Happy Thursday Everyone
I hope everyone is having a great week. One more day until the weekend! This week I wanted to write a post on what to look for when selecting a diamond for an engagement ring, 2018 ring trends and questions to ask before purchasing a ring. I think it’s becoming more common these days for women to take part in the ring selection process. Even if we aren’t present for the actual purchasing of the ring, we are certainly “pinning” rings we like to our Pinterest boards and dropping hints as to the styles we like. For most people, this is probably the first time they are buying a diamond engagement ring so it’s natural to not even know where to begin. If you are one of the many people who fall in that category, make sure to read on!
This week I “interviewed” one of my oldest and dearest friends, Rachel Frank: GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Graduate Gemologist. Rachel’s entire career is centered around diamonds and jewels so what better person to give some insight as to the diamond selection process than her.
Let’s get started with diamond basics – the 4 C’s.
Rachel: The 4 C's of diamond quality are cut, color, clarity, and carat. Each diamond is unique and has specific qualities that differentiate its value. The 4C's help to identify the unique characteristics of each diamond.
Can you tell us more? How do I even know what I’m looking for in each C?
Rachel: Definitely! Let’s look at each category a little deeper starting with Cut:
Cut is the most important factor because it heavily influences the overall appearance and brilliance of a diamond. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond. If it is cut too shallow or too deep, light will leak out of the bottom or the side of the diamond creating a dull appearance. If possible, try to select a cut grade of very good or excellent. GIA only acknowledges a cut grade for round diamonds.
The color evaluation of most gem quality diamonds is based on the diamonds lack of color. The less color, the higher the color grade. GIA created the D-Z color scale for diamonds ranging from colorless to light yellow. Anything beyond this color scale is considered a colored diamond. Engagement quality diamonds are typically between D-J color.
Most diamonds have small imperfections called inclusions. The fewer and less visible inclusions, the higher the clarity grade. Most engagement quality diamonds are slightly included or better.The GIA clarity scale below shows you what the letters mean in terms of the diamond’s inclusion.
Carat refers to the diamonds weight, not size. Prices often jump at the half and full carat marks (1.00ct, 1.50ct, 2.00ct., etc) so if you're budget conscious, try to select a carat weight in between these half and full marks.
Overall striking a balance between the 4C's will get you the most for your money and it will help you make the best decision.
That’s all such great advice! This is the type of information that they don’t explain to you in jewelry stores. I’m lucky enough to have a friend like you to answer these questions for me but for those who don’t have a “diamond insider” how would someone go about choosing the best store to purchase their diamond?
Rachel: Selecting a company to purchase a ring from is a very personal decision. Maybe you have a loyalty to a specific brand like Tiffany's, Cartier, David Yurman, etc. Purchasing at these stores would be for someone who is not budget conscious or they care a lot about having a brand name behind the ring. Some people prefer to shop online at places like Blue Nile because the margins will be lower which will reflect in the overall price or they care about ethically sourced diamonds and want to purchase from a company like Brilliant Earth. There are plenty of local mom and pop shops for people living in small towns and who want to support local businesses. There are the commercial chains like Jared, Zales, Kay's, etc for those who are most budget conscious. Best of all, if you have any connection to someone in the jewelry industry, use them to assist in the process. If you can, competitive shop at as many places as you can to see the difference in price and quality before selecting where to purchase the ring.
It's so true, diamonds are so personal and the decision where to buy one is also very personal. There are so many locations out there now and with the Internet right at our fingertips, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choices. Once we find a diamond ring that we like, what are some of the most important questions to ask the jeweler before purchasing?
1) What are the diamonds 4C's?
2) Does the ring come certified with official documentation?
3) What is the return/exchange policy
4) What advice for cleaning and taking care of the ring can they provide?
5) How long will it take to get the ring? Is it custom made per order or does it come out from stock?
6) What are the payment options?
7) Can the ring be sized and engraved?
This is all such valuable advice and great information for the average consumer to know before beginning the process. You live and breath diamonds, what are you seeing right now for 2018 engagement ring trends?
Rachel: These are some of the most popular trends in the industry right now:
-Rose Gold Settings
-3 stone rings with fancy shape side stones
-East West Settings (Especially Emerald Cuts)
-Colored Diamonds (Yellow & Pink)
Rose gold has been huge everywhere from rings to wedding color themes. I’m not surprised to see that on the list. What about trends for women’s wedding bands?
-Large Design Focused Bands (Statement Bands)
-Baguette Wedding Bands
-Classic Eternity Bands
Thanks Rachel. I’ve never even heard of a baguette wedding band. When I think of baguette, I think of a long loaf of delicious French bread. I had no idea this was even a term to describe a wedding band – this is why we need people like you! We’ve talked a lot about women’s rings, let’s not forget about the men out there! Can you give us some of the hottest trends for men’s wedding bands?
Rachel: Sure! The most common metals for men’s bands are platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and palladium. Here is some extra information about each of those metals:
-Platinum (extremely durable and heavier than gold)
-Gold (lower price point than platinum but still holds up well over time)
-Palladium (member of the platinum family) generally costs less than platinum and gold
Modern styles with matte finishes are in style as are high polish plain bands, a combination of matte and high finish bands, bands with black or cognac diamonds, and hammered bands.
So many choices. I’m so glad to have your expertise to guide us all through this process. You have given some amazing suggestions and advice. Tell me, what do you love most about making rings and picking out diamonds?
Rachel: The best part of making engagement rings is knowing when I hand that ring off to whoever is purchasing it, I'm giving them a piece of jewelry that represents the first step in a new and exciting chapter for that couple. When I have the chance to make rings for friends and family I get the biggest butterflies in my stomach knowing someone I care about is about to enter into an amazing chapter in life and I get to be a part of it. Nothing better than that!
I could not agree more. As someone who has been on the receiving end of one of your gorgeous rings, I couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. It’s even more special to me knowing it was made by one of my oldest friends and given to me by the love of my life. It’s a piece that I will absolutely treasure forever and I can’t thank you enough!
I hope you all found some valuable advice in this post. Picking out a ring is such a personal and intimate thing. It’s a piece of jewelry that you will wear forever and a symbol of your commitment and love to another human being. It’s important to know how to make sure you are picking the right piece for you.
Thanks for reading everyone and as always, Happy Planning!