How to Buy a Diamond Ring

How to buy a diamond ring
Photo: georgerudy / Adobe Stock
Aside from the obvious question that comes with an engagement ring, the question of actually buying a diamond ring is perhaps the biggest. You’ve decided to make the love of your life your fiancé, and now the shopping begins. Don’t worry, we’re going to cover everything you need here today.

You’re going to learn:

  • The four Cs of diamonds
  • How diamond certification works
  • The different shapes available
  • Where to buy a diamond ring
  • The importance of research and comparing prices

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Carat

Sadly, there’s a misconception here that ‘Carat’ refers to the diamond’s size. Instead, it’s actually all about weight. In a single Carat, the diamond will weigh 0.2 grams. Since it relates to weight, two diamonds of the same Carat weight can actually have very different sizes thanks to the cut.

A perfect diamond
Photo: Sarawut795 / Adobe Stock

Often, people place the largest emphasis on Carat weight when brilliance and overall appearance should be the deciding factors. Sometimes, a 1 Carat diamond can shine brighter than a diamond with a higher Carat weight.

Cut

Here, we enter the world of angles, brilliance, finishing, fire, proportions, and symmetrical facets. We’ll learn more about the GIA later, but for now you need to know that they grade the cut of a diamond using the following scale:

  • Ideal
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Ultimately, the cut of a diamond is a very unique aspect. While some cutters may push for Carat weight and leave the diamond too shallow or deep, others want to improve clarity by minimizing the inclusions. With the latter, the downside to inclusions is that a diamond won’t have the same sparkle.

For us, cut is perhaps the most important part of your diamond search. Essentially, it underpins all other areas of the diamond. Even with two Carats and no colors or blemishes, a poor cut will still lead to a dull appearance. While on this note, we should say that it’s important to be careful while shopping. With around 55% of all diamonds online offering an ‘Excellent’ cut, you need to avoid those that are actually quite average. Choose certified diamonds from GIA with Excellent cut for the best and brightest appearance.

Clarity

As the third ‘C’, we want to know the cleanliness of the diamond and that it’s free from blemishes and inclusions. With a gem like a diamond, it’s possible to gather this information by watching the light as it passes through. When there are inclusions and blemishes, the diamond doesn’t sparkle, and this can negate the effect of a fantastic cut.

Again, GIA provide a useful scale to assess clarity and it ranges from Flawless (FL) to Inclusions 2 (I2). When shopping, you can do an ‘eye clean’ test to ensure that there are no inclusions that disrupt the light reflection. Unfortunately, you won’t learn about a diamond’s blemishes and how this affects brilliance and appearance from the certificate alone. With this, don’t be afraid to speak to an expert.

Color

Finally, is the diamond white or is it colorless? On a GIA scale from D to Z, any diamond with a yellow/brown tint will be a ‘Z’ while the most colorless diamonds will have a ‘D’ rating. Often, it’s actually the pricing that alerts us to differences in color. When two alike diamonds sit side by side at very different prices, you can almost guarantee that the difference is in the color grade.

Just as we saw with clarity, make sure there’s no tinting since this will interfere with light reflections. Also, assess the colorless nature of the diamond while in its setting. If you want to make the best decision, we highly recommend getting the advice of an expert and listening to those in the jewelry store.

Of course, we should also note that some colored diamonds are available. For example, you might find green, purple, or pink diamonds. These won’t fall on the normal color grading system because they’re different to classic white diamonds.

The Four Cs of Diamonds

We appreciate that this is lots of information to take in, so let’s summarize the four Cs of diamonds with some simple tips.

  • Choose an excellent cut
  • Be willing to accept small inclusions when on a small budget
  • Go for a colorless diamond
  • Don’t overspend for features that can’t be seen without a microscope
  • Choose Carat depending on your available budget

Diamond Certificate

When shopping for a diamond ring, you’re likely to find GIA certifications with some products, and this is important. If a diamond has this certification, it means it has been graded by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) – an independent, impartial company known for their work on all gems. Over the years, they have conducted all sorts of gem research while setting the standard for diamonds and even training gem professionals.

During their time in the industry, GIA has developed the very same four Cs of diamond quality that we have just discovered. Not only this, they evaluate each of the Cs and the terminology so that the industry has a universal scoring system.

Rather than mining diamonds or controlling the supply of the gem, GIA simply completes unbiased and objective diamond quality assessments. When a diamond has been GIA graded, it will come with a grading report; remember to take a look at this before spending your hard-earned money.

Shape

Diamond shapes. Photo: DiamondGalaxy / Adobe Stock

In truth, there are lots of different shapes with diamond rings. Here’s some of the most common:

  • Princess Cut – As a square cut, the princess diamond has always been a trendy choice and one that offers an intense sparkle.
  • Round Brilliant Cut – Perhaps the most traditional choice, this one is round and has 58 facets. For the longest time, it has been the standard against which all other diamond shapes are measured.
  • Emerald Cut – Seen as a classic and vintage look, the emerald cut screams glamour but in an elegant and old-world way. As a rectangular cut, it’s normally chosen for desire and uniqueness rather than brilliance.
  • Cushion Cut – In recent times, the cushion (or ‘pillow’) cut seems to have become the most popular option. With rounded corners, it’s a romantic choice for any woman.
  • Marquise Cut – Shaped like a football, this is one of the largest of all cuts and excels on short fingers.
  • Heart Shape – Need we say more? One for the romantics with a diamond that works well in a solitaire setting.
  • Asscher Cut – While some shapes are traditional, this one is considered an updated version of the emerald cut. With a square shape, it offers a beautiful balance between modern personality and vintage style.
  • Oval Cut – If you want your partner to stand out in a crowd (even more than usual!), the oval cut will do exactly this, and it also makes fingers look longer.
  • Pear Shape – Sometimes referred to as the ‘teardrop’ diamond, this is almost a blend between the marquise and round cuts; it’s normally chosen in a halo setting.
  • Radiant Cut – Finally, the radiant cut is another blend and it actually combines a few different ideas. With cropped corners, it suits a woman who is active and who enjoys a square shape.

Where to Buy

As we start to bring this guide to a close, we have two more topics to cover; where to buy your diamond ring and how to avoid mistakes with pricing. Firstly, there are now lots of places to buy diamond rings. The following options are available:

  • Online
  • Private jeweler
  • Local store

Of course, the two traditional options are the private jeweler and local store. As physical locations, you can see all the rings in person and make an informed decision. With experts at hand, you can ask questions, look at the difference between cuts and shapes, and hopefully get that magical feeling when the ‘right’ diamond ring gets placed in front of you.

When buying online, there’s more ways to go wrong (sorry!). Since online vendors have fewer costs, research suggests that diamond rings are cheaper online. However, you need to be careful because there are scammers and untrustworthy sellers on the internet. Here’s some tips for buying online:

  • Always choose a reliable vendor
  • Never buy a ring without looking at videos and/or high-quality images
  • Check the GIA certificate
  • Take your time
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

Price Comparison

In the past, plenty of people have made mistakes and overpaid for diamonds. If you want to avoid this, you’ve already taken a fantastic first step by reading our guide today. That’s right, online research is one of the best things you can do. The more you know, the easier it will be to make a sensible decision.

As well as the GIA website and blog, we also recommend The Diamond Pro and their guide on calculating diamond prices (and not getting ripped off!). On this page, you’ll find a diamond price calculator. After finding a ring online, enter the details in this calculator and it will suggest an appropriate price, which you can then compare to the selling price.

Conclusion

There we have it, how to buy a diamond ring. Continue your research, understand the four Cs and everything else we’ve discussed, and get that ring to start the next chapter of your lives together!