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 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 4Cs–cut, color, clarity and carat–of natural diamonds.
It’s the 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.
The next important factor is colour. The top quality of natural diamonds are colourless while the lowest quality have a pale-yellow tinge. The Gemmological Institute of America has graded diamonds from D to Z where D is colourless and Z has a yellow/brown hue. The jeweller informed us that D grade diamonds are colourless but very rare, however G and H are almost colourless and a most favoured choice as they are cheaper than D.
Clarity to the Forefront
The clarity of the natural diamond is as important as the cut and colour 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 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.
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.
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 the authenticity of the diamond. This report would also assist you should there come a time when you need to sell the diamond.
Shape of Love
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 shape that was normal, but when the jeweler unveiled nine more, we were spoilt for choice.
The Popular Round
The round, ever-popular shape is considered most suitable for a solitaire engagement ring.
The Princess Cut
This shape is a favourite for engagement rings. This sharply-cut square has an imposing presence when set in a ring.
The Emerald Cut
A rectangle that has a great appearance as a ring centre.
The Marquise Cut
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.
The Oval Cut
This is a popular shape and looks very elegant on fingers that are slender.
The Pear Shape
The pear- or teardrop-shaped natural diamond is elongated.
The Heart Shape
This is favoured for engagement rings as it looks like a message from the heart.
The Radiant Cut
A square with rounded corners, which add to the beauty of the diamond.
This shape is slightly notched at the corners and looks similar to the square form.
The Cushion Cut
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 with VVS1 clarity, a D grade and an excellent cut, beautifully suited for his fiancée’s long, slender fingers.