Diamond Engagements Rings: A Complete Buying Guide
The start of your journey. Learn how to choose the perfect engagement ring.
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The process of buying an engagement ring is centered on education. From understanding certification to navigating the 4Cs of diamond quality, it is understandable that buyers may feel overwhelmed when they begin their journeys. Shape, size, quality and budget are key factors in choosing an engagement ring, but they are not the only considerations.
Anything is possible! Engagement rings can be as classic as a fairy-tale or as unique as your own love story. At Washington Diamond we have been helping customers buy engagement rings for more than five decades. We’ve created this complete guide to get you started today.
Step One: Choosing a Diamond
The Four Cs
Carat weight, Clarity, Color and Cut. These words will come up frequently during the diamond engagement ring buying process. An understanding of these qualities will ensure you select a beautiful, sparkling diamond within your budget.
Remember why we choose diamonds for engagement rings: durability, brilliance and endurance. These properties are best showcased with an exceptional cut and a balance of color, clarity and carat weight. Together, they define what makes a diamond so precious. Find out more in Diamond Education.
The Fifth C
At Washington Diamonds, we only sell natural, untreated, ethical diamonds that carry GIA certifications. The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA is an internationally renowned grading lab, offering consistent and reliable grades. The GIA represents the highest standard of diamond certification, offering peace of mind to our customers. Learn more about diamond certification here.
Loose Diamonds Versus Preset Diamonds
Selecting a diamond separately from the settings provides three key benefits:
• Choosing a loose diamond gives you total control over the quality. You can refine and select the specific characteristics of your diamond to and work comfortably within your budget.
• You can decide how much of your budget to allocate to the diamond and how much to the setting.
• It offers flexibility in budget, in the style and in appearance of the ring.
For some, the process of buying a loose diamond and selecting a setting can seem too much. Buying a pre-set diamond ring offers offers an ‘in and out’ experience for those who need a ring quickly. And some customers simply fall in love with a pre-set ring! There are no wrong answers.
The classic round brilliant is a shape that continues as the leading choice for brides to be. Durable and with exceptional sparkle, it is a timeless shape that suits any wearer and works beautifully with contemporary and vintage styles.
There is no denying the alluring sparkle of a round brilliant, but you should not feel limited to this shape. Each shape has unique properties and benefits, bringing a distinct style to your beloved’s ring. We have listed some of the most popular shapes below so that you can review the qualities that each has to offer.
Choosing a shape for your partner will be a marriage of practicality and personal style. For a girl on the go with an active lifestyle, round brilliants and oval shapes might be more suitable – but this is only a guideline.
Fantastic sparkle and a highly versatile shape. Structured grading system for cut quality. Durable and timeless.
A sparkle that is second only to the round brilliant. The corners of a princess cut need to be protected by the setting to avoid chipping.
An oval is an elongated shape that is extremely flattering on the hand. Similar in design to the round brilliant, it gives a distinct sparkle while appearing larger that rounds of equivalent carat weight.
Step cut diamonds are defined by their minimal facets that are parallel to each other. Some of the most popular step cuts are Emerald, Asscher and Baguette. Step cuts do not sparkle like a brilliant, rather they are cut to display a hypnotic depth and clarity. They are perfect for antique and art deco styles, echoing the aesthetics of the era. They have also made a spectacular comeback and are perfect for clean, contemporary style engagement rings.
An elongated shape with two pointed ends. A marquise diamond will give a bigger appearance versus other brilliant diamonds of the same carat weight. The pointed ends of a marquise make it more vulnerable to chipping so a suitable setting must be chosen to protect the extremities. Our experienced team can advise you on choosing secure settings for your diamond.
A sparkling symbol of love. Heart shaped diamonds are in the ‘brilliant’ family, with twinkling facets and intimate symbolism.
There are three key factors to consider when choosing an engagement ring setting:
• Metal Type
Diamonds must be set in a precious metal. Platinum and gold are traditionally the most suitable for engagement ring. Karat expresses the purity of the metal (not to be confused with carat, the weight of a diamond). Different karats will have different properties and appearances; for example, 22k yellow gold has a higher purity than 9k gold. 22k gold has a brighter yellow color but is much softer, while 9k gold gives less ‘gold’ color but is a harder metal. The most popular purities for engagement rings are 14k and 18k. Platinum is more expensive than gold, but is more durable and low maintenance. It has a natural, bright white sheen and develops a unique patina over the years. Platinum is easily polished to a high shine finish, and it does not thin or wear at the same rate as gold.
• Mounting Styles & Settings
There are many different engagement ring styles. The setting is the basic style that defines how the diamond is held in place. Each of these settings can have a number of embellishments and creative flourishes that make them unique. From intricate galleries (the section below the central diamond) to engraved bands, these little touches elevate the design to echo the unique personality of the wearer.
A hard wearing, precious metal allows your partner to wear the engagement ring every day. Just keep in mind this is only the first step towards ensuring the ring is practical. If you chosen diamond shape has vulnerabilities, it is important to select a setting which offers protection. Bezel settings offer maximum security, but a well made prong setting can also do the job.
These three points provide an excellent start to guide you through your setting choices. So much of this decision will be based on your partner’s personal style.
If you are unsure about what kind of ring to buy for your partner, or if have decided to choose together, the best way to make a decision is to try on some rings! Immerse yourself in a world of diamonds at our store and let our experts guide you through the process.
Mark this moment in your journey together with a glass of bubbles and walk out with the ring of your dreams!
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Step Three: The Finishing Touches
When Should I Buy an Engagement Ring?
We generally advise ordering your ring at least three months ahead of your planned proposal to allow for resizing or personalization. The process can be as leisurely or as speedy as you decide.
How Do I Take Care Of My Engagement Ring?
Settings can wear out over time. We recommend periodically asking one of our jewelers to check for any damage to prongs or bezels.
Soak your diamond jewelry in a gentle solution of water and a couple of drops of Dawn® dishwashing soap. Then, remove it from the solution and use a clean, soft toothbrush to brush away any dirt. Pay attention to the back or under-side of the diamond where oil, dust, and dirt will likely collect. You’ll want to use a clean toothbrush that you can reserve for cleaning your jewelry.
Be gentle with the toothbrush and avoid forceful brushing around delicate settings or prongs, especially when cleaning antique diamond jewelry.
Next, rinse your jewelry with water and dry it with a clean, soft, lint-free cloth. It’s best to use a gem cloth but any 100% cotton fabric or microfiber cloth will do the job.
For a truly sparkling finish, take advantage of our cleaning and inspection service to keep your ring dazzling like new.
How Can I Keep the Proposal a Surprise?
A popular question is how to keep the element of surprise while planning a proposal. Here are a few top tips:
1. You can buy cheap ring sizers online to measure any rings your partner wears to ascertain her size. Remember that full eternity bands cannot be re-sized so these carry a little more risk when bought for a surprise proposal.
2. Choosing a loose diamond igives you the added benefit of proposing with only the diamond and letting your partner select the setting afterwards. This is an excellent option for anyone having difficulty choosing a setting.
3. Try it on! An in-store experience allows your or your partner to get a feel for the style and find the perfect size.
4. Consider her personal style before choosing a setting. If she is a traditional and tailored girl go for a classic like a prong setting or a subtle cluster. Does she like a bold statement? Go for a bezel setting or add a dash of color with side gemstones like sapphires or rubies. Is she a lady who loves to sparkle? Try a pave setting.
5. Be confident. It is a big decision but we are here to help!
Find Your Dream Engagement Ring
Washington Diamond 1245 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 536-3600