From popping the question to making the announcement to friends and family, the diamond engagement ring signifies to the world that your special day is coming. That said, it really makes sense to make sure this symbol of your union is as well-chosen as possible. For many, that means getting the perfect diamond for her ring while getting the best value for your money. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish that:
4 Tips to Get the Best Engagement Ring for Your Money
If you’re planning to spend more than $1,000 on a diamond, make absolutely sure it has a legitimate GIA or AGS certificate. Be wary of appraisals from a GIA gemologist (there’s a big difference!) or certificates from less-reputable labs.
GIA issues its diamond certificates only once the stone has been inspected in their laboratory, using all of their state-of-the-art tools (which no independent appraiser can afford), and in accordance with their strict standardized guidelines.
An appraisal by a GIA gemologist, on the other hand, is not reliable. All it means is that the person was able to complete a course offered by GIA (either remotely or in person). It does not mean that they themselves hold GIA standards, or any other standards, for that matter. Beyond that, there are thousands of appraisers in the US and appraisals among these gemologists are usually very inconsistent. Even worse, this person is often employed by the store selling the diamond to you, creating an obvious bias.
2) Buy Online
It may seem counterintuitive, but buying directly from a physical retailer effectively eliminates your chance of getting the best possible deal. This is because their business model motivates them to push the diamonds that aren’t selling well, leaving you, the consumer, to purchase a diamond on their terms. Buying a diamond online, on the other hand, does exactly the opposite: it puts you in the driver’s seat.
It’s important to understand two things: 1) Compared to physical retailers, online retailers have set up their businesses to function in a very different way, and 2) You can (and should!) absolutely take advantage of it.
- They provide pictures and even video of diamonds in stock so you can see what you’re buying.
- They offer a 30-day hassle-free return policy (something nearly impossible to find from a physical retailer).
- They don’t actually own their loose diamond inventories and instead buy the diamond from a wholesaler when you make your purchase, keeping everyone’s costs down, especially yours.
3) The Four C’s
Diamond buying is a zero sum game, meaning that there’s always going to be a give and take. Anytime you focus on higher quality in one of the four C’s (cut, carat weight, color, and clarity), you need to sacrifice somewhere else to stay within budget.
In this process, color and clarity are what we call “negatives”— things you don’t want to notice (i.e. a yellowish diamond or a diamond full of imperfections). To maximize value, your goal should be to get them as low as possible without these Cs being noticeable. As long as the diamond looks white (for color) and you can't notice inclusions (for clarity), then the actual grades of these two aspects don’t really matter.
Remember, the goal here is to “give” on these two so that more of your money can go towards carat weight and cut, i.e. a bigger, more brilliant diamond.
4) Beware of “Unicorns”
When you’re shopping for diamonds, never forget: there is no such thing as a screaming deal. Diamonds are commodities, so once you remove the premium of buying from name-brand retailers, the actual product is identical and costs relatively the same amount for every store. So if you’re comparing apples to apples, there is no way that one store can save you 50%. The main takeaway here: If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.
Following these guidelines from The Diamond Pro will help you make sure you don't fall for any diamond industry tricks and you can purchase a great diamond with the confidence that you are getting the best bang for your buck. Happy shopping!
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