Friday, October 4, 2013

Getting Diamond Engagement Rings for Less

Engagement rings are often considered to be important investments. Diamonds represent eternal love with their everlasting brilliance and beauty. If you are buying a loose diamond for a custom mounted ring, be a savvy shopper to get the most bling for your buck. You should learn the language of the jewelry trade and understand how diamonds are graded. Do your homework beforehand, and you may be able to negotiate a better deal when purchasing your ring. After determining the grade of stone you want, call several jewelers for quotes or visit websites like to speak with a professional. 
The GIA and the 4 C’s of Grading Diamonds
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the oldest and most respected independent gemstone laboratory in the world.  Established in 1931, the GIA educates future jewelers, as well as the public, on how to identify and purchase high-quality diamonds.  GIA labs also grade and certify diamonds for a nominal fee.  Reputable jewelers know about GIA grading and will sell GIA-certified diamonds.  To ensure the quality of your gemstone, always ask to see the original GIA certificate before purchasing.      
Understanding the GIA grading criteria will allow you to make an informed buying decision.  Often, a slightly flawed stone will look just as dazzling and brilliant as a highly graded stone, but will cost considerably less.  The grading criteria used by the GIA are commonly referred to as the “4 C’s” for cut, clarity, color, and carat.  Here’s how to get the most for your money by using the 4 C’s :

1. Cut:  Represents the proportions of a stone, its reflective qualities, and the depth.  The cut greatly determines the amount of sparkle your stone will have.  You may have a stone with excellent color and clarity, but if the cut is poor, it may appear dull.  The GIA grades for cut are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.  For a superior dazzle, make sure the cut is Very Good or Excellent if you are buying a round shape and Good or better for fancy shapes like marquise, pear, princess, etc.     
2.Clarity: Indicates the internal and external flaws a stone has.  GIA grades are FL (flawless), IF (internally flawless), VVS1-2 (very, very slightly included), VS1-2 (very slightly included), SI1-2 (slightly included), and I1-3 (Included).  If your stone is not more than 1 or 2 carats, you may save a substantial amount of money by choosing the lesser grade of VS1-2 or SI1.  To the untrained eye, these grades will still appear flawless. 

3.Color: Represents how colorless or white the stone is.  GIA grades run alphabetically from D-Z.  Diamonds graded D, E, F (colorless) are the rarest and most expensive stones.  To reduce cost without sacrificing appearance, consider grades of G-J for a nearly colorless stone.  The bigger the stone, the more obvious any color will be, so consider a higher grade of G-H in diamonds over 1 carat.  

4.Carat: Indicates the size of a stone by weight.  Remember that the cut and shape of a stone also affects how “big” a stone appears.  For example, a 1-carat marquise may look bigger than a 1-carat round diamond.  Also, cost per carat goes up as you hit whole carat weights (1, 2, or 3 carats, for example).  To save money, buy slightly below the whole carat weights.  For example, buy a .90-carat stone instead of a 1-carat stone. The difference in size will not be apparent to most people.        
The key thing to remember is to comparison shop and negotiate to get the best price. Enjoy the sparkle, knowing you didn’t have to break the bank to get it. 

Article courtesy of Shane Co.

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