I’m away on holidays this week, but I’ve asked Donal from 14Parnell to share some of his  tips on buying an engagement or a wedding ring with you. Donal also has a great university section on his website with even more information and tips worth checking out too. Enjoy!

castle adare wedding photography

When buying a diamond (engagement or wedding ring) it is extremely important that you first do some research so that you at least have some idea of what you are buying when it comes to picking out that special ring. The most important things to know about diamonds are the 4C’s. The 4C’s are the four characteristics of a diamond that will affect the price of that diamond and they are…

  • Carat Weight
  • Cut
  • Colour
  • Clarity

Each one of these characteristics is carefully measured and as a general rule, the higher or better each one is, the higher the price of that diamond will be. In this article we’ll be taking a look at the 4C’s, getting to know them and also what to look out for when it comes time to purchase a diamond of your own.

Carat is the term used to describe the weight of the diamond. It is often confused with the size of a diamond but be aware that it is a measure of weight only. Each carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams with each carat being further divided up into 100 points of 2 milligrams each. The weight of smaller diamonds under a carat is always expressed in terms of these points, e.g. a half carat diamond would be called a 50 point diamond or a 50 pointer.
wedding and engagement ring carat
Buying Tips
Try to look for diamond that is just below some of the more popular carat weights as these are usually sold at a discount but will be visually indistinguishable from the larger size.

For example: a 90 point diamond will cost less than a carat but visually will appear the same as a 1 carat diamond.

Cut refers not to a diamonds shape but to its proportions, symmetry and polish and is a measure of its light performance or what we think of as sparkle. If the cut is too shallow, light will leak out of the bottom of the stone, too deep and light is refracted out the sides. When the diamond is cut with proper proportions, light is reflected out of the top (crown) of the diamond and into the eye of the observer.
wedding and engagement ring cut

Buying Tips
Look for diamonds with a cut grade from the GIA and select the highest cut grade that your budget will allow. Diamonds with a cut grade of “Good” or “Very Good” are an excellent combination of beauty and value, be sure to avoid diamonds with a cut grading of “Poor”.
When talking about diamonds the term ‘colour’ actually refers to a stones lack of colour and grades the whiteness of that diamond. The whiter the diamond the less colour it has and the better/higher the colour grade will be.
A diamonds colour is graded using a letter scale from D to Z with D being the highest/best possible grade and Z being the lowest/worst
wedding and engagement ring colour

D: Absolutely Colourless – The highest colour grade, Extremely Rare
E – F: Colourless – Minute traces of colour can be detected by an expert gemmologist.  A rare diamond.
G – H: Near colourless – Colour difficult to detect unless compared side by side against diamonds of better grades. Excellent value.
I – J: Near colourless – Slightly detectable warmth or tone, still good value
K – Z: Noticeable colour – Stones with these colour grades will have noticeable colour which will be visible to the naked eye. Not generally desirable.
Fancy: These are diamonds with an intense yellow or brown colour – these are graded separately on their own scale

Buying Tips
For an excellent value diamond with little or no colour visible to the naked eye look for a diamond  with a near colourless grade of G – I. However, if you are a purist and want colourless diamonds go for grades of D,E & F but bear in mind that this will push up the price significantly.  The visible difference between diamonds of one colour grade and the next, for example G to H or I to J, is so minor it is difficult to detect with the unaided eye. The cost savings however can be significant.  As the diamond size increases the colour becomes more noticeable. This is especially important to keep in mind when buying larger sized diamonds of 2 carats or more.  Diamond shapes that reflect more light (i.e. have more sparkle) such as round or princess cut can mask some colour in a diamond.

Most diamonds have some imperfections known as inclusions or blemishes. Clarity is the measure of the number and size of imperfections (both internal and external) that occur in all but the very rarest and finest of diamonds. Diamonds containing numerous or significant inclusions or blemishes have less brilliance because the flaws interfere with the path of light through the diamond, therefore the more inclusions a diamond has the less expensive it will be.

Diamonds are graded for clarity using the 11 point diamond clarity scale developed by the Gemmological Institute of America.

FL – Flawless: No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope. Extremely rare, very expensive.
IF – Internally Flawless: No inclusions only blemishes are visible to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope. FL & IF diamonds appear identical unless viewed by a gemmologist under a 10x microscope.
VVS1/VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are present but are difficult for a gemmologist to see using a 10x microscope. Inclusions are invisible to the naked eye but will be visible to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope.
VS1/VS2 – Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible to a gemmologist under a 10x microscope but are minor. Inclusions are still invisible to the naked eye but will be readily visible to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope.
SI1/SI2 – Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope. Often invisible to the naked eye but some (especially SI2) will be visible.
I1/I2/I3 – Included: Inclusions are obvious to a gemmologist using a 10x microscope. Inclusions are almost always visible to the naked eye and are often pronounced. Not typically carried by most diamond dealers.

Buying Tips
If you are a perfectionist and don’t want an imperfections in your diamonds, even ones you cannot see then choose diamonds with a clarity grade of VVS2 or better. Bear in mind that these are the rarest of an already rare material so be prepared to pay high prices. A good compromise in terms of clarity grade and value is the VS1/VS2 range which appear flawless to the naked eye.  Remember, the larger the diamond is the easier imperfections are to detect .For diamonds over 2cts, a clarity grade of VS2 or higher is best for avoiding any inclusions visible to the naked eye. For diamonds between 1 and 2 carats, clarity grades of SI1 or better will not have inclusions readily visible to the naked eye. For diamonds under 1ct, clarity should be considered the least important of the 4C’s.

As you’re no doubt aware by now, knowing and understanding the 4C’s are extremely important when it comes to being an informed shopper for a diamond wedding or engagement ring. As we’ve seen diamonds are not an easy subject to get your head around and there are a lot of complicated factors that affect the price of one but with a little research and by asking the right questions you can be sure of what you’re purchasing when the time comes.

If you would like to speak to Donal about designing a ring you can give him a call on 085 7225600 or email him here.

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