Your guide to the perfect wedding ring
Getting married is one of the biggest events in a person’s life, perhaps the biggest there is. It’s a testament to the bond you forged with your other half, and it’s the beginning of your journey together.
The event of a lifetime requires the wedding band of a lifetime.
In this guide, we will walk you through the world of wedding rings and all the little hidden details of special significance. Here are the questions that you need to ask yourself:
1. What am I looking for? (narrowing down your choices)
Deciding what it is you’re looking for doesn’t mean you have to be a diamond expert in any way, but there are a few details that you need to know about wedding rings before you shop for one. This is about visual preference and what catches your eye, which brings us to what needs to be done: Research, research, research
In this guide, we will explore what different engagement and wedding rings can look like and give you a very good idea of what’s out there in terms of choice. You might have already found a certain piece appealing but still have no idea what size you want your diamond to be, the color you prefer or even the types of metals for the wedding band you would want to see on your significant other’s finger.
Research is king here, and this guide is designed to help you figure out the size, color, cost, carat and every little detail that you weren’t even aware was an option. This is a huge time saver, one that helps you avoid listening to a salesman’s pitch of how all styles, sizes, and colors would suit you perfectly just so they can make a sale that you might just regret in the future.
Take your time with this, and decide at your own pace what it is you want. Write down your preferences, and revisit them later, put them in order in terms of appeal or ask your significant other for some extra input.
With that in mind, let’s get started!
2. What should I know before getting a diamond ring?
Diamonds hold a special place among precious stones. Its value and meaning make it a perfect symbol for strong relationships and serious commitment.
The special significance of a diamond is what made it the traditional wedding ring stone. Its value depends entirely on its quality, which in itself can be judged through various aspects and little details. Before buying a diamond, here are some things you should know.
- The better the quality, the more it costs. Diamonds cost a lot and the fewer flaws in the stone, the higher the price. Diamonds are a purchase that lasts a lifetime making the investment worth the costs.
- There are other stones like Cubic Zirconia which are very similar to diamonds. So similar in fact, that only a trained expert can spot the difference. The stone appears similar to diamonds in almost every way but costs a lot less. Over time, however, it will lose its “Diamond look” and will look like a normal ring. So if you want a temporary diamond look you can go for a stone like Cubic Zirconia.
- The Internet has changed the game. You’re no longer bound to local retailers. Not only do you have access to wider international collections, but you can also find better prices that are internationally competitive.
- Find your favorite shape. People are more familiar with the round shape of a diamond but there are more that might fit your style better. Some might actually be a better fit on your hand than the traditional round.
Carat is the way that the weight of a diamond is measured. It has a huge impact on the stone’s price and value. 1 carat equals 0.2 grams, 1 gram equals 5 carats and so on. Purchasing two diamonds of 1 carat each is not equal to a single 2-carat diamond. It might seem unfair but as diamond weight increases, its value and rarity increase too. In other words, a 1-carat diamond can be easily found but a 2-carat diamond can be a bit rarer which also means buying 5 diamonds of 1 carat each will be much cheaper than buying a 5-carat diamond. In short, the more carats a diamond has the more valuable and rare it is. When it comes to making a decision here, it would be ideal to consider the budget you have at your disposal. One thing must be kept in mind: This is a lifetime item, and you should get the most for your budget.
A diamond’s clarity is also a very important factor in both its value and quality. The amount of inclusion in a diamond signifies the visibility and extent of its flaws. This impacts the sparkle of a diamond, the higher the amount of inclusion in a diamond, the less sparkle it displays. Flawless diamonds are the most expensive and the price drops depending on the number of inclusions.
- The color of the diamond also plays a role in its value and rarity. Colorless diamonds are more expensive than colored ones, as their crystal clear look seems to have more of a visible sparkle. Diamond come in many colors though and the value depends on how rare that particular color is. Some of the more common colors are blue, green, orange, pink and yellow. One of the rarer colors would be red, its uncommon nature makes it very expensive.
- We mentioned diamond cuts early on. It’s a term that you might hear a lot when it comes to jewelry and precious stones. This is also another factor that affects the stone’s value and sparkle. Here are a few examples of diamond cuts that we will explain in depth later on in this article.
- The diamond industry is a large and sometimes unclear chain that might just have a large impact on certain lives or be related to practices that go against humane morals and international law. Before you purchase a diamond, you need to make sure that the source of the diamond you are purchasing provides it through ethical and responsible practices. You’ll often see phrases such as “Conflict-free diamonds” or “Ethically sourced” when shopping for your precious stone ring. This ensures that the money you are paying for it is not financing international conflicts or rogue militias across the world. The impact we have on the world might be small, but by ensuring that your diamond is responsibly sourced, you might just keep atrocities from happening.
3. Set a budget
There is no such thing as a set budget when it comes to buying a diamond ring. It’s possible to find a ring for almost whatever amount (within reason) that you are willing to spend. The best way to approach this is to buy what it is that you can afford, keeping in mind that the quality of the gem rises alongside the price you’re willing to put on it.
The price of Diamond rings depends on the factors we mentioned above such as the carat, color, rarity, metal, cut, etc and that is also up to you. For example, you can choose a cheap metal, common color, low carat, and a fine cut, you pay less but you still get a diamond ring. Some people want to invest in their diamonds and they choose the best that they can get despite the price. While this is a valid plan as long as they can afford it, it’s important not to pressure yourself and to get what you can comfortably afford.
4. Choosing the ring: The how and why
Choose your diamond: (The 4 C’s)
The 4 C’s were created by the Gemological Institute of America as a compact way for people to avoid making a bad purchase. Not everyone is a professional or gem expert, and knowing the 4 C’s might help you make a more informed and confident decision. It can be a bit difficult to judge the quality of a diamond, or whether the purchase is worth the price just by looking at it. The untrained eye generally cannot tell the difference between a fair deal and a scam. Even professionals resort to microscopes and various other methods to identify the clarity of a diamond and the number of blemishes or flaws it might contain. As such, these 4 points are a must-know if you’re thinking about buying a diamond.
Contrary to popular belief, the cut doesn’t refer to the diamond shape. It’s, in fact, the specific proportions of a diamond which direct just how well the light is reflected to the viewer’s eye. Based on the American Gem Society and the Gemological Institute of America here is the grading scale for a diamond`s cut:
Though the 4 C’s are mostly self explanatory, the cut remains the most difficult to recognize. It is generally judged through three elements; Brilliance, Fire, and Scintillation.
Brilliance refers to just how well the diamond reflects incoming light. A good cut would prevent light leakage, reflecting in a more direct manner, hence how certain diamonds seem to shine brighter.
Fire refers to how light disperses. It appears as an assortment of rainbow colors. This effect can be clearly seen on ideally cut diamonds in the dark or dimly lit areas.
Scintillation The very opposite of the fire effect mentioned above. Scintillation can be seen in clear daylight. The pattern of light seen in these circumstances is what makes a diamond sparkle beautifully. This is easily observed.
A bad cut with low brilliance, Fire effect or scintillation would make a diamond appear dead, as the poor brilliance dims the reflection of light the beautiful sparkle when subjected to light and dark seems absent, making the diamond resemble any other cheap stone.
Gem expert or not, everyone knows that the higher the carat, the more precious the ring. Your relatives and friends will most likely ask you how many carats your stone is, and though it is mainly for superficial reasons, (ie. value), there is no doubt that a higher carat (bigger) stone has the capacity to reflect more light than a smaller one, and that’s just more beauty to admire.
A gem’s price and its carat weight are relative to one another, simply due to the fact that bigger gems are rarer, the rarer the gem, the higher the demand for it is. “Magical marks” are certain carat weights that are more expensive simply because they’re considered as popular carat sizes, such as 0.50, 0.75, and 1 carat.
Clear diamonds (without any color) are actually the most sought after and desirable diamonds there are, as well as the more valuable. The more transparent or ‘icy white’ gems yield a higher value than colored ones. The color grading set by the GIA separates the different color differences commonly found in diamonds. These differences might be too difficult to tell apart just by eyeballing it, but they make a huge difference in terms of the quality and price of the gem.
This is a topic that causes a lot of misconceptions. People generally go for the best clarity grades on the market. While this is not exactly a bad way to approach it, it can be in fact a bit of a waste as well as an attempt to avoid diamonds with inclusions. In fact, almost every diamond in existence would have a certain flaw or inclusion at some level or another. No diamond is absolutely faultless, but it still remains that the closer it is to absolute purity, the higher its value.
A better way to approach diamond purchases is to go for diamonds that are considered ‘eye-clean’, meaning that even if it has inclusions within, it is in no way possible to spot them with the naked eye. This is basically getting the best value for your money. If your diamond has an inclusion at 10x or 15x loupe, it really wouldn’t matter at all as it would have virtually no visible difference to a less included or less flawed diamond. As long as you can’t see it with your bare eyes, it’s as if it doesn’t really exist.
By far the most popular of all diamond cuts, the round brilliant cut is the most common shape on the market. This cut has been perfected over hundreds of years, with diamond cutters attempting to maximize this cut’s fire and brilliance. A common cut such as this yields flexibility in terms of the 4 C’s we discussed above, but this means that you should choose the higher quality grade for that special refined brilliance.
The Princess cut comes in two exceptionally brilliant shapes, rectangular or square. This cut emits color in a different way, the glow of the diamond is displayed in each of the corners as well as the center, while other shapes emit a more centered color glow. Due to this, they are extremely brilliant when compared to other cuts.
The marquise cut diamond has the largest surface of any diamond shape, which is useful in maximizing carat weight by putting the size of the diamond to a good use, creating the illusionary effect of longer, more slender hands and fingers. The symmetry is critical with this shape, as even the slightest difference can create and uneven, imbalanced look.
Also known as the Pillow cut, this is one of the more popular choices. They’re pretty easy to find, but the quality always depends on the skill of the craftsman who cuts it. Its shape is reminiscent of a pillow and it tends to appear extremely brilliant and clear. Their large facets and rounded corners reflect light in a beautiful pattern. They come in both rectangular and square shapes..
The unique optical glimmer sets the Emerald cut apart from other shapes as its rectangular facets cut into the diamond’s pavilion. It puts an emphasis on its clarity and beautifully displays a different approach to diamond presentation, due to its large rectangular table. Bear in mind that this extremely clear cut would also make inclusions and colors much easier to see, as well as more pronounced
The cut for a unique and stylish look. The trimmed corners are a special detail of the radiant cut. They contain the lines commonly associated with an emerald cut, with the round diamond’s brilliance, for a unique and mesmerizing appearance.
Also known as the teardrop, this beautiful cut is a combination of the round and marquise cuts, taking the shape of each on either side. It’s a slender shape that accentuates how slim and delicate hands and fingers seem. Symmetry is very important when it comes to Pear shaped diamonds as they are cut to maximize brilliance and glow.
One of the more popular cuts when it comes to engagement rings. The Oval cut is a shape that is easy to compliment with all other types of jewelry. It resembles the round brilliant cut in terms of incredible brilliance. Its shape accentuates long and slender fingers perfectly for a classic look, with a modern touch.
The Asscher and emerald cuts are often mistaken for one another, as the cut style for both is very similar. The Asscher is more of a square in its shape, rather than the rectangular Emerald. Though this cut is a classic concept, it has, in the past years, become a huge trend.
How cuts affect light refraction:
Though we already touched on the topic of cut styles and shapes, we have yet to talk about cuts in terms of quality. This relates more to the proportions of the cut and the skill of the diamond cutter behind it. The width and depth of the stone affect the way light is reflected, which in turn would affect its brilliance and optical appeal.
When the diamond is cut in such a way that the pavilion depth is far too large, it is considered a deep cut. This means that the light won’t reflect back (upwards), stealing away from the diamond’s shine, quality and price.
A shallow cut is seen when the pavilion depth is cut far too small in proportion to the diamond width. This, same as the deep cut, causes poor light reflection and affects the jewel’s price, quality and brilliance
The fine cut is one of two commonly acceptable cuts. Its proportions are close enough to the ideal cut that it displays brilliance and light reflection that might look perfect to the naked eye. The girdle size is a common difference between the fine and ideal cuts, as well as the crown size, at least in proportion to the rest of the diamond.
An ideal cut is when a diamond has perfect proportions and light reflection. Diamonds of an ideal cut have the most shine and brilliance, with light reflected directly back at the viewer’s eyes. This is the cut to go for every time.
Pick a metal for the band:
The metal for the band is a completely personal choice matter. While most people tend to go for Gold in one of its three most popular shades, there are more metal options that might interest you, or even help you save up on your purchase.
More importantly however, the metal choice should be a personal touch. For an engagement ring, rose gold is a highly recommended choice as it holds a certain elegance to it, as well as compliment almost every skin tone there is.
Choose the setting
The setting is the way that your diamond, or diamonds, are set on the metal band. There are various styles of ring setting, a purely visual choice once the diamond and metal have been chosen. Here are three of the most prominent ring settings
- The prongs setting is an iconic choice that is extremely popular. The diamond is secured in place and supported with four to six prongs, depending on your style preference. Prong setting used to hold one stone is called a “Solitaire”. There are variations of this setting, with a different appeal for each.
- The Bezel setting is a very popular engagement ring style. It is renowned for its simplicity and glamour, as well as its protective hold over the center stone. The Bezel setting features a hammered or pressed thin metal strip around the stone.
- This cut earned its name through the way that smaller diamonds encircle the center stone, giving it a ‘halo’ of its own. This cut adds a certain sparkle that a single diamond could not display on its own. It not only makes the ringer shinier, but it also makes the center diamond seem larger.
Pick side stones:
Side stones are a beautiful addition to an engagement ring. These little stones add a dazzling effect, giving the ring an air of elegance. There are many style choices, such as diamond baguettes that take up either both sides of the center stone, pavé or channel set diamonds that go along the shank and so on. Depending on the look you’re after, colored gems are also an option that gives the ring a more colorful look. Generally speaking however, when it comes to diamond side stones it is best to choose a color grade side stone that is as close as possible to the center diamond in color, cut and clarity.