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Buying a Diamond Engagement Ring

When Only a Genuine Diamond Ring Will Do


diamond solitaire

A brilliant, round, unset solitaire diamond.

(c) De Beers.

By Susan Breslow Sardone

At a point in nearly every man's life, there comes a time when his heart knows it's time for buying a diamond engagement ring for the woman he loves. A symbol of feelings deeper than words can convey, a diamond engagement ring speaks of a man's need to honor and delight one very special person.

(Shop for a diamond engagement ring online)

Nature's Perfect Gemstones

Quality in diamonds is as meaningful as it is in every other aspect of life. How can you recognize a high-quality diamond? It's the one with more sparkle, more fiery brilliance, more depth -- more of what characterizes your relationship.

While there are many diamonds of quality, rare diamonds are even more valuable. Below you'll find information on the 4Cs, buying guidelines, and why a diamond engagement ring is the most heartfelt gift a man can buy for a woman.

THE 4Cs: Elements that Reveal a Diamond's Rarity

The 4Cs are the four distinct characteristics that combine to determine a diamond's value. Since no two diamonds are exactly alike, you'll want to examine each of the 4Cs in order to find a stone that offers the best combination of qualities -- which is the same way experts arrive at a diamond's rarity and value. Only then will you feel comfortable buying a diamond engagement ring.

CARAT: A Diamond's Weight

A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. For example, a 75-point diamond can also be defined as a .75 or a 3/4 carat stone.

The size you choose is a matter of personal taste and of course budget. It's important to know that large diamonds are more rare in nature than small ones, and a bigger diamond shows off a fine stone's dazzling cut and color to its best advantage.

Diamonds of the same size may vary widely in value, depending on their qualities of color, clarity, and cut. If you place one size diamond next to another, the one that has better color and is more pure and sparkling will be worth more.

CLARITY: The Purity of a Diamond

  • FL (flawless)
  • IF (internally flawless)
  • VVS1 VVS2(very, very small inclusions)
  • VS1 VS2 (very small inclusions)
  • SI1 SI2SI3(small inclusions)
  • I1 I2 I3 (visible inclusions)

Virtually all diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet most are invisible to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe, natural phenomena -- called inclusions -- may appear to look like tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers. They're nature's fingerprint.

The number, color, type, size, and position of inclusions as well as surface blemishes affect a diamond's clarity. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through a diamond. So the greater a stone's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable, and rare it is.

Diamonds categorized as flawless reveal no inclusions or imperfections under a loupe. However, truly flawless stones, which can only be identified with a gemologist's powerful microscope, are the most unique of all.

COLOR: A Diamond's Whiteness

  • D E F = Colorless
  • G H I J = Near Colorless
  • K L M = Faint Yellow
  • N O P Q R = Very Light Yellow
  • S T U V W X Y Z = Light Yellow

Colorless diamonds -- the ideal -- are treasured for their rarity. The closer to colorless a diamond is, the more vividly it can reflect light and glorious flashes of the rainbow spectrum.

While most diamonds appear colorless, many actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected by a trained eye. Color grades range from totally colorless to light yellow. A single color upgrade will increase the value of a diamond significantly.

"Fancy" diamonds -- in well-defined colors than include red, pink, blue, green, and canary yellow -- are highly prized and as rare as truly colorless stones.

CUT: A Diamond's Brilliance

A properly cut diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light-offering maximum appeal, durability, and value.

While nature determines a diamond's color, clarity, and carat weight, the hand of a craftsman is necessary to release its sparkle and beauty.

A master cutter devotes hundreds of hours to carving a stone that makes optimal use of light. When a diamond is cut to proper proportions, light will bounce from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse through the top of the stone.

Diamonds which are cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or bottom. As a result, an improperly cut diamond will be less brilliant and beautiful -- and certainly less rare.

SHAPE: A Diamond's Silhouette

Diamonds are available in a number of beautiful shapes, and the one you choose is purely a matter of personal taste.

After studying the dimensions of a rough stone, a cutter applies his art and imagination to produce a distinctive shape. These include Brilliant Round (the most popular choice), Oval, Pear, Emerald, Marquise, Square Princess, and Heart shapes.

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