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Here’s What You Need To Know Before Buying An Engagement Ring

by Katherine Callaghan

Buying an engagement ring is one of the biggest purchases your man will make in his life. Shopping for the perfect ring is a lengthy process that takes a lot of planning, research, and saving. Before you even walk into your local jeweler and set out on your quest to find the perfect ring, you should familiarize yourself with the basics. There are four key factors to keep in mind when choosing a diamond. To help us further understand the Four C’s–cut, color, clarity, and carat–and their importance in the engagement ring shopping process, we turned to the experts at Brilliant Earth!

Feature image courtesy of Anastasiia Photography.

BridalPulse: Can you give us a break down of the 4Cs  and why they are important in the engagement ring shopping process?

The 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity and carat) are a great place to start when shopping for a diamond. Shoppers should familiarize themselves with the 4 C’s and consider what is most important to them so they can select a diamond that best fits their stylistic preferences, desired quality and budget.

  • Carat – Of all the diamond characteristics, people are typically most familiar with carat weight. While carat is a unit of weight, it can be used as an approximation of size.  Carat is determined based on both the customer’s preferred size of diamond or gemstone and the desired tradeoff between size and quality (or cut, color, and clarity) that fits within a customer’s budget.
  • Cut – Cut measures symmetry, polish and proportion of a diamond, and it is the most important quality characteristic of a round brilliant diamond since it impacts the gemstone’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Brilliant Earth recommends customers select a very good to super ideal cut grade to maximize sparkle.
  • Color – Color is very much a personal preference. D, E, and F colored diamonds are the highest on the rarity scale and have a very icy white appearance.  G and H diamonds offer a great middle ground, and I and J diamonds will have a slightly warmer hue.  I and J diamonds can be great options for people interested in warmer metal tones, such as yellow or rose gold, or those interested in vintage styles.
  • Clarity – Clarity refers to how clean or clear the diamond is with respect to natural microscopic characteristics that were trapped within or on the diamond while it was forming, and is mostly an indicator of rarity. Clarity is determined under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist since most of these characteristics cannot be seen by the naked eye.  Brilliant Earth recommends purchasing a SI1 clarity or above.

What advice can you give couples when looking at rings at the first time? What research should be done ahead of time?

Customers shopping for an engagement ring for the first time should try to be informed on the 4 C’s, but also remember that it’s just as much about their personal love for the piece. Establish a budget up front, and work with a jewelry professional to ensure they know your comfort level in order to get you the best option.  Budget is completely personal, with many beautiful rings offered at any price point. Lastly, make sure the retailer is reputable.  Look for strong online reviews with a high-quality product, excellent service, diamonds graded by independent gemological labs, and policies in place to give you comfort around your purchase –such as free shipping, free returns, and a 30-day guarantee.

How does someone learn more about their engagement ring style?

Setting and ring style can be the hardest part of the selection process because there are so many distinct options from modern to classic to vintage-inspired. Customers should consider personal style as well as daily activities when thinking about setting style.  For example, if she enjoys pieces that make more of a statement, she may gravitate towards a halo or more glamorous, detailed setting.  If she’s modest and doesn’t wear jewelry, she might be interested in classic, clean lines like a solitaire. Customers should search online using resources like Pinterest and Instagram to get an idea of styles they like. Remember to be open-minded as you explore.  Have fun with it and listen to your gut about what styles speak to you!

Can you give us some engagement ring shopping tips?

In addition to the points above, ask about the sourcing practices behind the diamond and jewelry you are buying. Many retailers claim that they do not carry conflict diamonds – narrowly defined as diamonds financing rebel groups attempting to overthrow national governments.  What this definition leaves out is large numbers of diamonds that are tainted by violence, human rights abuses, poverty, and environmental degradation. Brilliant Earth goes beyond the current industry standards to offer Beyond Conflict Free DiamondsTM that have been selected for their ethical and environmentally responsible origins.  Our fine jewelry is also crafted from recycled metals.

Lastly, what do we need to know when purchasing ring insurance?

We advise our customers to purchase insurance before they begin wearing their rings. Ring insurance is designed to protect against risks specific to jewelry.  We’ve found that most homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies, and even some jewelry warranties typically do not adequately protect jewelry.  Many Brilliant Earth customers choose jewelry insurance coverage through Lavalier, which offers comprehensive, worldwide coverage.