July 02 2014 Wednesday at 12:00 AM

Prepare to Purchase: Getting to Know Your Diamonds BEFORE You Buy

Many people dedicate their lives to the art of diamonds because the diamond world is complex, multi-faceted, and never over.  However, most people need only learn about diamonds the one time.  Ideally, you only buy a diamond ring once in your life, so how do you become an expert in relatively short fashion?  If you rely simply on the salesperson, you run the risk of being had by someone who clearly knows more about rings than you.  What you need to do is take a crash course in diamonds, prepare for the purchase, and do some sleuthing on your loved one’s fancies before plunging two month’s pay on a rock.

Here is your crash course!

SHAPE is the most important characteristic because it is the most obvious from afar.  All of the other aspects of the ring are minutia that are important of course, but are more subtle and reveal themselves only upon closer inspection.  The primary shapes are Round, Emerald, Asscher, Radiant, Princess, Cushion, Pear, Oval and Marquise.  Your beloved will likely prefer some of these shapes over others, and it is your job as the proposing spouse to be ever on the quest to determine which one she will like.  If she’s savvy, she will drop hints, and you have to be on the lookout.  If you can’t subtly determine, you might have to ask her sibling or best friend.

The SETTING of the rock is the second most obvious quality to a ring that will generate the oohs and aahs you expect from a shimmering diamond ring.  There are many styles, and much like the shape, your woman will likely have a preference.  The most common setting styles are: Prong, 3-stone Setting, Baguette, Bezel, Half Bezel, Tension, Channel, Channel End and Pave.  These vary dramatically from one to the other and are of the utmost importance.  Familiarize yourself with their look and determine which setting will go with the shape that she will prefer.

STYLE is critical of course, too, and men typically do not have as honed a fashion sense as do women, particularly a woman’s style.  But when you’re shopping for a ring, and unless you’re shopping together, you will have to get up to speed on women’s fashion, and particularly, what your woman prefers.  Pay attention to the type of jewelry she likes, silver vs gold or new vs vintage.  You will be surprised how much important information you can glean from opening your eyes to her style.

The METAL used in the ring is also extremely important.  Platinum is the most popular metal choice for an engagement ring but you must also consider gold (of all varying colors) and palladium.  Also consider allergies as some people have allergic reactions to certain types of metal.  Wouldn’t that be a foreboding disaster if she was allergic to the metal you used in your ring?

You can also wiggle your way to a better rock by working WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.  You don’t have to spend a certain amount of dollars, that notion is old fashioned and almost even insulting.  More pressing is determining which diamond characteristic your woman values most: carat, cut, clarity or color.  Focus on that attribute, and then use the wiggle room that’s available in the other departments to bring the ring into a reasonable budget.  If she wants a brilliant ring, you can get a nice cut, but then get a 1.8 carat as opposed to 2 carat ring.  If she cares more about price of the ring than anything else, maybe she’s not the woman for you!

The diamond industry is highly regulated and also prone to scam and deceit.  If you get a nice ring, you must get a diamond-grading REPORT issued by the GIA or the American Gem Society.  This will put, in writing, all the metrics of cut and color, clarity and carat, and anything else that may affect its value such as vintage, famous designer, or handmade.  

And remember, even after purchase, it may take up to six weeks for the ring to be ready, so there is no need to be in a rush.  These things take TIME.  Patience is rewarded.