How would I choose a diamond ring? – GIA Graduate Gemologist Opinion

For the last few years, I have custom made quite a few diamond engagement rings for locals, tourists and expats in Bangkok and most often the first question I am asked is ‘How should I choose a diamond ring?’. A perfectly relevant question it is, coming from someone who has no knowledge or experience in buying one.

So, lets’ try to break it down to simple basics.

The ‘basic’ rule I will always consider is, “if the diamond ring looks amazing!” Which means it should be large, white, clean, sparkling and definitely has the ‘wow’ factor!

You can narrow down what fits this criteria by looking at the diamond’s 4Cs – carat weight, color, clarity, and cut grade.

After looking at multiple diamonds through work and understanding  what the consumer buys I have come to conclusion that there is a ‘sweet’ 4Cs middle range which satisfies “95% of my client’s.” I am assuming that the diamond has a GIA certificate which leaves no argument regarding the diamond 4Cs quality.

GIA certificate copy & engagement ring which satisfies 95% of my ‘expat’ or ‘tourist’ clients.  I consider this the ‘sweet’ 4Cs middle range.

Sweet 4Cs Middle Range

Cut Type: Round Brilliant

Round brilliant is considered the most popular and still brings out the most sparkle in a diamond. It is also most forgiving if there is any inclusion or flaws as the sparkle and fire helps hide the imperfections.

Other ‘fancy’ cut shapes like princess, cushion, radiant, emerald, oval, are usually cheaper than the same weight round brilliant diamond.  For example, 1 carat round brilliant is more expensive than 1 carat princess cut diamond. This is because ‘fancy’ cut diamonds has a different and ‘lower’ wholesale price list which is called Rapaport “Pear” Price list.

1. Carat Weight:  1 carat

1 carat is still the most popular weight for round brilliant.  It does not look too small nor too big for most people.

1 carat fancy cut diamonds especially cushion or princess cut diamond are usually smaller looking than 1 carat round brilliant as they have more weight in the bottom (or depth).   For example, a 1 carat round brilliant will have larger face-up dimensions of 6.4 mm vs 5.5 mm for a 1 carat princess cut. Cushion cut diamonds can vary so it is important to see the diamond dimensions before hand if you want an equivalent look.

Diamond on Ring Side of Hand
1 carat Princess cut diamond on hand

2. Color Range: H to I color

Color range H to I color for round brilliants or G to H color for other fancy cut diamonds (princess, oval, cushion, asscher, etc.,) as I would consider these diamonds white enough.  Lower color grade than this, you will have to look at the actual diamond as there is a larger risk in seeing some ‘yellow’ or ‘brown’ tinge.

Also, diamonds with additional color hues like brown, green or “milky” shades are considered undesirable color traits in the trade as it does affect the diamond look.  That is why these diamonds should be avoided when purchasing a diamond and they are usually sold a lot cheaper.

3. Clarity Range: VS1 to VS2

Clarity range should be around VS1 to VS2 for round brilliant or VVS2 to VS1 for other fancy diamonds. If you are buying the diamond without looking, I would consider these the safe ranges as almost all these diamond are clean through the ‘naked’ eye.

If you want a better deal then SI1 or SI2 is possible, but it is very important to look at the diamond first to make sure there is no ‘visible’ inclusions with your naked eye (for example, black or ‘non-transparent’ inclusion right under the table).

4. Cut grade: Only Triple Excellent make (excellent cut, excellent polish, excellent symmetry)

For round brilliants, I would only consider triple excellent make diamonds as this is what brings the fire, rainbow sparkle and the ‘wow’ factor!

For fancy cut diamonds, proportions (the actual shape) are more important than cut grade.  For example, heart cut diamond should look like a ‘normal heart’ and not long or wide.

Fluorescence:  None to Medium Range

Blue fluorescence usually makes lower color diamonds like “H or I” color range look whiter as the blue negates the ‘slight yellow’ tinge.

It also sometimes make the diamond look milky or cloudy, especially for higher fluorescence like strong or very strong.  Therefore diamonds with fluorescence have got a ‘bad reputation’, however, this occurrence is very rare (0.02% of the time).  Because of this misconception, any diamond with fluorescence is usually sold at a discount.

Of course, as there is a ‘slight’ chance in getting a cloudy or milky looking diamond, I would recommend before purchasing ‘a high fluorescence’ (like strong or very strong) to check with the diamond source provider if the diamond looks either milky, cloudy or not.

But, if you want to be 100% safe without checking with the diamond supplier or retailer, I would recommend avoiding any diamonds with higher than medium fluorescence range.

For more information regarding fluorescence I will recommend seeing the following link

http://4csblog.gia.edu/2012/understanding-diamond-fluorescence

Ring Style: Classical Simple Solitaire

The simplest engagement diamond ring which works with your sparkling diamond is solitaire engagement ring.

Usually for diamond engagement rings the standard metal used are:

  • Gold ranging from 14 to 18K white, yellow or rose
  • White Palladium ranging from 14K to 18K
  • Platinum ranging from 900 to 950 (90% to 95% purity)

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3 thoughts on “How would I choose a diamond ring? – GIA Graduate Gemologist Opinion

  1. My boyfriend and I have recently started talking about getting married, and he is asking me about what I am looking for in an engagement ring. I would like to have something a little unique to me and my style, but I need some advice on what ideas I can give him for that. It’s good to know that when it comes to the color of the stone, that the ones that have already been cut would be considered white enough. That is something that I will have to let him know before he goes and buys one. Hopefully that will be soon! Thanks for the advice!

    1. Actually, even though the diamond is already ‘cut’ it doesn’t mean it is white enough. You do have to check the color grade. Most diamonds which are graded below GIA standard ‘J’ color, you can start seeing some color shade – most common yellow or brown.

      Anyways, I wish you the best of luck with your diamond search.

      Regards,

      Tarun Gupta, Graduate Gemologist (GIA)

  2. I am inspired from this article..!It’s my favorite gemstone. I have 2 diamond rings reds,and the other one is White I enjoy the colors and sparkle, especially when precision cut. I also like gray as a modifier, and I get along very, very well.

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