Choosing a Ring
Although it is not a necessity to have a diamond engagement ring, it is a tradition widely upheld to symbolize a promise to marry. Before carrying on this tradition, there are some important facts you should learn about diamonds to be best informed before you shop.

The 4Cs of Diamonds
The value of every diamond is determined by four characteristics: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. CUT refers to the proportions of the stone. The "cuts" you see on diamonds are called facets, and it is their job to reflect light through the top of the stone for best brilliance. If a diamond is cut poorly, it will lose this "light" or brilliance through the side or bottom--which decreases value. COLOR tells you the color of the diamond and is graded on a letter scale from D, colorless, to Z. D color diamonds are rare and expensive, however, the most rare and expensive of all diamonds are red, and there are only 10 known red diamonds in the world. CLARITY refers to inclusions or imperfections of a stone. In diamonds, inclusions may be dark clouds or specs of carbon formed naturally. Clarity may also affected by a poor cut. The scale for clarity ranges from F, flawless, to I, included. CARAT WEIGHT refers to the diamonds weight and goes from .01 to 2.00 carats or more.

The 5th C
Once you have educated yourself on diamond properties, you will want to consider COST. When buying an engagement ring, it’s better to focus more on buying an eye-appealing stone rather than size. However, an SI1 diamond will allow you a bigger stone, without visible inclusions, for less money.

Get a Grading Report
To protect yourself from being ripped-off, make sure your new diamond is certified and comes with a grading report. The report should include a plot or diagram of your diamond and all its characteristics and imperfections, but will not tell you its monetary value. Diamond grading reports may be provided by American Gemological Society (AGS), European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), International Gemological Institute (IGI), and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Other Stones
Diamonds are not the only alternative to engagement rings. Emerald, ruby and sapphire stones--and even semiprecious jewels like jade and amethyst--are popularly used in engagement and wedding rings. In precious and semiprecious jewels, value is determined by depth of color. Many engagement rings have a combination of diamonds and other gems making them beautiful choices.
Shapes Colors Clarity Scale
(10x Magnification)
Grade Scale
(10x Magnification)
Round, Marquise,
Emerald, Princess,
Pear, Oval, Heart,
Trillion, and Baguette
white, yellow, brown,
green, blue, red, black
F - flawless
IF - internally flawless
VVS1/ VVS2 - very, very slight inclusions
VS1/ VS2 - very slight inclusions
SI1 - slight inclusions
SI2 - slight inclusions, possibly eye visible
I1 - included, eye visible in good light
I2 - more included, eye visible
I3 - very included, very eye visible
D-F colorless
G-J near colorless
K-M faint yellow
N-R very light yellow
S-Z light yellow
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