A Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring
Advice

Expert Advice: A Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring

Purchasing a diamond engagement ring is an important and costly purchase. You want to get it right, with no room for error.

At International Diamond Center, we’d like to unlock some of the mystery of the diamond, debunk some myths, and help you make an informed decision so that this eternal symbol of love, commitment, and achievement isn’t clouded by doubt and fear.

The 4 Cs:

Most people have heard of the 4 Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat, but what do these words really mean, and what’s the most important? We're going to avoid the textbook descriptions and spell it out in everyday terms. The first thing you should know is that these are, contrary to popular belief, measures of rarity not beauty. Just because something is deemed rare doesn’t make it pleasing to everyone’s eye.

Color, for example, is the absence or presence of body color in a diamond. While most diamonds appear white to the untrained eye, a majority display a hint of yellow or brown color. The scale that most people are familiar with starts with D (for diamond) and goes down the alphabet, D. E. F. G., etc. all the way to Z. There’s an assumption that D is the best. No, D is the rarest. God made fewer D, E, and F color diamonds than the other shades. It’s also a range of shades. Have you ever tried to buy white paint only to realize how many shades of white there are? Studies have shown that when looking at diamonds without being prejudiced by the grading of a diamond, many people prefer a diamond with a little body color or a little warmth. Many beautiful and lively diamonds are actually in the H to K range.

Engagement Ring Diamond Buying Guide Color Scale Tampa Bay Jeweler International Diamond Center

How a stone is made or cut is truly what unleashes the brilliance in the diamond. While nature decides a diamond’s color, clarity and carat weight, a master craftsman releases its fire, sparkle, and beauty. Since a large percentage of a diamond’s value is determined by its cut, this is a very important feature to understand.

Engagement Ring Diamond Buying Guide Cut Scale Tampa Bay Jeweler International Diamond Center

When a cutter is given a diamond to facet, he or she is faced with a decision to either save weight or sacrifice weight to achieve ideal or near-ideal proportions. When a diamond loses precious carat weight for the sake of ideal proportions, the price of the diamond is usually higher for the finished product, even though it eventually ends up weighing less.

Clarity denotes what is going on inside and on the surface of the diamond. The size, nature, location, and amount of inclusions determine a diamond’s clarity grade and affect its cost. What does it look like with the naked eye? First, study it hard without any aid of magnification. Do you see any distinguishing characteristics that distract from the brilliance of the diamond? That’s the most important thing. After all, how often will you or your friends be magnifying your diamond?

Now study it with magnification. A loupe is what is commonly used at the jewelry counter. See if you find any identifying characteristics or what we call birthmarks; we never use the word flaws. They aren’t flaws. Sometimes it’s little white lines sometimes it’s clouded. You might see little black spots. Those little black spots are called included crystals and if you magnified them they would reveal themselves as tiny diamonds or garnets trapped inside your diamond; meaning you get two diamonds in one. The grading scale of clarity refers more to how noticeable these characteristics are than to how many are inside the diamond. Again, this is a rarity issue. However, if the diamond is too included, it will decrease the brilliance and beauty of a diamond.

Engagement Ring Diamond Buying Guide Clarity Scale Tampa Bay Jeweler International Diamond Center

A diamond’s weight, not size, is measured in carats. One carat is divided into 100 points, so a diamond of 75 points weighs .75 carats. For some, a larger stone is the dream, and they might be willing to give up a little on color or clarity to stay on budget. To others, the color, cut, and clarity trump size.

Insider Tip: Look for diamonds that are close in carat weight; You can’t tell visually but the price difference is big. i.e. 0.9 carats versus. 1 carat

International Diamond Center IDC Logo

2 More Cs:

There’s another C that isn’t mentioned very often, confidence. Confidence in yourself and in your ability to recognize what you find beautiful. You don’t need someone else to tell you what is beautiful. You need a jeweler who will help you by answering questions so you can make an informed decision. Ultimately, no one can tell you what you like or what your preferences should be. Just ask yourself these things: Do I love it? Does the diamond do what the diamond is supposed to do? Will I ultimately be thrilled with my decision? If so, then relax — you’ve got this!

Certs relate to diamond grading reports. This is actually an incorrect term, as they are not certifications but reports. There are a variety of diamond grading labs that produce these reports, AGS, GIA, IIDGR, and IGI. These are used to give the consumer an independent opinion and description of the diamond. The important word here is opinion. Each gem lab, even though they might use a common alphabet, has a different language or set of standards for their reports.

Not all reports are the same between companies. To prove this point, we have sent the same stone to several labs only to get different opinions of color and clarity. This is why we stress that you trust your own eye, not a piece of paper.

Diamond Shape:

Beyond the 4 Cs, a popular topic is shape. In larger diamonds, all things being equal, the timeless round brilliant is still king. It’s the most brilliant and in the highest demand. As fancy shapes such as princess, emerald, marquise, and pear float in and out of demand, prices, though stable, may fluctuate based on their popularity.

Engagement Ring Diamond Shape Buying Guide Tampa Bay Jeweler International Diamond Center
International Diamond Center IDC Logo

How Much Should Couples Expect to Spend on a Ring?

Two months salary is generally a good rule of thumb, but a comfortable budget should be set prior to shopping. Spend money on the actual diamond and not the setting.

How Far in Advance Does the Ring Need to be Ordered?

Four to six weeks is ideal, but the sooner the better. This gives time for the setting to be ordered from the vendor in the size needed.

Bride Princess Cut Wedding Engagement Ring | Tampa Bay Jewelry Store International Diamond Center

Photos: Bonnie Newman Creative

How to Incorporate Heirloom Jewelry into the Engagement Ring:

The best way to do this is to add heirloom diamonds as side stones or make a band with them.

Non-Diamond Engagement Ring Options:

You need to have a stone with a good hardness so that it can stand up to the wear and tear of wearing it every day. A sapphire is a good option.

What Should Couples Look for in a Jeweler?

Some qualities to look for are personal shopping experience, variety, honesty, quality product, good customer service, warranties, trust, advising through the shopping process, and on-hand inventory. You need to trust your jeweler and know that you are getting a quality product based on the warranties and guarantees that back the ring.

IDC owns its inventory so there’s no middle man, which means you get the best price. We are wholesalers and have been in the business for 40 years and have very strong relationships with the best diamond mines.

Our sales associates don’t work on commission, and we have a huge selection of designers and diamonds (1 carat to a 20-carat diamond) that you won’t find anywhere else.

International Diamond Center IDC Logo

Originally founded in 1983, as a wholesale jeweler selling to larger retailers, International Diamond Center has expanded to include showrooms throughout the Tampa, Orlando, and Savannah areas.

Since our founding, we’ve worked to establish relationships that have helped us to become a reputable source of diamonds and other brilliant gems from around the world. Today, customers who make us their jeweler can shop our incredible selection of loose stones, as well as an unparalleled inventory of designer pieces, custom bridal jewelry, high-end watches, and more. We’re proud to offer more designer jewelry than any of our competitors, with stunning pieces from names like Verragio, Scott Kay, Ritani, Tacori, and more.

As a wholesale jeweler, we’ve adopted a direct-to-customer sales strategy that eliminates the costs associated with working through a middleman, so we can offer incredible deals on our diamonds and jewelry. In addition, we maintain an inviting and friendly atmosphere for our customers. While another jeweler might pressure you into buying something right away, your experience at International Diamond Center will never feel stressful or overwhelming. Our sales associates are always happy to assist you, but they will never push you toward a purchase. Rather, our staff will educate you on the intricacies of choosing the perfect diamond, designer setting, or other pieces of fine jewelry and let you make an educated decision about your pending purchase. We take our role as a trusted jeweler seriously, and as such, we are proud to share that all of our sales associates are certified diamontologists.

Website


Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Vendor Credits

 

Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pros

Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.