Diamond Engagement Ring Tips You might be thinking of buying an engagement ring, maybe even before proposing, to make it even more special. Is it a good idea? What do you buy? What do you look for? How do you not get sold something you don’t need? That’s where this impartial guide comes in. Are you asking for trouble? No, I don’t think so. Buying the ring first and proposing second is the way to go! It shows decisiveness, leadership, boldness, courage, etc. What’s not to like?! And, if you get it right, she says yes, and even likes the ring (even if it doesn’t quite fit) you’ve hit the jackpot and she’ll retell the story and how brilliant you were/are, many, many times. She’ll be seriously impressed. If you get it wrong (she says’ “no”, doesn’t like the ring, it doesn’t fit, or whatever) just return it for a full refund, so long as you’ve checked with the retailer that they will issue a refund and with what conditions/timeframes attached. Buying online even gives you additional guarantees, so maybe do it that way? So, what exactly should you look to buy? Page Well, either you know your partner well enough to know that they want or particularly like a specific gemstone, which may well be a diamond, or you just play it safe and sound and buy a diamond. 1 Something like this maybe? Diamonds, as the song goes, are a girl’s best friend and no-one ever went wrong buying a diamond. It might not be exactly right, but it won’t be wrong, and chances are, it’ll be just perfect. They are by far the overwhelmingly most popular choice for engagement, and indeed any, rings and with good reason. They look fabulous! So, that’s the first think sorted – the type of stone. Know nothing about diamonds? Fear not, in about 5 minutes you won’t exactly be an expert but you’ll know a lot more than most and more than enough to feel more confident about taking your first steps to marital bliss and not be sold something you don’t need by a jeweler. This guide may be longer than you can be bothered with so if you don’t want to go through it all, I suggest you read from here to page 6 (preferably 8), pages 9 & 10, pages 15 (from Shape) & 16, page 17/18 (Fluorescence & Polish), page 20 – 25 (How To Choose What She’ll Love, How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck, Who to Buy From & How Do You Know What Size Ring to Buy). If you just want to get shopping, try the following online retailers. They all have good websites, large selection, good returns policies, etc.: Brian Gavin Diamonds - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/BrianGavinDiamonds Diamonds-USA - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Diamonds-USA James Allen - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/JamesAllen Union Diamonds - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/UnionDiamonds Whiteflash - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Whiteflash Zales – http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Zales Obviously who you buy from is entirely up to you, but we have researched a number of online jewelry retailers and these offered the best choice, refund/returns policy, certifications, value, etc. There are many factors that define the “value” of diamonds but the most talked about are what is known as the 4 C’s. These are cut, color, clarity and carat. The 4 C’s were developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit organisation, to objectively compare and evaluate diamonds. Page 2 They each affect the price of a diamond and we’ll briefly look at each in turn, just so that you know what it’s about and if the jeweler starts talking C’s you know enough to follow and sound like someone who can’t be hoodwinked. Also, on a practical level you will need this information to make a judgement about what you do, and do not want in a diamond and to choose one over another. THE 4C’S Cut Cut and shape can be confused. Cut is arguably the most important of the 4 C's. Shape refers to just that, the shape the diamond is cut in to - Round, Princess, Cushion, Pear, Oval, Emerald, Cushion, etc. We’ll come on to that later. Cut refers to how well the diamond was crafted from its rough state. Out of the 4Cs, cut has the biggest impact on sparkle, which is in jewelry speak the diamond’s brilliance and fire. A diamond's cut quality is a fine balance of proportions and angles. A well-cut diamond will sparkle more and will be livelier than a diamond that is poorly cut. When you are evaluating the 4Cs, understand that cut trumps the others by turning a pebble of a diamond into a sparkling gem. Though extremely difficult to analyze or quantify, the cut of any diamond has two attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond) and fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum). These two combined add up to the sparkle, which is basically the amount of light that reflects out of a diamond as it moves, or how it looks when the finger is moving and how it catches the light and therefore the eye. Correct cutting and polishing of the diamond allows the maximum amount of light to enter through its top to be reflected and dispersed back through its top. If a diamond is not cut correctly it will not have maximum sparkle. The cut grade scale is Excellent (some people recognize Ideal above Excellent), Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Try and get the best cut you can afford, even at the expense of the other “C”s. Also, always look at the gem in daylight to see how it looks. The standard round brilliant is the shape used in most diamond jewelry, around 70% of the diamonds sold have the round shape, because a properly cut round diamond produces the most fire and scintillation of all diamond shapes. If at all possible, you want to avoid Fair and Poor. In other words, consider buying anything from Good upwards. Color Page DEF – Colorless GHIJ – Near Colorless 3 Somewhat confusingly, the color range scales goes from D (colorless, or the best), through to Z (strong yellow tints). The non-profit certification body the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) separates color into the following 5 ranges, and these are universally accepted bands. KLM – Faint NOPQR – Very Light STUVWXYZ – Light It can be very difficult to tell without a side by side comparison the colorless of a diamond. Therefore, don’t get fixated on buying a DEF, if a GHIJ would do just as well and you can get a better cut. Note however, that if you are buying a colored ring or band, say yellow gold, the yellow of the gold can get incorporated into the color of the diamond, so buying a better color if set in a yellow gold band & setting may not notice. If you’re going for a “colorless” band such as platinum, then GHIJ or even KLM may be sufficient. Each letter grade has a clearly defined range of color appearance. Diamonds are color-graded by comparing them to stones of known color under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price. Clarity Because diamonds are formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure, they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes). Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds without these birthmarks are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value. Using the GIA International Diamond Grading System, diamonds are assigned a clarity grade that ranges through 11 grades from flawless (FL) to diamonds with obvious inclusions (I3). • • • • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification. Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification. Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification. Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification. Page • 4 Every diamond is unique. None is absolutely perfect under 10× magnification, though some come close. Known as Flawless diamonds, these are exceptionally rare, only about 1%. Most diamonds fall into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification. • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. Internal imperfections on a diamond are usually tiny -- they can only be seen under magnification. In other words, the biggest value strategy in diamonds is to buy the least good clarity you can, without having any imperfections to the naked eye. Be aware however, that whilst a SI1 and particularly SI2 diamonds may appear unblemished to the naked eye, sometimes the inclusions can be visible, sometimes they are not. Sometimes, if visible, they are off to the side and can be hidden with the prong of a ring. Sometimes they sit right in the center. The size and position of inclusions in a diamond are important in terms of its value. If they are at the side they may be hidden by the mount and may have little effect on the stone’s beauty or brilliance. If they are at the top or in the middle of the diamond however they may impact upon the light dispersion and make the diamond less brilliant and less desirable. However, VS2 and above will probably give you a diamond that looks perfect to the naked eye, and possibly even SI1, depending on where the inclusions are. Carat Carat refers to the weight of the diamond and makes no reference to the stones quality. One carat weighs 200 milligrams / 0.2 grams. A carat can be divided into 100 ‘points’ – which means that a diamond weighing ¾ of a carat can also be termed as having 75 points, a 75 pointer or being 0.75ct. As diamonds increase in size the price per carat also increases because larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones, therefore for example, 4 diamonds with a combined diamond weight of 1.00ct cost substantially less than a single diamond of the same quality weighing 1.00ct. Diamonds increase in price per carat substantially at certain weights. Therefore buying just under these weights can be a way of making huge savings or buying a far higher grade diamond. These weights are called "magic points". Magic points are 0.5ct, 1 ct, 1.5ct, 2ct, etc. So, best value is to buy at just under the magic points, i.e. 0.95cts as opposed to 1ct. Remember to pay attention to total carat weight when considering mounted diamonds in finished jewelry. A diamond halo ring may have a .75ct center stone with .25 carats in small surrounding diamonds, but may be advertised as 1ctw or 1 carat total weight. Page It is important to bear in mind that it is not just one of the four Cs that will determine how much you will pay but a combination of all of them. It is also important to ensure that you work out how much 5 Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. For instance, a 1.08 ct. stone would be described as “one point oh eight carats,” or “one oh eight.” you can afford to spend before you start looking for the perfect diamond, as you can then focus your efforts on finding a diamond that is within your price range rather than those that will be too expensive based on their clarity, cut, carat, and color. I have listed carat last out of the 4C’s as it is arguably the least important, even though it has a big impact on price. I realise that everyone is fixated on the size of the ring, or more precisely, the size of the stone, but the carat has the least impact of all the 4Cs on how beautiful the diamond will look. Yes, big can look impressive, but if big means compromising on all the other C’s to the extent that the quality noticeably suffers, the ring won’t look as impressive as a smaller but better quality diamond. Basically, you buy the quality that will make her happy (and you). Size isn’t quality! So in summary on the 4Cs, we can consider it in table form: 4Cs Cut Color Clarity Carat Effect On Price $ $$ $$$ $$$$ Beauty Most A Lot Some None, (even negative?) Page 6 There is an additional “C” that is also sometimes talked about, and has some significance. This is Certification. CERTIFICATION There are a number of certification bodies. Some are national or international, some are more local. You really want to stick to a well-respected independent certification body or laboratory. So who are the well-respected labs? Well that all depends on who you ask! Ideally, look for one of the following: GIA (Gemological Institute of America) AGS (American Gem Society) IGI (International Gemological Institute) EGL HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant) That is not to say others are not good, it’s just that different labs may grade the same diamond differently and labs that are not independent have a potential conflict of interest to “upgrade” their certification of a diamond, as the better it is the higher the value. Whilst you need to keep everything in perspective (i.e. if the ring looks fabulous and she loves it, who cares) at the same time you don’t want to be comparing diamonds from different retailers with different certifications thinking they’re the same when they’re not. Also, every diamond is unique. It’s not like buying a standard manufactured product, say an iPod and choosing your specification. There is no price list to choose from. Basically, if you do not receive a diamond grading certificate from an unbiased, independent, respected laboratory, you may not be getting the diamond you think you are. Would you do that with any other purchase? Say you thought you were buying a laptop with a 1 GB hard drive, but it only had a 500Mb one. You’d not be happy and complain. Whilst most diamond reports or certificates that you will see use the same terminology the standards to which each laboratory grades can vary and their acceptance or otherwise can be disputed. As such, it is best to stick to the most respected laboratories. Whilst we’re on the subject of certification, the date on a certificate is also important. Page 7 Why? Well, if it’s an old certificate giving details of, amongst other things, the carat weight, how do you know whether since it was issued the diamond hadn’t been adjusted to be set in a ring, and or damaged perhaps whilst being worn (they aren’t indestructible), perhaps taken out of the setting and or repolished or recut losing a little carat weight, etc. Probably best to have a certificate no less than about 2 years old. It’s no guarantee but it’s something. You could also simply ask if it’s been worn or changed since the certificate was issued. Buying a diamond certified from a well-respected gemological laboratory is a little like buying a product with a quality assured mark. You, and anyone else, can be confident that the diamond’s 4 Cs are known and accepted as stated on the certificate. Page 8 A certificate is not the same thing as an appraisal or valuation. It won’t tell what it is worth. It describes the quality of a diamond, not its monetary value. OTHER FACTORS CONSIDER THE METAL When it comes to the ring metal, you've got a variety of metals to choose from. Platinum is popular - it's extremely durable and especially pure, making it a great hypoallergenic choice for brides and or grooms with sensitive skin. Gold comes in a variety colors, including white, yellow, rose, and even green. Beyond platinum and gold, you might also consider palladium (which has a greyer hue than platinum), silver, or even a recycled metal band, which might include a mixture of platinum and gold. Remember that the colour of the metal can affect the way the diamond looks in some lights. The popular and safe choices are of course platinum or gold. When choosing a specific metal for an engagement ring, there are several things to consider. If you are shopping for your significant other, you may want to match the metal to that individual’s other jewelry pieces, if the other pieces are worth matching to that is! Does your partner primarily wear white gold jewelry, platinum jewelry, or yellow gold jewelry? What is his or her lifestyle? What is his or her profession? What metal is popular in his or her social circle and family? Will the overall design of the ring be simple or will it have intricate detailing? Gold Gold's purity is measured in karats, as distinct from a diamond’s weight, which is measured in carats, with a “c”, not a “k”. 24 karat is pure gold, but its purity means it is more expensive and less durable than gold that is alloyed or mixed with other metals. Different alloys are used in jewelry for greater strength, durability and color range. The karatage of the jewelry will tell you what percentage of gold it contains: 24 karat is 100%, 18 karat is 75% (18/24ths = 75%), and 14 karat is 58% gold. 22 karat gold is thus 91.66% gold. When comparing gold jewelry, the higher the number of karats, the greater the value. Page 9 When buying gold jewelry, always look for the karat mark. In addition to the karat mark, every piece of gold jewelry should be stamped with a hallmark or trademark of its maker, and sometimes its country of origin. Gold Colors Yellow gold Yellow gold alloys are typically a combination of copper, silver and zinc. It is the most frequently used type of gold there is. Malleable, ductile, and generally non-corrosive, it has a high melting point and is not susceptible to compression. Yellow gold can also make warmer colored diamonds appear more colorless, as the yellow color offsets a well-cut diamond. White gold White gold is alloyed with a large percentage of silver, or a selection of other white metals such as nickel and palladium. The percentage of gold naturally varies, according to the amount of other metal used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. White gold engagement rings are typically rhodium plated. The plating is not permanent, so re-plating is necessary. Some may be able to go years without re-plating, while others may need to re-plate once a year. How often you need to re-plate will depend on your own body chemistry. White gold in its natural state is not actually white in color, it has a tinge of yellow, which is why it is plated. Rose gold Rose gold is alloyed with copper and perhaps smaller amounts of silver. 14k rose gold will generally be pinker in color, while 18k rose gold will have a subtler peach hue. Platinum The appeal of platinum is in its appearance. Its white luster is unique. It is also the strongest precious metal used in jewelry, and is almost twice as heavy as 14-karat gold. This weight is one of platinum's strongest selling points, because it gives "heft" to fine jewelry, which people naturally equate with value. It also brings out the brilliance of diamonds far better than gold. Platinum in jewelry is actually an alloyed group of six heavy metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. These other metals are so similar to platinum in weight and chemistry that most were not even distinguished from each other until early in the nineteenth century. Page Platinum generally holds its color without the need for plating. Over time, a platinum ring will take on a greyish patina that can easily be polished away by a jeweler. The patina is the result of minute scratches over the surface of the metal. Some prefer the platinum patina, while others prefer to have their rings polished to remove it. 10 It is also often alloyed with copper and titanium. It's the only precious metal used in fine jewelry that is 90% to 95% pure, largely hypoallergenic, and tarnish-resistant. It should be marked 900Pt, 950 Plat, or Plat. Palladium Palladium is another option for those wanting a white metal that does not need plating. It is generally less expensive than platinum and it is much less dense. Silver In its pure form silver is almost as soft as gold, and therefore is usually alloyed with copper for strength. Depending on which country you are in, karatage is not marked because, legally, anything called "silver" or "sterling silver" is 92.5% pure. Fine Silver in its natural state, 999/1000 pure, is too soft an element for practical jewelry. To make it workable, an alloy such as copper is added and sterling silver is a mixture of 92.5 % pure silver (925 parts) and 7.5 % metal alloy. Silver plated or silver coated is where a base metal, usually nickel silver or brass, is coated with a layer of pure silver by a process called electroplating. As such, there is very little silver in this. The finish on silver can be high polished, matte or brushed (rubbed with an abrasive), satin (a smoother matte), sandblasted (rough matte), oxidized (chemically blackened), or antiqued (chemically "aged"). Silver is said to have a "patina," a worn- looking finish that is achieved through frequent use and handling, and is particular to the wearer's skin chemistry. In fact, silver is the brightest reflector of any metal (except for liquid mercury) and can be polished to a high sheen that even platinum can't achieve. The chemical symbol for silver, Ag, is derived from the Latin, argentum, meaning "white and shining." However, it doesn’t generally have the cache for engagement rings that gold and platinum afford. Needless to say, the different metals have different costs, so if you’re on a budget consider gold over platinum, or even silver over gold. SETTING Whether you're choosing a diamond solitaire, a ring with a number of stones, or an open-work lattice ring in which the diamonds flow along the lines of the setting, the way the stones are held in the setting is an integral part of its design. Page The way a diamond is framed, or set, on the ring or band can have a major impact on how big it looks. For example, a bezel gives the illusion of a larger stone. If you want something more traditional or universal, consider a solitaire setting for the diamond. 11 Each setting technique creates a look that is part of the overall style of the ring. You may like one ring rather than another simply because of the setting technique used. So, as with many aspects of diamond rings, it doesn’t really matter what the setting style is called, all that matters is whether it look good to you and more importantly the recipient. If that’s all you need to know, and it might be, skip to the bottom of page 14. However, for the purposes of giving you the information, engagement rings are divided into two general categories, solitaire mountings and mountings that contain side stones. A classic solitaire showcases the center stone of an engagement ring. A solitaire may feature a diamond of any size or shape. The solitaire remains the most popular choice for engagement rings. You may prefer an engagement ring with side stones. Side stones enhance the center diamond and can personalize your ring. Three stone engagement rings are a classic alternative to the traditional solitaire. As an aside, getting a certain carat weight spread over 3 stones as opposed to 1 is going to be much cheaper! Prong Settings A prong setting is the one most often used to hold a solitaire. A prong setting puts the emphasis on the diamond and not the metal supporting it. The purpose of any setting is to hold the diamonds securely in the mounting and at the same time allow light to enter the diamonds for maximum brilliance. This is obviously a delicate balancing act. The more metal used to hold the diamonds, the more secure they are; the less metal used, the greater the chance for the diamond to reflect light. Very thin wires of gold or platinum (the prongs) are used to hold the diamond securely in place. The diamond may be raised high up above the shank, to give it a larger, more important appearance, with only a suggestion of metal showing. In such a setting, the prongs are attached to the central setting of a ring, known as the head or basket. Each prong extends upward and outward from the head, arching over the diamond to form a secure grip. The ideal prong tapers to a rounded point. The prongs should be placed at the key points of the diamond, typically at four corners or at four, five or six points evenly spaced around the stone -- this diamond setting offers security without interfering with the stone's brilliance. Page 12 The prong setting can also be found in a few variations. One such variation, called the V-prong setting, functions on the same basic concept, but it uses prongs which, when viewed from above, appear to be curved into a V-shape. The right angle of the wire is cut to allow the corner of the gem to rest and be held by the wire. V-prongs are generally used for diamond shapes with points -- such as the corners of the square Princess Cut or the tip of the pear shaped diamond. The v-prong provides additional protection to the points which are often thin, fragile, and subject to chipping if left exposed. Another variation on the prong setting is called the common prong. Here, the metal wire is grooved at the top, and is used to hold two gemstones by their side (girdle). This technique is used to give a close side-by-side gemstone relationship without the metallic interference of too many prongs. Bezel Setting A bezel setting is a collar of precious metal that wraps around the diamond. The bezel is attached to the top of the ring and stands up above it, adding height and another dimension to the setting. Although solid bezels have a very traditional look, the bezel may be 'split' into two sections, arcing around just part of the diamond. This is called a half bezel. This simple change suddenly opens up the setting and gives it a totally modern look. The technique may also be used on a fancy cut diamond -- with an arc of precious metal around the wide curve of a pear shape and another, V-shaped section of precious metal embracing the narrow end. Channel Setting Channel setting is also used to set round diamonds. Channel setting offers a sleek, elegant appearance, though the end result is a very different look. Setting round diamonds into channels leaves small spaces closest to the metal bars of the channel. By choosing round diamonds, the designer creates a clean line of stones, yet one with greater brilliance than is possible with baguettes. This also offers a less restrained look, and may be more suitable when a ring has a round center stone. Channel setting is also used when there is no center stone at all. The placement of baguettes around an entire band is a beautiful choice for a wedding band, one that goes well with a matching ring set with a diamond solitaire. Channel setting protects the diamonds extremely well. None of the edges are exposed, and so they are not subject to hard knocks or general wear and tear. A variation of the channel set is called the bar channel. Here, the metal plates rise to top level of the stone, and so are visible between the stones. This gives a slightly different visual effect, and can be very striking if the contrast between the metal and the stone is significant. Page When the surface of a ring appears to be covered with tiny diamonds, the technique is called Pavé which means paved. It's an apt name because the surface looks a bit like a very pretty street paved with cobblestones. 13 Pavé Setting Tiny diamonds are placed in small holes that have been drilled out of the ring shank. On a band that does not taper across the top, each diamond should be exactly the same size. The diamonds are placed in rows, but in such a way that they fill as much of the space of the surface as is possible without actual touching. The more precisely cut the diamonds, the better the final appearance of the ring. Each tiny diamond, weighing just a few points, is fully cut with 58 facets. Though small in size, each stone contributes to the overall, shimmering look of the design. After it is positioned in its hole, tiny bits of metal from the surface of the shank are pushed over the edge of the diamond, forming tiny beads to hold the stone in place. Pavé is a demanding technique that is most successfully accomplished in the hands of a patient and extremely talented jeweller. The cost of a Pavé-set diamond ring is in the hand setting of the diamonds; as such, it is often much more a determinant of price than the cost of the diamonds and the ring band metal. To evaluate a ring that is Pavé set, look at the overall design. Are the diamonds laid out in such a way that the entire surface of the ring looks like a glittering carpet of gems? That's the sign of a well-designed and well-made ring. If a section of the ring is Pavé-set, with certain areas tapering to a point, the diamonds should diminish in size as the Pavé area narrows. This requires the most precise selection of diamonds. All of these elements add to the time needed to make a ring, and -- as the saying goes -- time is money. The value of a Pavé-set ring is not as obvious as one set with a major solitaire; but when you appreciate the work needed to produce one, you'll also appreciate a fair price when you see it. Bead Setting The same beading technique may be used on a ring in which the diamonds are spaced slightly apart. In this instance the gold work is much more of a statement and a design element. These beads, larger and more prominent, may be engraved or decorated. The diamonds may also be slightly larger in size. By varying the size of the stones and the size of the beadwork, the designer creates a totally different look. Consider the impact you want your ring to make. Are you looking for the dazzling glitter of tightly set Pavé -- or the more decorative look of bead-set, larger diamonds? Cluster Setting Page 14 The cluster setting is another variation on the theme of choosing a ring with a number of smaller diamonds. There are cluster rings with the stones arranged in the form of a stylized flower, or those done as an abstract arrangement of stones. Cluster rings are usually multi-level, with considerable height above the hand. The arrangement of stones can be quite open and airy looking, or it may be more tightly arranged. The choice is a matter of taste, but the shape of the finger can also play a role in making that choice. Remember that the openwork design lengthens the look of the finger and the hand, while the more closed design draws the eye toward the hand. Flush Setting The flush setting is one of the subtlest diamond-setting techniques. Stones are sunk into the mounting until they are nearly level or flush with the surface. Only the table of the stone and a bit of the upper pavilion facets show. This technique seems to go against everything we know about diamonds in relation to light, but it's a very subtle look, and one that appeals to the woman who likes the idea of tiny, glittering bits of light twinkling like stars in the sky. The flush setting is also used for larger stones, offering great protection and a modern look. Ballerina Setting One of the classic multi-stone ring designs, the ballerina, derives its beauty from the placement of tapered baguettes which flow around a center stone to form a 'tutu', that short flared skirt worn by ballet dancers. There are ballerina rings in which baguettes are set in an undulating curve that literally emulates the tutu skirt of a dancer. Halo Setting A halo setting is one with small diamonds surrounding the center stone. Halos can be prong set, bezel set, or a combination of prong and bezel. SHAPE As mentioned earlier, this refers to the actual shape the diamond is cut in to, such as Round, Princess, Cushion, Pear, Oval, Emerald, Cushion, etc. Page If you’re not sure what shape she’d like, the most popular ones at present are Round brilliant, Princess and Emerald. If you’re not sure out of those three go for Round brilliant. It is by far the most popular, and with the right quality diamond looks stunning. 15 Round diamonds are the most popular pick for engagement rings, and so tend to carry premium pricing. If you, and most importantly she, would prefer or just as much like a less popular shape, then there are savings to be had. Being less popular simply means that. It doesn’t mean less good, but will mean less expensive. However, bear in mind that shape can affect how large the stone looks. The main shapes are: Round Brilliant Diamonds - This shape has set the standard for all other diamond shapes, and accounts for more than 75% of diamonds sold today. Its 58-facet cut, divided among its crown (top), girdle (widest part) and pavilion (base), is calibrated through a precise formula to achieve the maximum in fire and brilliance. Oval Diamonds - An even, perfectly symmetrical design popular among women with small hands or short fingers. Its elongated shape gives a flattering illusion of length to the hand. Marquise Diamonds - An elongated shape with pointed ends inspired by the fetching smile of the Marquise de Pompadour and commissioned by the Sun King, France's Louis XIV, who wanted a diamond to match it. It is gorgeous when used as a solitaire or when enhanced by smaller diamonds. Pear Shaped Diamonds - A hybrid cut, combining the best of the oval and the marquise, it is shaped most like a sparkling teardrop. It also belongs to that category of diamond whose design most complements a hand with small or average-length fingers. Heart Shaped Diamonds - This ultimate symbol of romance is essentially a pear-shaped diamond with a cleft at the top. The skill of the cutter determines the beauty of the cut. Look for a stone with an even shape and a well-defined outline. Emerald Cut Diamond - This is a rectangular shape with cut corners. It is known as a step cut because its concentric broad, flat planes resemble stair steps. Since inclusions and inferior color are more pronounced in this particular cut, take pains to select a stone of superior clarity and color. Princess Cut Diamond - This is a square or rectangular cut with numerous sparkling facets. Flattering to a hand with long fingers, it is often embellished with triangular stones at its sides. Because of its design, this cut requires more weight to be directed toward the diamond's depth in order to maximize brilliance. Depth percentages of 70% to 78% are not uncommon. Page Radiant Cut Diamonds - This square or rectangular cut combines the elegance of the emerald shape diamond with the brilliance of the round, and its 70 facets maximize the effect of its color refraction. Because of its design, this cut requires more weight to be directed toward the diamond's depth in order to maximize brilliance. Depth percentages of 70% to 78% are not uncommon. 16 Trilliant Diamonds - This is a spectacular wedge of brittle fire. First developed in Amsterdam, the exact design can vary depending on a particular diamond's natural characteristics and the cutter's personal preferences. It may be a traditional triangular shape with pointed corners or a more rounded triangular shape with 25 facets on the crown, 19 facets on the pavilion, and a polished girdle. Cushion Cut Diamond - An antique style of cut that looks like a cross between an Old Mine Cut (a deep cut with large facets that was common in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries) and a modern oval cut. Asscher Cut Diamond – developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, it is a stepped square cut, often called the "square emerald cut" and like an emerald cut, the Asscher has cropped corners. Fancy shapes also tend to look bigger than round diamonds of similar weight, because there's more surface area, although princess-cut diamonds look smaller for their weight than a round diamond. Ovals may have a sparkle-free "dead shape" at their center, especially if they were cut too thin at the edges, and any diamond shape with corners adds to the risk of chips and other damage. It doesn’t really matter what the shape is, so long as she likes it. If you’re not sure what she might like, then try and narrow your choice down to 2 or maybe 3 shapes and go from there. You’ll never be able to make a decision if you’ve got more than that to choose from. At least then you can in theory using only one retailer compare prices of diamonds with the same 4C’s characteristics but with a different shape. This may help in your decision. CONFLICT DIAMONDS Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the United Nations Security Council. Some diamonds have helped fund devastating civil wars in Africa, destroying the lives of millions. Conflict diamonds are those sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war. Profits from the trade in conflict diamonds, worth billions of dollars, were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms during the devastating wars in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Wars that have cost an estimated 3.7 million lives, to say nothing of those maimed or mutilated. Whilst it is extremely difficult to be absolutely sure you aren’t buying a conflict diamond, simply raising the issue and asking the question of the retailer may allay your fears. Most reputable jewelers will have a policy of not dealing in conflict diamonds. FLUORESCENCE If a diamond has fluorescence it may turn milky/cloudy on a sunny day when there is strong UV light. Page When we speak of diamond fluorescence, we are referring to the diamond’s tendency to emit a soft colored glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. 17 This refers to the diamond’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light. This might sound purely academic but part of normal, visible light contains ultraviolet rays, so fluorescence can occur in daylight. It can also turn bluish or greenish under artificial UV light, such as that found in nightclubs. Diamond fluorescence may potentially make a warmer colored stone appear more colorless. About 30% of all diamonds fluoresce blue, and blue will make diamonds with yellow tint generally appear "whiter" than their non-fluorescent counterparts. The effect of fluorescence should be judged on a case-by-case basis, as diamonds will fluoresce to varying degrees. How does fluorescence affect the beauty or value of a diamond? The answer to that question depends on the color grade you are buying and in terms of beauty what you like. If a diamond has a color grade of J to M, a moderate amount of fluorescence will actually make a diamond more attractive to most people. Slight to moderate or even strong blue fluorescence in a stone with these color grades actually helps cancel some of the yellow and makes it looks whiter. However, for a diamond with very high color (such as a D to F grade), fluorescence is thought to interfere with the flow of light and make the diamond appear a little oily or murky. This will not be true for most diamonds, but it is thought to be so and you can buy for less. For this reason, I suggest None or Slight fluorescence in colorless diamonds (D to F color grades). In grades in-between those above (G, H and I), it might be better to stay away from Strong fluorescence for safety's sake, while moderate fluorescence might actually improve the color appearance. You may find that diamonds with colorless grades (D-E-F) or near colorless grades (G-H-I-J) are lower in price when they exhibit fluorescence and faint yellow grades (K-L-M) are higher in price when exhibiting fluorescence. The "theory" has it that fluorescence has a negative impact on colorless diamonds (making them appear cloudy) and a positive impact on faint yellows (blue fluorescence supposedly counter-balancing the yellow color and making the diamond appear whiter). There is a scale for fluorescence - Nil, Faint/Slight, Medium, Strong and Very Strong. POLISH This is a grade given to the external finish of a stone, with reference to any blemishes on the surface of the diamond which are not significant enough to affect the clarity grade of the diamond. Page Diamonds are capable of taking a polish better than any other material on earth. This means that a diamond can be polished to have the most perfect, reflective surfaces. This is one reason why diamonds are known for their incredible brilliance. 18 Good polish is crucial for maximum brilliance of a diamond and polish is regarded as an indicator of the quality of as diamond's cut. Grades for polish range from Ideal (which is very rare) to Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, and Fair. Try and go for Good as a minimum. SYMMETRY Symmetry is very important in the making of a beautiful diamond. Without good symmetry, the diamond won’t sparkle as well it might, and it’s the sparkle that catches the eye. Page 19 Symmetry is regarded as an indicator of the quality of as diamond's cut and is graded from Ideal (which is very rare) to Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, and Fair. Try and go for Good as minimum. HOW TO CHOOSE WHAT SHE’LL LOVE? That’s just down to aesthetics and hopefully you’ll already have an idea as to what she likes the look of, and that’s probably the best way to go. If you’re not sure then: Color of metal – hopefully you’ll know what she likes, what she already wears, etc. Style of ring – would she like something classic or modern? Classic solitaire or a half bezel? Shape – decide on 2, maybe 3, and narrow down from there. Remember Round brilliant is the most popular choice so that’s a good start. The three above are difficult to separate and need to be considered all together. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you think she’ll find attractive. It may be impossible to decide what she’ll find the most attractive, as there are just so many possible permutations of ring choices, but so long as you get something that when she sees it her heart skips a beat, you’ve cracked it. You may just browse through some images of rings and pick something on the basis of how it looks, and how it looks is how she’ll make her decision on whether she likes it. Page 20 After that, you can start on the actual specifics of the diamond itself – the 4C’s and others, which brings us to our next section. BUYING SMART, OR HOW TO GET THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. There are many ways to squeeze out more for your money when buying jewelry and especially diamond rings. The 4 Cs - cut, color, clarity and carat. Of these, you want to consider compromising on carat, clarity & color rather than cut. Cut – try and get the best you can afford, whilst balancing the other requirements. In other words, no need to go for Excellent, if Good will look right but also allow you to get the colour and clarity you want. Color – this needs to be considered with the type and color of metal you propose for the actual band or ring. Generally speaking, G, H, I & J will offer colorless or near colorless diamonds. Color offers potential costs savings but must be considered as part of the overall ring setting and band. You probably won’t be able to tell a DEF colour quality from a GHIJ, so why pay the extra? Clarity - Every diamond has some internal or external "flaws," but you probably won’t be able to see any at anything better than VS2, or even SI1, depending on where the flaw is in relation to the setting. There are many clarity bands and you probably really won’t notice the difference between say VVS1 and VS2, although it will make a difference to the cost. Carat – this is now down to budget and personal taste, remembering that prices jump at the "magic points", buy a little under them rather that at a magic point. If you really want a specific magic number, then it may be better buying just over that number, just in case for example if the diamond nicks or needs re-polishing, it can lose carat weight and if it goes from say 1ct to 0.99ct then you've just lost a significant portion of what it's worth. Alternatively you could spread your say 1 carat into many tiny diamonds that sparkle plenty but can costs a lot less than a ring with a big center stone. Shape - As mentioned earlier, buying a less popular shape will be less expensive, if she’ll like the shape that is. OTHER WAYS TO SAVE MONEY Page As with all other purchases, if you buy a big, well known or prestigious brand name, part of your purchase price is buying for that name. Remember, with diamonds you are buying something that can be compared from one shop to another. Will 2 identical diamonds in terms of the 4C’s cost the same from say Tiffany & Co. or an independent jeweller? What do you think? 21 Avoid brand names Negotiate Just because you are buying jewellery doesn’t mean the seller isn’t prepared to come down on their quoting price. You’d negotiate on a car, so why not on a ring? Aside from your negotiating skill, you may find various factors affect the potential discount available including: The time of the year - jewellery purchases can be slower over the summer. Whether you are buying wedding bands as well as the engagement ring. Buying the stone and band together. Paying cash. Accepting credit cards cost the seller money, usually between circa 1% & 3%, however paying by credit card offers additional protection. Buying online will normally give you the most competitive price and there may not be any negotiating room. Budget Ignore any talk of having to spend 1, 2 or 3 month’s salary on a ring. That was originally put out by De Beers, a diamond mining and retailing company founded in the 1880’s, as a way of setting customer spending. Decide on a budget and try and stick to it. You should buy the best you can afford without taking on any major debt whilst trying to acquire something that is going to do the trick and be liked long-term. You need to remember that the ring is for your bride, not for you. You want to present her with a diamond that she will love and cherish and want to show off to her friends and family, because that is an important part of her engagement. With a bit of luck it’ll be on her finger for some years to come. Buy online You’d buy music, groceries, cars, whatever on line, so why not jewelry? Online jewelry sellers offer very sophisticated websites, as well as the usual benefits including anonymity (you won’t get spotted going in or out of a jewelry shop), convenience, speed, potentially less embarrassment, etc. Page Besides, you may well find what you want cheaper online, due to the commercial pressures of internet selling and reduced costs. 22 In addition, the reputable ones also offer a 30 day money back guarantee so if it doesn’t fit, she doesn’t like, or she doesn’t say yes, you’ve lost nothing and don’t have to go through the process of returning to the store in person to get your refund! That’s worth something on the pride front alone! All other things being equal, buying online should give you a better deal than buying from a store. Delivery times will vary, depending on what you’re buying, but anything from about 1 week upwards. A few tips to give you a trouble free online purchase (and possible return?). Customer Service You may take advantage of shopping online in order to avoid salespeople, but what if you actually want to ask a question or you change your mind about the stone color? Does the online store where you shop have a telephone number where you can speak to Customer Service? If so, what hours are they available and make sure you know what time zone they’re in. It’s not a problem buying from a different time zone, so long as you know when you can get hold of them. Lost/Damaged Shipments Policy What is the store policy for items lost or damaged in shipment? If the store uses insured carriers and insures its shipments, they should be more than willing to replace or refund any item lost or damaged in shipment. Returns, for whatever reason. Check the retailer’s policy before buying, ask them and then before you buy check the actual wording by reading it! You want to buy only if they offer a full, no conditions attached, refund and you probably want 30 days, 15 as a minimum, to return it. Check you know when the return period runs from (it should be when you take delivery, and when it ends). Also, do they charge a restocking or handling fee? Will they change the ring size if she wants to keep it but it doesn’t fit and if so is there a cost? Generally speaking, any item that has been engraved or in any other way "personalized" or customized will not qualify for the store's return policy, so best to get it first, check it’s right and wanted, and customise it later. Selection Online diamond jewelry stores have the capacity to offer a much wider selection of merchandise for sale in one place than a traditional store. A huge choice may be overwhelming but it does mean that you should be able to find exactly what you want and may even uncover a bargain. Page Make your selection. Enter your information. Then click a button. It's as easy as that. And all from your own computer. Once you know what you want it can be done in less than 5 minutes. She, and 23 Speed for that matter, no-one else ever need know you’ve just bought an engagement ring. That might be important. Value Because an internet retailer has lower inventory and other overhead costs than a bricks-and-mortar retailer, and due to the commercial pressures of internet selling and competition, you should get better value for money. Who To Buy From Having checked out a number, substantial number, of online jewelry retailers I suggest you try any of the following. They are all reputable (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check their policies on refunds, etc.) and offer a good selection and easy to navigate websites. Brian Gavin Diamonds - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/BrianGavinDiamonds Diamonds-USA - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Diamonds-USA James Allen - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/JamesAllen Union Diamonds - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/UnionDiamonds Whiteflash - http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Whiteflash Zales – http://diamondengagementringstips.com/Zales Buying Abroad If you’re buying on line, you may well buy from abroad. So long as you buy from a reputable jeweler you should have no problems, irrespective of where they are based. Before you buy online or from abroad you may wish to clarify whether you will be liable for any additional taxes or import duties on your new purchase. I wouldn’t recommend buying abroad in person, whether in Amsterdam or elsewhere. You can be sure that the person selling to you will be better informed and more comfortable and relaxed than you (will you feel under pressure to buy because of all the time, trouble and expense you’ve gone to?). What if, for whatever reason, you need aftersales service or wish to return it? If you want to buy in person and not online, but local, not international. Page How Will You Look With a Wedding Ring On? 24 OTHER FACTORS If you decide to wear a wedding ring, then be prepared to understand that it will be a plain version of whatever her engagement ring looks like. So if you get her rose gold, you’ll be wearing the same. How Do You Know What Size Ring To Buy It’s always nice to get the ring size right, but not essential, as reputable jewelers will alter the ring to the correct fit or refund the purchase. So, some possible ways to get it right, bearing in mind her ring finger might be a different size to the fingers she wears other rings, include: • • • • • • Borrow one of her rings, and preferable one she wears on the “correct” finger, to have it sized by a jeweller and just remember to replace it before she notices it’s gone. While you're looking at her jewelry, take some photos so as to give you a few ideas. Make an impression of one of her rings in a piece of clay or other mouldable material, such as soap. Trace the inside of the ring onto a piece of paper. This is not so easy or accurate. Try one of her rings on your own finger, push it down as far as you can, mark the spot with a pen, then go straight to the jeweler and let him measure it for you. Enlist the help of her friends or family. You’d be amazed what girls will talk about without raising suspicion. Alternatively, they may even know her ring size. Get one of her friends to ask her to try on one of her rings to compare it to their own. To make it just that bit more complicated, it's not an exact science as fingers change in size from morning to evening and with the weather. Ideally, for best results measure finger size at the end of the day and when the fingers are warm, (fingers are smaller in the early morning and when cold) and measure finger size 3 to 4 times to eliminate an erroneous reading. Page 25 So, in other words, don’t worry if you don’t get it right as it’s really very very difficult without been sized. Once You’ve Bought Insurance You can’t not insure it! Check all your existing policies to see if it is covered by one of them first before insuring it separately. If you have it insured twice, you still only get paid out once. Secondly, avoid over insuring it. There is no benefit. Insurers will either replace the ring or give you its replacement value. What you insure it for is only relevant if you’ve under insured it, in which case they’ll give you the lesser figure! Have Your Ring Numbered Your diamond's certificate number (or jeweler's designation) can be laser-inscribed on the side of the stone, allowing it to be positively identified in case of theft or after cleaning or repair. Such inscriptions, which are visible under magnification, shouldn’t affect the gem's value. You may even find that your insurer will give a discount for an inscribed diamond. Obviously don’t do this until you’re sure the ring is the right one! How Do You Tell If The Diamond Is Real or Fake? Well, if you buy from a reputable jeweler, whether online or offline, and buy a diamond that comes with a certificate from a respected laboratory, such as GIA or AGS, you won’t need to know how to tell real from fake. However, just for interest purposes,.……. Cubic zirconia is a man-made version of a perfect diamond. In fact, it is this perfection that allows you to be able to spot the difference. Another difference between the two is how the light shines off them. Cubic zirconia jewelry will, when held up to a light source, flash bits of color. A true diamond will flash white reflections more than color. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between the two by simply using the naked eye. Also, cubic zirconia is cut and polished much differently than a true diamond. Needless to say, this is a simple guide to a very complicated and risky game. Page 26 Just buy from reputable jeweller and get a reliable certificate. Glossary Blemish: A flaw (scratch or abrasion) on the surface of a diamond. These are generally not considered as crucial to the beauty of a stone if they do not interfere with the symmetry of the shape and do not interfere with the flow of light through the stone. Brilliance: The brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. It is white light reflected up through the top of a diamond. It is the effect that makes diamonds unique among all other gemstones. While other gemstones also display brilliance, none have the power to equal the extent of diamond's light-reflecting power. Brilliance is created primarily when light enters through the table, reaches the pavilion facets, and is then reflected back out through the table, where the light is most visible to your eye. Cutting a diamond to the correct proportions increases the reflection of light from the facets and maximizes the brilliance. Brilliant Cut: One of three styles of faceting arrangements. In this type of arrangement, all facets appear to radiate out from the center of the diamond toward its outer edges. It is called a brilliant cut because it is designed to maximize brilliance. Round diamonds, ovals, radiants, princesses, hearts, marquises, and pears all fall within this category of cut. A 58-facet round diamond is sometimes still called the American Brilliant. Carat: The unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. One carat equals 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. The word came about as in ancient India, the carob bean was used for measuring the weight of gems, because of the rare property that every seed weighed the same, or at least it appeared to in those times. Carbon Spots: An inaccurate term used by some people in the jewelry industry to describe the appearance of certain inclusions in a diamond. The term refers to included crystals that have a dark appearance, rather than a white or transparent appearance, when viewed under a microscope. In most cases, these dark inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, and do not affect the brilliance of the diamond. Clarity: A grade given to a diamond to describe the level of "impurities" or inclusions. • • • • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification. Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification. Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification. Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification. Page • 27 Clarity grades include: • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. Cleavage: The propensity of crystalline minerals, such as diamond, to split in one or more directions either along or parallel to certain planes, when struck by a blow. Cleavage is one of the two methods used by diamond cutters to split rough diamond crystals in preparation for the cutting process (sawing is the other method). Clouds: A cluster of very small inclusions inside a diamond that give a cloud effect. Tiny clouds will not interfere with the flow of light, but large or numerous clouds can affect brilliance. Clouds cannot be seen with the naked eye. Usually, this sort of inclusion does not significantly impact a diamond's clarity grade. Color: A grade given to a diamond to describe the subtle tones of color in a stone. D is perfectly colorless, the most rare and expensive color. As you go from D to Z on the normal color scale, it indicates increasing levels of yellow and/or brown tones. It takes a trained eye under special lighting to distinguish between neighboring color grades (such as E to F), but most people can discern the difference between colors that are several grades apart (such as E to H) with a little practice. Fancy colors such as pink, red, blue and green are discovered each year, but they are very rare and incredibly expensive. Such fancy colors do not follow the normal color/pricing scales and are categorized separately. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) separates color into the following 5 ranges. DEF – Colorless GHIJ – Near Colorless KLM – Faint NOPQR – Very Light STUVWXYZ – Light Crown: The upper portion of a cut gemstone, which lies above the girdle. The crown consists of a table facet surrounded by either star and bezel facets (on round diamonds and most fancy cuts) or concentric rows of facets reaching from the table to the girdle (on emerald cuts and other step cuts). Page Culet: A flat facet on the very bottom of a diamond (the pavilion) that diamond cutters sometimes add, its purpose is to protect the tip of the pavilion from being chipped or damaged. A large culet will make it look like there is a hole in the bottom of the stone due to leakage of light. Absence of a culet makes the point of the diamond more easily damaged or chipped, although once a diamond is set in jewelry, the setting itself generally provides the pavilion with sufficient protection from impact or wear. 28 Crown angle: The angle at which a diamond's bezel facets (or, on emerald cuts, the row of concentric facets) intersect the girdle plane. This gentle slope of the facets that surround the table is what helps to create the dispersion, or fire, in a diamond. White light entering at the different angles in broken up into its spectral hues, creating a beautiful play of color inside the diamond. The crown angle also helps to enhance the brilliance of a diamond. Cut: Commonly used to refer to both the shape of a stone (round, pear, oval, etc.) and the make (the exact geometric proportions to which a diamond is cut). The make of a stone is the most important factor in determining how much sparkle comes from a diamond, regardless of the shape. It is the only one of the 4Cs that man contributes to a diamond's beauty and value, the others are all natural occurrences. The grades of cut are Ideal, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Depth: The height of a diamond from the culet to the table. The depth is measured in millimeters. Depth Percentage: The height of a diamond (measured from the culet to the table) divided by the maximum width of the diamond. The depth % is critical to creating brilliance and fire in a diamond. A depth % that is too low or too high will cause light to leak out of the stone, causing the diamond to lose sparkle. Where that depth lies is equally important to the diamond's beauty; specifically, the pavilion should be just deep enough to allow light to bounce around inside the diamond and be reflecting out to the eye at the proper angle. Keep in mind, also, that a depth percentage that might be excessive for one diamond cut might be necessary for another type of cut. For example, a 75% or 78% depth in a princess cut diamond would be typical and quite attractive. However, a depth of even 65% would be unnecessary and even detrimental to a round diamond's beauty. Diamond: A crystal made up of 99.95% pure carbon atoms arranged in an isometric, or cubic, crystal arrangement. It is this unique arrangement of the carbon atoms that makes diamond look and behave differently from other pure carbon minerals such as graphite (the soft black material used to make pencils). Page Diamond Gauge: An instrument that is used to measure a diamond's length, width and depth in millimeters. 29 Diamond Cutting: The method by which a rough diamond that has been mined from the earth is shaped into a finished, faceted stone. As a first step, cleaving or sawing is often used to separate the rough into smaller, more workable pieces that will each eventually become an individual polished gem. Next, bruting grinds away the edges, providing the outline shape (for example, heart, oval or round) for the gem. Faceting is done in two steps: during blocking, the table, culet, bezel and pavilion main facets are cut; afterward, the star, upper girdle and lower girdle facets are added. Once the fully faceted diamond has been inspected and improved, it is boiled in hydrochloric and sulphuric acids to remove dust and oil. The diamond is then considered a finished, polished gem. Dispersion: Colored light reflected from within a diamond. White light entering a stone is separated into the many colors of the rainbow just like a prism. Arranged around the table facet on the crown are several smaller facets (bezel and star facets) angled downward at varying degrees. These facets, and the angles at which they are cut, have been skilfully designed to break up white light as it hits the surface, separating it into its component spectral colors (for example, red, blue and green). This effect, which appears as a play of small flashes of color across the surface of the diamond as it is tilted, is what is referred to as the diamond's dispersion (also called "fire"). This play of color should not be confused with a diamond's natural body color (normally white, though sometimes yellow, brown, pink or blue in the case of fancy color diamonds) which is uniform throughout the entire diamond and is constant, regardless of whether it is being tilted or not. Good fire can only be achieved with very good to excellent proportions. Also called "refraction" or most often "dispersion" in the trade. Emerald Cut: A square or rectangular-shaped diamond with cut corners. On the crown, there are three concentric rows of facets arranged around the table and, on the pavilion, there are three concentric rows arranged around the culet. This type of cut is also known as a Step Cut because its broad, flat planes resemble stair steps. Eye-Clean: A diamond that has no inclusions visible to the naked eye -- flawless to the naked eye. This is normally true of all diamonds with a grade of about SI-1 or higher on the clarity scale, although this does depend on your eyesight. Page 30 Facet: The polished flat surfaces on a diamond. They allow light to both enter a diamond and reflect off its surface at different angles, creating the wonderful play of color and light for which diamonds are famous. The table below shows all the facets on a round brilliant cut diamond. A round brilliant has 58 facets (or 57 if there is no culet). The shape, quantity, and arrangement of these facets will differ slightly among other fancy shapes. Fancy Shape: Any diamond shape other than round. Feathers: These are small fractures in a diamond. They are usually caused by the tremendous stress that the diamond suffered while it was growing underground. In some cases the feather both begins and ends within the diamond's surface and, in other cases, the feather begins inside the diamond and extends to the surface. When viewed under magnification, some feathers are transparent and others have a light white appearance to them. The term "feather" comes from the fact that, under magnification, these fractures often seem to have an indistinct, feathery shape to them. While the idea of buying a diamond with "fractures" may sound scary, the reality is that, with normal wear and care, most feathers pose no risk to the diamond's stability. Consider this: even with the feathers, these diamonds survived their growth and their journey to the surface intact. Once on the surface, they also survived the mining process, as well as the brutal stresses of the diamond cutting process. Though diamonds are certainly not invulnerable to damage, basic consideration to their care and handling during everyday wear will most likely protect them over the course of several human lifetimes. Finish: This term refers to the qualities imparted to a diamond by the skill of the diamond cutter. The term "finish" covers every aspect of a diamond's appearance that is not a result of the diamond's inherent nature when it comes out of the ground. The execution of the diamond's design, the precision of its cutting details, and the quality of its polish are all a consideration when a gemologist is grading finish. If you examine a diamond's grading report, you will see its finish graded according to two separate categories: polish and symmetry. Fire: See "dispersion". Fluorescence: A glow, usually of a bluish color, which emanates from certain diamonds when exposed to ultraviolet light (including that in nightclubs). Strong fluorescence should be avoided, but faint fluorescence usually does not affect the appearance of a diamond. In fact, faint or moderate blue fluorescence is preferred by some because it can make a less expensive yellowish color appear more white or colorless in daylight. Girdle: The outer edge, or outline, of the diamond's shape. The jewelry setting usually holds the diamond around the girdle. Girdles can be rough (looks sandblasted) or faceted (polished like the rest of the diamond). Either one is good, since it makes little difference to the overall beauty of the diamond. The girdle is not graded, but rather it is described by its appearance at its thinnest and thickest points. The descriptions of girdle thickness range as follows: extremely thin; thin; medium; slightly thick; thick; extremely thick. While it is less desirable for a round diamond to display an extremely thin or extremely thick girdle, such girdle widths are more common and acceptable in fancy shapes. Page Inclusion: An impurity within a diamond, such as a spot or irregularity in the crystal structure of the stone. These can include a cloud, a fracture, another diamond inside the bigger one, liquid, etc. Inclusions can either be visible with the naked eye (usually SI-3 clarity and below) or visible only 31 Heart-shape Cut: A type of fancy diamond cut. under magnification. Fewer inclusions means a finer clarity grade, increased rarity, and increased value. Laser-Drill Holes: One of the few man-made inclusions that can occur inside a diamond. Why on earth would anyone want to drill holes into a perfectly good diamond? It may seem counterintuitive, but drilling this type of hole into a diamond can actually raise its clarity grade. In some diamonds, the clarity grade may be determined mainly by the presence of just one or two dark included crystals in a diamond that is otherwise relatively free of inclusions. In certain circumstances, the diamond cutter will decide to use a procedure to remove the dark inclusions and, hopefully, increase the clarity of the diamond. First, a hole is precisely made with a laser, extending no further than it needs to, and its width is so small that a loupe or microscope is usually required to detect it. Next, a strong acid solution is forced into the new hole and since diamonds are resistant to acids, the solution actually dissolves the included crystal while leaving the diamond completely unharmed. The end result is a more transparent diamond. The structural stability of the diamond is not compromised in any way by this hole, and the process is permanent. Length-to-width ratio: A comparison of how much longer a diamond is than it is wide. It is used to analyze the outline of fancy shapes only; it is never applied to round diamonds. There's really no such thing as an 'ideal' ratio; it's simply a matter of personal taste. For example, while many people are told that a 2 to 1 ratio is best for a marquise, most people actually tend to prefer a ratio of around 1.80 to 1 when they actually look at marquises. Can also be known just as ratio. Make: The quality of the finish and proportions of a finished diamond. A good make will have proportions that maximize brilliance and fire. A poor make will decrease sparkle and fire due to the loss of light as it travels through the stone. Marquise Cut: A type of fancy shape diamond which is elongated with points at each end. Naturals: Small parts of the original rough diamond's surface which are left on the polished diamond, frequently on or near the girdle. While these are blemishes, they might also be regarded as a sign of skilled cutting; the presence of a natural reflects the cutter's ability to design a beautiful polished gem, while still retaining as much of the original crystal's weight as possible. In many cases, naturals do not affect the clarity grade. In most cases, they are undetectable to the naked eye. Another type of natural is the Indented Natural; in this case, the portion of the original rough diamond's surface which is left on the polished diamond dips slightly inward, creating an indentation. Usually, the cutter makes an effort to cut the polished diamond so that the indented natural will be confined to either the girdle or the pavilion (making it undetectable to the naked eye in the face-up position). Page Pavé: A style of jewelry setting in which numerous small diamonds are mounted close together to create a glistening diamond crust that covers the whole piece of jewelry and obscures the metal under it. 32 Oval Cut: A type of fancy shape diamond which is essentially an elongated version of a round cut. Pavilion: The bottom half of a diamond, from the lower girdle to the culet at the bottom tip. If the pavilion is too deep or too shallow, light will leak out and the diamond will lose fire and brilliance. Pear Cut: A type of fancy shape diamond that resembles a teardrop or pear. Point: A measure of diamond weight. One point equals 1/100th of a carat. A diamond that weighs 0.50 carat is said to weigh 50 points. This does not refer to the number of facets. Polish: A grade given to the external finish of a stone, with reference to any blemishes on the surface of the diamond which are not significant enough to affect the clarity grade of the diamond. Examples of blemishes that might be considered as 'polish' characteristics are faint polishing lines and small surface nicks or scratches. The polish grades from poor to excellent. Good polish is crucial for maximum brilliance of a diamond, but it takes a trained eye to distinguish between polish grades. Polish is regarded as an indicator of the quality of as diamond's cut. Princess Cut: A type of brilliant cut fancy shape that can be either square or rectangular. Radiant Cut: A type of brilliant cut fancy shape that resembles a square or rectangle with the corners cut off. Ratio: see Length-to-width ratio. Semi-mount: A jewelry setting that has the side stones already mounted, but which contains an empty set of prongs which are intended to mount a diamond center stone that the customer selects separately. Single-cut: A very small round diamond with only 16 or 17 facets, instead of the normal 57 or 58 facets of a full cut round brilliant. Single cuts are occasionally used for pavé jewelry and other jewelry that utilizes numerous small diamonds set closely together. Sparkle: The combination of dispersion (fire) and brilliance. The amount of light that reflects out of a diamond as it moves. This is sometimes called "scintillation". Page Symmetry: A grade given to the overall uniformity, or symmetry, of a stone's cut, which can range from poor to excellent. The small variations can include misalignment of facets or facets that fail to point correctly to the girdle (this misalignment is completely undetectable to the naked eye). Poor symmetry will hurt a diamond's sparkle and fire, due to loss of light as it flows through the stone and out to your eye. Symmetry is regarded as an indicator of the quality of as diamond's cut; it is graded as either Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor. 33 Step Cut: One of three styles of faceting arrangements. In this type of arrangement (named because its broad, flat planes resemble stair steps), there are three concentric rows of facets arranged around the table and, on the pavilion, there are three concentric rows arranged around the culet. Other styles of faceting arrangements include the brilliant cut (in which all facets radiate out from the center of the diamond toward its outer edges) and the mixed cut (in which either the crown or pavilion of a diamond is cut as a brilliant cut, and the other part of the diamond is cut as a step cut). Table: The flat facet on the top a diamond. It is the largest facet on a cut diamond. If the table facet is too large or too small, it will often indicate poor proportions overall. Poor proportions will hurt a diamond's fire and brilliance. Page 34 Table percentage: The width of the table divided by the total diameter of the diamond. The table % is critical to creating sparkle and fire in a diamond. So, a diamond with a 60% table has a table which is 60% as wide as the diamond's outline. For a round diamond, gemologists calculate table percentage by dividing the diameter of the table, which is measured in millimeters by the average girdle diameter (an average of the first two millimeter measurements on the top left-hand side of a diamond grading report). For a fancy shape diamond, table percentage is calculated by dividing the width of the table, at the widest part of the diamond, by the millimeter width of the entire stone.
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