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Here's the scenario. You want to marry your lady, but you want to buy her the biggest and brightest ring you can find. So you take a trip to the local jewellery store, and all of a sudden your brains explode. You know what that is? We do, you've just tried to figure out what the guy in the freakin' store was just trying to sell you for several (and we mean several) thousands of your hard earned cashola.

Well, the Frugal Bride rides to the rescue, 'cause boy do we have information for you. We've got all the definitions and descriptions for everything you will ever need to know (and probably won't remember after buying it) when you get her that absolutely breathtaking (and very expensive) diamond ring. Just one small thing we need to ask you before we get into the diamond genius course we have prepared here for you. Do you know what kind of ring she wants? NO you say. Suggestion, take her window shopping for rings. In a roundabout way try to find out what she likes by paying attention to the settings that catch her eye, that way when you actually buy the ring, it will without a doubt be THE RING OF HER DREAMS!

Now on to the serious stuff. We've broken this section down into all of the elements of buying a diamond and then we've given you a quick breakdown on the differences between platinum and gold settings, SO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION!!
THE DIAMOND

Firstly, understand that there is a significant difference in a cheap diamond and an expensive one. That a smaller, very high quality diamond is worth more than a huge poor quality diamond. The general concensus on what you should spend is approximately 2 months salary. So that will help you develop your budget for the ring before you start hunting. Also, a good buyers guide, never buy during the holiday season. As nice as it is to be able to give your future bride a beautiful engagement ring for Christmas, rest assured you're going to be spending a nice mark-up because of the time of year. If you want to make it special, how about her birthday!! Or even the anniversary of the day you first met (now that's romantic).

First lesson, the Four "C"s and what they mean. Okay you ask, what in the heck are the "Four C's". Well, they are what determine the value of the stone you are buying, Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight and just about any jeweller worth their weight in "diamonds" will be able to give you ratings on all of the above. So let's explain each.

Cut

The cut is the only factor determined by a human being. An Ideal Cut Diamond is the term used for a round, brilliant diamond with 58 precisely placed cuts. This is proven to reflect the greatest amount of light.

A Premium Cut Diamond is also high in value, very symmetrical and reflective, but not as perfectly cut as the Ideal Cut.

Lastly, you have an Inferior Cut Diamond which has been cut to retain weight (i.e. carats) but the cuts are too shallow and reflect very little light, therefore reducing its brilliance significantly. Not to mention reducing the value of the stone.

Cuts are graded on a scale of 0 for the highest quality to 10 for the most inferior quality.

Colour

A good and reputable jeweller will keep what is called, a set of Masterstones, in their store. This is a set of real diamonds that display the different ranges in colour that you will find. It can be very difficult for someone like yourself to see the differences in colour within a diamond, but the Masterstones help.

Colour can be rated two ways, on a number scale from 0 to 10, with 0 once again representing the highest quality, or with letter coding. To make things easier for you, here are the general ratings combining both scales.

  • 0-1.0 or D-F - Colourless
  • 1.5-3.0 or G-J - Near Colourless
  • 3.5-4.5 or K-M - Faint Yellow
  • 5.0-7.0 or N-R - Very Light Yellow
  • 7.5-10 or S-Z - Light Yellow

So basically, the more colourless the stone, the more valuable it is.

Clarity

This is the area that is often referred to as the flaws that are found in the diamonds, but in actual fact, these flaws are naturally occuring and are called inclusions. Almost every stone, even the most valuable, have some form of inclusions. Once again we have a rating on a number scale or by letter designation. We figure you probably will be more familiar with the letter designations, but we will give you both.

  • 0 or FL, IF - Flawless - No inclusions visible by an expert using a magnification of 10x
  • 1-2 or VVS1-VVS2 - Minute inclusions, very difficult for an expert to see using a magnification of 10X
  • 3-4 or VS1-VS2 - Minor inclusions, difficult to find using a magnification of 10x
  • 5-6 or SI1-SI2 - Noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification - few or no inclusions visible to the naked eye
  • 7-10 or I1-I3 - Obvious inclusions under 10x magnification - some inclusions visible to the naked eye

Carat Weight

This is usually the final criteria for determining the value of the diamond. Once again, we can't stress enough that bigger is not always better. If you want to buy her a big ring, don't cheat her and yourself on the quality of the diamond. Although, you should know that Carat Weight does have considerable effect on the price of the diamond. Make sure you go to a reputable jeweller that uses an electronic scale and actually weighs the diamond in front of you. So, this leads us into the next section which is the setting.


THE SETTING

Best advice we can give you first off, buy your diamond and your setting separately. This allows you to be more specific about the quality of the diamond and allows you more flexibility on the style of the setting that holds it. So a few things about the setting. Be sure that you get a setting that has very good strong prongs. Nothing would be worse than giving your fiance a diamond that falls out if its setting and ends up as someone else's prize! So, for a little more detail on the settings, let's take a look at the difference between Gold and Platinum.

Gold

Gold is generally a traditional favourite for wedding rings. Its value is determined on a karat scale and by total gram weight. The purest gold is 24K, but you would never select it for a ring, as it is too soft. You would be more likely to go with a 12 or 14 karat gold, which is gold mixed with other metals to provide a stronger setting. In the durability arena, the higher the karat the easier for the setting to bend. Also, gold can become a bit lackluster over time and needs regular cleaning. You particularly want to make sure the prongs that hold the diamond are very well made if you select a gold setting. A gold ring can be sized very quickly and is a very easy substance to work with. As of January 2000, the cost of gold was approximately $300 for an ounce.

Platinum

Platinum on the other hand is becoming a new favourite in diamond rings for several reasons. It is highly durable and resistant to breaking and bending. A good example of that, a platinum wedding band takes about 3 hours to size, whereas gold can take as little as 15 minutes. So for security of the diamond in the setting, the prongs on a platinum ring are unlikely to loosen enough to lose the gem. Platinum also retains its luster for a lot longer than gold and is generally recognized as a good substitute for people who are allergic to alloys like gold. The one downside, platinum is much more expensive. You know how we said gold is $300 for an ounce, well platinum is closer to $590. So expect to pay about a 20% premium for a platinum setting.

So what do we suggest? Do your homework. Don't just go into the first jeweller you find and buy the first ring. Be a savvy diamond hunter and know what you want. Show the jack behind the counter that you know your stuff and you're only going to buy the best for your lady!!

So happy ring hunting, and we hope that we have given you some information that will help you figure out what is or isn't worth buying. Remember, it's going to be one of those purchases that is going to have to make a LASTING IMPRESSION!!!

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