01 November 2009

ASK THE PLANNER SUNDAY - engagement ring shopping


Ms. Planner,

I am shopping for a ring, and I am a little overwhelmed by the 4 C's! Is there a guideline for prioritizing cut, color, clarity & carat to get the best dazzle for my special lady? Also, do you recommend an independent appraiser?

Thanks,
Bull in the Jewelry Shop



Dear Bull in the Jewelery Store,
Congratulations to you on your upcoming engagement and for being a wise buyer. As you know, the 4C's a major when deciding on the perfect ring for your perfect lady. Let's review the 4C's:

Color: With the exception of "fancy colored diamonds", the more colorless a diamond is, the more valuable it is. Jewelers grade diamonds on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). Anything more yellow than D is considered fancy and is much more expensive.

Cut: Many people make the mistake of thinking that cut means the shape of the diamond. Rather, it means the way the diamond was faceted to allow light to reflect from it. In a well cut diamond, light enters the diamond and reflects straight back to the viewer's eye. Some cutters will sacrifice cut to create the largest possible diamond, thus making too shallow or too deep of a cut and causing light to "leak" out the sides and bottom of the diamond.

Cut can be something very difficult for a layperson to evaluate, which is why it is important to get an AGS Certificate or a GIA Certificate verifying the quality of your diamond. Cut is graded Ideal, Premium, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Generally you should seek an Ideal to Very Good Diamond. Budget-conscious shoppers may opt for good.

Clarity: Diamonds frequently have inclusions, or small flaws, air bubbles, scratches, or other minerals inside the diamond. The less inclusions a diamond has, the more valuable it is, and the more beautiful it is.
The scale for grading diamond's clarity is:


•F Flawless - no internal or external inclusions.


•IF Internally Flawless - no internal inclusions, slight external inclusions.

•VVS1-VVS2Very Very Slightly Included - minute inclusions that are very difficult to detect under 10x magnification, even by an experienced grader.


•VS1-VS2 Very Slightly Included - minute inclusions that are invisible to the naked eye and seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.


•SI1-SI2 Slightly Included - invisible to the naked eye, yet easily seen by an experienced grader under 10x magnification.


•I1-I3 Included - inclusions are visible to the naked eye and affect brilliance.

Stones that are VVS2 to F are very rare and thus very expensive. Most couples will opt for something between SI2 and VS1, and will never know the difference.

Caret:This refers to the size of the stone. While some value caret above all, others prefer a small ring regardless of budget. If you're buying a ring as a surprise for someone, consider how flashy their other jewelry is. If they're not someone who wears a lot of designer labels or big jewelry, perhaps you'll want to opt for a smaller stone. This site has a very useful chart to see how the most common sizes look on a model's hand. Ideally, you'll be able to try on a variety of sizes within your budget to see which size looks best on you or your love.

There really is no guideline for prioritizing the 4C's. What I would suggest is finding out what she may want. More often than not, you'll have an idea of the style of ring she is looking for.


If your special lady is looking for a big diamond, prioritize the carat first, then color, cut, clarity.
If she is looking for the brilliance of a flawless diamond and doesn't mind the size, then go for one with an excellent cut and clarity.

I would definitely recommend using an Independent Appraiser. I think it will give you a peace of mind about your diamond purchase. The seller may be a bit biased about the diamond they are selling you. They may also have overinflated the cost. While I do not believe this to be the case with every jeweler, it may be the case with some. Better safe than sorry - right?


I also heard a horror story of a bridal couple taking a diamond to an Independent Appraiser - who found the diamond to be of high quality, etc. The couple purchased the stone and after it was set took it back to the Independent Appraiser - who quickly saw this was not the same ring. It was in fact, a CZ (cubic zirconia).


I hope this has been helpful to you! Please keep us posted. We'd love to hear your proposal story!


Have a LOVE-ly Day,

Erika

Photo: Tiffany & Company

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms. Planner, your expertise and explanation are VERY helpful! I can now shop with more confidence, and will seek an individual appraisal.
Thanks again,
Bull

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