Buying a diamond ring

It’s a big step, but one that you’re finally ready to take.

Even gemologists, who train hard to be able to spot varying differences in diamonds and gemstones and know what a good quality stone looks like, have a difficult time determining value without exclusive tests and research. It’s no wonder that purchasing jewellery, especially for someone else, can be an especially daunting task. That’s why at Ted Allen’s Jewellery we’re here to help!

It’s a big step, but one that you’re finally ready to take, and one that we’re happy to help with. So, without further adieu, find below a list of some of the basic ABC’s of diamond shopping.

Shape is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing your diamond, and there are many shapes to choose from. Shape does not affect quality, but it is an extremely important design factor.

  • Round: The round cut diamond is the most popular diamond shape, and is generally considered the “classic” cut. This is because a round diamond maximizes light reflection and brightness.
  • Princess: A princess cut "square shape" diamond is the perfect choice for an individual that likes a fancier diamond shape. Princess cut diamonds work well in almost any setting.
  • Oval: Oval cut diamonds are similar to round cut diamonds for their light reflection and brightness, but have the added luxury of an elongated shape which creates the illusion of greater size.
  • Marquise: A marquise a “diamond shaped” diamond, or more simply, a “football-shaped” diamond. Naturally, this shape is long and narrow which creates the illusion of a greater size and has a large surface area.
  • Pear Shaped: A pear shaped diamond is wider on the bottom and narrower up top with a tapered point. A good pear shaped diamond should be symmetrical, and will add a great design feature to any ring set.
  • Cushion: This cut of diamond combines a square cut with rounded corners. This is another classic cut and very popular shape for it’s brilliance and brightness.
  • Emerald: Emerald cut diamonds have step cuts along their edges. This produces a “hall of mirror” effect with multiple light and dark planes to add depth and dimension. The “table” in an emerald cut is often quite large.
  • Asscher: Similar to an emerald cut, the asscher cut is square in shape with a high crown, smaller table, and step cuts along the edges (again producing a brilliant sparkle with depth and dimension).
  • Radiant: A radiant cut is the happy medium between a cushion and a princess cut.
  • Heart Shaped: Heart shapes are a tempting choice for the romantics. They’re beautiful, brilliant, and symbolic. They are a great choice for most clients, but those looking for a diamond less than .50 carat may not be as satisfied since the heart shape is more difficult to perceive in smaller diamonds, especially after setting in prongs.

Carat Weight

Now that we’ve got shape down, let’s get into the first of the 4 c’s when it comes to diamond hunting. Carat weight. So, what is carat weight exactly? It’s a unit of measurement for weight exclusive to diamonds. There are 5 carats in 1 gram, and 1 point is 1/100th of a carat (therefore, a 50 point diamond will be equal to a half carat).

The general rule is that a larger diamond is more valuable, and this is because a larger diamond is a rarer find. Remember, diamonds are not compressed together from fragments, and it’s not possible to glue many small pieces of diamond together to create one larger one (at least not a very pretty one). They must be sourced naturally. That said, the 3 other C’s will also heavily influence the price of a stone.This means that while the general rule is a larger stone is more valuable, it is possible for two stones of the same carat weight to have different values.

Cut

The second “C” of diamond buying is “cut”. Proper cut diamonds are those where natural shape makes it possible for cutter to maximize their weight without misaligning any facets. A well cut diamond is proportionate, aesthetically appealing, and will sparkle more brilliantly than a poorly cut diamond.

Colour

“Colour” is the third “C”. Diamonds are graded on a GIA colour scale from D which is colourless, to Z which is light yellow. It’s worth noting that diamonds on either ends of the scale are more valuable, and this is because of the rarity of these diamonds. While a completely colourless diamond does seem ideal, most people, when given the choice of a series of diamonds from D to Z will choose within the G, H, I, and J range.

Clarity

The final “C” is “clarity”. Under magnification, most diamonds will contain natural “inclusions” which are microscopic crystals within the stone. The amount of inclusions, size and pattern of these inclusions, as well as their position will be the factors that affect clarity and therefore value. So, what does the clarity scale look like? Clarity ranges from FI which is considered flawless to I3 is considered to have many visible inclusions. It is worth noting that every diamond will have some inclusions under magnification, and without magnification not even a jeweler can detect the clarity difference between a flawless and less expensive diamond.

And last, though certainly not least, do your best to find a local and independent owner versus a chain store. Often you’ll find that smaller stores will carry a higher quality diamond with a lower price point, and will have a vested interest in finding you something you like.

Understanding Gold

Understanding gold doesn’t have to be complex. Essentially, there are three colour types of gold available.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is historically the most popular option. Pure gold is generally alloyed with zinc and copper to increase durability and add structure. Yellow gold is what generally comes to mind when someone asks you to picture in your mind what “gold” is. It is the most malleable of gold material, and as such, is subject to dents and scratches making regular cleaning and polishing important. Yellow gold is also the most hypoallergenic of all three gold colours, and if allergies are present is usually the safest option for the wearer.

White Gold

White gold is created through an alloy of pure gold and white metals like nickel, palladium, or silver, and usually with a rhodium coating to preserve the integrity of the bright white colour. It is because of being alloyed with stronger metals than yellow gold that white gold has an increased durability and is also more scratch-resistant. Often alloyed with nickel which can cause allergic reactions, white gold is less of a hypoallergenic option.

Rose Gold

Rose gold has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and is made of pure gold alloyed with copper to create the pinky hue. When more copper is added to the alloy, the more red is likely to show in the jewellery, which is why rose gold can encompass the whole family of red, rose, and pink gold shades. It is also because of this alloy mixture that rose gold becomes a more affordable option for most clients, this is because copper is a more affordable metal. While more affordable, rose gold is hardly a lesser quality option. Copper increases the durability making rose gold tougher than both white and yellow gold. Like white gold, however, rose gold is often not a great choice for those with allergies.

Now that we understand colour types, we can work on understanding value. Value of gold is largely determined by weight and karat types. Apart from the pronunciation, Karats are very different from Carats. The word karat comes from the carob seed. Seeds were used in ancient bazaars to balance scales measuring the weight of gold.

While a Carat refers to weight measurement in a diamond, a Karat refers to the gold content in a given piece. A higher karat value means a purer gold content and less alloyed metals. While a higher gold content is certainly more valuable, the higher the content the less durable a ring becomes. This is why the most common karat value for engagement and wedding rings is 14 or 18 karat. See below some common karat values as well as their alloyed metal makeup.

  • 24 karat - 99.9% pure.
  • 22 karat - 91.7% pure.
  • 18 karat - 75% pure.
  • 14 karat - 58.3% pure.

Basic Maintenance 101

You wouldn’t purchase an investment property and let it decay, would you? The same rules should apply when it comes to your jewellery investments - and that’s what they are, investments. Not only is jewellery expensive, it’s also generally a gift rich with sentimental value, and therefore important that you take care of them properly.
The good news is that basic maintenance doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, you can hand most of the work over to the professionals. So, what work should be completed when it comes to your jewellery? Read on below to see some quick tips when it comes to basic maintenance. Keep in mind that every piece is an individual and may have different needs. If you’re unsure, please feel free to reach out to one of our associates for some best practices.

  • As a general rule, the more claws a ring has the more maintenance it will be. This is because claws need to be retipped overtime as the gold wears down. Even a gentle person who wears their rings infrequently will need to have the claws redone at some point or other. This is one maintenance tip you don’t want to skip, or you just might risk losing your stone. Bring a setting with claws into your local jewellers every six months for a check.
  • Clawless settings are not maintenance free. The idea that clawless settings are somehow superior to a setting with claws is a false, but common, thought. Even clawless settings need to be tightened on occasion to keep diamonds secure. Bring a clawless setting into your local jewellers every six months for a check.
  • Cleaning is just as important as regular claw and setting maintenance. The good news is that this can be done quickly and effectively at your local jewellers with the help of a little buffing and an ultrasonic machine. Rings should be cleaned every six months, and can be done at the same time as having your claws and settings checked for potential issues.

Pearls, pearls, pearls

Pearls are a timeless classic, and giving the gift of a string of pearls is sure to bring a smile to the wearers face. Most people know when they like the look of a string of pearls, but if you follow the below tips you can also get a good sense of the value of that string.

  • The terms “luster” and “orient” are common when referring to pearls. “Luster” describes the sharpness and intensity of the reflections on the pearl’s surface. “Orient” describes the iridescent colours one sees. A pearl with both higher luster and orient is of higher value.
  • When it comes to pearls, colour describes both the main colour as well as the undertone. Colour does not generally dictate value as pearls can be dyed in any shade.
  • You may hear the term “cleanliness” when referring to pearls. Cleanliness does not in this case mean how well the pearl was scrubbed after leaving the ocean. In actuality, the term describes imperfections on the surface of a pearl. The fewer the imperfections, the higher the value.
  • Generally speaking, a larger pearl is more rare and therefore more valued.
  • Spherical pearls are the most prized. This is because spherical pearls are more easily matched in a string of pearls. More well matched (colour, size, shape, and luster) pearls will see a higher value than less well matched pearls. This is why pearl earrings specifically may cost more than two pearls individually.