Wedding rings and engagement rings have been around for a long time. Some people may have heirloom rings that have been passed down in their families for generations, but many others may need to buy their own rings for their special day. With the enormous range of different types of rings and other fine jewelry available, not to mention the convenience of made-to-order, customized rings, choosing the right ring may seem overwhelming. We’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed choice.
Learn About Evaluating Diamonds
Not all engagement rings have precious stones on them, and even when they do, the stones are not always diamonds. However, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and the vast majority of engagement rings have diamonds on them.
The Gemological Institute of America is the leading scientific authority on precious stones worldwide. The GIA is responsible for the creation of the Diamond 4Cs system of evaluation, as well as the International Diamond Grading SystemTM, which are used around the world to judge the quality of diamonds.
The first of the Diamond 4Cs is Cut. This refers to the shape into which the stone is cut in order to be fitted into a piece of jewelry.
There’s a wide range of shapes available for diamonds as well as other stones. Different jewelers may offer slightly more shapes or a few less, but usually, there are nine to eleven shapes suitable for stones for rings. These could include:
- The Round
- The Princess
- The Cushion
- The Asscher
- The Marquise
- The Oval
- The Radiant
- The Pear
- The Emerald
In the past, the convention was to use round diamonds on engagement rings, but the popularity of unusual shapes is on the rise. In some cases, you would be able to choose from twenty or more shapes, including novelty shapes such as the shapes of animals or plants.
Nevertheless, the most popular shape for engagement rings is the oval cut (including the princess, marquise, and pear shapes). You can choose from two orientations for oval cuts: horizontal or vertical. In the case of a horizontal oval diamond ring, the oval is oriented parallel to the band; in the case of a vertical oval, the long side of the oval is parallel to your finger, but at right angles to the band.
Nature Sparkle offers a comprehensive oval diamond guide to help you pick out the best ring for you from this popular style.
Ironically, the best ‘color’ for a diamond is actually no color. The more chemically and structurally perfect a diamond is, the more completely transparent that diamond will be. The Gemological Institute of America has developed a color-grading system that uses the letters of the alphabet to indicate where on the scale of colorlessness a diamond falls.
It’s a bit ironic again, but completely transparent (no-color) diamonds are referred to as ‘white’. At the other end of the color spectrum, some diamonds can be slightly yellowish or even brownish. There’s a set of reference stones in Antwerp, Belgium, against which other white diamonds can be compared to determine the correct color grading for the stones.
Color grades D-H all qualify as ‘white’ diamonds. Grades I and J are ‘slightly tinted white,’ and grades K and L are ‘tinted white.’ Grades M-Z are ‘tinted color’ diamonds, with P being the final grade that can still qualify as ‘white’ depending on the individual stone.
In order to understand how diamonds are formed, we need to know that our planet can be divided into three main layers: the core, the mantle, and the crust. The crust is the top layer of the earth.
Beneath the crust of the earth is the mantle. The temperature in the mantle is exceptionally high, as is the amount of pressure. In the early days of earth, these high pressure and high-temperature conditions produced diamonds (about 3 billion years ago) by ‘crystallizing’ atoms of carbon. The diamonds formed in the most challenging, pure carbon conditions tend to have the highest clarity.
Diamonds with very high clarity are like glass: completely transparent. But many diamonds contain internal ‘inclusions’ and ‘blemishes’ which compromise their transparency. The size and number of these blemishes, as well as their position, and other characteristics, all affect the clarity of a stone.
The GIA Clarity Scale is the conventional tool for assessing diamond clarity. The scale has six categories, some of which are further divided into subcategories, for a total of eleven. These are the six main categories:
- Flawless (FL)
- Internally Flawless (IF)
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
- Included (I1, I2, and I3)
The level of magnification needed before flaws can be clearly observed is also taken into consideration when grading stones on clarity.
4. Carat Weight
The weight of diamonds is measured in carats (rather than milligrams) – but because all diamonds have the same density, the (carat) weight of a diamond also tells you what the size of the diamond will be. One carat is equivalent to 200mg and can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’
Generally speaking, bigger diamonds with a higher carat weight will be more valuable than smaller diamonds. However, because the value of the diamond also depends on its Cut, Color, and Clarity (see 1-3 above), this isn’t always the case.
Learn About Pricing of Engagement Rings
So as you can see, there are a number of factors that could affect the price of an engagement ring, most of which are related to the quality of the diamond it contains. As a rough guide, you could probably expect one of the minimalist engagement rings, for example, to cost as little as $2,500.
A 1 carat radiant cut diamond would also be fairly reasonable, around $3,600, while a 2 carat elongated cushion cut diamond engagement ring is a mid-priced option, at around $8,900. Engagement rings are often significantly more pricey than wedding rings because engagement rings usually include diamonds, whereas wedding bands are often plain.
Nowadays, it’s also possible to synthesize diamonds artificially, in a fraction of the time it takes for them to form in nature. The High-Pressure High Temperature (HTHP) technique and the Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) technique can both be used to produce diamonds in as little as a few weeks to a few months. While lab-grown diamonds are not cheap imitations like cubic zirconia or cut glass, they certainly are much cheaper than natural diamonds.
It’s important to plan and learn about how diamonds are evaluated and priced before buying an engagement ring. Whatever type of engagement ring you decide you want, you can trust the team of creative and technical designers and manufacturers at Nature Sparkle. They have the knowledge and experience to help you choose the perfect ring or craft a customized ring to suit your needs.