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The 4Cs For Buying Diamonds: What You Need To Know Before Buying An Engagement Ring

What exactly are you paying for when you buy a diamond?


This article was written in collaboration with Love & Co. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.

When it comes to a wedding proposal today, many defer to the tradition of buying a diamond engagement ring. However, while it’s the most common way to propose, buying a diamond engagement ring isn’t always so simple, especially if you are purchasing a diamond for the first time.

If you are not sure what is the right engagement ring to buy for your fiancée, or unsure about what she would like based on the budget you have, one way to Get It Right is to go ring-shopping with her.

In this scenario, if you wish to spring a surprise wedding proposal on your fiancée, one option to is to propose with a pre-engagement ring.

Launched recently by Love & Co, the LVC Pre-Engagement Ring retails at $299. The ring is made with 925 sterling silver and is also available in a rose gold plated version. It also comes with a self-adjustable band so you are assured that the ring can fit nicely for her. More importantly, it comes with a clear message – Will You Marry Me.

Photo from Love & Co

The LVC Pre-Engagement Ring also comes with a beautiful proposal ring box that fits neatly into your pocket. Regardless of what your wedding proposal method could be, your surprise proposal can be well concealed. Along with the purchase, you also receive a $200 cash voucher that can be used when you return for the diamond engagement ring with your fiancée at Love & Co.

Photo from Love & Co

For those confident that you’ll pick the perfect engagement ring for your fiancée, you can proceed to buy the ring that she wants and to surprise her with a proposal. Here is some information to guide you through.

The 4Cs Will Determine The Price Of The Diamond

As you should already know, diamonds are expensive. A diamond gemstone can cost from a few hundred dollars to a few million dollars or more. On average, most Singaporean guys can expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars on the engagement ring.

But what exactly are you paying for when buying a diamond?

The critical thing to take note of is that each natural diamond stone is unique. This means similar to our fingerprints, you won’t be able to find a replica of the diamond gemstone that you bought.

The 4Cs are Carat Weight, Colour, Clarity & Cut.

#1 Carat Weight

Carat is the first characteristic that most buyers typically look out for in an engagement ring. Carat is what gemstones such as diamonds are usually measured in. One carat is 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams. The higher the carat size, the more expensive a diamond would be.

Source: Love & Co, an illustration of diamond carat size

Prices for diamonds don’t increase linearly based on carat weight. For example, larger diamonds will cost much more compared to smaller diamonds. For instance, with all things being equal, a 1.0-carat diamond will have a higher value than two 0.5 carat diamonds. This is because bigger diamonds are harder to find and thus its rarity makes them more expensive.

#2 Colour

In general, higher-quality diamonds are colourless. A slightly yellow diamond stone would be considered a lower colour diamond grade. There is a standard diamond grading that you can use to gauge the colour quality of a diamond.

Diamond Colour Grade

What It Means

D, E, F

Colourless

G, H, I

Near Colourless

J & Below

Faint or Light Yellow

If you are looking to buy a white diamond, you may want to ensure that the diamond is colourless or near colourless. Otherwise, the faint yellow colour that you do not want may be a distraction. According to various online sources we read, only about 2-3% of all diamonds fall within the colourless and near colourless grade.

Source: Love & Co, an illustration of how diamond colours are graded

Naturally, the higher the diamond colour grade, the most you can expect to pay. Do note that the diamond colour grade mentioned above only applies to white diamonds. If you choose a rare coloured diamond such as pink or blue, the colour grading will be different.

#3 Clarity

As diamonds are gemstones formed by carbon under high temperature and pressure, it’s inevitable that many diamonds would contain natural inclusions and blemishes. Usually, these inclusions and blemishes can’t be observed with the naked eye and you can only see them under a 10x magnification.

There is a standard diamond clarity grading that you can take reference from.

Diamond Clarity Grading

What It Means

IF, FL

Internally Flawless (IF) and Flawless (FL) are the highest grades of clarity, referring to diamonds with almost no or zero hints of flaws. Extremely rare and valuable

VVS1, VVS2

Very very slightly included – VVS1 and VVS2. Very difficult to see under 10x magnification. Difficult even for a skilled grader to view under magnification.

VS1, VS2

Very slightly included – VS1 and VS2. Difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification. Typically cannot see inclusions with the naked eye.

SI1, SI2

Slightly included – SI1 and SI2. Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible with an unaided eye.
I1, I2, I3

Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.

The higher the diamond clarity grading (IF, FL), the more you can expect to pay. That said, unlike carat weight and colour, most inclusions and blemishes are not visible with the naked eye and can only be observed if you examine them very closely using a 10x magnification.

Source: Love & Co, an illustration of how diamond clarity works

#4 Cut

Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and to sparkle intensively. Diamond cut refers to how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. A smaller diamond that is well cut can enjoy a higher level of brilliance than a bigger diamond that isn’t as well-cut.

According to Love & Co, the quality of a cut can be determined by three factors.

Polish: The placement of the diamond’s facets and the exterior finish of the diamond

Symmetry: The precise intersection and alignment of the various diamond facets

Proportion: How the size, shape and angle of each diamond facet interacts with one another to produce the best combination for the reflection and refraction of light

Source: Love & Co, an illustration of how an excellent diamond cut would be

A high-quality diamond cut is important as it means the diamond is cut to ideal proportions and angles. It also has excellent polish and symmetry ratings. This allows it to reflect almost all the light that enters it and is one of the highest grades of diamonds. It displays the reflected light back in a stunning array of brilliance and fire.

Bonus C: Certification

Lastly, when buying a natural diamond, ensure that you get a certification issued by an independent gemological lab. This certification acts as an assurance that the diamond you are buying has been graded by a trusted third-party. Reputable certification houses in the world include the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Institute (IGI) and De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds (IOD).

Natural Or Lab-Grown Diamonds?

An alternative to natural diamonds would be lab-grown diamonds. These are diamonds that have been carefully created and designed in a laboratory – and for all intents and purposes, are similar to what you would expect from a natural diamond that has been mined.

When buying a diamond, you need to decide whether you want to buy a natural diamond (which tends to be more expensive) or a lab-grown diamond.

You can enjoy the best of both worlds in Love & Co.

The Love & Co.’s latest collection of lab-grown diamonds (LVC Precieux) allow customers the choice of a diamond that gives more value (larger carat size for the same investment), more sustainability value and a technology-enabled solution for millenials. Created in a laboratory with cutting-edge technology, LVC Precieux boasts exceptional diamond chemical purity. They are optically, chemically and physically identical to their natural counterparts and are certified by International Gemological Institute. The diamonds from Love & Co also fulfils stringent selection critieria, to ensure only the best diamonds are shown to the customers.

Beyond just choosing the right diamonds, buying the right engagement ring also means choosing the right ring body, setting design, metal type, and of course, choosing the right ring size for her.

As there are multiple variables to contend with, and different ways you can customise the ring to her liking, it makes sense to choose the diamond engagement ring with your fiancée so that her preferences (and your budget!) are both considered. After all, this is an engagement ring that she would be wearing for the rest of her life (ideally).

Decide what will help you ace the proposal, be it a pre-engagement ring or a diamond engagement ring, choose the one that will help you ace the proposal beautifully. It is a once in a lifetime moment for both of you.

Read Also: What Happens When Your Engagement Ring Isn’t Right For Your Fiancée?