Weddings 101: The Ring

Once upon a time…  Scratch that, it goes more like “once upon a diamond.”  So you finally decided to “pop the question” and start your intoxicatingly sweet life together and live happily ever after?  Hmm, quite nice, but before you get on your knees, you know you have to get that little box, and that little box must be filled with something pricey-  Shiny!  We mean shiny.  …Okay, both.

And if mysterious, glowing writing appears on it, put it back in the box and back away slowly!

The modern Western practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings is thought to have begun in 1477, when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an present for their engagement.

Buying a diamond can be overwhelming sometimes.  Especially if this particular one is for the hope of eternal happiness.  Needless to say, you must find “The One.”  And while both of your tastes and personalities and your budgets (if any) will play a big role, knowing what you are paying for is a MUST.

That said, we want to give you a little Diamonds 101 and a must/must not guide to making a great, mind blowing, one of a kind, sweep-her-off-her-feet proposal.  And remember, this is a guide.  You, my friend, from now on are on a 007 secret mission (be aware of your allies or the cousin that talks too much and will spill the beans).  And, most importantly, pay attention.  At this stage of your relationship, she is probably already done planning the wedding.  There should be plenty of clues around.

“What? I bought it for… For clubbing! Yes, for clubbing! …At that wedding-themed club Downtown.”

So, the ring.  According to the Gemological Institute of America, this is what you need to know: what is commonly referred to as the “4Cs.”  Cut, color, clarity and carat.

Cut
the most important of the “Cs.”  This is where your eyes get blinded with sparkles and you get the most for your money.  A properly cut diamond will look larger than a deeply cut diamond of the same weight.  Probably the only time when bigger does not necessarily equate to better.  Cut is all about craftsmanship.  Cutting the diamond to make the best use of light.  A diamond cut to perfect proportions refracts light from one facet to the other then gets dispersed through the top of the diamond: bling!

Pictured: too much bling.

Color
Color refers to the absence of color in a diamond.  A gift from nature having nothing to do with man.  It ranges from colorless to yellow.  The less yellow within the diamond, the higher on the alphabetical scale the diamond will be graded.  Colorless diamonds are D-F, near-colorless are G-J, faint yellow are K-M, very light yellow are N-R.  S-Z are light yellow.  The less color the diamond has, the more you will pay for it (except for fancy colors like pink and intense yellow diamonds).  Most likely, she will like a white one or a colorless one.  Anything higher than an I (i.e., D to H) will appear white enough for even the most discriminating eyes.

Clarity
An indication of a diamond’s purity.  When a rough diamond is extracted from carbon ore, tiny traces of natural elements are almost always trapped inside.  These elements are called “inclusions,” blemishes that interfere with light passing through the diamond.  Though they’re sometimes referred to as “birthmarks” because of their uniqueness.  A diamantaire will examine the rough diamond to cut it in the most flawless way, or with the less inclusions, and, therefore, the highest clarity.  Please note that most of these inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.  The Gemological Institute of America has established 11 clarity grades: the highest grades are “Flawless” and “Internally Flawless.”  “Clarity” refers to the totality of the number, size, placement and nature of inclusions and/or surface flaws.

Carat: the most intuitive of all the “Cs”
Directly from the experts: “diamonds and other gems are weighed using metric carats with one carat weighing about the same as a small paper clip, or 0.2 grams.  Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points, which means that a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats.  But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other three characteristics of a diamond’s 4Cs: clarity, color, and cut.  The majority of diamonds used in fine jewelry weigh one carat or less.”

And last, but not least we will share some of our own notes:

First of all, for more info on GIA grading methods, download the GIA 4Cs iPad free app.

There are some rules out there about cost…  They say 2 or 3 months’ salary, but if budget is on your list of concerns, follow what your bank account is telling you.  The important thing is not to get in debt, especially when you are about to start a long journey with the love of your life.

“I’m so glad you love the ring, honey! On an entirely unrelated note, I hope you’re excited for dinner at McDonald’s!”

Remember, she will wear it every day, so think of everything.  Will it get tangled in her hair?  Would it be too hard for her to keep her fingers together while wearing it?  How about clapping, and so on?  We said everything, and we mean it.

If the size of the diamond makes a difference, then you may prefer a shape that reveals more surface area than depth to maximize the appearance of size, such as a marquise or an emerald shape.

Don’t make this common mistake, to think that the shape and cut are the same.  It’s an easy mistake to make, since you hear the term “emerald” or “princess” cut diamonds, but those are actually diamond shapes.  Cut is really the craftsmanship applied in cutting and polishing the diamond.

The choices in diamond shapes and settings may seem overwhelming at first, but there are ways to narrow the field immediately.  Diamonds come in a variety of beautiful shapes: round, princess, marquise, oval, Asscher, cushion and heart, to name the most popular.  Remember, 007, she most definitely had one picked out, you just have to find the clues.

Ask her friends, 007. …Wait, you’re 007.  Stay away from her friends.

Don’t get too excited about how great it looks at the store, think of her hand and how it will complement her.  Ultimately, that’s the look you’re aiming for.  For example, on a small, delicate hand, a round diamond may look more beautiful than a marquise that covers more of her finger.

Also, white or yellow gold?  Is she traditional or more conservative?  Simple and subtle versus elaborate and very busy and flashy.  You should know your lady here.  This is more than a ring, this is showing her you care and that you are paying attention.  Don’t know her ring size?  Make an imprint of one of her rings on a bar of soap.

Finally, wondering why you are placing that ring on her “ring finger”?  We can thank our dear Romans, who wore the ring either on the right middle finger or the left ring finger, believing that these fingers were at the beginning of the “vena amoris” (the “vein of love”), the vein that leads to the heart.  Also, ancient Egyptian physicians thought that a nerve on this finger led directly to the heart.

Science!
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