Know Your Diamonds ... "Understand the Four C’s," starting with the cut, which refers to how the facets are cut into the stone and determines how much light reflects and refracts from the diamond.
Consider What is Fashionable ... Though some shapes and cuts may be in style now and may be considered less stylish at other times, the diamond itself will never go out of style. Truly, "a diamond is forever."
Your Diamond is Forever
"You didn’t go for size when you were finding your husband," says our diamond advisor at Harry Winston. "Don’t go for size when you’re buying a diamond. Go for quality."
But in the exaggerated movie scene, isn’t it the gold-digger bride who drags her Daddy Warbucks groom (young or old) to shop for her glittering rock?
"Interestingly enough, the woman usually trades down the purchase," says our advisor, who encourages you to be more concerned with finding the shape and the mounting you love. "It’s more important to decide on a gold or platinum setting and the type of side stones than how deep he wants to reach into his pocket."
The Four C’s: Cut. Carat. Clarity. Color.
"Understand the Four C’s," she tells us, "because you want to be able to discuss them with your fiancé."
Cut refers to how the facets are cut into the stone. This determines how much light reflects and refracts from the diamond.
The carat weight measures size. Clarity refers to the amount of inclusions in the stone. "If you can hold up a stone and see imperfections with the naked eye, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it. Of course that would bring the price down, but an included stone loses its value pretty quickly.
"At the more prestigious diamond houses, it’s all about buying the rarest gem you can find. It took you years to find the person you’re going to marry. Why not buy a stone as rare as that person?"
The best color is no color at all, a clear, whitish-blue diamond. The color range starts at ‘D,’ perfect color. "D, E and F are in the near perfect to no color at all range. G and H start getting a little faint yellow in them.
"You want to have the right mix of the four C’s.
"If your budget is $30,000, you can go to certain jewelers to find a three-carat stone or to the high-end shops for a carat and a half stone. The three-carat stone is probably going to be included and slightly yellow. The one and a half-carat stone is going to be beautiful, nearly colorless and barely included."
But How Do I Choose?
Just like no two people are alike, no two diamonds are alike. "People always ask me, ‘When you’re looking at a few stones that are very similar, how do you decide which one is right for you?’
"I can only judge by how I got my diamond," she tells us. "It’s like when you look at a litter of puppies. All the cute little puppies are wagging their tails. Then you look at one. Its eyes are sparkling, and it’s saying, ‘Take me home.’
"It’s the same thing with a diamond. If you’re looking at several that are similarly priced and have similar characteristics — good clarity, good cut, good size, good color — you’ll fall madly in love with one. That’s the one you should get. There’s no science to it."
Your First Major Purchase
Buying an engagement ring is probably your first major purchase together.
"I suggest you go to a reputable jeweler," our advisor says. "There are many people who can sell stones, but with technology today, it’s very easy to sell imitation diamonds or fracture-filled diamonds. There are many things you can get fooled by. Even appraisers get fooled. If you have a reputable jeweler, you won’t have that problem." She also encourages you to get a certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) with your stone.
"If you don’t want to be surprised, tell your fiancé what you love. I think women in our area know what they want."
Different Diamond Cuts & Styles
Certain diamond trends are cyclical, and preferences change every few years. In the early 80’s, everyone bought round brilliant diamonds. A few years later, everyone wanted to have fancy pear cuts. "It was pear or nothing. But now pear diamonds are not as modern-looking as emerald or square cuts. The really nice thing about diamonds is that, though shapes may come and go, a diamond never goes out of style."
In the 50’s, the marquis cut was popular. "Marilyn Monroe wore a fabulous marquis. Ron Winston of Harry Winston gave his wife a marquis, but instead of setting it vertically, which is the traditional setting, he set it horizontally, which is beautiful. It was the first time I had ever seen that.
"So you can take a shape that might not be modern and make it look timeless, yet modern."
Gifts for the Groom
"You have to give the groom something," says our advisor, who suggests a watch, and says the process should be much like buying the ring. "He might tell you his preferences, but you’ll determine your budget and surprise him."
Take your groom’s personality into account. Does he work on Wall Street? Does he wear a suit every day? "If he does, then you might want to get him a beautiful platinum watch. They don’t scratch, and they’re just as appropriate to wear to work as they are to wear to the golf course and to the wedding.
"After the bride gives the man a symbol of her timeless love with the watch, then her parents want to give a gift to welcome him into the family. If he has already received a watch, it’s usually cufflinks or studs to wear on the wedding day.
"This is a Manhattan thing. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the country."
The gift-giving continues. "Then his parents want to give her something to welcome her into the family.
"I think it’s nicest when they give something old from the family — her wedding band or diamond earrings. My mother-in-law gave me her diamond wedding band, and I was really touched."