1. Determine Your Budget.
You want to be sure to find a professional that will respect your budget and help you select the perfect diamond. When buying an engagement ring, tradition suggests two or three months salary. However, it’s important to determine the appropriate budget that is right for you. You may need to get creative with your savings and pack more lunches, but you’ll be glad you did.
Remember this is a symbol of your undying love that your betrothed will show off to family, friends, coworkers, postal carriers, coffee baristas and complete strangers forever (no pressure, right?).
In the DC area, engagement ring purchases mostly fall between $6,000 and $10,000, and the average size is 1 to 1.25 carats.
2. Find a Place that Specializes in Diamonds.
Avoid the jewelry stores that sell everything and work on commission. It’s highly unlikely that they will have a staff that is as knowledgeable about diamonds as a diamond specialist. There’s no such thing as a “part time” expert. A reputable diamond dealer will retain consultants who have proper diamond education. These specialists will know everything from how diamonds are produced to showing you the flaws and imperfections of the diamonds they carry.
Your experience should be educational, informative and fun. You should be comfortable, at ease, and not pressured. Deal with people who know what they are talking about. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing more about diamonds than “the expert” showing them to you.
3. Buy Your Diamonds Loose.
Buying your diamond loose will give you the following advantages:
Compare diamond cut, clarity, color, and size side-by-side. Side-by-side comparison will show you differences in color, cut, and clarity, ensuring that you are selecting the right diamond and reaffirms quality.
See it in a laboratory environment. Look at your diamond in a variety of conditions, from natural light to 10x magnifications with a jeweler’s loupe and under a diamond scope with back lighting. Color is compared on white grading cards, clarity examined under a microscope, and brilliance is measured with ultraviolet detection lights. We can also scan the diamond with special equipment to compare cut and symmetry.
Significantly lower the chance of being defrauded.
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When the diamond is preset in a ring, it is simply too hard for an untrained shopper to see difference in cut, clarity, and color. Often jewelers will set prongs or designs to cover-up and mask an unsightly inclusion or chip in the diamond from you.
4. Refuse to Buy Online and Go to the Store.
Never ever buy a diamond without looking at it in person first. The interplay of direct observation, movement, and light can only be witnessed that way. Do what the professionals do – we wouldn’t dream of buying diamonds and stocking them in our store before observing and comparing each one with our own eyes (even if they are certified by GIA). Each diamond is different and while a standard certification is a great tool to measure value, it can’t physically show you how beautiful and unique each diamond really is. The problem with looking online is that photographs cannot represent the diamond’s beauty accurately; they will always be inaccurate due to lighting, shadows and such.
If you schedule a personal consultation and come see our gallery, an educated diamond specialist will show you the tiny differences in quality using a specialized microscope amongst other advanced technology. The consultation will allow you to see diamond options tailored to your specific needs and desires.
5. Comparison Shop to Ensure the Best Price on Both the Diamond and the Setting.
Once you have narrowed down your preference for a diamond be sure to compare with other local diamond dealers to ensure you are getting a fair price. However, don’t forget to look at the setting as well. The setting adds value to the complete ring. The following are tips for choosing a good setting.
Which Metal Is The Best? When you’re buying a diamond ring, you’ll need a quality band to set it off. (You wouldn’t put your high-definition big-screen on a set of cinderblocks, would you?). We recommend platinum for white-metal rings and nothing less than 18-karat gold for yellow-metal rings. We generally don’t recommend white gold, which is actually a misnomer for plating of an alloy called rhodium. It discolors over time, costing you more money out-of-pocket for maintenance. Additionally, rhodium may cause skin irritations.
Our Recommendation? Go platinum. Our customers overwhelmingly choose it for themselves. It’s hypoallergenic, timeless, impressive and doesn’t cost much more than gold. A platinum band will look better, last longer and require less money over time to keep your ring looking spectacular.
Check the Side Diamonds. On a ring, a side diamond of poor quality is enough to ruin the luster of the best settings and center diamond. Make sure the sides are of a comparable quality to the center diamond. Many national chain stores do not offer top quality side stones in their rings.
6. When You Find One You Like, Ask to See the Copy of the Certificate.
Always be sure the diamond has a grading report from the GIA or AGS, the leaders in independent diamond certification. Avoid diamonds with European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) and International Gemological Institute (IGI) reports. The entire diamond industry recognizes that these labs “over grade” their diamonds and trade at discounts up to 20% to make up for the over grading.
Washington Diamond does not recommend EGL-certified loose diamonds, nor do we sell them to our customers. We believe GIA or AGS certified diamonds are of higher quality and are graded with stricter standards and greater accuracy. This trusted process allows us to sell the quality diamonds at appropriate but fair prices so the consumer is getting the best value. Don’t hesitate to ask for education on how to read the certification. It is important that you can make a correct and confident decision for yourself, not them. For more information on certification click here.
7. The Diamond is Only as Valuable as the Guarantee – Protect Yourself.
Before you agree to the purchase, be sure to ask about a return or service policy. If for any reason something were to go wrong you want to ensure that you can bring the ring back. Lastly, be sure to walk out with an accurate and legitimate appraisal from the dealer that is also backed by a GIA Diamond Grading Report.
Don’t focus on just finding any beautiful diamond in your budget, consider all of the factors that go into it. Buying a diamond is an eye-opening and meaningful experience and you owe it to yourself to find the right dealer. You’re not just buying the diamond but the care and skill that goes into crafting your unique ring. This will make the difference in your experience and should factor heavily on where you buy your diamond from.
Some stores charge extra for everything from a new head for your setting, to setting your diamond into the ring, to sizing to appraisal, and the list goes on. It is important to verify that your dealer has the right experience and staff to execute your design or fit your diamond properly into the setting. Search online reviews and see what others have to say about the dealer.