Tagged: diamond clarity

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Engagement Ring Resources: A Year in Review

 

Did you know that the winter holidays are the most popular time to get engaged?  Engagements ring sales increase 40% during this time of year.  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to some really great guys of the last couple months and let me just say, if you ever need to regain your faith in men, you should try out my job for a day.  All these guys call me because they want to make their girlfriends happy by commissioning the perfect ring, or they want to upgrade their wives’ existing rings that they bought for them when they were “young and poor.”  Can you blame me if I have unwavering faith in the goodness of men?

If you are just starting the process, I find guys get confused with all the stats and four-Cs right off-the-bat.  Your first step should be to outline a budget; if you need help, read my posts on determining a budget for an engagement ring and look here for a budget case study .  Once you have your budget set, all you have to do is find the sizes (measured in carats) that fit into your price range and then choose the best quality stone in that carat category.  If you are not happy with the quality, then perhaps scale the size down a touch in order to upgrade to a better quality.  On the other hand, if you prioritize diamond size, then you can scale up in size and down in color and clarity.  If you haven’t done research into color and clarity yet, read my pointers on diamond color scale and clarity to get up to speed.

The next step is to figure out what type of ring will set your sweetheart swooning.  For women, I suggest you think about a few key aspects about yourselves before choosing a ring such as what your aesthetics are, whether you prioritize size over clarity, etc.  Men, you should have a sense of what kind of ring your darling wants.  At the very least, you should know what shape diamond they would prefer.  There are things to look out for when choosing diamond shapes and knowing the intricacies may help you get a better deal for your ring or get even bigger ring.  For example, did you know that oval engagement rings are currently priced lower than round brilliants of the same carat weight?  Here are other concerns about diamond shape that will help you get the most for your money.  The next thing you should know is your girl’s ring size, if you have no idea just sneak one of her rings away when she isn’t looking and trace a circle using the inside of the ring on a piece of paper.  You can then take that into your jeweler or a store and have it translated into a ring size.

For those who want an ethical diamond, you have the option of getting an antique ring, having your jeweler source conflict-free diamonds, or buying a synthetic diamond.      Antique diamonds come with their own set of issues, the round brilliant cut wasn’t developed until the early 20th century so any round diamond ring before 1919 will likely contain a miners cut diamond–read my post here to figure out what to watch out for with respect to antique engagement rings.  You don’t necessarily have to buy a diamond that is advertised as “conflict-free” in order to get the ethical benefits, I explain the different types of ethical diamonds here.  Finally, if you can’t decide whether you are the synthetic diamond type, here is how to find out.

Now the only thing between you making it successfully down the aisle is the wedding.  For all those sweet men out there who put so much thought into an engagement ring for their girlfriends, it is now our turn to think about their wedding bands.  Boys are not used to wearing rings like we are, so the safest best is to get them a comfort fit wedding band.  The wedding bands can match if you choose but they don’t have to, here is what I think about matching bands.

Ladies, we likely consider what jewelry to wear every day but we rarely think about how to accessorize on our wedding day.  Of course we want to steal the show but how do we know when we’ve overdone it?  Read my guidelines on wedding jewelry to ensure that you will be the perfect balance of radiance and taste.  And as always, if you have a question that I haven’t touched upon, you can always contact me.  I wish you a happily ever after.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

 

 

 

 

Is Diamond Clarity Important?

 

I find that people either underestimate or over-estimate the importance of diamond clarity.  This is a travesty that I intend to rectify.  First, lets start with the basics:

Flawless- No inclusions inside or on the surface with 10x magnification.  This is the definition of perfection.

Internally Flawless- No internal inclusions at 10x but there might be blemishes on the surface of the diamond.

VVS1/VVS2 Diamonds: Very Very Slightly Included.  These have minuscule inclusions that are very difficult to spot under a 10x magnification. The inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.

VS1/VS2 Diamonds: Very Slightly Included.  The inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, and are difficult to see under 10x magnification.

SI1/SI2 Diamonds: Slightly Included.  The inclusions in these diamonds are usually not visible to the unaided eye, but are visible under a 10x magnification.

I1/I2 Diamonds: Included.  These diamonds have visible inclusions to the unaided eye.

Is Diamond Clarity Important?

I generally don’t use stones that are more included than VS2 for my clients.  Similarly, the high-end jewelry retailers like Harry Winston, Cartier, Van Cleef, Tiffany’s etc. don’t use SI or I clarities either.  However, in order to reach the desired price points, commercial retailers like Blue Nile, Zales, etc. use a great deal of SI, I1, I2 and even I3 stones to make diamonds more accessible.  Similarly, many of the fashion jewelry houses that use diamond slices or “brown diamonds” are using I3 goods.  My stance on all this is that you have to know when to buy investment jewelry (VS2 or higher clarity) and when you’re buying fashion jewelry (which will never appreciate in value but it looks good).  There is nothing wrong with dabbling in the entire spectrum but I would much rather my DMD darlings make informed decisions.

I an mot going to sit here and wax poetic about what clarity of diamonds you should have.  One’s budget will always dictate the diamonds.  If that means you have to sacrifice clarity in order to have a diamond engagement ring then so be it–no shame in that.  However, if you have a larger budget but purchase SI or I goods because you like the design of the piece and don’t know any better, shame on you.  Always get the best quality for your budget.

Size vs. Clarity

Different standards apply for different size stones and budgets.  In a larger diamond, you should first scan the market to see what approximate size diamond you can get with your budget and then adjust clarity and color upwards or downwards.  Let’s say your budget is $50,000.  On today’s market, that could get you either a 1.25 carat D flawless round diamond or a 2 carat F, VS1 diamond.  At that point, I would go for the 2 carat F because F and D colors are both in the colorless spectrum (click here to read my post on the diamond color scale); and given that VS1 inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, I would much rather a larger colorless diamond than a smaller flawless one when no one will be able to tell the difference anyway.

Alternatively, let’s say Kanye gives Kim a budget of  3 million to spend on her next engagement ring (this is starting to sound like one of my old law school hypotheticals).  Rather than go for a 20 carat, G colored, VS2 like she did last time, I would advise her to go for a 8 or 9 carat D flawless.  Why anyone would get a 20 carat mediocre stone over a D flawless that is half the size is beyond me–8 carats is worthy of jewelry arthritis as it is, and it is both more stunning visually and a better investment.  Clearly the emphasis is on the flash appeal rather than on the quality or investment value.  I would never advise someone in that direction–it’s just reckless disregard for logic and good fiscal planning.

Color vs. Clarity

Sizes being equal, what if I was posed with the choice of a 2 carat F VVS1 or a 2 carat E VS2?  The second option being one step up in color but two steps down in clarity.  Ahh, here I would go for color because color is more visible than clarity to the naked eye.  The only instance where I would choose to upgrade clarity over color is if there is a large disparity between the two.  Let’s say I have a 2 carat F color SI2; if given the choice to upgrade to an E, SI2 (one step up in color) or an F, VS2 (two steps up in clarity), I would choose the F, VS2 because SI inclusions can be visible to the naked eye whereas VS inclusions are not and that makes it a better investment.

Melees

We’ve done the behemoths, now for the melees.  Mellees are what we in the industry call diamonds that we use for accents or pave settings.  For example, on an engagement ring with a diamond band, the diamonds on the band are called melees.  If you have a center stone, the melee should always match the center stone, that’s basic quality control.  What if you don’t have a center stone and have a ring paved in melee?  Is it worth it to splurge and get D flawless melee?  Absolutely not.  If you go for a high color, G or higher, no one is going to see the clarity difference between a VS2 and a VVS melee–you’d be wasting your money.

I am a big proponent of living within your means.  The more included a diamond is the more affordable it is.  Having said that, given one’s means, one should always strive for the best.  That my darlings, is why one needs to be well-informed and the reason I pen this blog.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP