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Choosing A Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamond Engagement Rings
Photo: Studio 477
  The Diamond, the Jeweller and the Bride
In the first part of our Engagement Ring series, we are attempting to define, what is for most engagement ring shoppers, the unknown language of diamonds. How do we apply this language to the real world of diamond ring shopping?

In this article we talk about the focus of most Engagement Rings - The Diamond.

Yes, the diamond… or as the ladies refer to it, the ‘rock’, the ‘sparkle’, the ‘precious’, the ‘frosting’, the ‘princess’ or the ‘bling’! Let’s look at defining what are commonly referred to as the Four C’s in choosing a diamond.

First, let’s clarify a point of great importance. Not everyone is aware that Cut and Shape, are two different and very distinct characteristics of a diamond.

Cut refers to how well proportioned and polished a diamond is by the cutter or jeweller, taking into account symmetry and style of cutting. The angles and finish of a diamond are what define its ability to handle light. A good diamond cut will reflect more light back out of the diamond to give the appearance of brilliance, whereas a poorly cut diamond can cause it to lose its sparkle and shine, even if the diamond’s colour and clarity are perfect.

If a diamond is cut too shallow, light escapes from the sides, rather than reflecting back out of the diamond to give it shine.

Shallow cut diamond

On the other hand, if a diamond is cut too deep, light will escape from the bottom.

Deep cut diamond

A skilled professional will use exact proportions to cut a diamond, to maintain its brilliance, through an ideal cut.

Fine cut diamondIdeal cut diamond

The cut of the diamond is probably the most important characteristic to look for when choosing a diamond. The quality of the cut will generally determine the price of the diamond.

There are optimum cuts for each shape of diamond, to maximise their brilliance (brightness) and fire (sparkle).

The most common diamond shapes include:

Round Brilliant Round Brilliant Diamond
Oval Oval Diamond
Marquise Marquise Diamond
Pear Pear Diamond
Heart Heart Shaped Diamond
Emerald Emerald Diamond
Princess Princess Diamond
Radiant Radiant Diamond
Cushion Cushion Diamond
Asscher Asscher Diamond
Trilliant Trilliant Shaped Diamond

We hear jewellers talk about the clarity of their diamond, but what does it mean?

Clarity refers to identifying the presence of microscopic characteristics both on and within the stone, most of which are present since the earliest stages of the crystal’s growth below the ground. Diamonds with few inclusions or none at all, are considered more valuable. For one, flawless diamonds are rarer than those with flaws, but what is the real difference?

FL: Flawless
Very rare diamonds which have no inclusions or blemishes under 10X magnification.

IF: Internally Flawless
No inclusions in the diamond under 10x magnification. May have small blemishes around the surface.

VVSI-VVS2: Very Very Slight Inclusions
Inclusions in the diamond are minute and very difficult to detect, even under 10X magnification.

VS1-VS2: Very Slight Inclusions
Inclusions are typically invisible without magnification, however on the rare occasion a VS2 diamond may have a small inclusion, visible to the trained eye.

SI1-SI2: Slight Inclusions
Diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to spot under 10X magnification. Inclusions may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.

I1-I2-I3: Included
Diamonds have obvious inclusions, easily visible under 10X magnification and generally visible to the naked eye. Inclusions in I1 category diamonds can often be seen by the naked eye; I2 inclusions are seen easily; I3 category inclusions are large and very easily visible to the naked eye. Inclusions in an I3 diamond usually impact the brilliance of the diamond, while also threatening the structure of a diamond.

So we move to the third of the fourth ‘C’ in choosing a diamond - Colour.

Diamond Colour

Diamond Colour is graded according to “colourlessness”, or the presence or absence of colour in white diamonds. A colourless diamond allows more light to pass through it, making it radiate more sparkle and fire. Diamonds are graded on a letter scale of D through to Z. The professional colour scale grades D as being the rarest and most colourless or “whitest” looking diamond, with the scale following as such:

Diamond Grade Diamond Description
D, E, F Exceptionally White
G, H Rare White
I,J Nearly Colourless
Diamonds that have tinges of brown and yellow are graded further down the scale:
K,L,M,N Yellow tinge
O, P, Q, R, S Very light yellow
T, U, V, W, X, Y Light yellow/ Brown tinge
z Fancy coloured diamond grading for rare, “fancy coloured” diamonds, such as blue, pink, orange, purple, yellow.

While the colour of a diamond does influence its price, it is not the most important characteristic to consider before buying a diamond.  Remember - you don’t need to buy a D-F diamond to have a beautiful gemstone.  Diamond grades G-J are high quality diamonds that still radiate fire and sparkle.  Other diamond colour grades may also be totally suitable, depending on the metal colour and ring design/setting.  An experienced jeweller can help you choose the best diamond to create your ring.

The fourth of the Four C’s in Diamonds that we will talk about is Carat.

Now, how big is this diamond going to be? Will your friends refer to it as a cutie, a little sparkler, a rock, or a quarry? What are the things you need to consider before deciding on the size of a diamond? The style? The ring setting? Your budget?

So how do we measure diamond size? Diamonds are measured in Carats, where one carat is equal to 200 milligrams/0.2 grams.

The carat weight of a diamond determines its size and overall appearance of the ring. The most popular diamond sizes for engagement rings are generally between 0.5 – 0.75 carat, as these provide a good combination of size and value.

A few helpful hints to remember:

  • If the bride-to-be has small or slender fingers, small diamonds will look bigger!

  • If you’re working within a budget, and carat weight is important, you may still be able to opt for a larger diamond by choosing one which is slightly lower graded in colour and clarity. For instance SI1-SI2 clarity and I or J colour grading.

  • Along the same line of thinking, you may opt for a diamond lesser in colour and clarity gradings, in order to get an ideal cut. Remember that it’s the cut that gives the diamond brilliance and makes it sparkle!

  • The ring design and diamond setting can be made to enhance the diamond, making it appear larger and brighter.

  • Remember that if the bride-to-be is not used to wearing jewellery, or has a very active lifestyle or job, she may find herself bumping or getting her ring caught on things. Think about getting a smaller sized diamond or a setting that protects the diamond from being knocked around!

  • You should insist that your diamond is accompanied by certification. Each diamond certificate includes a unique certificate number. The diamond certificate or report documents the internationally recognised characteristics of a diamond: Cut, Clarity, Colour, Carat weight. Some of the most respected diamond laboratories include:
    • GIA – Gemological Institute of America;
    • HRD – Antwertp World Diamond Center
    • DCLA – Diamond Certification Laboratory of Australia

  • Remember that a diamond certificate does not provide you with your diamond’s valuation. If you wish to have your diamond independently valued, you would need to arrange a diamond appraisal.

With these things in mind, you should be well versed to start shopping for your diamond. But it doesn’t end here, there are more factors to think about when choosing/designing/shopping for an engagement ring.

Wishing all diamond shoppers happy, sparkly shopping!

For ideas on Diamond Jewellery, Diamond Engagement Rings or Wedding Jewellery, visit Wedding Central’s Directory in your state.
Sydney Jewellers, Melbourne Jewellers, Brisbane Jewellers, SA Jewellers, WA Jewellers, Tasmanian Jewellers, Canberra Jewellers & NT Jewellers




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