First, determine your budget. A general rule of thumb when buying a diamond engagement ring is that you should spend two months salary. However, this is just a guideline and is not carved in stone. Your first consideration should be what you can comfortably afford.
The next step is to decide on the carat size. This is really about striking a balance between size and quality. If your intended prefers larger jewelry items and you need to work within a budget, there are still many options available. Your jeweler can still help you find a larger diamond of excellent quality by selecting one which is graded slightly lower in terms of color and clarity.
Remember that slender fingers make small diamonds look bigger. If she has small fingers, a 1-carat diamond will look proportionately large -- and an even larger stone may seem stunning!
Next, you should think about what kind of setting will hold the diamond. Be sure that the setting you choose is made to fit the carat weight of your diamond.
Learn about the 4 C's of Diamonds before you begin shopping.
Loose Diamonds and Grading Reports
A grading report is a "blueprint" of a diamond. It tells you the diamond's exact measurements and weight, as well as the details of its cut and quality. The report will precisely point out all the individual characteristics of the stone. Grading reports also serve as proof of the diamond's identity and value. A certificate is not the same thing as an appraisal. A grading report describes the quality of a diamond; an appraisal places a monetary value on your diamond.
There are many diamond labs that issue grading reports, but the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society Lab (AGSL) are the two most widely regarded and recognized diamond grading labs in the world.
Shopping for diamonds that have grading reports will allow you to make an informed choice about your selections and to comparison shop. You can compare one diamond with a particular weight and quality to other diamonds of similar weight and quality to determine which value is better.
If a jewelry store offers to sell you a loose diamond without a grading report, keep in mind that it means you’re buying the diamond based only on the salesperson's claim about its quality. A trained gemologist may disagree with the salesperson's assessment.
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