Let’s face it. Men go about shopping differently than women. We have innate skills that have developed from generations of hunter-gatherers trying to find their next meal. And though our environments have changed drastically since hunter-gatherer times, a study from Psychology Today suggests that men still use these skills today.
If you think about it, hunting is a lot like shopping, whether you’re acquiring a car, home theater system, or some other major investment. Our ancestors didn’t mess around with their prey and you shouldn’t either.
Especially when your prey is an engagement ring.
Unfortunately, buying an engagement ring can can be fraught with peril. How are you supposed to know the difference between the good and the bad, between a scam and a great find? There’s a lot of information floating around out there, and most of it is conflicting.
Well, the first thing any good hunter does is some reconnaissance.
Getting enough information to make the best decision is crucial. Even more crucial is that the information you’re basing your decision on is accurate.
Below is a list of common claims, opinions, and myths we’ve seen spread by websites, jewelers, and the occasional well-meaning (but ill-informed) friend. We discuss each one to set the record straight.
Read below, and familiarize yourself with what’s really going on before you get back to the hunt.
Myth 1. Carat weight is how big a diamond looks.
This is sort of a tricky one. Carats tell you how much a diamond weighs, and diamonds of the same weight always have the same volume. However, two different diamonds of the exact same carat weight but different shapes — or even the same shape but different cut grades — can appear to be different sizes. That’s because of characteristics like the diamond’s width, depth and length-to-width ratio.
Consider these two diamonds:
|1.00-carat Asscher Diamond||1.00-carat Round Diamond|
|View Asscher Diamonds||View Round Diamonds|
They have the same carat weight (1.00), but the Asscher is a bit wider than the round when measured from corner to corner, which makes it look bigger at a glance. In summary, a diamond’s shape can have a big effect on its apparent size.
Myth 2. Clarity grade tells you how much a diamond sparkles.
Clarity grade measures internal imperfections, or lack thereof, and a flawless diamond will allow for greater sparkle than an included (or flawed) one.
However, a diamond’s cut grade is actually the primary determining factor for sparkle. For example, a Good cut Flawless diamond like this one usually has less sparkle than an Ideal cut diamond with a couple inclusions, like this. The amount of light refraction created in an Ideal cut diamond tends to outshine any minor flaws it may have.
Myth 3. Fluorescence is undesirable and should be avoided.
Fluorescence refers to the way a diamond emits a soft colored glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. Just because a diamond has fluorescence doesn’t mean doesn’t mean it’s a lower quality diamond. As with all things, it depends on the diamond, but don’t rule one out simply because it’s been graded as fluorescent.
Myth 4. Round diamonds look biggest.
Round diamonds have the potential to sparkle more than any other diamond shape. But the same element that gives them the potential for maximum sparkle — their symmetry — also makes them appear slightly smaller in comparison to a fancy shaped diamond of the same carat weight, when viewed from the top down.
The apparent size of a diamond can also change depending on the shape and size of the wearer’s hand. Read more about the ideal ring shape for your hand size.
Myth 5. Diamonds can’t be damaged, chipped or cracked.
We wish. It’s true that diamonds score a 10/10 on the Mohs Scale of hardness, meaning that of all minerals, they’re one of the hardest and most difficult to destruct. However, if struck at the right angle with the right force, it’s possible for a diamond to chip or crack. How else would we cut them for your ring?
Myth 6. Your engagement ring setting is indestructible.
Though you can find jewelers who sell rings of extremely strong metals — steel, tungsten, titanium — the most common materials for engagement rings are platinum, white gold and yellow gold. They are metal, yes; immune to damage, no. That’s one reason we recommend buying from a jeweler that offers lifetime care for your ring (like us). But you shouldn’t put your ring through the washing machine and expect it to come out unscathed.
Myth 7. You have to spend a certain percentage of your salary on the ring.
Do we even need to explain why this is wrong? The best budget is the one you come up with – the one that suits you and your savings account. And remember, you can always finance, opt for a layaway plan, or pay with credit card.
Myth 8. “Solitaire” means a ring with a round shaped diamond.
Solitaire comes from the word ‘solo,’ in this case meaning a single diamond. A solitaire ring can have any shape of center diamond; the only real criteria is that it has no additional diamonds on the band. We’ve seen some stunning examples of emerald shaped diamond solitaires and cushion shaped diamond solitaires, to name a few.
Myth 9. The engagement ring has to match the wedding band.
This really is up to you and your partner. There are endless opportunities to create a unique look by mixing metals and styles of engagement and wedding bands. If you want the rings to match, go for it! And if you want a more eclectic look, that’s awesome too. The important thing is to find rings that reflect who you are as a couple.
Myth 10. An engagement ring must have a diamond center stone.
Who is making all these rules? And why is there so much pressure to follow them? Admittedly, we are huge fans of diamonds, but sapphires, rubies and emeralds are a few gorgeous alternatives. Each colored gem shines with its own unique brilliance, so there are plenty of options. Don’t feel locked in to buying a diamond.
Myth 11. The engagement ring has to be a surprise.
The less she knows, the less you know about what she likes (or more importantly, what she doesn’t like). The best thing you can do is have a conversation about her tastes or even go to a jeweler together to see some rings in person. That way you can be sure your partner will love the ring.
And don’t worry, the actual proposal will still be a surprise. They always are.
Myth 12. The center diamond matters more than the setting.
Just because the diamond is more expensive than the setting doesn’t mean it’s more important. Both are part of the whole package — and your partner will soon be wearing it every day. Both the diamond and the setting deserve careful thought and consideration.
Myth 13. “Signature Ideal Cut” and “Super Ideal Cut” are real diamond quality grades.
When we say “real” we mean validated by either the GIA or the AGS, the two universally recognized diamond certifying labs. Neither the GIA nor the AGS grade anything as “Signature,” and they don’t recognize a “Super Ideal” grade. For a list of the officially recognized cut grades, check here for GIA and here for AGS.
Myth 14. A fancy shaped diamond (any diamond that’s not round) can have an Excellent or Ideal cut grade.
The GIA and the AGS have different ways of talking about diamond quality, but they agree on one point: They don’t assign cut grades to fancy shaped diamonds. When you look at a fancy shaped diamond’s certification, you’ll see most of the other common specs (clarity, color, polish, symmetry, fluorescence) but not cut grade. A lot of diamond sellers (including us) assign approximations of cut grade to fancy shaped diamonds based on all the other info in the certification.
This makes it easier for you to compare price and quality of fancy shaped diamonds at a glance. It also means you should pay extra attention to what’s actually in a fancy shaped diamond’s certification before you buy it. If this gets confusing, you can always ask our diamond experts.
Myth 15. Designing your own engagement ring is hard.
While this can be true, there’s no reason it has to be. Ritani provides an easy and accessible way to design the ring of your dreams, whether you’re just starting out or are already familiar with the type of ring you want. Tell us your budget and preferences, and we’ll suggest complete rings you’ll love. Or build your own ring by selecting a diamond and a setting from our inventory. And if you want to go REALLY custom, we’ll work with you to design and handcraft something totally unique.
The most important takeaway: There’s a ton of information out there about how you’re supposed to buy an engagement ring — but ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner. No one else will be wearing that ring for the rest of their lives. You have to decide what’s important to the two of you. And whatever the details of your perfect ring turn out to be, we’re here to help you get it right.