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How to Buy a Diamond Ring

Learn information about diamonds and how to buy a diamond ring.

Put a ring on it. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Put a ring on it.

There are many schools of thought on how to buy a diamond ring. For many people the purchase of a diamond engagement ring may be one of the most important purchases they make. Diamond buyers may wish to consider the "four Cs" of diamonds, the available settings, the different types and colors of diamonds, and diamond prices.

Diamond Types

Diamonds can be either man-made (synthetic) or natural. Natural diamonds are mined all around the world and come in a variety of colors including pink, yellow and clear, which is the most desired color. Synthetic diamonds are made in a laboratory that uses man-made processes to replicate the natural conditions that cause the formation of diamonds below the surface of the Earth.

Synthetic diamonds are used both in industry and in jewelry-making. Industrial diamonds are commonly used on drill bits or saw blades to cut and drill through objects with a certain level of precision.

The "Four Cs" of Diamonds

The "four Cs" of diamonds are important to consider when buying a diamond ring. The "Four Cs" include the cut, color, clarity and carat weight of a diamond.

The cut of a diamond -- not to be confused with the shape of a diamond -- is what allows it to sparkle. The cut refers to the number of facets and how they are proportioned on the surface of the diamond.

Diamonds are rated based on how much color is found in each stone, with the most valuable diamonds being those that have no color at all. The stones are classified in ranks D through Z; those with a D rank have no color, while those with a Z rank are tinted. Fancy-colored diamonds come in many colors, such as pink or yellow. These colored diamonds, however, are not graded on the same scale as white diamonds.

Clarity refers to a diamond's lack of inclusions -- flaws in the diamond that occur in nature when the diamond is formed. A nearly flawless diamond is more valuable than one with inclusions. Most of the time inclusions are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye but can be viewed by a gemologist.

The De Beers Web site gives the following two examples of how a diamond may be flawed: The diamond may be cloudy, which will cause the diamond to appear dull, or the diamond may have more than an acceptable amount of internal crystallization. Diamond clarity is ranked on a scale of flawlessness. An internally flawless (IF) diamond contains no flaws while an I3 diamond contains noticeable flaws.

The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. A carat equals 1/5 of a gram. The carat weight of a diamond is the least important of the "four Cs" as far as determining value. However, it should be noted that the cost of a diamond is exponential and as such, a two-carat diamond may cost more than two one-carat diamonds.

Diamond Shape and Setting

Once the "four Cs" have been determined, the next thing those looking for how to buy a diamond ring may want to consider is the shape of the diamond and the setting in which the diamond will be placed.

The shape of the diamond is often the first thing that others notice when looking at a diamond ring. Diamonds can be shaped in many ways and various shapes have come into -- and passed out of -- favor throughout the years. Common diamond shapes include: asscher, emerald, heart, marquise, pear, princess, oval, radiant and round. The most popular diamond shapes are princess and round.

Once a diamond shape has been selected it is time to choose a setting. The setting is the "ring" portion and is meant to showcase the diamond. Settings are commonly available in yellow and white gold, silver and platinum. There are a variety of settings available including shank, side stones, pave and mount.

A shank setting is the traditional solitaire setting. The side-stone setting features a center diamond with smaller tapered diamonds on either side. Often the side-stone setting is referred to as a three-stone setting in which the three stones are said to represent the past, present and future. A pave setting has small diamonds inset around the ring. The final setting type is the mount setting. The mount setting is similar to a shank setting but uses two, four or six prongs to display the diamond.

Other available settings include cathedral and channel. A cathedral setting is a more modern take on the traditional diamond solitaire setting. The channel setting is similar to a pave setting with many small diamonds inserted in a channel that circles the ring.

Cost of a Diamond Ring

Many things can affect the cost of a diamond. The Sparkle and Dazzle Company offers the following factors in determining the cost of a diamond. The first factor is supply and demand in the marketplace. Low supply along with high demand will increase the cost of a diamond. The "four Cs" (cut, color, clarity and carat weight) of a diamond also affect the cost. A diamond that is of a high carat weight but a low color ranking generally will cost less than a lower carat-weight diamond with a superb color ranking, for instance. Shape and cut also affect the cost of a diamond; the more popular cuts will more than likely cost more than the less popular cuts.

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