If your knowledge of diamonds is limited to the fact that they’re sparkly and expensive, you’re going to want to do some research before investing in a rock or discussing the type of engagement ring you may like with your partner. The most basic investigation (i.e., Google search) will lead you to much talk of the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight, the universal system for rating a diamond quality. But that’s not all you need to know.
There are several lesser-known intricacies about diamond buying, and the wisest shoppers make it a point to understand every last one of them. This is the camp you’ll want to be in when you start ring shopping, and to give you a head start, we’ve rounded up five not-so-obvious expert tips. Here’s to finding the bling of your dreams—the smart way.
Look for a Store With an On-Site Jeweler
“Make sure there’s a jeweler on staff at the store you’re purchasing a ring from. In addition to being able to answer technical questions about settings and stones, a jeweler can turn small repairs and ring maintenance around quickly, and you won’t have to send the ring elsewhere for sizing.“—Shawn Bigby, diamond consultant, Crockers Jewelers, Texarkana, TX
Know the Difference Between Platinum and White Gold
“Platinum is naturally white while white gold is naturally yellow. White gold gets its appearance from alloys that are combined with gold and a rhodium plating. Over time, the plating will wear off and reveal a yellowish tinge, so white gold rings will eventually need to be replated and repolished. While platinum holds its color and is naturally stronger and heavier than white gold, it scratches easier, so it will also need to be repolished from time to time. In terms of cost, here’s a little-known fact: Platinum and 18K gold are actually about the same price per ounce—it just takes twice as much platinum to make a ring as it does gold, which is why platinum rings are more expensive.”—Ashley Daily Stegall, Bremer Jewelry, Peoria, Illinois
Look for Symmetry
“Look for a diamond that’s as symmetrical as possible. Misalignment diminishes a diamond’s internal light performance, which in turn reduces its brilliance. A diamond with good symmetry will have more sparkle.”—Kristen Trustey, diamond expert, Forevermark
Understand That Cut Counts for More than Style
“The cut of a diamond impacts its light performance and visual size. Two diamonds with the same carat weight can appear to be different sizes depending on the depth or shape of their cut. Diamonds that are cut too deep or shallow lose light through the side or bottom, reducing brilliance and therefore value.”—Jack DeAngelis, president, Morton & Rudolph Jewelers, Cherry Hill, NJ
Consider an ‘Under Carat’ Stone
“If you’re after a larger center stone than your budget allows, look for a diamond that is slightly under carat, like a .7-carat instead of 1-carat, or 1.8-carat instead of 2-carat. Diamonds just under a full or half carat can be priced significantly less and often look just as big to the naked eye.”—Kristen Trustey, diamond expert, Forevermark