Choosing wedding rings is not always as simple as picking the prettiest ring in a certain price range. There is a lot to be considered. Most jewelers will be reputable about the quality of their merchandise but it can be hard to tell for sure if you do not know some basics about rings and diamonds. Diamonds are a high ticket item and it is hard to assign them a value. They aren’t really rare but they are very coveted. It can be hard to decide if a diamond is priced fairly. Here is a basic guide to finding the perfect wedding rings and engagement ring.
Shop Around Before You Set a Budget
Diamond rings aren’t something that most people buy very often so it can be hard to have a realistic idea of what the ring you want will cost. Do some catalog and online shopping to get an idea of price ranges and get the sticker shock out of the way before you start hitting jewelers.
Shop Early, Decide Early
Things like engraving and sizing don’t take a lot of time unless custom changes need to be made. The rings are still something you want set aside in advance. Only the jeweler you are ordering from will be able to tell you how far in advance an order needs to be made.
Know your “C”s
The “C”s of diamonds are basic elements that should be understood before purchasing a diamond. They are easily misunderstood. Here is a brief explanation of each.
Color– Many diamonds appear white or colorless. Most diamonds will have subtle brown or yellow tones when compared side by side with other diamonds. The color variations are simply caused by variations in the conditions in which the diamonds were formed (temperature, trace elements, pressure etc.). Colorless diamonds are the rarest. The color of the diamond is ranked both by grading and when mounted. The color designations D, E and F indicate a colorless stone while the more common G, H and I designations indicate that some color is visible during grading but when the stone is mounted it appears colorless. J also falls into the near colorless category with K, L and M indicating visible faint yellow tones. The N through Z gradings will show obvious signs of yellow. Z plus grade are stones with bright obvious color tones such as pink, bright yellow and even blue. Pay attention to the color grade of the main stone and any stones of significant size in the ring especially.
Clarity- Clarity is used to indicate how pure a diamond is. All diamonds contain naturally occurring characteristics such as feathering, crystals, clouds or dark spots. A diamond’s value is not so much determined by the presence of these occurrences but by their frequency and locations. Diamonds with fewer of these inclusions will generally be more brilliant when compared to a stone in the same size and cut with more inclusions. The scale determining clarity isn’t as simple as an ABC scale. A diamond’s clarity is determined based on its relative distance from being rated “flawless”. A flawless diamond must be free of inclusions under 10x magnification to be rated as such by law in the United States. The jeweler should readily provide you with a chart explaining clarity grades and the rating of any stones you are considering.
Carat- Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, not the size of the diamond as is commonly thought. Two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values, because the quality is still determined by the color, clarity and cut. As diamonds increase in size, their cost tends to increase exponentially rather than arithmetically. A one-carat diamond can cost significantly more than a one-half carat diamond of equal quality. The weight of a diamond less than one carat in size may also be described in terms of "points". There are 100 "points" in 1 carat.
Cut- Diamonds do not look like what we see in jewelry shops when they are mined. They look more like tumbled gems or beach glass. Diamonds are cut very carefully with very precise cuts to create facets. A facet is what each tiny polished surface is called on the diamond. The number of facets on a diamond will be determined by the shape and quality of the cut. For example, a round, brilliant cut diamond will have 58 facets. The main facet is called the table and is the “top” of the diamond. The widest point of the stone after it is cut is called the girdle. The facets above the girdle are called the crown, while the ones below it are called the pavilion. The tiniest facet is the bottom of the diamond or culet. The cut of the diamond determines the brilliance of the diamond. The key to a good cut is proportion that allows the light to reflect off the facets of the pavilion in effect using it as a mirror. Other angles will reflect the light through a spot other than the table detracting from the stones brilliance.
Read Reviews of Jewelers and Locations
As with anyone you are giving a lot of money, you should research the jeweler you will be using. Read reviews and get recommendations.
Bargain the Price
Diamonds, as well as all rings, have a high markup. You should always try to haggle the price as employees or managers are often given a discount they can pull from their back pocket to make a sale. If purchasing the engagement ring and both wedding rings at the same location, see if that warrants a discount.
Get the Extras
When it comes to wedding planning a lot of the extras are really not needed. Rings and diamonds are a significant investment that will be used for the long term. Go ahead and purchase the insurance plan through a jewelry insurer and any warranties and cleanings offered. These may be another price point to be haggled but the peace of mind can be worth it.
Always do your research before making big purchases. It pays in the end not to buy on impulse. Even if you think you have found the perfect wedding ring the second you see it, get information about the quality and find out if it is worth the money.
Loose diamonds are becoming more widely available as are jewelry shops where you can choose your own setting. This can be a less expensive way to get that perfect ring.