Even if your idea of commitment is a simple ceremony with a religious officiant, you may want to devote time and attention to selecting the perfect engagement ring for your bride. For one thing, the engagement and wedding rings qualify as significant purchases for most couples. For another, you want to take time to select the best pieces of jewelry because you will wear them for the rest of your lives together.
The 4 c’s
Created by the Gemological Institute of America, the 4c’s are the basis of the universal assessment method for evaluating the quality of a diamond. The four C’s represent the cut, color, clarity and carat weight of the diamond. Jewelers use these four characteristics of a diamond to determine its value and final cost.
Diamond Ring Settings
While the stone costs for as much as 95 percent of the ring’s total cost, ring settings should not be ignored. The setting protects your pricey investment and holds the stone in place. The common styles below apply to any ring with gemstones in it, including diamond engagement rings.
- Claw or prong – This is the most popular setting with three to six prongs that raise and hold the stone up.
- Bezel – This setting has the stone flush with the metal. A band of metal also surrounds the stone to conceal the girdle and hide any imperfections.
- Cluster – Many stones are set in a circular fashion to create a large and impressive cluster of diamonds.
- Tension – A contemporary setting that makes the stone appear that it is floating, with no structural support underneath the ring.
Despite the song’s popular refrain, diamonds are not every girl’s best friend.
Although most American brides wear diamond rings, colored gems such as garnet, ruby, and sapphire are also popular. In fact, since ancient times, some cultures have prized these gems over colorless stones.
Most women chose alternative gems for their meaning and color. Rubies represent passion and love, while blue sapphires are a symbol of the heavens and fidelity. A colored gem is also a less expensive selection when compared to a colorless diamonds.
If you are looking for conflict-free diamonds — or are concerned about diamond mine conditions, there are suitable stone alternatives available.
In fact, many cultured or synthetic diamonds are test-tube versions of the real thing. Since 2007, these artificial diamonds are graded by the American Gemological Institute and have grown in their quality and acceptance.
These stones are grown in artificial conditions and the stone colors are available in yellow and white. These man-made gems may cost you anywhere from 19 to 90 percent less than a mined diamond.
Antique and Heirloom Rings
Recognizing the value and appeal of antique baubles, many jewelry stores also sell colored gems via their estate jewelry departments. Estate jewelry however, is not the same as antique jewelry which is at least 100 years old or more.
The surest and easiest to determine the difference between estate and antique jewelry is to view a colored gemstone certification for dates and authenticity information.
If you have a family heirloom that you would like updated, have the stone remounted at your local jeweler. You can give life to a beautiful piece of history that may have wasted away in your mother or grandmother’s jewelry box.