Engagement Rings 101
Anatomy of a Ring
What makes up an Engagement Ring
The center diamond on an engagement ring is all about making a statement. The center stone makes a statement between yourself and your partner, as well as a statement to the world. Between the two of you, it exists to show true love and commitment. The center stone should act as the focal point for the ring. It should draw you in and be enhanced by the subtle design hints in the setting, shoulders, and shank.
The setting does more than hold the center diamond in place; its design provides the ring its unique personality. Our skilled jewelers will “set” the stone in one of 4 unique setting types. Setting type is decided based on your partners design tastes, lifestyle, and diamond shape. A larger stone will often times require a more aggressive setting type to account for size, while smaller stones can use lighter settings. Likewise, someone who is more active might feel more comfortable wearing a stronger setting. The setting types are as follows: tension, bezel, cathedral, prong.
The shoulders of the ring act as the frame for your center diamond. Often garnished in either intricate antique scroll design – for the vintage chic personality. Beautiful diamonds – for the modern woman. Or simple “Tiffany” style without either scroll or diamond – for the classic personality. Shoulder design is truly based on preference and style. It’s the part of the ring where you can reflect your character and charisma.
The shank of the ring refers to the bottom portion. The “meat” of the metal. You should look for a sturdy base here. You want to stay away from thin, or hollow shanks. While this can save you on upfront cost, we do not recommend it for long term value. The more dainty the shank, the more prone the ring is to cracking with wear. Style speaking, the shank provides an interesting opportunity to add a little something special. Customers often elect to hide a special “love marking” here. Something as simple as a delicate engraving or as thoughtful as a small diamond.
Diamonds - The 4 C's
GIA and the 4C's
Every diamond is a miracle of time and place and chance. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.
Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no agreed-upon standard by which diamonds could be judged. GIA created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight. Today, the 4Cs of Diamond Quality is the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.
The creation of the Diamond 4Cs meant two very important things: diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language, and diamond customers could now know exactly what they were about to purchase.
Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, emerald, pear), but a diamond’s cut grade is really about how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond.
A diamond’s cut is crucial to the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.
To determine the cut grade of the standard round brilliant diamond – the shape that dominates the majority of diamond jewelry – GIA calculates the proportions of those facets that influence the diamond’s face-up appearance. These proportions allow GIA to evaluate how successfully a diamond interacts with light to create desirable visual effects such as:
Brightness: Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond
Fire: The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow
Scintillation: The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond
GIA’s diamond cut grade also takes into account the design and craftsmanship of the diamond, including its weight relative to its diameter, its girdle thickness (which affects its durability), the symmetry of its facet arrangement, and the quality of polish on those facets.
The GIA Diamond Cut Scale for standard round brilliant diamonds in the D-to-Z diamond color range contains 5 grades ranging from Excellent to Poor.
Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’ Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
Flawless (FL) – No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.
The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones stones of established color value.
GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.
Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’
All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut.
It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.
The importance of shape
Many people confuse diamond cut and the shape of a diamond. Cut refers to the proportion and angels that a diamond has been cut to. Although the cut of the diamond may affect the value of the diamond, the shape, is largely a matter of personal preference. It is the work of a master cutter that allows the diamond to be cut in such a way as to permit the maximum amount of light to be reflected through the diamond, and that’s a great reflection on you. It is the cut that enables a diamond to make the best use of light.
Shown are the most popular shapes for diamonds. The round is still the most popular and most brilliant diamond shape. However, numbers, letters and shapes of all kinds can be achieved. Shape is a matter of personal preference, and is only limited by the imagination of the customer and the skill of the craftsman.
The king of all metals… Platinum! We consider it the most precious of metals because of its purity, rarity, and strength. What do you mean “pure”? Well, platinum is naturally bright white and hypoallergenic, so it’s great for people with sensitive skin. When it comes to rarity, it’s thirty times as rare as gold. And strength? It’s non-corrosive, it has a density and a heft to it that makes platinum highly durable so it doesn’t wear over time (it actually just gets stronger!) This strength makes it the most secure setting for diamonds. Platinum does not expand or distort when exposed to heat, and it never tarnishes, oxidizes, or wears out. Rather, it ages beautifully by developing a lustrous patina. If it scratches, your jeweler can always polish your piece of jewelry without losing any metal. It is also denser and therefore 40% heavier than gold.
Prized for its beauty and versatility, gold is the classic setting for most jewelry. Natural beauty and incredible malleability are the two main reasons. Gold in it’s purest form as it comes from the earth is bright yellow and very soft. To make the gold stronger and more durable, it is combined with other metal alloys which also yields several different colors. Classic yet fashionable, yellow gold achieves its warm patina from the red of copper and the green hue of silver. Yellow gold lost favor to white gold for a while, but has recently regained popularity. Yellow gold jewelry will never need to be plated to keep it’s color, it is yellow throughout. Gold can be melted, stretched, repaired, and made into a variety of different jewelry items over your lifetime.
One of our favorite metals to talk about is white gold. White gold is just yellow gold, mixed with white metals. Try to think of the metals as paint. If you mix yellow paint with white paint, you’ll never have totally white paint. Same goes for gold. If you mix yellow gold with other white metals, you’ll never have a bright white metal like platinum. We make it bright white by adding a plating of rhodium, an extremely rare and expensive metal that is a member of the platinum family. Because of it’s rarity, rhodium is used only in plating to make finished jewelry pieces a bright, shiny, long-lasting white color.
Just like white gold is made from mixing yellow gold and other white metals, rose gold is made from mixing yellow gold with copper. And just like yellow gold, rose gold is the same color throughout the whole ring. Depending on the ratio of gold to copper, the color of rose gold jewelry can range from orange-yellow to dusky pink to red-orange. This metal is very unique, romantic, and looks great on every skin tone. The warm tones of rose gold make it a perfect accent for men’s jewelry, too. The unexpected color gives a unique touch to classic watches, bracelets, necklaces and more.