Thursday, 4 April 2013

Diamond rings decoded.

As a newly engaged BTB myself, i have had to troll the WWW in order to educate myself on the various diamond rings pre-requisites and it's "i'm a woman therefore i need to know this stigma". So first things first, i googled "diamonds ring decoded". YES. This is not a laughing matter. I honestly did not know what to type in the search engine (could be because i was also experiencing a writer's block moment). However after trolling most sites, pinning and oooh aaahing over my desired engagement band, i can honestly say i am over it and i need to spill my brains out with all the information that i am holding. 

I've actually had the pleasure to customise my own engagement band at a private jeweller because apparently a cushion cut diamond is a rare piece so these points that i will be giving comes directly from the jewellery maker himself and also a few other tips i picked up along the way. Also, another thing that i realised is, never settle for a ring that you feel you can make do with. Research on your desired ring, visit as many jewellers as you can and make an informed choice.

Just like what i did, i could not find any retailer (conveniently they are all located at wisma atria called the jewellery street) that has the diamond shape i want and at the right carat and price but i never gave up. I eventually found the perfect one i was looking and at such a reasonable price at it too. 

So here are your diamond rings decoded. THE 4 C's

1. Cut

First, don't confuse diamond "cut" with "shape." Shape refers to the general outward appearance of the diamond, (such as round, emerald, or pear). When a diamond jeweler (or a diamond certificate) says "cut," that's a reference to the diamond's reflective qualities, not the shape (or at least it should be, i have found that even some "jewelers" don't appear to know the difference between "cut" and "shape").

Diamond cut is perhaps the most important of the four Cs, so it is important to understand how this quality affects the properties and values of a diamond. A good cut gives a diamond its brilliance, which is that brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. The angles and finish of any diamond are what determine its ability to handle light, which leads to brilliance.

Because cut is so important, several grading methods have been developed to help consumers determine the cut of a particular diamond. In general, these grades are:

  • Ideal
  • Premium
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair & Poor
[Note: A good example of of an ideal/premier cut diamonds can be found in Tiffany and Co. Singapore located at Takashimaya. Although so sparkly and so cryingly beautiful, it also comes with a hefty price tag that i wanna ball my eyes out. $20,000 for a 0.35 carat only. How not to cry? After gathering myself up, i marched out of the boutique determined more then ever not to be bullied over the insane diamond prices at these ATAS boutique.]

2. Carat
A carat is a unit of measurement, it's the unit used to weigh a diamond. The process that forms a diamond happens only in very rare circumstances, and typically the natural materials required are found only in small amounts. For that reason, the price of a diamond rises exponentionaly to its size. 

What size diamond should you buy? First, determine your budget. One general rule of thumb when buying a diamond engagement ring is "two months salary." This is just a guideline, it's not carved in stone and your first consideration should be what you can comfortably afford not what the diamond industry or a jeweler tells you.

Deciding on carat size is really about striking a balance between size and quality. If she prefers larger jewelry items, and you are working within a budget, you can still find a larger diamond of excellent quality gem by selecting one which is graded slightly lower in terms of color and clarity.Remember that slender fingers make small diamonds look bigger. Think about what sort of setting will hold the diamond. You'll have to be sure that the setting you choose is made to fit the carat weight of your diamond.

[Note: Choosing the right diamond setting is probably the 2nd most important part of the decision making. Well at least to me. It decidedly makes or breaks the beauty of your diamond. Therefore choose the setting you want and ask around if they have something similar in the shop that you can model before deciding on your choice. Best if you could print out the exact ring that you are looking instead of describing them. Some sales people are noobs and they need examples to know what you are actually talking about. In fact, not many knew what i was talking about when i tried to explain that i am looking for a cushion cut diamond with halo and half pave settings. I managed to find a jewellery that carried loose diamonds and thanked my lucky stars that 2 cushion cut diamonds were part of them] 

3. Colour
When jewelers speak of a diamond's color, they are usually referring to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. Color is a result of the composition of the diamond, and it never changes over time.

Because a colorless diamond, like a clear window, allows more light to pass through it than a colored diamond, colorless diamonds emit more sparkle and fire. The formation process of a diamond ensures that only a few, rare diamonds are truly colorless. Thus the whiter a diamond's color, the greater its value.

To grade 'whiteness' or colorlessness, most jewelers refer to GIA's professional color scale that begins with the highest rating of D for colorless, and travels down the alphabet to grade stones with traces of very faint or light yellowish or brownish color. The color scale continues all the way to Z.

diamond color

And while a very, very faint hint of yellow will be apparent in diamonds graded J through M, this color can often be minimized by carefully selecting the right jewelry in which to mount your diamond. Keep in mind that, while most people strive to buy the most colorless diamond they can afford, there are many people who actually prefer the warmer glow of lower-color diamonds.

[NOTE: Fancy color diamonds do not follow this rule. These diamonds, which are very rare and very expensive, can be any color from blue to green to bright yellow. They are actually more valuable for their color.Picture Duchess Catherine engagement ring. A mix of vintage and class mixed in one. Coincidentally the jeweller i went too had a ring made similar to the duchess's so i was able to feel a little "Princess-sy" for a minute or two. I was pretty sure i walked around the boutique and did a few curtseys much to the amusement of the sales people there. And No. I have No SHAME as i  was already their paying customer. I only did all that after purchasing my band lah. During my selection phase, i actually decided on either grade E or F although now I cant remember for the life of me and the receipt is being kept by the other half.]

4. Clarity
When we speak of a diamond's clarity, we are referring to the presence of identifying characteristics on (blemishes) and within (inclusions) the stone. I actually did not managed to find out much about blemishes therefore for the purposes of grading diamonds, all flaws are called "inclusions."

Inclusions include flaws such as air bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found in the diamond. Blemishes include scratches, pits, and chips. Some blemishes occur during the cutting processes (most often at the girdle). Diamonds with no or few inclusions and blemishes are more highly valued than those with less clarity because they are rarer.How are diamonds graded? Grades range from Flawless (diamonds which are completely free of blemishes and inclusions), to Included 3 (diamonds which possess large, heavy blemishes and inclusions that are visible to the naked eye).

  • F
  • Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
  • IF
  • Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
  • VVS1-VVS2
  • Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.
  • VS1-VS2
  • Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
  • SI1-SI2
  • Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification.
While the presence of these clarity characteristics (inclusions and blemishes) do lower the clarity grade of a diamond, they can also be viewed as proof of a diamond's identity. GIA certificates include what is known as a "plot" of a diamond's inclusions. Think of it as a "diamond fingerprint." Since no two diamonds are exactly the same, comparing the uniqueness of your diamond's clarity characteristics with the plot provided on the diamond certificate offers assurance that the diamond you pay for is the same diamond you receive.

[Note: Clarity was decidedly not too important during my selection process. It really depends on your choice and your budget at the end of the day. While i amusely insist and convinced myself that no one ever walks around with a telescope to check for your ring's clarity and shame you in public for it, i say whatever floats your boat. Understand what is your most important C's and work from there onwards. I eventually settled my choice for VVS2. This is also because the price tag was slightly cheaper then the VVS1. I mean, no one can tell the difference anyway right. My diamond did not come with a certificate because according to the jeweller and also to my knowledge, to have my diamond certified for it's specifics at GIA will cost me at last a minimum of 6k onwards. So both of us actually made the decision to not have them certified and instead with the guidance of the jeweller, we both made sure that the diamond i selected were legit and properly document, ie. carat weighting machine, clarity and cut checked properly as well as colour.]

In conclusion, buying a diamond engagement ring is part of a much larg
er decision that goes far beyond jewelry, tradition, or money. The very fact that you're even considering such a commitment indicates that you've already made quite a journey.Establish your budget. Spend some time exploring your diamond ring options. This time is for looking, seeing what's out there. Setting YOUR standards. Once familiar with the options, establish your budget based on your income, what you feel comfortable spending, and the type and grade of diamond you wish to purchase.

After all the afternoon heat, slippery soles on rainy weathers and battling whether we were being sales sluts, the end product was a very fulfilling one. I managed to convinced myself to go through the customised route and boy was that such an exciting one. Much to my dismay however, majority of the retailers in Singapore do not carry a variety of diamond shapes. Most of them try to sell you into buying their readily available solitaires and princess cuts diamonds. Diamond shapes such as cushion cuts, pear, oval and even emerald are so hard to come buy and even those that are available are above 1 carats and comes with a hefty price tag from 5 digits onwards. For those who are well informed, once diamonds are in the 1carat range, the price jump are unbelievably massive. 

Good luck in finding your perfect diamond ring. Send this post to your partner with the caption " Nah, i have thus concluded my research. Now it's your turn. My hint cannot be more anymore obvious (in Chandler from "friends sitcom" voice) 


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    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your compliments. Oh my. What a pleasure to know. We have many more posts coming up. Be sure to drop by from time to time. Cheers!