Many young couples getting married quickly discover that one of their big expenses is the diamond engagement ring. Because the price of engagement rings can vary significantly, it’s important to understand the things which influence the overall cost. With this information, couples can shop with confidence and find the perfect ring for their budget.
Diamonds have a broad price range which are directly influenced by the quality and grade of stone. Each diamond is graded based on the 4 Cs. As the quality of the cut, clarity, color and carat weight increases, so will the price. It is important to be well versed in each of the 4 Cs since each stone is different and it can be difficult to make direct comparisons. Although buying loose diamonds may appear to be more cost-effective at first, be sure to take into consideration the cost of the setting and any jeweler fees.
Insider tip: The Diamond Trading Company (De Beers) maintains strict control over most of the diamonds in the world and prices are based on what they decide is suitable for the 4 Cs (cut, clarity, color and carat). Since the average shopper is unable to purchase loose stones directly from the DTC or diamond wholesalers, they must go the traditional route and shop at jewelry stores (either online or locally). As well, stores that indicate they are selling wholesale diamonds are not true wholesalers and may not offer any real price advantage.
How the 4 Cs Influence Diamond Engagement Rings
Because diamonds are graded on the 4 Cs, it is important to learn some tricks of the trade to get the best diamond for your money.
- Carat: The term “carat” refers to the weight of the stone (not the size). The heavier the stone, the higher the number of carats and therefore the higher the price. Insider tip: A 0.98 carat diamond will look virtually the same as a 1.0 carat diamond but the price difference is significant–by about 20%. For big savings, opt for a slightly lesser carat weight just under the one you have in mind.
- Color: All diamonds have variances in color, with the most expensive diamonds having the least amount of color. For the average person, it is very difficult to distinguish between one color grade to another–but the price difference can be significant. Remember this when shopping in order to avoid being unnecessarily upsold a color grade. Insider tips: 1. Opt for a diamond within the I-K color range which has a strong or medium blue fluorescence. This trick will enable your diamond to appear up to two color grades whiter. 2. Diamonds can be treated in a lab to appear whiter and at a great price.
- Clarity: Few diamonds are completely flawless, making them highly rare and valuable. However, for the average consumer, “eye flawless” diamonds are usually the best deal since small flaws or inclusions are not always noticeable to the naked eye. Insider tips: 1. Opt for an “eye flawless” diamond with inclusions on the sides which can be covered up by prongs. 2. Visit the fantastic virtual loupe magnification tool from James Allen to get an idea of what jewelers see vs. what the naked eye sees.
- Cut: The cut of a diamond refers to its overall proportions–the more ideal the proportions, the higher the price. Often times specialized cuts such as Asscher or Hearts of Fire will garner a higher price due to their exclusivity. Insider tips: A GIA (Gemological Institute of America) cut graded “Very Good” is an excellent option for most couples but upgrading to “Excellent” will make for an even more brilliant looking diamond. For AGS (American Gemological Society), an “Excellent” cut is a great option, while upgrading to an “Ideal” cut will provide noticeably more sparkle. Either way, either options are beautiful and it simply depends on the couple’s budget.
- On a budget? Opt for a classic solitaire. You can always add an intricate and beautiful eternity or anniversary band later. Note that pave, antique or tension set rings are stunning but more expensive.
- Metal: 14k white or yellow gold are the most popular options, with platinum being three to four times the cost for the same setting. Still interested in the look of platinum? Opt for the remarkably similar and affordable palladium. It’s hypo allergenic, lightweight, more durable and generally the same cost as 14k gold.
- Settings and Diamond Color: If a high-grade color is not in your budget, you can always brighten up a yellow tinted stone with a light-colored band (14k white gold, palladium, or platinum). Avoid yellow or rose gold as these colors can accentuate yellow undertones.
- Buy online or pre-owned. If you want the most bang for your buck, remember that there is nothing wrong with buying a pre-owned loose diamond or engagement ring. Remember that when buying a new engagement ring, the value drops nearly 50% once you walk out the door. Take advantage of that fact and look online for individuals selling gently used diamond engagement rings. A few of these websites include Bravo Bride and Ex Boyfriend Jewelry.