REAL BRIDE REVIEW: MY OWN DIAMOND SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
As a bridal editor, my ring is actually now the most photographed in Charlotte! So I figured I would share our personal experience with ring shopping along with details about the process… Surprise – it wasn’t intimidating at all! My best advice? You’ll just know it when you see it. The perfect stone somehow feels right, and also it’s within your price range.
After falling in love with a pre-set ring featuring a pear shaped diamond while browsing the cases, we were completely dismayed to learn it had been sold upon checking back. Side note: Best wishes and congrats to the lucky gal who’s wearing it today! By then, we knew I just had to have the perfect pear. Today, my ring is my most popular pin on Pinterest, garnering 10.5k repins. BUT two years ago, very few jewelers in town even had any pear shaped diamonds – save for Diamonds Direct.
Once we set an appointment to compare loose diamonds in person, all of my preconceived notions (from days spent dreaming on diamond forums) about what the ideal stone would look like on paper were thrown out the window. We found that we wanted to go much higher in color. We also went much lower in clarity – knowing that the one “flaw” the diamond had wouldn’t be apparent once set. In fact, it was barely noticeable unless I viewed a diagram and looked at the stone at an awkward angle under magnification.
My husband and I are glad that we stopped by the store, because it turns out that I’m incredibly sensitive to color variations. Also, with the “fancy” shapes – which are becoming more popular – there are so many variables. You may prefer a fatter or skinnier ratio of length-to-width on pear, radiant, marquise, etc. Plus, each stone’s unique proportions will reflect light differently and appear bigger or smaller for its carat weight!
After looking at several stones, we chose a pear with the following specs: D color, SI2 clarity, 1.93 carats (read on to find out what all of that means!). Even the weight helped a bit, as the pricing for just under two even carats created an incredible value. From there, it was financed and sent to be set in a custom halo… And the final set ring – which I did not see beforehand – was then presented on bended knee!
The slideshow below features my own wedding and engagement rings at various photoshoots with Casey Hendrickson:
MORE REAL BRIDES’ RINGS
Want to know what other local brides have picked? The gallery below contains nearly two dozen Diamonds Direct purchases made by Casey’s real brides and grooms over the past two years.
Check out the following “ring shots” – ONLY from real weddings and engagement shoots – by photographer Casey Hendrickson:
.NOW, HOW TO DIAMOND SHOP…
If you are planning on getting hitched soon, then you, too, are likely in the market for the perfect diamond ring. However, it can be tough to understand where to begin your search, especially since the differences between diamonds may seem almost invisible to the naked eye (yet super obvious when it comes to the price tag). To help familiarize you with what each of these traits mean, here are some of the key facts that you need to know about the 4 C’s of diamond shopping.
Psst… The photo below features all of our favorite engagement and wedding ring trends during our stop in to Diamonds Direct SouthPark:
The first and simplest category is carat, which really just means the mass of the diamond. The higher the number of carats, the heavier in weight the diamond is (and the bigger it will often appear). As you might expect, heavier diamonds tend to be more valuable than lighter diamonds, assuming that everything else is equal.
To be more specific, 1 carat is actually equal to 200 milligrams, meaning that it would take an entire 5 carat diamond to weigh a single gram. For reference, an M&M weighs just under a gram. Due to the high precision that is needed in the field of diamonds, you’ll often see carat measurements that measure in hundredths of carats as well, which are usually referred to as ‘points’. This results in a naming convention where a diamond that weighs half a carat or 0.50 ct. would often be referred to as weighing 50 points. Pro Tip: Going slightly under a round number, for example, 0.97 ct. vs 1.00 ct., can sometimes give you more bang for your buck!
Also, consider the shape of the diamond and how the weight is dispersed. Some elongated shapes (pears or ovals, for example) are slightly shallower and tend to appear or “face up” larger (by covering more of the finger) for their weight in carats.
After carat, the easiest C to understand is color, which refers to the color (or lack thereof) of a given diamond. The color of a diamond is ranked on a scale from D through Z, with the D end of the spectrum being almost absolutely colorless, while the Z end of the spectrum has colors that can easily be spotted with the naked eye.
The less color that there is, the more valuable a diamond becomes. BUT for the highest classifications (D, E, and F), you probably won’t be able to see any difference in color at all. to notice an actual difference in color until you get all the way down to J, K, L, or M.
While buyers may or may not be able to actually see a difference in color between a D and a F diamond, you will notice a price difference. Color is a great place to play with your budget, going up and down the color scale can drastically change the price of a diamond – some colors are noticeably different, some less so.
Additionally, there are diamonds that possess fancy colors. These diamonds naturally possess hues of brown, yellow, green, pink and even blue. In the case of colored diamonds, the more intense the color, the more valuable the stone becomes.
Clarity is a little tougher to understand and see, but it refers to imperfections both on the inside and the outside of the diamond. Sometimes, the imperfections aren’t even visible to the naked eye – let alone the average viewing distance – yet will significantly affect the price tag. The key here is comparing diamonds side by side with the naked eye and determine which diamond has the most sparkle and brilliance from the face up perspective, as it will be seen in a ring.
When on the inside, these imperfections are called inclusions, while those on the outside are called blemishes. In order to give a diamond a clarity rating, a professional will need to count the number of inclusions and blemishes, look at the severity and location of each individual imperfection, and evaluate how all of the different imperfections work together to influence the appearance of the diamond.
The best clarity rating is flawless, while the other side of the spectrum depicts those that are included. Between them, your diamond can be anything from internally flawless to slightly included. And like color, the consumer can use clarity to their shopping advantage. Diamonds are like snowflakes and no two are alike, no matter the clarity grade.
For the final and most difficult metric, you have cut, which ultimately refers to how a diamond shines in the light. More specifically, the cut of a diamond includes its symmetry, as well as its shape on a microscopic level and affects how much a diamond sparkles. This can be incredibly hard to quantify for someone who isn’t an expert, but the simple idea is that the better a diamond’s cut rating is, the more brilliant that it will look in the light and the more “fire” it will refract. The photos below feature different cut proportions.
THE PERFECT DIAMOND IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
The most challenging part of the process is choosing the one best diamond that strikes the right balance between the four C’s and fits within your budget. Depending on you or your partner’s desires, one or two of the C’s may be much more important than others, which means that you may need to make sacrifices in some areas to get the very best in others.
For example, getting a higher cut rating may mean that your diamond will shine brilliantly, which could potentially make up for cutting corners in the other C’s. In some cases, a big rock may be most appealing, which means that getting a higher carat weight could be your top priority.
Do keep in mind that going lower on one scale or another may ultimately go unnoticed in that particular stone (like a tiny offset imperfection in clarity or a slight downgrade in color). Your best bet is to view multiple diamonds with a gemologist while considering that there’s not necessarily one perfect combination of traits on paper, but there are countless beautiful stones in person.
At the end of the day, what really matters is that you find a diamond that you and your partner will love and cherish for many years.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Casey Hendrickson Photography – Casey Hendrickson | www.caseyhphotos.com | @caseyhphotos
RING STYLIST, CONSULTANT: Jessie Gardner – Diamonds Direct SouthPark | www.diamondsdirect.com/charlotte | @diamondsdirect
TECHNICAL, EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT: Kelsey Halford – Diamonds Direct | www.diamondsdirect.com/charlotte | @diamondsdirect
GRAPHICS: Lena Lumelsky – Diamonds Direct | www.diamondsdirect.com | @diamondsdirect
MACRO IMAGES: Gemological Institute of America | www.4cs.gia.edu