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How to Buy a Diamond | Expert Advice from Blue Nile

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


At least as important as diamond shape, the ring’s setting is what everyone glancing at your girl’s hand is going to notice. Is your wife-to-be a modern woman who appreciates sleek lines and minimalist style? If so, you might want to choose a contemporary setting for her diamond. If she’s more conservative and appreciates classic styles, you might want to go for a traditional diamond setting. If she’s a romantic, you could choose a vintage style for her finger. Another setting-related question to consider is whether you want to go for a solitaire, a setting with a diamond flanked with other stones, or a channel-set ring with diamonds circling the finger.

  • Solitaire: A timeless, classic setting that showcases a diamond like no other.
  • Cathedral: A modern variation on the solitaire, perfect for women with active lifestyles.
  • Channel: Eye-catching and elegant, channel-set diamonds are a popular choice.
  • Three-stones: Symbolizing the past, present and future, the three stone ring is a romantic choice.


This is the most personal aspect of choosing a ring. While the most popular shapes for diamonds in engagement rings are Round and Princess, other shapes include Oval, Emerald-cut, Marquise-cut, Radiant-cut, Pear-shaped, Asscher-cut and Heart-shaped. Figure out which shape suits your bride-to-be’s personality and lifestyle and choose accordingly. Of course, if you’re really stuck, you can always ask her friends or her family for advice.

  • Round: With 58 facets, this is the most popular modern shape for its versatility and sparkle.
  • Princess: A trendy alternative to Round, the Princess shape is full of angles and facets.
  • Oval: The flattering and elegant Oval shape elongates even the shortest fingers.
  • Emerald: A perfect shape for larger diamonds, this shape is all about glamour.

The 4 Cs of Diamonds

Now that you know what you want the ring to look like, it’s time to get technical. Before you choose the rockfor the ring, you need to do your homework on diamonds and educate yourself on the all-important four Cs: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat.

  • Cut: When jewelers refer to the cut of a diamond, they’re actually referring to the gem’s reflective qualities. A good cut is what gives a diamond its “bling-factor” – the quality that makes a diamond look like it is emitting light.
  • Clarity: Diamonds are rated for clarity based on the lack of internal flaws, or inclusions: the fewer the flaws the more valuable the diamond. If a diamond features no internal or external flaws, it is granted the rating of FL or Flawless. Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds contain no internal flaws. Diamonds given this rating are beautiful, rare and valuable. At the other end of the scale, I1, I2 and I3 diamonds are all Included and feature noticeable flaws. The good news is that there are several tiers in between these, so if you’re looking for good value, choose a diamond with no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. Although it might not be flawless it can still be a stunning, clear diamond.
  • Color: The most valuable diamonds are colorless, and are priced accordingly. Like other aspects of diamonds, color is provided a rating, this time from D to Z, with “D” diamonds being completely colorless and “Z” being cloudy and tinted. It is important to note that diamonds rated “K” through “Z” have enough color that it will be noticeable to the casual observer, particularly if the diamond is set in white gold or platinum. While colored diamonds, such as pink and yellow, are currently in vogue, thanks to the celebrities sporting them, the classic, sparkling ice-like rock will never go out of style. And don’t be fooled—these yellow diamonds aren’t “Z” grade recipients being passed off as a new look. Colored diamonds are graded on a separate scale from white diamonds.
  • Carat: Carat refers to the weight of the diamond. As larger diamonds are rarer than small ones, carat weight reflects the value of the diamond and is priced accordingly. For this reason, the price of a diamond rises exponentially with carat weight, which explains why a two carat diamond is worth more than two one carat diamonds. The number associated with the carat weight is also what your bride-to-be’s friends will inquire about when gazing at the ring; however, there are other factors to consider besides bragging rights. For instance, what size is her ring finger? The smaller her finger, the larger the diamond will look. Does she generally wear a lot of jewelry? If not, a large diamond may make her uncomfortable or concerned about damaging her ring if she knocks it or nicks it. Finally, make sure that you’re buying a diamond that makes sense for your budget. You want to start off your new life together on the right foot, not deep into debt.
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