Choosing a Quality Diamond Ring
1. Know your diamonds. Diamonds tend to be the traditional engagement ring choice because they are enduring and match everything. Only deviate from a diamond if you know that your girlfriend loves another stone much, much more, or has voiced her intense dislike of diamonds. When choosing a diamond, be aware of the following 4 C's of diamonds.
2. Choose the right cut, or shape, of the diamond. There are different ways to cut a diamond and the type of cut impacts a diamond's sparkle. The cut that produces the most sparkle is the "round" (or "brilliant") cut, while "radiant" and "princess" cuts are good at hiding flaws. Other cuts include "square," "emerald," "pear," "marquise," "cushion," "Asscher," and heart-shaped. The oval shape looks best with larger stones, and as it looks bigger than the round cut. A high-quality cut is more important than weight or an extremely high clarity or color grade: a diamond, like a road reflector, shines light back out the direction it came in and breaks it up a bit in the process.
It is also important to base your selection of diamonds based on objective data such as ASET or Idealscope images that you can acquire from your jeweler.This is particularly important if you are buying a diamond engagement ring online
3. Use "karats" to determine the weight or general size. Karats refer to the unit measurement of the diamond, and refers to weight, rather than size. Karats are broken down into 100 ‘points’, which are essentially a measurement of the percentage of a karat that a diamond is. For example, if a diamond is 75pt then it is 75%, or 0.75 of a karat. Higher karat ratings generally mean larger diamonds and are more expensive.
4. Consider if you want a clear or colored diamond. The color of diamonds varies considerably and most people prefer a white colored diamond for an engagement ring. Colors are graded from D (colorless and rare) and most good quality diamonds will be around F and H. However, all grades from D to I are almost identical when mounted.
In general, stay away from any diamonds that are below an H grade in color, as they are noticeably yellow.
5. Keep an eye on the diamond's clarity. Because diamonds are formed naturally, there are imperfections in nearly all diamonds. These are known as ‘inclusions’ and come from tiny impurities being present when the diamond was formed, millions of years ago. The fewer imperfections, the greater the clarity and the more light is reflected from the diamond, causing it to "sparkle". Naturally, more clarity increases its value. Perfectly flawless diamonds with no internal flaws or surface blemishes are very hard to find as they are extremely rare.
The scale used to grade clarity goes from F1 for a flawless diamond, to VVS1 and VVS2 for very slight inclusions, to VS1 and VS2 for very slight inclusions, SI1 and SI2 for slight inclusions and I1, I2 and I3 for imperfect diamonds.
Diamonds are magnified by 10 times to judge their clarity so very slight imperfections are difficult to see with the naked eye. This means that there is a range of diamonds available even for more modest budgets. If you can see a mark without magnification, however, think carefully before you buy.
6. Don't forget about the practicality of the ring. If your girlfriend is a real outdoorsy type, consider a ring that is able to cope with the wear and tear of constant activities. The higher the positioning of the gemstone on the ring, the easier it is for it to get caught on clothes, gear, hair, etc. and the greater likelihood that it'll get knocked about. Look for a lower gemstone setting for an active girl, and a higher setting for a fashionista or glamor girl.