The term ‘diamond’ was derived from the Greek word adamas, meaning ‘unconquerable’. Diamond engagement rings, in general, has a long history that spanned from India to the British royalty. But what was once reserved for the royal elite is now the common symbol for eternal love and unity.
Diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement rings. They’re valuable, beautiful, and go well with any kind of style, traditional or modern.
But there’s a lot you need to consider before buying that diamond ring.
Before we go into styles and shapes, let’s look into what makes the gem in the ring valuable.
Specifically, you have to look at the 4C’s of a diamond: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. The GIA has different scales for each characteristic, so let’s look into them.
The cut doesn’t mean the shape. The cut refers to the cut surfaces (or facets) and angles of the gem. Unlike the other Cs, the cut is made by the diamond cutter.
This is the most important C because it determines how much your diamond shines. The cut surfaces reflect and refract light, causing a brilliant shine that sparkles in your hand.
The GIA measures grade quality cut through 5 categories: excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. The one with the highest grade (excellent) is ideally the one that reflects and refracts the most light. The more light the gem reflects, the shinier it is.
Now, if you’re the kind to want a really shiny diamond, you have to look for either an excellent or very good grade cut diamond gem that:
has a lot of scintillation, or constantly reflects light when you move it
For this, you have to find or contact a jewelry store that specifically cater to diamond engagement rings or be conscious of the gem’s shape. The more surfaces the gem has, the more light that can bounce off. The more light that can bounce off, the shinier it is.
The shapes that usually have a great cut are the more rounded gems and/or gems that have more surface facets.
Clarity refers to the small imperfections a diamond has. The diamond is a gem that was produced from pressurized carbon deep within the Earth’s surface. So, naturally, it’s going to have a few bumpy imperfections or blemishes. It can also have “inclusions” or a bunch of rocks and other minerals that couldn’t be removed in the excavation process.
Now, diamond clarity has a scale that’s divided into six categories. The FL (flawless) and IF (internally flawless) categories indicate that the diamond has little to no imperfections, inclusions, or blemishes. Diamonds in these categories are considered to be the clearest and therefore the highest grade quality. However, the clearest diamonds are also extremely rare and very expensive.
If you’re on a budget, you can settle for a diamond ring within the VSI (Very Slightly Included) and SI (Slightly Included) scales. The imperfections aren’t that noticeable and they still look great.
Now, diamonds aren’t just colorless. They come in colors that range from blues to pinks to even greens. These colors are usually a result of various chemical reactions to radiation or substances like boron or nitrogen.
But while that’s the case, the most common variant of a diamond’s color is yellow. This is usually a result of impurities and a lot of nitrogen that reacts to blue light.
This is why jewel experts usually treat white and yellow on the same color scale when it comes to diamonds. A diamond’s color is measured through a scale that goes from D (no color) to Z (light yellow).
The less color a diamond has, the rarer (and more expensive) it is.
But just because a yellow diamond’s considered less expensive doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Naturally colored diamonds are rare too, and they add a nice little touch to your hand.
Carat weight refers to the weight of the diamond. The heavier the diamond, the pricier it is.
Both the carat weight and the size are proportional.
The really big diamond engagement rings are usually beyond 2 carats. They’re usually the more expensive ones, too. But if you only want a smaller, more affordable diamond, you can opt for one between 0.5-1.5 carats.
The carat weight is highly influenced by a combination of the diamond’s cut, color and clarity. So if you want to find the right combination of Cs, you have to consider what you want in a ring.
The Perfect Combination of Cs
The clearest, colorless and shiniest diamonds are rare and expensive. So if you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to consider what you prioritize in a diamond ring first.
If you want to have the ideal diamond ring that isn’t as expensive, prioritize the cut. A yellow diamond with a high grade cut shines better and looks more aesthetically pleasing than a colorless diamond with a low grade cut.
It’s best to look for rounder shapes with more surface cuts than square shapes with bigger flat surfaces.
But if color’s your concern, you can either go for a 0.5 carat diamond with a color within the I-J range or a 1 carat diamond within the G-H color range. Only a gemstone expert can really tell the difference between a D-grade color diamond and an H-grade color diamond. To the untrained eye, diamonds in this range appear to be colorless.
If you want a clear diamond, opt for one that’s within the VSI-SI clarity range with a good or very good grade cut. You can go for a 0.5 carat diamond that’s SI clear or a 1.5 carat diamond that’s VSI clear.
Now that we’ve learned about the 4Cs, let’s look into the shape of the diamond itself.
Despite them being different, diamond shapes are often labeled as cuts. That’s because they go hand in hand with one another. Regardless, the best diamond shape really depends on what you’re aiming for in terms of style and how it looks on your hand.
There is actually a ton of diamond shapes to choose from. But here are 6 of the most popular shapes for you to get started.
The round brilliance diamond is known to be the most popular cut shape, making up roughly 53% of all engagement rings and 75% of all diamonds sold around the world. A round top with a cone-shaped bottom, this is the shape that comes into people’s minds when they hear the word ‘diamond’.
The round brilliance shape has the most ideal brilliance and fire, and it’s perfect for a standard engagement ring. Regarded by diamond experts to be the standard shape, this diamond can have the highest grade quality of all the 4C’s–if cut properly. Should the cuts not be good enough, this diamond can risk being a bit lackluster.
This diamond is good for both traditional and modern styles. If you want to get the most out of this shape on a tight budget, it’s best to lower your carat weight and choose one that looks ‘eye-clean’ to you instead. Sometimes an SI1 round diamond can look better than a VS1 round diamond, so go ahead and ask an expert’s opinion about this.
Princess Cut/Square Modified Brilliance
The princess cut shape is the second most popular diamond shape, next to the round brilliance. Having French origins, the Princess cut was created and popularized in the 1980s as an alternative to the round brilliance.
Like the round brilliance, the princess cut shape is also good for both traditional and modern styles. The facets in this diamond shape give it this ‘cut ice’ look that’s very elegant on the hand.
The carat weight is cheaper than the round brilliance due to its square shape. It’s also a good shape for hiding and inclusions and blemishes. You can definitely opt for an SI2 clarity diamond with a good ‘eye-clean’ and a good cut.
A modified round diamond, the oval diamond was created in the 1960’s as another unique alternative to the round brilliance.
Like the round brilliance, the oval shape also boasts of good fire and brilliance. This is a popular choice for modern styles because it makes the fingers narrow and slender. However, it has a bow-tie effect where the light creates a bow-tie shape in the center.
Unlike the other diamond shapes, the more yellowish ovals are in demand due to their unique look. Specifically, the G-I color range ovals are highly sought after by customers, and are much more cost effective.
Choosing an oval diamond shape is subjective. But if you’re aiming for slender fingers on a budget, you can opt to either choose a 0.50-1 carat oval diamond with a warm H-I color grade, SI clarity and good or very good cut or a cool D-G color grade 1-1.5 carat diamond with a VSI clarity and good cut.
Made after the lips of King Louis XIV’s famous mistress Marquise of Pompadour, this diamond shape is also a popular modification of the round brilliant.
While the shape is more traditional, this can also be a great shape for unconventional styles should you want something that’s out of the ordinary.
This diamond shape has the largest surface area of all the diamond shapes. Because of its almond lip shape, this diamond can give the illusion of a bigger gem and the illusion of narrow, slender fingers. Like the oval shape, the marquise also has the bow-tie effect.
This shape can also hide any inclusions and blemishes that the diamond may have. However, the points have to be symmetrical with each other to prevent a wonky look.
Aside from the 4Cs, you also have to note the diamond’s thickness. The standard thickness can be between ratios of 1.70-2.15, with 2.15 being the thinnest on that range. Consider talking to an expert as to what thickness would best suit your fingers.
This shape takes the form of the traditional Emerald gem. A square shape with a lot of large facets, this is a popular choice due to how it emphasizes the diamond’s clarity.
This is a simple, clean diamond shape that’s good for simple, straightforward traditional styles.
Due to its large facets, this diamond is a bit lackluster compared to the other shapes. Instead of its brilliance, this diamond has a mirror effect that is further enhanced by its clarity.
Another downside to this shape is the fact that the inclusions and blemishes are much more visible. So if you want to opt for this shape, it’s best if you can find one that’s between IF-VSI clarity ranges. However, the blemishes and inclusions are often very small, so you can invest in a good cut SI clarity grade diamond, too.
Another great choice that’s similar to the Emerald shape is the Asscher shape. Developed in 1900s as a tool for cutting the world’s largest stone, the Asscher shape was popularized in the 1920s in antique shops. The variants of this stone now are much more brilliant and clearer compared to its antique counterparts.
Like the Emerald, the Asscher is also good for simple styles. It’s also a popular choice for celebrities because the Asscher shape is much more brilliant than the Emerald and has a more square and octagonal shape. This adds to a gorgeous square silhouette that’s beautiful on the hand.
Since it’s also a shape that has a lot of large facets, it’s also prone to visible inclusions and blemishes. So if you want an Asscher diamond, it’s best to pick one between the IF-VSI clarity grade, or an SI clear Asscher that’s eye-clean with a low diamond carat.
Now that we have an overview of the 4Cs and the different kinds of diamond shapes, let’s now look into some of the most popular styles of diamond engagement rings.
A solitaire diamond ring is one where the diamond is right in the center of the ring. This is considered to be one of the most elegant and traditional styles of engagement rings.
This was a booming style in the 1920s and is considered to be a traditional option for the more outgoing bride.
A halo ring is similar to a solitaire in that the diamond is right in the center of the ring. The difference is that the center diamond has a ‘halo’ or a clean band of smaller diamonds around it. It’s a little pricier than the solitaire considering that there is more than one carat of diamonds.
If you don’t want a bulky diamond at the center of the ring, a great option to choose from is having the band of the ring be encased in small, low carat diamonds instead. It’s simple, elegant, and perfect for a timeless, modern look on your hand.
Choosing a great diamond ring for your engagement takes a lot of consideration in the combination of 4Cs, the shape, and the style that you’re aiming for.
If you’re still confused as to what kind of diamond engagement ring you want, go ahead and contact a jewel expert at any jewel store near you.
Remember, buying a diamond ring doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. It just has to be one that’s right for you.