Are you planning a special proposal or hoping to get just the right gift for Mother’s Day this year? Maybe you just want to treat yourself to a gorgeous new piece of jewelry. Regardless of why you’re diamond shopping, consider these tips to help you choose just the right one.
1. The Carat Weight
In the United States, the average diamond engagement ring is 1.00-1.2 carats, which typically costs between $6,000 and $7,000. Of course, the size of the diamond is not the most important part of the ring (or shouldn’t be), so don’t feel you need to spend that much. However, when choosing the carat weight, consider a few other things as well. The cut will matter. Small diamonds look amazing with just the right cut, and high-carat ones can still look dull with a bad cut. Additionally, unconventional shapes often cost less and add a unique style to the ring. Finally, remember a diamond of the same size will look larger on someone who has a size 6 ring than on someone who has a size 8 one. Considering ring size is important to get the perfect look.
2. The Clarity
The clarity of a diamond indicates how clear the stone looks. Because most diamonds form deep under the earth, some have natural flaws within the stone. The clarity rating system ranges from Flawless, which is the most expensive, to Included, which is the most affordable. Clarity examination is performed under 10x magnification, which means that many clarity issues aren’t even noticeable to the naked eyes. An excellent choice if you have an average budget and expectations is to look for a ring with a Slightly Included or Very Slightly Included clarity ranking. These rings are more affordable than higher-end ones and their flaws aren’t noticeable with a jeweler’s magnification.
3. The Color
People traditionally think of diamonds as white or clear, but they sometimes include coloring that uses a D-Z grading scale. Rings that grade D-F are the most traditional looking and have almost now yellow or brown undertones. Other ranges include G-J (near colorless), K-M (faint), N-R (very light), and S-Z (light). Keep in mind that the ring’s setting can affect how the color looks, and only certified diamond graders can determine the color of one. Of course, although they are much less common (and often much more expensive), diamonds can also come in a range of other colors, including blue, red, pin, purple, yellow, and even black.
4. The Cut
The shape of a diamond is known as its cut, and not all cuts are of the same quality. The only cut not considered a fancy one is the round diamond, which is also the most common shape. Despite what the name implies, fancy diamond cuts are actually less expensive than round ones. The cut grade, which ranks from excellent to poor, determines how much return of light the diamond gives. The grading focuses in part on how deep or shallow the cut is. If the cut is not ideal, it can cause the gem to look too dull or glassy when in its setting.
5. The Origin
Diamond shoppers have focused on the 4Cs for decades, but as times and perspective changes, shoppers are focusing on another factor as well: the origin of the diamond. Mining for diamonds has a storied history that includes damaging the earth with fossil fuels and even violence, as some diamonds (known as “blood diamonds”) have even been sold to fund wars. A diamond’s journey could even follow a path of human rights violations, child labor, and other poor working conditions. Purchasing a man-made gem, such as a CVD diamond, is often the solution. Man-made diamonds are more ethical, but there are other benefits as well. They have fewer defects and have a greater purity and are often more affordable. Even better, lab-grown diamonds can be made in nearly any color at a fraction of the price.
Always shop for diamonds with a reputable jeweler. Look for one who is a member of a professional association such as the Jewelers of America, has an established positive reputation among previous clients, and can provide proof of being a trained and certified professional.