Here’s the formula for buying a diamond engagement ring—and—where to get maximum bling for your buck.
SHOPPING AROUND | We like to think that it isn’t the size of a diamond engagement ring that matters—but let’s face it, that’s what most people notice first. Still, what really draws you to a diamond and holds your attention is its visual performance—the brilliant, sharp flashes of multicoloured light that give it “life” when it’s moved. This has nothing to do with a diamond’s size and everything to do with its cut and clarity.
This is why every diamond Tiffany sells registers the highest-cut grade (labelled “excellent” by the Gemological Institute of America) and a clarity rating of VS-2 or better. This is not a pitch for Tiffany, by the way, but it does explain why every diamond in its boutiques sparkles particularly hard, unlike in jewellery stores that carry a wide range of cuts and lower grades of clarity.
Best Bling For The Buck?
It makes sense when buying a diamond engagement ring, a piece of jewellery that will always be viewed up close, to consider cut and clarity before carat size. After researching this topic online and speaking to local jewellers, we’ve got the formula for optimum “value” bling—and by that we mean sparkle.
Cut: “Excellent” grade (also known as “ideal”).
Clarity: SI1, because all stones of SI1 or higher appear the same to the naked eye.
Colour: Grade I (a stone with a colour grade of I displays virtually no colour (colourless is what you want) to the untrained eye.
Want to take the price down a notch? Opt for a Very Good cut, a clarity grade of SI2 and a colour grade of J.
Where To Buy An Engagement Ring
In A Shop—Buying a diamond engagement ring from a high-end designer boutique such as Tiffany or Cartier is alluring, but a talented independent jeweller can find you an excellent stone (make sure you insist on a GIA, AGS or EGL diamond grading certificate) and clone your favourite setting, the Tiffany Lucinda, for example, for less than you would pay at the boutique proper.
If your heart is set on Tiffany or Cartier, you might consider buying your ring in Portland, Oregon, where prices are lower than in Vancouver, plus there’s no sales tax.
Online—You can find good-value engagement rings online, and companies such as bluenile.com and whiteflash.com (both located in the U.S.) have excellent reputations. We are leery of companies that claim to be selling wholesale diamonds because “there is no such thing as wholesale prices for the general public, and anyone who tells you they are selling you diamonds at wholesale prices is not being 100 percent honest,” according to diamondinfo.org (we’ve heard this from jewellers too).
Ecofriendly—Natalie Portman’s diamond ring is what’s called ecofriendly. This means it includes reused materials, among them recycled platinum and an antique centre stone (it has conflict-free new stones, too). Going this route can be budget friendly (make sure you’re buying certified materials).
From his shop, Weston Jewelry, in Bellevue, Washington, Michael Magnotti sells and sends spectacular ecofriendly diamond engagement rings all over the world, including plenty to Canada. The Tiffany solitaire shown here is from his inventory. “Expect to pay half the appraised value for one of our pieces,” he says. Check out what Weston has to offer at westonjewelry.com. If you find something you like, pay for it over the internet then drive down and try it on if you want. If it’s not your dream ring, you can return it—Weston has a 60-day money-back guarantee.—C. Rule
Curious about the 20 most common diamond scams? Visit diamondhelpers.com
Photos, top to bottom:, Tiffany, iStock, Tiffany solitaire courtesy Weston Jewelry