Buyers Guide: Diamond Jewelry
Giving a diamond is the ultimate romantic gesture. However, with today’s large selection of styles, designs, clarity, color, and budget options it is easy to get overwhelmed by the process of shopping for the perfect bracelet, ring, pendant, or earrings. In fact, shopping for some accessories, like engagement and wedding rings, has almost become an art form of its own. Ermitage Jewelers wants you to feel comfortable with your purchase, which is why we have created this helpful guide to take you through the process of picking the perfect piece.
History and Significance of Diamond Jewelry
Diamonds are the hardest stones on the planet. A diamond symbolizes permanence and stability which is why it is one of the most popular gems in romantically geared jewelry. In the old days, diamond jewelry was only available to the aristocracy or those that could afford it. With the advent of modern mining methods, diamond jewelry went from being a status symbol to a symbol of a deep emotional connection. Although diamonds are synonymous with opulence and glamor, growing availability of this gems allows almost anyone to be the lucky bearer of these precious stones.
Buying Diamond Jewelry
Before you begin shopping for the perfect piece, consider the following:
It’s significantly easier when you are shopping for yourself since you already know your likes and dislikes pretty well, but what do you do if you are shopping for someone else?
First, pay special attention to the style of jewelry that they already have and wear regularly. Are they vintage inspired pieces? Victorian? Art Deco? What’s their favorite decade, movie, art movement? Is the person you are shopping for more of a hopeless romantic or a strict pragmatist? Answering these questions will guide you towards the style of jewelry that you might want to look at. For example, if the person you are shopping for is a romantic with a special place in their heart for Victorian era, consider modern interpretation of Victorian and Edwardian jewelry. If you are shopping for someone who has more of a James Bond personality, consider a more modern, clean style.
Usually, an experience jeweler will be able to point you into the right direction after you tell them more about the person you are shopping for.
There are hundreds of different styles, colors, settings, and options for you to choose from. Narrowing down the style of jewelry will ease the burden of making a decision.
Another important thing to consider, is the type of jewelry. Are you looking for a pair of earrings, bracelets, a pendant, or a ring? It is important to know the accessory preference of a person who is going to wear the piece of jewelry. For example, many women wear earrings every day, however, some prefer rings as their go to accessory. Those that work with their hands (like artists and chefs) might prefer a pendant rather than a ring which can get dirty or get lost.
Now that you have settled on the style and type of diamond jewelry that you want to purchase it is time to set a budget. A budget is what will ultimately dictate the color, clarity, carat weight, and the choice of precious metals. You don’t want to overspend on diamond jewelry, but you don’t want to underspend either.
Many people start their search without a budget in mind which leads to “buyer’s remorse”. The last thing you need is to feel remorseful over your gorgeous purchase. So, be prepared! Figure out how much you can spend without breaking the bank before you begin shopping.
Consider the occasion that you are shopping for. Anniversary or wedding style jewelry tends to be priced higher than the pieces that are considered “everyday” gifts which can look similar. If you are shopping for a wedding or an anniversary, consider looking at regular jewelry to see if you can find something that strikes your fancy before looking in the occasion specific category.
If you are looking for a birthday gift, take into consideration diamond jewelry with birth stone accents. If fashion is your concern, brightly colored semi-precious stones combined with diamonds look stunning and unusual.
When most people hear the term “size” as it relates to jewelry, they immediately think rings. However, size matters in other types of jewelry as well. For example knowing the diameter of the wrist is important for picking bracelets. You don’t want the bracelet to be too large so it slides off. The length of the earrings is also important especially if you are looking at hoops or long earrings. You want the wearer to be comfortable in the jewelry that they wear. Here are some tips on obtaining sizes of various jewelry types:
Trance the inside of the ring (that is most frequently worn by the person) with a pencil on a piece of paper. Bring the drawing with you when you shop for rings.
Try putting the ring on your finger, remember where it sits and use your own hands as a guide.
Take one of the most frequently worn rings with you to get it sized by a jeweler.
Note the length and style of other earrings.
If you are shopping for a chain pendant: find a chain or a pendant that the person wears most often. Unhook the chain and stretch it out on a flat surface until it forms a straight line. Get a ruler and measure the length of the chain. Let your jeweler know that you are shopping for that length.
For chain bracelets: use the same technique as you wood for necklaces.
Solid bracelets are tricky if you can’t get an accurate measurement.
Conflict Free Diamonds:
Almost 25% of all diamonds were mined in war zones and sold to finance war crimes and terrorism. If the person you are shopping for is one of the people who pays attention to these kind of things, they may not be happy with a “blood diamond”.
Ask your jeweler where the diamonds are were mined. If your stone is mined in a country that is not currently involved in a conflict then you can safely avoid the stigma of a “blood diamond”. However, if your diamond is mined in Africa or other, less stable regions chances are the profits from the sale of the stone went to support a warlord.
In order to avoid accidentally purchasing a “blood diamond” consider shopping for vintage pieces. A diamond that is 50-60 years old has significantly less chances of being involved in a conflict. However, diamonds cut in that era can have color and clarity issues.
If you are working with a fairly low budget, we encourage you to look at some pre-owned diamond jewelry. Often times, pre-owned pieces look just as good as brand new and cost hundreds of dollars less. In fact, some pieces can only be bought pre-owned.
True vintage jewelry and conflict free diamonds are only available in pre-owned conditions. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take the stones out of a used piece and set them into a new setting or create a completely custom piece. Although that might dramatically increase the price of your diamond jewelry, it is worth it if you are going for something unique and completely unusual.
The Four C’s of Diamonds
The four C’s of diamonds include: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Your jeweler will more than likely able to present you with a large variety of diamonds on all side of the spectrum. Here are a few words about each:
Colorless diamonds with the least amount of fluorescence (bluish glow under a jewelers light) are considered to be the most valuable. With a few exceptions, the more color the diamond has, the less expensive it will be. However, color is not always visible to the naked eye especially when the stone is set in the appropriate color setting. Usually, diamonds with slight yellowish color are set in yellow or rose gold settings. This makes the diamond appear brighter and more brilliant. Colorless diamonds are usually set in platinum or white gold setting to accent the purity of the stone.
The cut of the diamond is dependent on the flaws in the raw stone. If you have done your research chances are you already know what cut to buy, but in case there are doubts the following guide will help you make an informed decision.
Round Cut: Round cut diamonds are timeless and classic. Round cut maximizes the brilliance of the stone though proper refraction of light. This cut makes the diamond look brighter than any other cut.
Princess Cut: This is the most common cut found in engagement rings because of the shapes flexibility in various ring settings and styles. If you are unsure of the shape that you want to choose, you can’t go wrong with the Princess cut diamond.
Oval Cut: When you are talking diamonds, size matters. Oval cut will create an illusion of larger diamond for a price of a smaller stone. Additionally, oval cut diamonds have greater a greater degree of brilliance than other cuts.
Marquise Cut: These diamonds are “football” shaped and can appear significantly larger than an oval or a round cut diamonds while delivering the optimal degree of fiery brilliance.
Pear Cut: This is a hybrid cut diamond that combines the marquise cut and the oval cut. A properly cut pear shaped diamond is symmetrical with the apex of the rounded edge making the “wings” symmetrical.
Cushion Cut: This diamond resembles a pillow, hints its name. The cut resembles a square cut with rounded corners. Cushion cut diamonds have been in style for over 200 years, making this cut a timeless classic.
Emerald Cut: Emerald cut diamonds are highly prized for the interplay of light within the diamond. The only downside of this cut is that it shows flaws better than any other cut. If you are going to go with an emerald cut diamond, make sure that it is possible to cover the inclusions with the setting or that the stone is near perfect.
Asscher Cut: This cut has originated in Holland. The cut is very similar to the emerald cut but with a smaller table (the face of the diamond) and larger step cuts (sides).
Radiant Cut: Rectangular in shape this cut shares some attributes of round and oval cuts making it just as bright and yet modern, unusual, and unexpected.
Heart Shape: This cut screams love and affection. One of the most popular cuts in pendants and engagement rings this cut is as brilliant as round or oval cut. However, diamonds of this shape need to be over .50 carats in size, otherwise the shape can get lost in the setting.
Clarity refers to imperfections in the stone. “Inclusions” are imperfections located inside the stone and “blemishes” are located on the surface. The term “clarity” refers to how apparent these imperfections are. In some cases, inclusions and blemishes determine the shape of the diamond. Most diamonds are cut in such a way that obstructs inclusions making them invisible to the naked eye.
The word “carat” refers to the weight of the diamond (0.2 grams equals 1 carat). Often times, diamonds with exactly the same carat weight will be differently priced. Why? Because the pricing is also dependent on the cut, color, and clarity of the diamond.
We hope that with this helpful guide in mind you will be able to choose the perfect present for your special someone with the least amount of stress.
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