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.