category grades the diamond's body tone, or in other words how white the diamond’s. Usually the color grade of the diamond in the United States is graded from D (being the whitest) to Z (being the least white in the white diamond category).
Clarity: This category grades how clean the diamond is and checks for imperfections in the diamond and on its surface using x10 magnification.
Carat: This category indicates the carat weight of the diamond.
These four categories can be prioritized in order to find the right diamond that fits your wants and your budget. It is important to be educated about the 4 C's and what each represent so that you will know exactly what you are getting and not be tricked by being promised one diamond and receive another diamond that fits the seller's interests more than yours.
It is also very useful for you when you go to your appointment with your jeweler to let him know what you have searched and what you have found online and in stores, so you will be able to compare the same information on an equal plane; knowing what you have seen before can help both sides in providing and receiving the best information about the diamond you are looking at that moment together.
Additional questions to ask your jeweler when you are considering different diamonds:
Does the diamond come with an independent laboratory certification?
Do not ask just for general paperwork, specify the paperwork you want to see. Many places will refer to the appraisal of the diamond as the complementary paperwork for the diamond, misleading the customer, while answering the question honestly. Ask to see a copy of the certificate, and make sure that on the papers that are shown to you are titled "certificate," because independent laboratories can issue an appraisal as well or an independent gemologist who issued the appraisal emphasizes their accreditation rather than the title of the document; an appraisal from a certified appraiser is not the same as a certificate.
The certificate will indicate the cut of the diamond, the color quality, the clarity quality, additional measurements and notes about the diamond.
A diamond with a unique certificate is valued more than a diamond with only an appraisal, therefor it can also be another variable when looking to reduce your purchasing price. But if you choose to go with an uncertified diamond it is recommended that you compare the diamond quality to another certified diamond so you will have the visual comparison between them and make sure in your eyes that the quality of the diamond meets your satisfaction.
What laboratory issued the certificate for the diamond?
There are several independent laboratories that issue certificate of authenticity for a diamond, of which GIA (Gemological Institute of America), EGL-USA (European Gemological Laboratory – USA Branches), and IGI (International Gemological Institute) are the most common to find in the United States and abroad.
Of the different certificates GIA is considered the "gold standard" of diamond certification and is therefore more valued than other certificates.
Is there an option to view the diamond in a different light?
The showroom floor of any retail store, may it be diamond jewelry or clothing, is optimized to display the product, so one recommendation is see the jewelry in different areas if possible so you will see how the diamond looks in the store, in the shade, in the sun and whenever possible in a similar lighted area as in your own home.
The last step of buying your dream engagement ring is choosing the design of the ring. Through the centuries jewelry making, styles, and methods of creating jewelry has changed, and so have the design of the rings changed with new skills and exposure to different new styles of art, architecture and even philosophy.
Like the shape of the diamond the design style of the ring is influenced a lot by pop culture, while the solitaire engagement ring is timeless, a unique design makes the ring more personal and will hold more value to the both of you and to your future generations.
You should try on different designs and see how they look on the finger to determine if you like them on you, you might find that you like the ring in photos, but not actually on your finger. As you try on and look at different styles keep in mind that you can always design your own one-of-a-kind custom engagement ring if you don’t find the one that was already built and waiting for you in the store.
Most of the engagement ring design styles can fall within the following categories:
Halo ring - the center diamond is surrounded with diamonds or other gemstones
Officially, vintage jewelry is jewelry originally made decades ago. It can be broken down in to the following categories:
Estate jewelry – all pre-owned jewelry, but usually jewelry from current date to 30 years since it was made.
Vintage jewelry – jewelry that was made 30 to 100 years ago. (1)
Antique jewelry – jewelry that was made for over 100 years ago. (1)
If the jewelry was crafted outside of the years of which it was originated, the jewelry needs to be referred to as style; only art deco jewelry that was created with the 1920’s -1930’s can be called art deco, otherwise it is art deco style, and so it is applied to the rest of the styles (1). Noteworthy vintage style jewelry are:
Art Deco - style originated between the end of the 1800's until the end of the 1920's. Characterized by geometric designs, intricate and delicate filigree work, and the combination of colorful gemstones, in particular sapphire, ruby and emerald. (1)
Art Nouveau - a style that was a response to the industrial revolution in the early 1900's. Characterized by taking inspiration from forms found in nature. Including insects and the woman's form. Also, known for vibrant colors created by the method of enameling. (1)
Victorian – characterized with combination of gemstones and diamonds, where the flower motif is most common. (1)
Georgian – the designs of the ring has intricate metal work using both negative and positive spaces. (1)
Modern - characterized by bulky and geometric designs, where the metal is prominently displayed in the design.
Solitaire - a gold or platinum ring with only one diamond at the center of it.
Buying an engagement ring together VS alone:
OK, you are ready. You’ve done your research; you created your budget; you chose the shape and quality of the diamond, you selected the design in which your diamond will be set, and you are ready to order it. One last question you need to ask yourself, one very important question: are you 100% positive that this is what she wants? Is that the shape of the diamond she loves? Is that the design she dreams about wearing and showing off? Does she really want a diamond and not her birthstone? If you are not 100% certain it might be a problem. Because what you need to remember is that it is her ring, she’s the one who will wear it not you, and if she is not 100% loving her engagement ring it might end up in the jewelry box, sooner or later for some reason.
In order to avoid this conundrum, you have two options:
1) Consult with her family and friends and hope that they know what she loves and does not like in engagement rings. But again, you might be dealing with uncertainties, maybe she had different thoughts and opinions that each remember but they all contradict each other, but if all say the same then you should be good to go.
2) Buy the engagement ring together; make the diamond purchase and the ring design process a shared experience. Eliminate all uncertainties and design the ring together. From choosing the shape of the diamond and the quality to choosing the design style and even customize a design making it a one of a kind ring. This way it will be less stressful and it will add more emotion and importance to the engagement ring for both of you.
As you can see buying an engagement ring alone has a lot of "if's" and different variables that can make or break the dream engagement ring for your significant love. While this can intimidate some and put unnecessary stress on you, we have years of experience in designing, making and selling engagement rings and we recommend that you should go through the process of buying the engagement ring together.
How to Keep it a surprise:
Propose at the store
You have searched the local jewelry stores in your city, you found the family that you feel most comfortable with and you know that they will do whatever it takes to make the ring of your future spouse a reality.
Bring her to store and ask her the big question there, and then design with her the perfect engagement ring.
Propose the same way as you would with a ring
Propose in the same way you would with a ring, but instead of a ring you have a ring box and inside of it is an appointment card for the two of you to choose together the right diamond and ring design for her.
If you can exceed the expectation of the ring that she likes, by purchasing a better quality or a larger center diamond than initially discussed, without her knowledge will ensure the surprise reaction that you might be looking for.
Where to Buy?
When buying the engagement ring of your dream you will need to make a decision on where to buy your ring. The options facing you are:
Big Franchise Company
Family Owned and Operated Jewelry Store
Online Vs. Family Store
Online jewelry retailers and diamond dealers without a physical store or office are easy to find with a quick google search. The engagement rings are displayed on their websites and their diamonds are listed as well. A lot of the websites today provide a customization tool and a preview of their products, and as you experiment with designs and shapes, you think you‘ve found the right ring for you, and make the purchase. It was fast and easy and most often at a significant discount, all at the comfort of your own home.
Once you receive the engagement ring you might face some of the following issues:
The diamond does not look like it did in the photo and video
The diamond looks smaller than expected
The ring does not look the same in the photo or video
The ring looks exactly as described and displayed on the website and meets your 100% expectations, but you don't like it on your finger.
How these issues occur:
Most often website have a generic photo of a diamond similar in quality as described, but it is not the diamond you are buying, most often there is a note indicating that the diamond in the photo is only an example. Most often used on diamonds where the inclusions are very visible or the inventory has not been updated.
While the monitors these days have amazing resolution, there is still a difference from monitor to monitor. The color interpretation of the digital photo or videos based on your monitor’s color setting and angle of view. Usually there is a notice or a different note: "due to different monitors color of the stone might appear differently" or other wording of the phrase. Meaning the diamond might appear white on your computer screen or smart phone, but actually it has a deeper body tone to it.
Perspective issues, the same way actors may seem bigger on film than they actually are, same can happen with jewelry. The accenting diamonds on the ring are significantly smaller than the center diamond, the ring can be thinner than expected, the hand model that the ring is previewed on is not the same structured as yours. All these things can affect how you perceive the size of the ring.
You were focusing on the price and did not consider the variables that determine the value of the diamond. You haven't thought about why a list of diamonds that have the exact same color, clarity, shape and carat weight have significant price differences. Remember to ask yourself: Does it has a certificate? What is the cut grade and how it affects the look of the diamond? Where are the imperfection of the diamond? These questions might give a clue as to why one diamond is less expensive than the other, but not the complete picture of why.
Lastly, engagement rings and any other jewelry needs to be tried on like any other item you wear, as we say "the shirt might look good on the rack, but not in the mirror", like with clothes jewelry is not one design, suits all.
To solve these problems you most often will be able to return and exchange the ring and repeat the process again and hopefully you might get it right the second time or the third and forth time.
At the family jewelry store you can see and touch the diamond; you can examine the diamond in person and compare it to other diamonds while getting as detailed explanation as you want why one diamond is valued less than another and decide what you like better. You can try on different ring designs and see if you both actually like the design in person. All the uncertainties that you are being exposed to in the Online Store have been eliminated.
Big Companies Vs. Family Store
Big chain companies, have the benefit of being big, providing you a close location to visit and they are recognizable because of heavy marketing as a benefit of being part of a big chain franchise.
They will most often have a large selection of their jewelry - while the selection is larger, it does tend to be limited in customization - and will be able to accommodate most of your needs.
The main issues you will face are commission sales associates, limited designs and customization options and higher prices.
First a disclaimer, the following is not a view on all commission sales associates. Each of us is an individual with different personalities, we all should be viewed individually and examined as such, but most often you will encounter the following issues when dealing with sales associates of big and small companies regardless of the industry.
They are concerned mainly with their commission goals and will guide your purchase decision that will fit their own gains, either it be a design that they might get a bonus on or encourage you to go out of your budget with a special financing promotion. These occurs not because they don't care, but because of big companies policies and motivation rewards that encourage these types of behavior. Instead of investing in you, most often they will treat you as another piece on the assembly line so they can move on to the next.
At your local family operated jewelry store this issue becomes less of a variable, because in the end you will be talking and dealing directly with the owners, and because they are more concerned with your satisfaction they will be able to guide you to the design that you will love more, and if needed they will design a one of a kind engagement ring that you’ve always dreamed of, because they are not restricted to limited designs or specific quota requirement for a certain design or style.
Brand Name Stores
While you will most likely encounter the commission sales associate bias in Brand Name Stores; the main variable that will affect the value of your engagement ring is the “added value” that comes from brand's name on the ring. If you or your partner are brand conscious and it is significantly important to you to say that the ring is from this specific company, then the added value of it is important to you, and you’re willing to pay a significant premium for the diamond engagement ring. Keep in mind that you can get a diamond with the same color and clarity quality, the same cut and dimension characteristics with the same type of certificate for a fraction of the price at your local independent jewelry store.
In a family business their name is their Brand and they value it as much if not more than other big brand name companies. Because they and the store are one and the same and when you are happy with your purchase, you will tell your friends and family that you got your engagement ring from the family jewelry store. They will know exactly what you got, because the local is store is part of the city, part of the neighborhood part of the community.
The Family Jewelry Store:
The experience that you get at the local family jewelry store is unique and different from person to each person. You are the center of the attention and your satisfaction is the only goal. The family will take time to educate you about the diamonds and show different diamonds in different qualities so you can choose the diamond that you like best. Then finding the style that you like and find the right design that you want and if the design was not already created, they will take the time to design the ring that you dreamed about getting that will make your special moment perfect.
At Trigon Diamonds this is what we are striving for with every person who enters our home to feel comfortable and take the time when having the experience in purchasing the ring that symbolizes their love.