(9 Months to 24 Months before the Wedding)
As you begin your search for your beloved's engagement ring, you as a couple need to learn and research as much as possible about the world of rings and diamonds. You want to spend plenty of time doing your research and check out at least 10 jewelers. You want to see what jewelry they have and take note of jewelers that left you with a good first impression. You want to check the jewelers out that end up on your "A List" a little further by checking them out with the better business bureau, see if any information is provided on them by doing a Google search on them and you want to check their rating from a website called "www.findmyjeweler.com" . You want to take plenty of time for your search, maybe over a couple months period.
After you have looked through some jewelry stores, you want to take some time out and learn some about wedding jewelry. If you don't learn about wedding jewelry, you may very well end up with inferior jewelry and end up paying out a lot more than the jewelry is worth. You need to learn a little about "Wedding Jewelry 101" and that means you need to know about the 4 C's of buying diamond's and the 4 C's are "clarity", "color", "carat", and "cut".
The first "C" is clarity. Clarity is the term used to describe the size and number of internal inclusions and external blemishes a diamond stone might have. Almost all diamonds contain minute traces of non-crystallized carbon, the element from which they were born. These inclusions are nature's finger print and which make the diamond unique. Most are discernible to the naked eye and require magnification to become apparent.
The second "C" is color, while many diamonds appear colorless or white, they may have subtle colorations that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Diamonds were formed under intense heat and pressure and traces of other elements may have been incorporated into their atomic structure, accounting for their variance of color. Diamond color grades start at D and continue through the alphabet. True colorless stones graded D are extremely rare and very valuable. The closer a diamond is to being colorless the more valuable it is. If there is a strong intense color such as red or blue, these diamonds are even more valuable and even more expensive than the clear diamond. If you view a diamond for color, be sure it's viewed using a white background when evaluating its color grade.
The third "C" is carat. The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. One carat is divided into 100 "points". A diamond of 25 points is described as a quarter of a carat. The larger the diamond (therefore rarer), the more expensive per carat it will be. The carat measurements of a diamond is actually a measurement of the diamond's weight rather than it's size. Diamonds have cross over price jumps when they hit a specified weight such as .5 then .75 then at 1.00 carats. Most engagement rings tend to be about 1.00 carats in weight.
The fourth "C" is cut. While nature determines a diamond's clarity, color, and carat weight, it takes the hands of a master craftsman to release the stone's fire and beauty. The cut gives each diamond it's unique sparkle and brilliance by allowing the maximum amount of light to enter and reflect out of the diamond. Diamonds may be cut into a number of different shapes with the most common shape being round (called the brilliant cut). Talk things over with your lady to find out which shaped diamond she likes, besides round, fancy cut diamonds include marquise, oval, pear shape, baguette, princess (square), heart and emerald cut.
When a diamond is cut to ideal proportions, light is reflected from one facet to another and then dispersed through the top of the stone. The light reflected externally will amplify and disperse refracted light within to provide a myriad of color in an even concentration of light, brilliance, and luster. A skillful diamond cutter can unlock an incomparable natural beauty by accurately arranging each facet to maximize the amount of light returned to the eye of the observer. If a diamond is cut too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion. If the cut is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected.
You can find dozens of jewelry stores through wedding related wedding sites and by looking through the yellow pages, and traveling out to malls, independent jewelry shops, auction houses, pawn shops, estate sales, outlet stores, department stores and flea markets. While it's fine to purchase less expensive jewelry off the internet, it's not wise from buying engagement rings on the internet, because you don't have an opportunity to inspect the diamond before purchasing.
One thing to note, jewelers that advertise will tend to show higher prices for jewelry because some of their margins are redirected to their advertising budget. Often your best deals on jewelers come from jewelers who don't do advertising too much. In many cities, jewelers seem to congregate in a certain area of town, often this area is a good place to buy jewelry. The key though, is to find a jeweler who is a master craftsman who is a perfectionist on cutting diamonds.
When you order or pick up jewelry, you should either bring a certified jeweler with you that you know personally or arrange for an independent diamond appraiser to authenticate the item and assign an appropriate value. If you are using an independent diamond appraiser, you should stipulate in the purchase contract that you shall have from 7 to 30 days to return the diamond for a full refund. Often even the suggestion that a deal is contingent on an opinion from an independent diamond appraiser will help get the best possible merchandise for the best possible price.
By understanding the 4 "C"s of diamonds before buying an engagement ring, it not only shows your true love you each have for each other, but you are also buying an investment, you have bought the best diamond for your budget and the money value of your investment will always be there. If you should see a diamond with imperfections with the naked eye, you know the diamond is less valuable. You should inspect the diamond using a jeweler's loupe or binocular microscope or binocular microscope to evaluate the tiny imperfections the stone has. You should also get an independent GIA appraisal that goes along with the diamond. The GIA appraisal grades the 4 "C"s of the diamond. Try to find an independent jeweler that's GIA certified that you have bonded with and ask if he/she can evaluate and inspect a diamond you are interested in before making a final decision on purchase.
There are a few places to find independent diamond appraisers in the area where you live. Independent appraiser's of jewelry are independent of buyers and sellers of jewelers so they are very unbiased opinion from that of a jewelry business. You can find them off the internet or by calling the American Society of Appraisers at (703) 478-2228 at website www.appraisers.org or by contacting the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers at (718) 896-1536 at website www.najaappraisers.com .
The fees for quality appraisers usually relate to the degree of difficulty, sometimes by the time involved and sometimes by the weight of the major stone or stones. Usually you can get a quote from the appraiser before starting the appraisal but some lesser experienced appraisers might charge $25 for a verbal and $50 for a written appraisal whereas highly experienced appraisers fees might start at $100. Get price quotes from multiple jewelry appraisers. Some of these appraisers will include a free cleaning in their quoted price.
First step in finding and ordering a wedding band is to get one's ring size. If the engagement ring is a surprise you may have to get a little sneaky to find your love's ring size. Many jewelers will provide you with a plastic ring chart. You may have to get a girlfriend to sneakily borrow a ring out your love's jewelry chest, take a measurement and put it back.
As with wedding bands, there are three types to choose from. First there's gold (the band of choice), then platinum (also called yellow gold) which has unparalleled strength, durability, and purity, and then there's white gold (less expense but not as durable). The diamonds are mounted upon the bands in a course of different settings. First there is "Simply Tiffany" which has a high visage and then there is "Channel Setting" which is a low profile on the band but easier to hide blemishes. As to which color band to go with, some suggest to pick a band according to one's skin tone, a white band for lighter skin and a gold band for darker skin. The true choice is what your love likes.
When all is said and done, the diamond is presented to you at a value. Most jewelers are honest, but some are not. You have a better chance of getting honesty when there is an independent appraisal performed on the diamond. When you are presented with a price from the jeweler, the price is negotiable. The sales person is trying to negotiate a high price so he/she can make a high margin. Use your budget limitations and your 4 "C"s knowledge, the services of an independent GIA certified jeweler to negotiate a good price on your love's engagement ring and the couple should always purchase the ring together.
After ordering and purchasing your engagement/wedding, the time it takes to get the stone mounted, usually depends on how busy the jeweler is. At some jewelers it takes about three days, for others it could take a couple of months, often it will take slightly under one month.
After purchase of your engagement ring, make sure it's properly documented, take a photograph of it and leave the picture in a safe or safety deposit box, and have the ring insured. If the jewelry ever gets lost or stolen you can more easily recover it from a police bust or can receive insurance money to replace it. When you take off jewelry, always put the jewelry in the same place every time, such as a jewelry box. When traveling, always keep the jewelry on you or as close as possible like in your purse or carry on that is always next to you. Do never leave it alone in a car or put in an overhead on a plane or leave in luggage. Never take jewelry off in a public place if you are in a hotel and keep it in a room safe or safety deposit box.
Remember to learn your 4 "C"s and apply them before you purchase your engagement/wedding ring. See you on the other side!
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