See The Difference
Diamond Quality Makes
Six keys to buying a diamond ring.
When you were a kid, your dad probably gave you
pointers on how to buy a car. Too bad he didn’t teach you how to
buy a diamond as well. An engagement ring can cost more than your
first car, so knowing your way around a jewelry store can save you
thousands of dollars. Here are six tips that will ensure you don’t
get stuck with a lemon:
Forget about the silly guideline that says you should spend
two-months’ salary on your fiancé's rock.
That so-called rule was a marketing ploy developed by the
diamond industry back in the 1940s to guilt guys into paying more
than they could afford. If it puts your mind at ease, retailers
say the average customer spends around $2,500 on a ring, which
gets you between a quarter and half carat, depending on grading.
Diamonds are graded on criteria known as the four Cs: carat,
cut, color and clarity.
Carat is the weight, cut is how well the diamond was shaped,
color is how clear it is and clarity indicates the number of
imperfections in the stone. Trouble is there are several grading
systems out there, so it’s hard to compare a diamond at one store
to another. “There’s a lot of abuse to this,” says Paul Lombardi,
Anyone operating below a millionaire’s
budget should devote most of his attention to two of the four Cs —
cut and color.
These are the two factors that have a direct impact on the
amount of sparkle a ring gives off, which is how most non-experts
judge a ring’s beauty. Buy a diamond with at least a “good” or
“very good” cut grade from the GIA. Color refers to how much of a
yellowish tinge is visible. Diamonds are graded from D to Z, with
D being the best because it’s colorless. But an E or F diamond
will do just fine, says Lombardi.
Save money by being choosy in the size of stone you buy.
Diamond prices spike at predetermined weights, such as a
quarter carat, half a carat and one carat. Diamonds that are
slightly smaller than those benchmarks are significantly cheaper.
For example, a ring that's 0.98 carats costs about $4,000 less
than its one-carat equivalent (which goes fro $16,000). The
difference in size isn't noticeable.
Stick with round diamonds.
They never go out of style and they sparkle and glitter more
than any other shape. A round diamond should have 58 facets,
because that gives off the most sparkle, Some jewelers claim
their rings are better because they have up to 144 facets;
don’t believe them.
Before you buy, take the ring out of the light.
Jewelry stores have bright lamps over their sales counters for
a reason. Even an average diamond will glitter like a priceless
gem in strong light. The correct way to judge a diamond is to look
at it under indirect light. “If it’s a good diamond,” says
Lombardi, “it will still have plenty of sparkle.”
Getting engaged is one of the happiest and most
exciting times in a couple's life.
Many men go to painstaking efforts to ensure the moment is
If you have an engagement story you think is interesting, funny or
we'd like to hear about it. We'll update this section regularly,
so come back to read new stories.
Generally speaking there are seven principle
diamond shapes for jewelry:
Round, Marquees, Emerald, Princess, Pear, Oval and Heart.
Many people are confused about
how diamonds are priced. The best explanation is that
asking for the price of a diamond is like asking for the price of
A real estate agent can't quote you a price for a house without
knowing its size,
condition, location, etc. This process is the same one used when
buying a diamond.
A diamond's beauty, rarity, and price depend on the interplay of
4Cs—cut, clarity, carat, and color.
The 4Cs are used throughout the
world to classify the rarity of diamonds.
Diamonds with the combination of the highest 4C ratings are more
consequently, more expensive. No one C is more important than
terms of beauty and it is important to note that each of the
4Cs will not diminish in value over time.
Once you have established those
4C characteristics that are most important to you,
a jeweler can then begin to show you various options with quoted
THE DIAMOND QUALITY PYRAMID
A Tool to Help Understand a Diamond's Value
The Diamond Quality Pyramid is a
framework to help you compare diamonds.
While all diamonds are precious, those closest to the top of the
the best combination of cut, clarity, carat weight and color—are
the earth's rarest and most valuable.
Refers to the weight of a diamond.
Carat is often confused with size
even though it is actually a measure of weight.
One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be
100 “points.” A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-points or
3/4 carat diamond.
A 1-carat diamond costs exactly
twice the price of a half-carat diamond, right?
Wrong. Since larger diamonds are found less frequently in nature,
which places them at the rarest level of the Diamond Quality
a 1-carat diamond will cost more than twice a 1/2-carat diamond
(assuming color, clarity and cut remain constant).
Refers to the presence of inclusions in a diamond.
Inclusions are natural
identifying characteristics such as minerals or fractures,
appearing while diamonds are formed in the earth. They may look
like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers.
To view inclusions, jewelers use
a magnifying loop. This tool allows jewelers
to see a diamond at 10x its actual size so that inclusions are
easier to see.
The position of inclusions can affect the value of a diamond.
There are very few flawless diamonds found in nature, thus these
diamonds are much more valuable.
Inclusions are ranked on a scale
of perfection, known as clarity,
which was established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
The clarity scale, ranging from F (Flawless) to Included (I),
is based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of
Some inclusions can be hidden by
a mounting, thus having little effect on
the beauty of a diamond. An inclusion in the middle or top of a
could impact the dispersion of light, sometimes making the diamond
The greater a diamond's clarity,
the more brilliant, valuable and rare it is—
and the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
Refers to the degree to which a diamond is colorless.
Diamonds range in color from icy
winter whites to warm summer whites.
Diamonds are graded on a color scale established by the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which ranges from D
(colorless) to Z.
Warmer colored diamonds (K–Z) are
particularly desirable when
set in yellow gold. Icy winter whites (D–J) look stunning set in
white gold or platinum.
Color differences are very subtle
and it is very difficult
to see the difference between, say, an E and an F.
Therefore, colors are graded under controlled lighting
conditions and are compared to a master set for accuracy.
Truly colorless stones, graded D,
treasured for their rarity, are highest on the
Diamond Quality Pyramid. Color, however, ultimately comes down to
Ask a jeweler to show you a variety of color grades next to one
another to help you determine your color preference.
Refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond.
Based on scientific formulas, a
well-cut diamond will internally reflect light from
one mirror-like facet to another and disperse and reflect it
through the top of the stone.
This results in a display of brilliance and fire, thereby placing
well-cut diamonds higher
on the Diamond Quality Pyramid than deep or shallow-cut diamonds.
Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose or leak light
side or bottom, resulting in less brilliance and ultimately,
Cut also refers to shape—round,
square, pear, or heart for example.
Since a round diamond is symmetrical and capable of reflecting
all the light that enters, it is the most brilliant of all diamond
follows specific proportional guidelines. Ask a jeweler to find
out more about these guidelines.
None-round shapes, also known as
“fancy shapes,” will have their own guidelines to be considered
What to Spend
Diamond Buyer's Guide
When you start to think about
buying a diamond—and the love it will symbolize—
you naturally want the best you can afford and a beautiful stone
you will treasure forever.
Hartgem.com can be found in a
range of price—and you're certain to find one
within the Diamond Quality Pyramid that suits your taste and what
you plan to
spend. If you're about to buy a Diamond Engagement Ring, you may
consider spending the commonly accepted guideline of two months
But it's up to you to settle on a diamond that will truly
deepest emotions and the promise for the future you will share.
A good jeweler is the first step
to a smart diamond purchase. To find a jeweler
you can trust, ask your family and friends for recommendations.
Your jeweler should be knowledgeable about diamonds and help
you feel comfortable making this important purchase.
Generally speaking, the naked eye can not
tell the difference between three
color grades in a mounted diamond. This means you can
"F", "G", or "H" color diamond and not really be able to
see the difference.
A colorless diamond is colorless due to its ability to
absorb rays of light equally.
These diamonds are rare and expensive. Diamonds are
evaluated according to
a letter scale and graded. Diamonds that are in the
"D-F" range are considered
colorless and carry a slight premium. Diamonds in the
"G-J" range will face-up
completely white and are a much better value than
colorless diamonds. Diamonds
that are "K" color or below will face-up with a slight
tint. We recommend diamonds that are color graded as "J"
If carat is not king, than why do we all
try to buy the largest diamond available
within our budget? Larger diamonds are found in nature
much less frequently
which, in turn, makes them more valuable. A three-carat
diamond is always
more expensive than several diamonds which add up to
Please use the charts below as a guideline in assisting
you in your search.
The dimensions of the diamond should tell you how large
the diamond will appear.
The chart is not to scale and should only be used as a
Did you know that the difference between
finding an inclusion in a diamond at
60X magnification and one at 10X magnification is
absolutely nothing to the naked eye,
yet the price difference is staggering? Clarity refers
to imperfections in the diamond.
Lack of imperfections raise the cost of the diamond
where as visible inclusions lower the cost.
|FL / IF
Internally Flawless. Best reason to buy one is so
you can say "I have a flawless diamond!"
|VVS1 / VVS2
||Very, Very Small
Inclusions. Requires 60X magnification to clearly
see inclusions. Usually not practical, but some VVS
diamonds sell for only a slight bit more than VS
|VS1 / VS2
Inclusions. Requires 30X magnification to clearly
see inclusions. A good choice for someone wishing to
balance high quality with relative affordability.
|SI1 / SI2
Generally requires 10X magnification to clearly
see inclusions. Many larger SI diamonds are not
completely eye clean. SI1 diamonds are some of the
best values to be found anywhere. SI2 diamonds can
be great diamonds, but should be considered
individually to ensure quality.
Eye-Visible Inclusions. Usually the most practical
choice for earrings, pendants, or folks shopping on
a budget. Many GIA "I1" diamonds have tiny, subtle
inclusions that are difficult to detect.
|I2 / I3
Borderline drill bit material. Should only be
purchased when a "bluff" diamond is the primary
Did you know that if the diamond is poorly cut, the
color and clarity can not make up for it?
The cut of a diamond is what makes a rough diamond
sparkle and shine.
If a diamond is poorly cut, the light that enters the
diamond from above will leak
out of the sides and bottom of the stone, and the
diamond will not have the
optimum amount of sparkle or fire—regardless of its
color or clarity. Please
use the charts below as a guideline in assisting you in
Preferred Proportions Round Diamonds
||60.2% - 62.7%
||57.0% - 64.0%
||53% - 57.0%
||53.0% - 64.0%
||Very Good to excellent
||Good to Very Good
||Very Good to excellent
||Good to Very Good
||Thin to medium
||Thin to Thick
||None to very small
||None to medium
Preferred Proportions for Oval, Pear, Marquees, and
||58.9% - 65.4%
||53% - 64%
||Good to excellent
||Good to excellent
||Thin to thick
Preferred Proportions for Emerald and Radiant Cut
||59.9% - 69.0%
||59% - 69%
||Good to excellent
||Good to excellent
||Thin to thick
Preferred Proportions for Princess Cut Diamonds
||64.0% - 75.0%
||59% - 72%
||Good to excellent
||Good to excellent
||Thin to thick
On The News
Oh, the course of true love never runs cheaply. The decision to
marry is rapturous, thrilling and wickedly expensive. Before you
even begin budgeting for a wedding, buying a fabulous gown and
planning a honeymoon, there is the daunting expense that your
fiancé faces: buying an engagement ring.
Imagine the pressure. As your sweetie is all-too aware, this is
a ring you will wear and look at every single day of your life.
It is a purchase that must not only seal the engagement deal, it
must somehow symbolize his vast love for you, demonstrate his
attentiveness in knowing what you would like and express his
appreciation of your style. Of course, if he could, he would buy
you a diamond as big as Kim Kardashian's to represent all the
love that lives in his heart for you. Yet somehow, he has to
achieve this while remaining a financially responsible (and
solvent) future marriage partner.
While the choice and expense of a ring is traditionally up to
the man in question, we know you have your own thoughts on the
subject. According to a Weddingbells Magazine survey, 59 per
cent of Canadian brides admitted "size matters." Furthermore, 65
per cent were involved in selecting an engagement ring and 25
per cent of brides made the final decision on their rings.
With that in mind, we sought the advice of Hilary Druxman of
Hilary Druxman Design in Winnipeg (HilaryDruxman.com). Hilary
has designed private collections for Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana
Republic and Club Monaco and for 25 years, has helped couples
design their dream engagement rings. So here are a few tips from
Hilary for designing an engagement ring that won't bankrupt the
poor boy. Feel free to discreetly pass these tips along…oops,
did I leave
that sitting on the printer?
Despite the diamond industry's dictum that a reasonable amount
to spend on an engagement ring is three months' salary (did you
tell him three years' salary,
you naughty thing?), the averageexpenditure
of an engagement ring, according to Hilary, is between $2,000
are forever —
The cost of the gem is directly related to its rarity and its
availability on the market. White, round brilliant diamonds are
the most popular and therefore most abundant on the market, so
you will have a greater range from which to choose. A coloured
diamond or fancy-shaped diamond will be tougher to find, meaning
fewer options within your price range. Gems other than diamonds
can be less expensive, but Hilary warns that none match the
hardness and durability of a diamond. Sapphires and rubies are
the next best choice for lasting power, while aquamarines and
emeralds are quite vulnerable to heat damage and other
Small stones that together add up to a carat will cost less than
a single diamond that weighs a carat. A pretty diamond eternity
ring or a vintage-look cluster can cost a fraction of the
equivalent carat-size solitaire, while providing high-wattage
dazzle factor. For the same reason, three-stone rings, once
known as "anniversary" rings, are also now popular for
weights — You
will pay a premium for diamonds whose carat weights hit
quarterly increments, such as 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25 and so on. If
you buy a 0.68-carat diamond, you will not likely be able to see
any difference in size from a 0.75-carat diamond, but you will
pay a lot less. If you want a 1.0-carat diamond, look for
something around 0.93. You can still roughly call it a one-carat
diamond without paying the one-carat premium.
the C's — As you
compare diamonds, you will find that the price can suddenly jump
just by moving one grade up on the clarity or colour scale.
Hilary says that clarity between SI1 and VS2, with a colour of G
or H is a popular combination for a diamond that (assuming it's
well cut) will appear lovely and sparkly to the eye.
that glitters —
While platinum is the costliest, white gold can provide more
"warmth" to a setting and is traditionally less expensive.
However, with the price of gold hovering near the stars, many
couples are turning to silver settings. As a softer metal, it is
appropriate only for certain types of mounts, but you can always
choose to re-set in gold or platinum at a later date
(anniversary perhaps?). For more lasting power, Hilary offers a
new product called "elite silver" which is an alloy of three
precious metals. Elite silver has the same tarnish resistance,
durability, look and polish of 10 karat gold at a fraction of
the gold price.
The key to designing a ring that fits your fiancé's budget and
your inimitable personal style is to find a jeweller you trust.
Meet with a few different jewellers to find just the right
person - someone who listens, is reliable and comes with great
references. You want someone who makes your fiancé feel relaxed,
comfortable and doesn't make him feel judged on how or where he
chooses to spend his money.
As a bonus, when your fiancé makes friends with a jeweller, the
prognosis for a more jewelry-filled future becomes even
brighter. Who else is going to call your hubby to remind him of
your anniversary and suggest a lovely tennis bracelet to match
your engagement ring? Hmmm?!