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Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Guide
Read our Top 10 Bridal Scams to alert you of the most important tricks of the trade to be aware of. If you know a bride to be, then you should urge them to read our list and details on how to avoid these scams. You'll be their hero.
Diamond Industry Discounts, Promotions, News
How to finance your engagement ring with lower interest rates than credit cards
If you hate paying 18-29% APR on credit cards, there's a better alternative to financing your engagement ring, a personal loan from LendingClub. Instead of banks, they pair member investors with member borrowers like you, allowing you to directly invest in and borrow from each other. Since they don't have overhead of banks, they have lower cost, and you get a lower interest rate. Banks are very difficult to deal with these days, so this is a useful way for you to finance your engagement ring, saving even more money.
Are You A Victim Of A Diamond Ring Scam or Other Bridal Scams?
Here at BridalTips.com we need to hear from you. Your bad experience can help other brides! No matter how small a scam you think it is, please let us know. We can even offer you tips on how to get out of the scam, or how to seek restitution against the vendor, and who to report the scam to.
Some diamond engagement ring salespeople try to mind trick you...
Diamond salespeople may lie to you that we only say what diamond advertisers pay us to say. That's a lie, nice try. Our
diamond buying guide was online long before we had advertisers, no one pays us to say anything. Our reviews of diamond engagement ring sites are the most
trusted, unlike diamond portals who often steal our content. It's very difficult for advertisers to make it through our strict, rigorous review
process before we allow them on here. We researched hard for diamond wedding ring sites so you don't have to,
and we turn away jewelry stores every week for failing our tough site approval criteria:
Our visitors always report into our Diamond Engagement Ring Deals Database with great honest deals from our recommendations. Bottom line, if you're concerned about our impartiality, then simply ignore our recommendations of online stores (but risk paying too much for your ring), and focus solely on our diamond buying advice, which you'll agree is the best anywhere. Don't fall for salespeople mind tricks about us, they are angry that we reveal all their tricks and scams. These scammers, often posing as caring members on forums desperately want you to ignore our advice, hoping you'll buy rings from them falling pray to their pricing schemes. We just want to help you get the best scam free deal possible, no matter who you buy from.
Getting diamond prices and diamond ring quotes for your engagement ring
You should search major online jewelry sites to get a consensus of diamond prices right from your PC. Be sure to use "build your ring" and "compare diamond rings" features of online diamond jewelry stores to get your free price quotes, which usually beat mall diamond stores. While getting diamond prices, you are under absolutely no commitment to buy unless you enter your credit card in the shopping cart, so load up as many rings as you like into shopping carts, and choose the ring you want with the best price. Some sites even let you save your diamond ring comparison list and come back days later to compare more diamond ring prices and quotes, maybe add a platinum wedding ring set, or abandon your cart if you find a better ring on another site.
Is it safe to buy diamond rings online? Yes, and there's no obligation to buy
Our visitors here report great diamond engagement ring savings when they use trusted sites, plus there's no sales tax. Many of our visitors buy wedding rings online from Blue Nile and Diamond Ideals. Some online jewelers are as close to wholesale diamonds as you can get. You and I wouldn't know a good loose diamond in our hand anyway so with trusted sites and certification, it's not a requirement to see it in a store first. It's safe to buy diamond jewelry online. We buy $3000 computers online, yet we never see the computer first. Online diamond stores list the GIA grading report, you know what you are getting, no need to hug your diamond before you buy. Online ring prices are equivalent to wholesale pricing that you can't get at many mall jewelry stores. Most online stores ship FedEx overnight, and have 30 day money back guarantees. Use the major sites that we recommend and you'll have no worries. Avoid jewelers who have less than a 30 day return policy.
Canadians can get diamonds online now
Information is power so educate yourself
A very useful tool for you is this book called Diamond Ring Buying Guide Book, with color photos of loose diamond cuts & shapes, clarity enhanced diamonds. Diamond colors show you shades of yellow and treated diamonds, how to judge loose diamond cut. Color photos show you good and bad cuts, and give you tips on buying. There's color photos of inclusions, cracks, clouds, bubbles and photos of clarity grades I3 on up. Only a fool would go shopping without a book like this, the clear color photos are a great deterrent to any salesperson who thinks they can pull the wool over your eyes.
Don't rely on salespeople to tell you what diamond rings are worth. Verify diamond quality with your own eyes, wary of common diamond ring jewelry scams. We're not here to trash jewelers. Like any business, there's bad apples mixed in with the good. When buying engagement ring diamonds, you should use The Folder. On our other site CarBuyingTips.com, I suggest bringing "the folder" to the dealer. Similarly, once jewelers see you're an informed diamond ring buyer, they cannot scam you. Read the diamond buying books we recommend here, and you'll save $2000.
Common buying mistakes and jeweler scams to avoid
We hear from diamond ring buyers who get scammed because they violated my rules of protecting yourself. It's amazing how foolish young lovers can be when shopping for jewels in the Caribbean, thinking they are buying high end jewelry at lowball prices. What they get are lowball diamonds at lowball prices, with lies about how high it will appraise back home or how it's "top notch jewelry." The cruise ships recommend local diamond jewelers, but remember, they are getting paid for it. This advice is for your use at any jeweler:
Diamond Engagement Ring Questions to ask yourself
Diamond engagement ring jewelry stores online
Buying your diamond ring online can save thousands with lower prices and no sales tax. We like these stores below, who list GIA or AGS certified diamonds, so you know you won't get ripped off. Read the return policies BEFORE you buy, you want 30 day returns, avoid stores with only 7 day returns, that's impossible. When you buy online, these stores ship via FedEX for the best tracking. If your diamond ring appraises too low (it wont), you can return it. Our visitors usually report online diamonds appraised at double their purchase price, better value than mall stores.
Blue Nile (NASD: Nile)
We get asked all the time about Helzberg Diamonds lifetime guarantee if your diamond is chipped or falls out of the ring mount. Jewelry stores that offer these programs usually require that you bring your diamond ring into their store every six months for examination. If you miss one of these check-ups, your lifetime warranty at Helzberg could be voided.
Many honest online diamond ring sites will give you a great deal. The key here is the GIA certificates, you are buying diamond jewelry according to known published specs, just like you buy computers online according to the specs without seeing them. Many visitors email us with great success buying their rings from online diamond stores. Your credit card is safe and encrypted. Honest online sites make you feel at home, and you can buy engagement rings online safely. we will not steer you wrong.
Synthetic Moissanite diamonds (silicon carbide) gained widespread use in 1999. These fake diamonds are so good that standard diamond jeweler thermal conduction testers cannot detect them! Moissanite rings sell for nearly as much as real loose diamonds, further confusing diamond engagement ring buyers. According to the Diamond Ring Buying Guide when you look through a 10x loupe, if you see double facets or a doubled diamond table reflection, it is a Moissanite synthetic.
Two U.S. organizations protect consumers, providing diamond industry ethics, and promote strict standards used to grade loose diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) labs do not appraise a fully assembled ring, they grade only the loose gems. Internationally, International Gemological Institute (IGI) produces diamond grading reports, appraises the fully assembled rings. Most jewelry experts and diamond industry insiders we spoke to prefer GIA and AGS, with reputations for strict grading parameters. Another lab, European Gemological Laboratories (EGL), is unknown to most U.S. consumers. They created controversy with some jewelry industry people, adding a clarity level SI3, which some jewelers have told us this should really be labeled as the lesser level I1. This potentially allows a diamond that should be an inferior I1 to sell for more as an EGL SI3. Jewelers view this as less strict than GIA, preferring to only sell GIA or AGS graded diamonds. Many stores only use GIA and AGS reports to provide consistency to customers and avoid price fluctuations that exist amongst different reports on the market.
Diamonds are composed of pure carbon, starting out as coal, heated and compressed into carbon crystals, which are very tightly packed groupings of carbon atoms. Each carbon atom is nicely bonded to 4 neighboring carbon atoms, so good luck trying to break that bond. This is what makes diamonds so hard, and why they are used as industrial tools and drills as they are harder than the substance they are drilling into. Diamonds are mostly found in South Africa, Russia, Australia.
De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., is the oldest, largest diamond mining company, with a number of diamond mines. A monopoly, they are illegal and cannot sell directly in the U.S. Instead, they sell loose diamonds to 150 "Site Holders" 10 times per year. Site holders then distribute loose diamonds to diamond cutters around the world. De Beers controls most of the diamond industry. They changed Japanese tradition into giving diamond engagement rings in 1966 when they opened up shop there. De Beers makes some finished diamonds as well as uncut diamonds that are marketed to diamond cutters, brokers, and wholesalers, where they end up in diamond districts of the big cities and finally in jewelry stores.
This is the GIA description of the diamond engagement ring I bought my wife for your reference as you read this article:
Diamond Carat Weight: 1.03 Carats, Color Grade: H, Clarity Grade: VVS2, Diamond Cut: Round Brilliant, Fluorescence: NONE
Depth %: 57.5%, Table %: 64%, Girdle: Thin to medium, Culet: Small, Polish: Good, Symmetry: Good. This will all make sense soon.
I recommend you only buy a diamond if it has a GIA Diamond Grading Report or equivalent who only certifies loose diamonds, not the entire ring. Jewelers call them "GIA Certs". Dated certifications are laminated and typed. Don't confuse this with a diamond appraisal, it's a real diamond grading report, accurate the date of grading. Most jewelers will get a GIA if it's over 3/4 carat. You want GIA certificates dated 1 year or less, unless the diamond was in a vault unused. GIA labs grade diamonds with microscopes, UV lights, etc. With the GIA cert, jewelers can't overstate your diamond, a violation of FTC rules. The GIA cert maps your stone, showing inclusions and blemishes plotted as viewed from above or below. The certificate aids you in spotting inclusions when you view the diamond through a 10x loupe. GIA reports might be stale if the diamond had abuse since it was graded. When you shop the better online stores, they list the GIA cert online before you buy. How many mall jewelry stores will do that for you?
Welcome to the 4 Cs of loose diamond buying. You've heard the Four Cs a million times while buying engagement ring diamonds, but what does this mean? They are Carat, Cut, Color, Clarity. Each "C" effects reflected light in it's own way. They are 4 important parameters that are used to define the quality (or lack thereof) of your diamond. These 4 parameters work together to control selling prices and how good your gem stone will look. The higher rating each of these parameters is, the more your stone will cost.
This is the weight of the loose diamond, one carat = 200 mg. The engagement ring diamond I bought was 1.03 Ct. Marketing tradition says spend 2 months salary, and get the best diamond you can that fits the bill. Most girls have psychological goals of 1 carat. It's amazing how diamonds smaller than 1 carat look really small. For many girls, Carats are the most important part. They show off their rings to their friends like a trophy, and the bigger it is the crazier they get. Some girls don't care about size and are just happy that you love them (I'm referring to the diamond). For some girls 1/2 to 0.75 Ct. is fine by them. Don't buy a 2 carat diamond engagement ring just because it's 2 carats. It could be a yellow 2 carat diamond ring loaded with flaws. You'll need the other 3 C's to ensure you get a quality diamond. Ask for EXACT carat weight, you don't want to hear "It's about a carat". It's either 1.0 carat, or it's not.
Other diamond buying guides fail to warn you about Total Carat Weight (TCW). It may appear as "Carat Weight Total", "CWT", "Ct. TW". It's the total weight of all diamonds on the engagement ring, i.e., one big diamond, 4 tiny diamonds. You're shopping for platinum engagement rings and the tag says 1.5 Ct TW, tricking you into thinking the big diamond is 1.5 Ct. But hang on, Casanova. The big diamond and the 4 smaller diamonds together weigh 1.5 Carat Weight Total. Big difference. Be on the lookout for this.
Pricing Example: Shopping for diamonds is like shopping for meat. Buy them by
weight, cost per carat, not just by selling price of the diamond, so you can verify you are paying fair value. The table below shows 4
"Diamond D" is the best deal, it costs only $3874 per carat, whereas the cheapest
one, "Diamond A", costs $4700 per carat, and is thus less bang for the buck.
Diamonds increase in price per carat at certain milestone intervals like 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, etc. If you want a 1.0 carat, try 0.96 instead.
Here's a search I did once:
Two diamonds listed above, each is nearly 1 carat, you can't tell the difference in size, but look at the difference in price.
Most diamonds range in color from clear to yellow, clear being best. This color chart shows how jewelers rate diamond color:
Most U.S. jewelry stores use the GIA letter scale. Ideally you want gems that are D, E, or F in color. But your wallet determines the color grade, not you, most likely a J or a K color diamond. Most people get G, H, or I. Colors like J,K,L are more affordable. D,E,F are rare and expensive, out of range of us common folk. Don't consider M-Z, they have no business in diamond engagement rings, they belong in costume jewelry. Still some jewelry shops pawn them off on you as excellent diamonds. This is why I tell you to bring the Diamond Ring Buying Guide Book with you to the jeweler and refer to the color charts so they know you did your homework.
Watch out for yellow diamonds
Some people like yellow diamonds in the "Z" color range, referred to as fancy color diamonds, or fancy yellow. Some jewelers trick you by making a yellow gem look white, and show you the diamond on a black velvet pad or dark background. It sure does make the diamond look great but INSIST on seeing the stone on a white background (Even a white piece of paper). Black will make even the most yellow diamond appear nice and clear. If they refuse, walk out. Better yet, hold it against a GIA color stone guide.
Diamond fluorescence is your diamond's reaction to ultraviolet light. We at Bridaltips.com have interviewed the experts and they are divided whether fluorescence helps or hurts diamond values. Some unscrupulous jewelers scam you, showing you how "perfect" your diamond is as it turns blue under UV! So what, my T-shirt looks cool under UV lights also. They can't sell you on the diamond engagement ring's real attributes. UV lighting is not how we view normally diamonds, so it's a bogus show, a waste of time. These stones might look whiter in fluorescent lighting than they really are. A little bit of blue fluorescence is acceptable, but only in diamonds on the yellow side, as it takes the bite out of the yellow. Experts claim fluorescence makes a clear diamond appear cloudy in sunlight. You don't want a diamond to have fluorescence if the stone is already clear. The GIA cert indicates if there's fluorescence. Loose diamonds with higher levels of fluorescence sell for less than those with none. So it does not matter which side wins this argument, it's how the market perceives fluorescence that counts. It reduces values 10-20%. FTC forbids Misuse of the term "blue white" to make a loose diamond sound better. In a test done by GIA, they claimed experts could not agree on the effects of fluorescence from one loose diamond to the next. Most felt that strongly blue fluorescent gems were perceived to have a better color appearance when viewed from table-up. There was no trend when the loose diamonds were viewed table-down. Most experts saw no relationship between fluorescence and transparency.
My advice to you: Side with the market on this one and pick a good clear stone so that you don't need fluorescence at all to make up for the yellow, and don't obsess over it. No one views a diamond straight down from the top anyway.
||The American Gem Society (AGS) says diamond cut is so important to the value of diamonds that it can affect it by 25% to 50%. Most grooms buy a round brilliant diamond cut. There is also the emerald cut diamond, the asscher cut, the marquise diamond looks like football or egg, then there's the ideal cut, which is a near perfect form of round diamond, and lastly you have the brilliant cut. The princess cut diamond is another popular cut. Which one should you get? That's up to you don't ask me. I prefer a round diamond, you may like a princess cut. Your diamond should look bright, sparkling and brilliant when viewed down through the table (top of the diamond). They all have very mathematical geometries, and like most formulas, any errors produce bad results.|
Diamond cut probably controls more variables affecting the quality and subsequent pricing. If diamonds are not cut to the right shape and proportion, the effects are less than optimal, even if it has great color and clarity. If your diamond is cut too deep, you'll see large dark shaded areas when viewing it through the table. Quality of the cut is why GIA certificates are so important, as they include data that salespeople won't point out: Depth % and Table %, ratios compared to the width of the diamond. A good table cut should be 53-64% of the width. Good Depth % are 58-64%. Anything outside this range means the diamond is too deep or too shallow. Polish and symmetry (i.e. facet alignment) fine tune the price. You want the GIA cert to declare at least "Good" for both. In a nutshell, the 4 C's mean squat without good proportion data.
Princess Cut diamonds don't have the same proportional requirements as round diamonds. For princess cut diamonds, just make sure the depth percentage is between 60% to 71%. The industry is still undecided on good specs for ideal Princess Cut diamonds, don't let anyone lie to you and tell you that theirs conforms tot he tightest industry specs, because there are no specs for ideal. No trade agreement has been established on them yet, American Gem Society is working on it. Make sure your special girl likes princess cut diamonds before you rush out to buy that engagement ring. And make sure she comes back here to visit us once you are engaged.
Hearts On Fire is a trademarked brand name owned by Hearts On Fire Company, LLC. These diamonds start from the top 1% of all diamond cuts. When you look through the bottom of the Hearts On Fire diamond you can see a heart pattern and the diamond is very brilliant. You'll find other marketing names similar to this out there. According to the company, every Hearts On Fire diamond meets or exceeds the AGS 000 rating. Many people mix up the name and ask us about Hearts Of Fire, there is no such name. My guess is they are thinking of the Hearts On Fire brand. You'll see many brands make up fancy marketing names for what is really an ideal diamond, and wow you with how perfect they are, and how much better they are than everyone else. But you can go to different stores and still find ideal graded stones, it's marketing hype, you should look past that right to the GIA or AGS certificate. That's all that matters.
Diamond clarity is important. Diamonds have natural flaws called inclusions and blemishes inside the diamond. These can be tiny air bubbles, black carbon deposits, small clouds, or tiny feather cracks. Look at ice cubes, you'll see they crack inside and look like white feathers, it's the same with precious gem stones. On the external surface of your gem, blemishes can be chips, or imperfect corners, scratches, or pits on the surface. Some diamond flaws are so small you need a microscope or 10x loupe. Some flaws are so bad Mr. Magoo can see them. The easier flaws are to see, the worse the diamond is. It will not properly bounce light as it should and will not sparkle as much as you'd like. Ideally you want zero inclusions in your diamond. But life is a trade off, the fewer inclusions, the more it costs. The more it costs, the more inclusions you'll be willing to live with! Once again the GIA and the AGS are there for us with more standards. Below is the GIA Color Grading Scale, and the AGS scales, graded by looking at the diamond through a 10x loupe. Most jewelers use the GIA scale. As you shop the mall jewelry stores, the tags may have the GIA letters on them. The ones you'll see the most of are VS2, SI1, and SI2, typically the ones you and I can afford. Diamond color clarity has a big effect on price.
Clarity enhanced diamonds are a short cut to be avoided. Some jewelers sell clarity enhanced diamonds, reworked losers, without a GIA cert, as GIA does not grade clarity enhanced stones. Jewelers use a laser to vaporize black carbon deposits inside flawed diamonds, leaving a white track similar to ski tracks, that a trained jeweler could easily spot with a 10x loupe. Some jewelers perform fracture filling by injecting temporary clear solids whose index of refraction simulates diamond. But these are temporary solutions to permanent problems, band aids, that make your gem look 1-2 grades higher. Over time, humidity, and temperature extremes, clarity enhanced diamonds don't last. Some jewelers don't tell you it's a clarity enhanced diamond, and if you get one, it better be priced much less than other gems of the same color and clarity level. Clarity enhanced diamonds are like buying a car that's been in a wreck, then painted over. This is why I tell you to bring the Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Guide book with you to the jewelry store for the clarity charts and photos of clarity enhanced diamonds The jeweler knows they cannot pull the wool over your eyes.
It's hard for the novice to visualize how the price is affected by carat, cut, color and clarity. So I like to use the interactive search function At Blue Nile. It lets you see how quality and size tradeoffs affect diamond price. And narrowing your search from over 30,000 diamonds, it's easy to find the right one. Play around with the parameters and you'll see the price change. You can also Design your own diamond ring with them.
The Rapaport Diamond Report is a subscription for the diamond and jewelry industry, providing diamond prices, news, business issues, and fashion of diamond wedding rings, consumer trends. Many jewelers subscribe to this "Kelly Blue Book" of diamonds. Jewelers rely on "Rapaport Sheets" for world-wide wholesale diamond prices. Rap sheets are weekly spreadsheets listing wholesale prices by color and clarity on tables corresponding to the carat weight you choose. If you visit a Rapaport "member" (subscriber) jeweler, maybe they'll show you the wholesale price of your diamond, showing how much profit they are making, like some car dealers show you the invoice. They are under no obligation to, but the jeweler that sold me the diamond for my fiancé showed me the Rapaport Sheets and it ended up being the deciding factor of the sale. Jewelry stores, take note. Most jewelers buy diamonds at "a discount from the Rap Sheet", usually 10-20% off. So a jeweler can show you the Rap Sheet, charge you the "wholesale" price, and still make money, just like a car dealers make money selling you the car at invoice.
We are not finished educating you yet!
Click Here To Read Part 2 Of This Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Guide
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