Don’t Go Into Debt over that Diamond
We are told that diamonds are forever. This ingenious marketing ploy by the diamond syndicate De Beers has convinced much of the Western world that buying a diamond engagement ring is a deeply rooted tradition and a non-negotiable for any guy looking to pop the question. Actually, Edward Jay Epstein reveals that neither claim is true; rather, De Beers has duped us into thinking we need that diamond for the engagement to be proper and official. In its 1947 strategy plan, the company says “We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to …strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services.”
So now that we’ve debunked the myth of the ancient diamond engagement ring, we have to admit that there is still significant social pressure to go out and buy it anyway. If you can get away with a ring with a different precious stone, a la Mark Zuckerberg who bought his wife a ruby ring, by all means, go for it! But if your girlfriend expects the standard sparkler, you should at least try to avoid going into debt over it. Let’s take a look at the diamond’s clarity, color, and carat to give you some practical money-saving tips.
Your Goal is Eye-Clean Clarity
Many people think that you should buy a diamond with the best clarity possible, known as flawless. While that’s nice and romantic in theory, when it comes to your wallet, it just doesn’t make sense. A diamond’s clarity refers to the number, quality, and size of inclusions or imperfections in the diamond. Since most of us don’t walk around with a jeweler’s loupe, or magnifying tool, the goal should be to find a diamond that is “naked eye-clean” — clean enough to your naked eye that you don’t see any inclusions.
With that in mind, try to find the lowest clarity grade you can get away with and still be in the safe zone of naked eye clean. Remember that if the inclusion is on the periphery, you can most likely have it covered by one of the prongs of the ring. And depending on the shape of the diamond, you may be able to get away with a lower clarity grade as well.
White Diamond = Perfect Color Grade?
Another big mistake diamond shoppers tend to make is thinking that they must buy a perfectly white colored diamond, graded in the industry as ìD,î or perfectly colorless. This is simply false. Again, don’t pay for something you can’t justify when another diamond with a lower color grade still looks just as white.
Use the following rules as a starting point to save you money while not compromising on the color quality.
With a yellow gold setting, you may go with a lower colored diamond (K/L) than if your ring is white gold or platinum.
Take into account the shape of the diamond when choosing the color grade: (1) Round brilliant cut (J or higher), (2) Princess, Emerald, and Asscher cuts ( H or I), and (3) all other shapes like marquise, oval, pear, etc. (H or higher only).
Carat Top Secret Tips
If you save your money by making smart decisions on clarity and color, you can put a little extra into the diamond’s carat weight — arguably the most impressive of the 4 c’s. But even here there are ways to cut corners and make frugal decisions. The difference between a 0.9 carat diamond and a 1 carat diamond is quite significant in cost, but if you put the two diamonds side by side, you would be hard pressed to say which one is bigger. Why does the one carat diamond cost more? Because once you’ve crossed the threshold of one carat, you enter a higher category of bling and you pay for it! So think about getting the highest carat weight you can reasonably get away with without getting into a super pricey price point.
The bottom line is: don’t go into debt over that diamond! Be an educated consumer and know what your options are before you make that big bijoux purchase — and focus on what really matters, your upcoming marriage! 😉
Ira Weissman+ is a diamond industry veteran with a decade of experience at one of the world’s largest diamond polishers. He has traveled the world buying and selling diamonds and now dedicates his time to helping consumers make the most of their diamond buying decisions. He has been featured on Anderson Cooper, CNBC, The Huffington Post, and has been quoted by MarketWatch, The Village Voice, and BankRate. Visit Truth About Diamonds to educate yourself about diamonds.