Diamonds 101

Time to get down to business. Most first-time grooms don’t understand enough about diamonds and rings to make a good selection. That’s understandable…they’ve never done this before and typically this isn’t a father-son sharing moment.

There are four basic components that make up a diamond: carat, cut, color, and clarity.

Carat is the size of the stone. The cut is the shape of the stone. Clarity relates to the number of imperfections in the stone.

While size can be important, clarity is more important because clarity is the primary thing that affects brightness and determines value. A large diamond with a lot of imperfections won’t shine as brightly and it could have a lower assessed value than a smaller diamond with only one imperfection.

You determine clarity by looking at the diamond through a special magnifier, which are available at all jewelers. When you look at the diamond, imperfections will show as a dark spot or a string like flaw within the diamond. They are not hard to spot, even for the novice.

Color is self-explanatory. You want a diamond to be white. A stone that is more yellow or dusty white is less valuable.

The cut can be complicated because there are so many these days. Grooms should remember that complicated cuts cost more. That’s because a diamond cutter must start with a bigger stone and because every cut could create a flaw so it requires the best workman to keep the value of the diamond.

The more cuts there are, the more the diamond will catch the light and shine brilliantly.

Typically, the round stone has the least cuts. Stone shapes that have more cuts are marques diamonds and specialty cuts like heart-shaped.

Grooms need to also learn about styles of rings. There are three general styles: classic, vintage and modern.

Classic is a style that will stand the test of time. Generally, it’s a standard cut stone in a fairly simple setting and band. There are variations within the classic style including diamond bands and multiple diamonds in the engagement ring. Jessica Simpson and, surprisingly, Fergie, have classic style rings.

Vintage is usually a ring that is from an estate or heirloom and dates back before 1950, although some of the newer styles hail back to that era in style. Generally, it includes multiple smaller stones, perhaps a non-diamond stone like a sapphire, and lots of impact. Princess Diana, and now Prince William’s bride, Kate, has such a ring.

Modern rings are simple, clean cuts but are wonderful in their understatement and unusual design. They focus more on the band and often use twisted gold or silver in the band. They are more likely to make a personal statement or hold some secret meaning than any other ring. Think Jennifer Anniston and Carrie Underwood. Both have contemporary rings.

There are four big trends in rings right now and it’s a good bet most brides are into at least one. They are: pave stones, which are very small diamond groups in the ring set so tightly that you can’t see metal, vintage ring styles – like the halo ring which has diamonds encircling the center stone, colored stones in the set either as a center stone or somewhere in the band, and stacked rings which are several bands put together to create a tower on her finger with the center stone in the middle.

Whatever your decision, make sure you buy from a reputable jeweler and make sure it matches your girlfriend’s personality. After all, she must love it for the rest of her life because she will love you for the rest of your life.





Picking out an engagement ring

I think we need to take a moment and backtrack a bit from wedding planning to talk about the proposal. Naturally, the ring is a major part in that so it is worthy of discussion.

Many grooms-to-be begin this journey clueless of how to buy a ring. After all, many have never done it before and, hopefully, will never do it again. And this is one area where fathers don’t seem to be able to pass on their knowledge.

There was a television news story last year talking about the fact that many modern brides want – no expect – huge diamond engagement rings. The young men featured in the story were perplexed and discouraged because they didn’t have the money for that type of ring.

I indeed felt sorry for them and wanted to scream at the television that they should run very quickly away from that girl.

It is sad that girls today do, in fact, insist on a celebrity diamond ring. The reason for this is simple: they want to show it to their friends and make them jealous. It’s a way to tell everyone they are better than you and, I think, is a sign of insecurity and immaturity.

With that said, a man should strive to get the love of their life a ring that will make her happy. They should put some thought into it and, yes, sacrifice a bit of hard-earned cash.

The idea is that a man is thoughtful enough to give a token of love that matches his bride. Women want a man who knows what they want without them needing to tell them.

Practically, such traditions have always proven to the woman the intended groom could afford a secure life for her. A bit old-fashioned, true, but somehow it is built into our psyche.

The first known recorded engagement jewelry is in Genesis 24. In the story, a servant of Abraham swore to him that he would find a proper bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac. The man traveled back to Abraham’s home country and found Rebekah. He gave her a nose ring and two bracelets, all gold, and asked about her parents.

Naturally, her father was impressed and gave permission for her to marry Isaac. She left her family the next day to travel back with the man to her groom.

The moral of the story is the ring is important if you want a “yes.”

The most important aspect of the ring is to get one that matching the woman’s personality. This is where one must pay close attention because it is crucial, regardless of the size of the diamond. The one thing women want most is to think their guy understands them.

When Chef Mike and I were talking marriage, I had a set idea of the ring I wanted. It wasn’t a certain size or a special designer, but was a certain style. A unique style. Something I hadn’t really seen before.

As we were looking in jewelry stores, I tried to point out some rings I thought were close and described what I liked and what I didn’t like. Mike kept going to one particular style I had absolutely no interest in. It looked like his mother, not me.

After a few days of this, I asked if he had already gotten the ring and if it was that style. He said not really, but after some interrogating I discovered the conspiracy plan.

Mike’s mother had upgraded ring sets over the years and so she had a two or three older sets she no longer wore. His dad had suggested that Mike give me one of those sets, saving money, grief and time.

I was appalled.

My reaction was so volatile that I wasn’t sure if Mike would still want to marry me. However, he felt ashamed after I explained my feelings and apologized.

My thoughts were that to give me one of his mother’s old sets was like giving me  hand-me-down clothes. There was no sentimental attachment to those rings. They were discarded for better ones. The thought that Mike shouldn’t spend any money, time, or thought into picking out my engagement ring made me feel like his family – and ultimately him – thought I wasn’t worthy of the effort. I had waited a long time for marriage and felt I was certainly worthy of more effort than that.

Plus, the style was totally not me and wearing one of those rings would be like wearing his mother’s shoes when I’m a size five and she’s a nine. It just wouldn’t fit.

Mike ended up buying me a ring through a jewelry wholesaler connection. He designed it himself and – bonus – only paid about half of the retail value. Being a frugal person, that made me very happy.

Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a ring:

  • Don’t go into debt over it. You should be able to pay for it in cash. If you need to wait to save for it then wait. Don’t put it on credit.
  • The younger the couple the smaller the ring. You are just getting started in life and need to put some money toward your life together, like a house or furniture. Don’t expect to have everything at 22 that most people get at 40.
  • Consequently, the older the bride the bigger the ring. Older couples have careers, have investments, and savings. An older bride will expect a larger ring because she knows you can afford it. They also feel they deserve it because they have waited a long time. If you chintz, she will feel like you don’t value her.
  • Understand your bride’s personality. Look at her hobbies and that will give you a clue into the style she would want. Her clothes are also an indicator. You are marrying her, you should know her well. You can also get one of her relatives, like a cousin or brother, to help pick out a ring