If you’re lucky enough to have recently got engaged, or perhaps you’re planning on popping the question this spring, the chances are, you’re now showing a keen interest in diamonds. Buying a diamond engagement ring is likely to be one of the most significant purchases you will ever make, so how do you make sure you get a good deal and invest wisely?
Here’s the Manor By The Lake guide to buying a diamond.
The Four C’s
If you’ve started researching diamonds, the chances are you’ll have already come across a reference to the Four C’s, and their importance in the diamond buying process. So what are they are why are they important? Read on and all will become clear…
Put very simply, the quality of cut directly impacts the amount that a diamond sparkles. Even if a diamond has a high colour and clarity grading, if it has a poor cut, it can appear dull. A stone’s sparkle depends on how well light can perform through it.
When a stone is cut well, light is returned out of the top face of the diamond (known as the table) and creates a sparkly effect. If the cut is too shallow, the light will be lost from the bottom of the stone, and if the cut is too deep, the light escapes out of the side. If you buy a certified diamond that comes with documentation, the cut will be specified but if the stone is uncertified, make sure you ask the jeweller to confirm the cut grade, and write it down for you on the receipt.
Cut is also used in reference to the actual shape of the diamond. The most popular is the classic round cut, but there are plenty of other choices such as princess, emerald, oval, pear, heart, radiant and cushion cut. If you’re looking to surprise your other half with a ring, it’s a good idea to find out what shape she likes.
Probably the simplest to understand of the 4 C’s, colour is very simply the visible colour of the stone and is rated from D through to Z. The highest colour grade is D which is classed as ‘absolutely colourless’ and these are the rarest diamonds. E-F are classed as ‘colourless’ and G-J are regarded as ‘near colourless’. Diamonds classed from J through to Z are noticeably yellowed and considered far less desirable as their colour is visible to the naked eye. Of course, this also means that they are less expensive than their rarer counterparts. For some people, the size of the stone is of greater importance than its colour or perceived quality.
The clarity of a diamond relates to the amount of blemishes found within the stone. The classification runs from ‘FL’, meaning the diamond is completely flawless, through to I3 meaning the stone is heavily ‘included’. At the higher end of the scale, even if a diamond has blemishes, they will almost certainly be invisible to the naked eye and therefore only visible through a jeweller’s loupe. The more blemish-free a stone is, the more valuable it becomes.
Carat is probably the diamond characteristic that most people are familiar with and are most mislead by as it is often wrongly assumed that carat determines the visible size of a stone. Carat actually denotes the weight of a stone, so depending on the way that it is cut, the stone can appear larger or smaller than another stone of exactly the same weight.
What you see when a stone is set in a ring is the table (or face), whereas the carat weight denotes the weight of the entire stone. If a stone is very bottom heavy, the face of it may appear relatively small so it doesn’t automatically follow that a 1 carat stone will appear larger than a 0.75 carat stone.
If your beloved is set on a 1 carat stone, it’s also worth bearing in mind that a stone of 0.95 carats will almost certainly look as large as many 1 carat diamonds, but will cost much less, as prices step up significantly for whole carats.
Online versus In Person
With plentiful numbers of online jewellers that appear to offer more reasonably priced diamonds than high street jewellers, should you consider buying such a significant piece of jewellery unseen?
We think online jewellers are a great way to research your purchase, but if you’re a novice diamond purchaser, we really think you should go and visit some jewellers in person to understand exactly what you’re buying.
If you do want to save money with an online purchase, make sure you buy from a reputable company and only buy certified stones. Make sure you understand the delivery terms, and if you’re buying from a foreign site, consider whether you’ll need to pay any tax or duty charges when the diamond is delivered to you.
How Much To Spend?
Forget 2 month’s salary – that’s a neat marketing ploy from the canny folk at De Beers who have a near monopoly on all diamond sales so have a clear and vested interest in people spending money on diamonds!
You should spend as much as you feel comfortable investing, making sure there is a little of the ‘ouch’ factor! It should feel like a significant purchase – after all, if your other half is going to wear it every day for the rest of their life, you want to make sure it’s something that they and you are happy with. The chances are, you’ll need to consider what’s most important to you – size, or quality? Compromise on perfection if you want a more substantial sized stone, or forgo the bling factor for something that you know is a damn fine stone. Whatever happens, you need to feel comfortable with your purchase decision.
So, now you’re fully armed and ready to make an educated diamond purchase, the next step is planning your dream wedding. For heaps of advice and inspiration, why not talk to our fabulous wedding planners at Manor By The Lake. While you’re at it, why not arrange a private tour of our stunning country Manor house? Give us a call on 01242 245 071 or email [email protected] to find out more.