Thursday, 28 May 2009

Picking The Right Diamond… And Setting

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 – 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

• Emerald – 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 – 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

• Oval – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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

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

• 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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

• 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 – 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

• 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, engagement
rings, and other jewelry in gold, white gold, palladium and
platinum. View Danforth Diamond's selection of engagement rings
at: .