What are the different types of diamond and which is right for my engagement ring?
Whether you are preemptively window shopping or have a proposal idea set in stone, it is crucial to do your research before buying your engagement ring. Whilst the thought of buying the perfect diamond ring can appear overwhelming at first, with countless different styles to choose from, there are a few simple things to know before taking the plunge.
Understandably, you want to get the proposal just right, and that starts with finding your ideal ring. From the carat to the cut, we’ve identified three of the most important considerations when it comes to diamond-ring shopping, so you’re not left in the dark when it comes to the radiant world of engagement rings.
One of the first and most important decisions you will make is which shape of diamond you want to sit on your or your partner’s finger for the rest of your life. The most common design, synonymous with engagement rings, is the round brilliant. With 57 or 58 facets, this popular shape of diamond is designed to optimise light refraction to create the sparkling effect for which it is best known.
As you may have guessed, this conspicuous design attracts a hefty price tag, with round brilliant diamonds coming in as the most expensive shape. If this shape isn’t for you, or you’re deterred by the price tag, there are plenty more options for you to consider.
Any other shape besides round brilliant is referred to as fancy shape diamonds. These are then divided into specific shapes such as the marquise or trilliant. When deciding on which shape of diamond is right for your engagement ring, it is important to consider which best suits your style or that of your partner, with some appearing more garish than others.
Different shapes may suit various ring settings too. This jewellery guide talks about some of the most popular settings, including the simple solitaire, the more symbolic trilogy setting, and diamond bands.
The carat of the diamond refers to its weight, and not its size or dimensions, with one carat equivalent to 0.2 grams. Typically, there is a direct correlation between carat and cost of a diamond, with a greater carat weight equating to a higher cost, providing you don’t want to compromise on the quality.
According to this guide, the average carat size for diamond engagement rings is 0.6 in the UK, but this number varies across the world, with the average rising to one in America. With some carat sizes being more popular than others, you can expect a big jump in price at certain levels, disproportionate to the added quality. Even small changes in carat weight can equate to price jumps of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
For some, carat weight will be considered the most important factor as, whilst it doesn’t directly correlate with size, higher carat diamonds are typically larger. As a result, you could theoretically find a three carat diamond for an affordable price, but this would mean compromising drastically on clarity and thus quality of the ring.
Another important factor to weigh up in the diamond-buying process is the clarity. This refers to the quality of the jewel, and more specifically whether there are any inclusions (internal damage) or blemishes (external damage) when examined under 10x magnification.
Due to the nature of how diamonds are formed, it is extremely rare to find a perfect diamond without any noticeable inclusions or blemishes. Clarity is measured on a grading scale, with flawless diamonds containing no visible damage under magnification. At the other end of the scale, I1 (included) diamonds have visible imperfections to the naked eye and appear dirty even without magnification, drastically reducing the desired ‘sparkle’.
At the more upmarket end of the retail industry, I1 diamonds aren’t recommended due to their noticeably hazy appearance. You will still find them in some high street shops as an affordable alternative, however. As an example, Cartier will only accept diamonds with a clarity graded between IF (internally flawless) and VS2 (very slightly included), with imperfections in the latter characterized as minor, only appearing under magnification.
to sum up
When considering which engagement ring is right for you and your partner, there is always a compromise to be made. Though everyone would like to gift flawless celebrity-like diamonds, the cost will likely be a drawback for most couples, with better quality and higher carats demanding higher price tags.
After deciding on which shape best suits your style, you will have to decide on which aspect you are happy to compromise, be it the carat weight, colour or clarity. With some expert advice, you will likely be able to find a happy medium where all of your needs are met without blowing the wedding budget.