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Picking the Right Diamond and Ring Setting October 11, 2007

Posted by Jill Renee in : Buying Diamonds, Buying Engagement Rings, Buying Jewelry, Diamond Jewelry, Diamonds, Engagement Rings, Jewelry, Palladium Jewelry, Proposing Marriage , trackback

Deciding to propose to the special somebody in your life is a huge decision, one that will lead you down a path of even more decisions. Of course, the first thing that needs to be decided after you’ve decided to propose is what type of engagement ring to get. Between diamonds and settings there are so many choices that it can be overwhelming. Hopefully this can be cleared up.

The Diamond

While you’re probably more than familiar with the 4 C’s of diamonds, there are other things to consider when choosing a diamond, chief amongst them, the shape. Here we’ll focus on the shape and two of the C’s; cut and carat. Clarity and color can be saved for another day.

The Shape
With so many shapes out there it can be confusing as to the actual differences, so let’s simply talk about each of them and their individual merits.

Round” the most basic of diamonds, and the only shape not considered “fancy,” this shape is very much how it sounds – a rounded diamond in the shape of a circle.

Princess ShapePrincess” arguably the most popular shape, this squared diamond has only grown in popularity while still being a relatively new shape. The princess diamond tends to find its way into solitaire engagement rings more than any of the other shapes.

Emerald ShapeEmerald” a rectangular shaped diamond, this shape is reflective of a classic and aristocratic elegance. Unlike other diamonds, the emerald shaped diamond is not a brilliant cut but rather a step cut, being comprised of larger, planar facets that resemble stair steps and act like mirrors.

Marquise ShapeMarquise” long and slender, this shape, originally commissioned by Louis XIV of France, is wonderful for maximizing the carat within the setting. The marquise shape will accentuate the length of the fingers and works well on a person with longer fingers.

Oval ShapeOval” as the name implies, this diamond shape is a very simple oval. This shape works very well with smaller hands and shorter fingers, giving them the illusion of added length.

Pear Shape• Pear – a hybrid shape combining the best elements of the oval and marquise shapes, it resembles nothing so much as a teardrop. Typically used in pendants and earrings, this shape compliments short to average length fingers, helping to give the illusion of longer fingers much like the oval shaped diamond does.

Heart Shape• Heart – essentially a pear shaped diamond with a cleft at the top, the heart shaped diamond is the ultimate symbol of romance. This shaped diamond is frequently seen in pendants but is more than acceptable as a choice in a ring.

Radiant Shape• Radiant – this square or rectangular shaped diamond does an excellent job of combining the elegant and classic appeal of the emerald shape with the brilliance of the round shape.

Trillion Shape• Trillion – a wedge of brilliant fire, the trillion shaped diamond was first developed in Amsterdam. Traditionally a triangle shaped diamond, the amount of point at the corners is often open for interpretation, but these diamonds work well as both a compliment to a center stone, a unique center stone in themselves, or as a pair of earrings.

Baguette Shape• Baguette – very reminiscent of the emerald shaped diamond, this shape of diamond is frequently used as side stones to a larger center stone. Much like the emerald shaped diamond, the baguette shape doesn’t feature nearly the sparkle of brilliant shaped diamonds, but does offer a classic beauty that is hard to match.

The shape is only the first part of what to look for, at least initially, when considering a diamond for an engagement ring.

The Carat
Carats are essentially a way to measure the weight of diamonds. While the use of the carat measuring system may date back to ancient Oriental bazaars and the carob seed, in the present we know that the more carats in the diamond, the bigger it is.
While the size of the diamond that you get can be determinate on a number of factors, not the least of which is cost, the Setting and Mounting that you choose can also have an influence on the size of the diamond that you get for your ring.

The Cut
Of the 4 C’s of a diamond, the cut is the only part that is actually influenced by humans, nature getting to decide on the carat, clarity, and color of an individual diamond. Cut refers to the angles and proportions a jeweler creates when taking a rough diamond and transforming it into a beautiful, polished diamond. The cut of the diamond should not be confused with the shape of the diamond. A well cut diamond will reflect light from one mirrored facet to another internally, finally dispersing and reflecting the light through the top of the stone, giving it that sparkle that diamonds are beloved for.
There are a few ways that diamonds are graded for their cut, all of which are influenced by the diameter, table, crown, girdle, pavilion, cutlet, and depth of the stone, and those include:

• Ideal – this is the best cut available and represents the top 15% of all diamond cuts. The ideal cut carries with it the highest possible grades of symmetry and polish and should be sought after when looking for the best available diamonds.

• Very Good – diamonds graded at very good are still nothing short of amazing, but they do tend to trade in some of the brilliance seen in an ideal diamond cut for added size. While a more cost-effective option, they may tend to move outside the appearance range for some buyers. Very good diamonds represent the top 25% of diamond cuts.

• Good Cut – representing the top 35% of diamond cuts, good cut diamonds are still quality cuts, but they will show a significant lack of brilliance when compared to very good and ideal cut diamonds, however, they are significantly more cost-effective than either very good or ideal cut diamonds, making them more accessible.

• Fair & Poor – these cuts of diamond simply fail to reflect a sufficient amount of the light that enters them. Usually found in discount or promotional jewelry, it is nearly impossible to find these diamond cuts at any quality seller of diamonds and engagement rings.

The Setting
As important as the diamond is, the Setting may be just as important. You can have a great diamond, but put that diamond into the wrong Setting and it can lose a lot of its luster and appeal. While there aren’t nearly as many Setting types as there are shapes and cuts of diamonds, there are enough that when combined with the diamond cuts and shapes you have enough combinations to make choosing tricky.

The Setting

Prong Setting• Prong – arguably the most common setting, the prong setting is commonly known as the Tiffany setting. Small metal prongs, typically 4 or 6, are used to clasp over the diamond and keep it in place within the setting while giving an optimal view of the diamond at all angles. When choosing this setting it’s wise to consider which metal you’ll be choosing as you may want something stronger than gold, such as Palladium or Platinum, to ensure that your diamond doesn’t come out of the setting.

Channel Setting• Channel – in this setting the stones are placed between vertical walls of metal, side by side, with no metal separating the diamonds from each other. With the diamonds sunk into the ring itself they are nearly flush with the surface of the ring. This setting is considered both very contemporary and very classic and allows one to achieve a number of looks. This setting is very popular in wedding rings and anniversary bands.

Basket Setting• Basket – similar to the prong setting, but instead of just the prongs holding the diamond in place there is an additional band of metal that secures the prongs to help reduce any movement of the prongs and ensure the security of the diamond within the setting.

Bar Setting• Bar – with the bar setting, diamonds are placed between bars of metal that run perpendicular to the band of the engagement ring. This setting is a very contemporary look that allows for excellent display of the diamonds.

Pave Setting• Pave – with the pave setting many small gemstones are placed inside of tapered holes to create a “paved” appearance. The diamonds are typically set in white gold to help create a sparkle finish that will bring the stones to prominence.

Bezel Setting• Bezel – this setting involves placing the diamond in a mount that comes up and envelopes the diamond. Without any prongs, this mount is great for those that lead an active lifestyle, don’t want to worry about scratching themselves or others, or for those whose job requires that they wear latex gloves on a regular basis. Bezel settings can have straight edges, scalloped edges, or can be molded to any shape to accommodate varying stones.

Half-Bezel Setting• Half-Bezel – similar in design to the bezel setting. The half-bezel setting does not completely surround the diamond, allowing additional light to reach the stone and create a higher degree of brilliance.

Tension Setting• Tension – This type of setting uses the ring itself as the entire mounting, eschewing the use of prongs. Typically employing stronger metals and a thicker band to help maintain the tension on the stone, this setting does an excellent job of highlighting the diamond by giving it the appearance of floating within the ring.

As you can see, there are more than enough options to make choosing that perfect diamond engagement ring tricky, so now that you’re aware of the options here’s some advice on getting the ring that she’ll love and cherish for as long as you’re together.

• Talk to Her – find out what it is she wants from a ring. Does she want a solitaire ring or has she had her heart set on a three stone diamond ring since she was a little girl? Is it princess shape or no shape, or will she be happy with anything as long as it comes from you? Is there a particular metal that she would prefer for the actual band of the ring?

• Be Aware of Your Budget – sure, tradition says you’re supposed to spend two months salary on the ring, but depending on what your salary is that could mean you’re also not eating for a couple of weeks. Be realistic with yourself when you start shopping for a ring, get her what she wants, but also make sure that you won’t have to take out a second mortgage just to buy the ring she’s wanted since she was 12 years old.

• Show Her What You’re Looking At – if you’re ready to propose the odds are pretty good that she’s ready for you to propose. If the proposal is no secret then have her help you pick out the ring, or propose with a small, inexpensive ring and then take her with you to pick out her real engagement ring. That way you can be sure that she gets what she wants.

• Talk to an Expert – You might be surprised that the person behind the counter at the store or checking email online is actually an expert. If you’re not sure just know that it’s better to ask questions then to get it wrong. Tell those experts about how your better half lives, what they’ve mentioned they’d want in a ring, what they do for a living. All those things can give the person you’re talking to a better idea of what kind of diamond engagement ring would work best for the most important person in your life.

Picking out an engagement ring can be intimidating. Between the diamonds and the settings there are more options than is really reasonable to look at. Knowing what your better half wants can help narrow down that list and ensure that you get the ring that will have her saying yes over and over again.

About the Author
Jill Renee is the president of Danforth Diamond, an online jewelry store offering diamonds, diamond engagement rings, and other jewelry in gold, white gold, palladium, and platinum. View Danforth Diamond’s selection of engagement rings at: http://www.danforthdiamond.com/engagement_rings/index.html .


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