What is the most memorable possession in a woman’s life? The answer is often her diamond engagement ring.
Selecting an engagement ring is one of the most important parts of a couple’s (more the groom’s) shopping list. When my husband and I went shopping for the ‘circle of eternal love,’ we were ignorant about the ‘best buy’ and left it to our trusted family jeweler who ensured that we got the dazzling solitaire ring to suit our budget. But recently, when my nephew decided to propose to his long-time girlfriend, he wanted to learn everything about the engagement ring. We listed all our requirements, starting with the budget, which he was flexible about but he also had in mind the upper limit.
The Search for the Best
We started by looking online and decided it had to be a natural diamond ring because it’s a gem that exudes purity in the natural, true sense and is a rare but everlasting sign of love–an heirloom that will be passed down through the generations. Our next step was visits to jewelers who gave us quick lessons on the 4 C’s of diamonds–cut, color, clarity and carat.
It’s the Diamond Ring Cut
We learnt that the cut is of prime importance and has to be of high grade or a diamond of high quality may appear insignificant. So normally the cut is graded as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. It affects the light reflection on a diamond.
Diamond Color Matters
The next important factor is diamond color. The highest quality diamonds are colorless while the lowest quality have a pale-yellow tinge. The Gemological Institute of America has graded diamonds from D to Z where D is colorless and Z has a yellow/brown hue. The jeweler informed us that D grade diamonds are colorless but very rare, however G and H are almost colorless and a most favored choice as they are cheaper than D.
Diamond Clarity to the Forefront
The clarity of the natural diamond is as important as the cut and color since surface blemishes and internal characteristics are too tiny to harm the beauty of the diamond. But we were told there is a diamond-grading chart, which would help us pick the right stone.
The FL grade is a flawless diamond but it is so rare that less than 1% are of FL clarity. Then comes the internally flawless diamond clarity–just a few blemishes on the surface. Then it’s the VVS1 and VVS2 grades, which mean Very Very Slightly included. The VS1 and VS2 are Very Slightly included. On the chart next are SI1 and SI2, which are Slightly Included. After this come I1, I2 and I3 that are Included and one can probably see the inclusions with the naked eye.
Diamond Carat is Important
Finally, when it came to the fourth ‘C,’ the jeweler informed that carat refers to weight, not size. We learnt that since carat and cut go parallel, a large carat natural diamond with poor cut could appear smaller than a small one with a higher level of cut.
Diamond Certification a Must
Before we embarked on the orientation and selection of the diamond, the jeweler emphasized on one more important ‘C,’ which is the requirement of Certification from an unbiased third party that is a must since it is about diamond authenticity. This report would also assist you should there come a time when you need to sell the diamond.
After getting a quick tutorial on the 4Cs, the jeweler asked what shape my nephew would like for the diamond. We were surprised since for us it was the conventional round diamond shape that was normal, but when the jeweler unveiled nine more, we were spoilt for choice.
Round Cut Diamond Rings
The round, ever-popular shape is considered most suitable for a solitaire engagement ring.
Princess Cut Diamond Rings
This shape is a favourite for engagement rings. This sharply-cut square has an imposing presence when set in a ring.
Emerald Cut Diamond Rings
A rectangle that has a great appearance as a ring centre.
Marquise Cut Diamond Rings
This is a grand, regal shape that resembles a two-pointed pear and is considered ideal for short fingers as it gives the illusion of length.
Oval Cut Diamond Rings
This is a popular shape and looks very elegant on fingers that are slender.
Pear Shaped Diamond Rings
The pear- or teardrop-shaped natural diamond is elongated.
Heart Shaped Diamond Rings
This is favoured for engagement rings as it looks like a message from the heart.
Radiant Cut Diamond Rings
A square with rounded corners, which add to the beauty of the diamond.
Asscher Cut Diamond Rings
This shape is slightly notched at the corners and looks similar to the square form.
Cushion Cut Diamond Rings
It resembles a pillow with rounded corners but has large facets.
The Final Right Choice
Since the budget was flexible and we were looking for the best natural diamond that will be a family heirloom, the choice was easy. My nephew, armed with all the information and the certification, selected a beautiful medium-sized, oval solitaire engagement ring with VVS1 clarity, a D grade and an excellent cut, beautifully suited for his fiancée’s long, slender fingers.