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Buying a diamond engagement ring can be, and often is, a terrifying concept. There are numerous guidelines on the internet about how to do this, but I will offer some of my own considerations in addition to the basics. Take a deep breath – it will be okay.

1. Consider Her Taste

Pay attention to what kind of jewelry she wears. Does she wear anything at all on her fingers? Does she like dainty intricate designs? Does she prefer the chunky and funky? Is there a particular color of metal she typically sticks to? These details will help your conversation with your jeweler about an appropriate style. Many ladies are updating Pinterest pages with dream ring styles and other wedding fairy tales. If you can recruit your lady’s BFF on this, she can probably access said page and give you a world of insight on her preferences.

2. Decide Your Budget

I could get slayed for saying this, but the whole ‘you need to spend three months salary on her ring’ is a marketing ploy courtesy of DeBeers. As a sidenote – anyone who wants to work in a really exceptional marketing department, please consider this company. They do extraordinary things… google DeBeers’ history. Alas, I digress… your budget should be whatever the hell you are comfortable with. The fact is, ANYONE can buy a diamond engagement ring. Truly, they exist for EVERY budget, including yours. Once you have an idea of what you want to buy and what you can afford, you can work with your jeweler to make it happen.

3. Consider The Shape of Stone

Many women prefer a traditional round brilliant; however, there are many other shapes to consider! Square diamonds, called princess cuts, and radiants and cushions, which are essentially soft squares, are very timeless. Cuts such as Asscher and emerald have fewer facets, and therefore will require a higher clarity so that you cannot see the imperfections. Ovals elongate the finger. Marquis cuts are subject to trend, and since they are out of style at the moment, can be cheaper.

4. The 4 C’S

Clarity works on a scale from Flawless to I3 (severely imperfect). The naked eye can generally not see anything above an SI1 or SI2. If there are visible imperfections, it is better to have them off to the side where it is possible to hide it under a well-placed prong.
The color scale goes from colorless (D, E, F) to near colorless (G, H, I, J) to slightly colored (K and beyond). The near colorless range is appropriate in most cases. I tend to favor the F-G-H range for value. Be sure to consider what color metal you are setting the stone in as well. Your jeweler should be able to discuss what is appropriate based on the kind of setting and how much it will impact the color of your stone and vice versa. Carat is the metric of weight that we use for diamonds. Your budget will dictate a lot about this particular attribute of the stone but do consider this: the carat refers solely to the WEIGHT of the stone, not the measurements or appearance. Depending on how the stone is cut, you may have a stone that looks a lot bigger or smaller than the average. The certificate will display the measurements, and an experienced jeweler or diamond buyer will be able to tell whether the stone is “spread-y” or not.
Cut is the most underrated ‘C’ in my opinion. This is the most direct contributor to sparkle, and if you want your diamond to do one thing, it’s sparkle! It also affects the overall appearance of the stone, as I mentioned in the description of carat weight. Though the words on the certificate near the cut grade say very subjective sounding words like ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’, there are actual precise measurements that lead to those categorical assessments. The optimal light return in a diamond is the result of some precise structural measurements, and if you stray too far from these it can affect the way the light moves around in the stone. Rounds tones are the only ones that currently get official cut grades from GIA - all other shapes are without official assessment.

4. Determine Her Ring Size

There are a few ways to do this. One way is to snag a ring that she wears on that finger and bring it to the jeweler. Another is to take the ring and trace the inside on a piece of paper. You can also take a ring and put it on your finger, tracing where it stops. All of these methods will get you very close to a fit – most rings can be adjusted slightly even after they are purchased.

5. Consider A Loose Stone

If she is extremely picky or her style is difficult to identify, it is possible to purchase a loose diamond and present that instead. Otherwise, many jewelers will offer a basic prong setting for presentation purposes, that you can later trade in as you design the final ring together. Last but not least – make sure your diamond is certified. Jewelers will sell diamonds certified by a variety of labs, so you will likely have a choice. These days, GIA is still the gold standard, though IGI and AGS are the next best options. An uncertified stone will be much cheaper, but you are running the risk of buying a stone that is not what was advertised. Proceed with caution.

Good luck with this venture and try to enjoy the journey! She will love it.

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