Experts weigh in on the top considerations for buying a diamond
Take a look at the engagement rings on this page. They look nearly identical but they are thousands of dollars apart in price. And while we all know that size matters, there are many factors that impact the cost of a diamond ring.
“Research pays,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings adviser for Kinoli Inc., a website group (kinoliinc.com) dedicated to discount offers. “Before you begin, learn about the four C’s: cut, carat, color and clarity. The unnamed fifth C, naturally, is cost.” Woroch advises that you buy only what you can afford in cash: “Don’t let a seller talk you into a more-expensive stone by quoting monthly payments. The interest rates will make the total payments seemingly stretch into infinity.”
After budget, “the next step is deciding what matters to you most–size or quality–when it comes to the center diamond,” says Denis Stepansky, founder and owner of ItsHot.com, an online diamond wholesaler. He advises choosing quality over size, especially if you’re planning on upgrading in the future.
But if bigger is still better in your book, try some of these tricks of the trade to maximize the impact of your center stone:
Here are some additional ideas on how to get more diamond bang for your buck:
|Bump down to a size below one of the popular half, three-quarter or one carat levels. “Choosing a stone that falls just under a popular size will cost less than the exact quarter-size diamond,” says Stepansky.
Left: 0.40-carat center stone; costs less than $1,200.
|“Adding side stones can give an engagement ring a richer look and make the center diamond look bigger for less money,” says Stepansky.
Left: one carat center stone; less than $5,500.
|This ring is almost 10 times the cost of the first one for a number of reasons. Its platinum setting, an upgrade from H to G color, a larger, 1.25-carat center stone and a higher total carat weight of 2.25 combine to boost the cost.
This ring, left, is nearly $12,000
For Tough Love, Tungsten Rings
Gold is gorgeous. An icon of value and glittery as well, gold has been the metal of choice for wedding rings for centuries. Unfortunately, gold is also soft. A gold ring can be bent by simply dropping it, catching it in a door or drawer, or banging it against something hard, like your husband’s head.
If you’re lucky enough to be married for a couple of decades, the thin back strap of a gold ring may wear completely through. If they can put a man on the moon, right? In fact, there is a space-age metal that solves all of these problems. Tungsten carbide is one of the hardest metals known to man (or woman). It’s three times stiffer than steel and much denser than titanium. Gary Camphausen didn’t set out to make wedding rings— he just wanted to create some really, really tough jewelry for guys.
That led to requests from women for men’s wedding bands (“Gee, honey, I took off the ring because I was afraid it would get scratched up.”) and from there it was a short leap to wedding rings for women. Forever Metal wedding bands (forevermetals.com) may not literally last an eternity, but they will certainly outlast you. Prices range from a totally modest $99 up to about $600 for more complex designs.