The Complex Guide To Buying An Engagement Ring Photo by Ryan Kibler

Terms to Know

Izzy and Joe Aranbayev are well-versed in the jewelry industry. There are some key words that we had to learn in order to speak the language. Here are some basic terms to know.

Brilliant Cut (or Round Cut): most common style of cutting for diamonds and gemstones. It was devised to give a maximum "brilliancy" or shine.

Carat: One of the "Four C's" to memorize prior to buying diamonds, one carat is equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. Size matters, and often you'll have to compromise color and clarity in a diamond in order to get a bigger rock.

Clarity: One of the "Four C's" to memorize prior to buying diamonds, clarity refers to any visible blemishes or "inclusions." A GIA-certified diamond ranges from "Included (I)" diamonds with blemishes and imperfections visible to the naked eye, up to "Internally Flawless (IF)" diamonds. Most diamonds will be "Very Slightly Included (VS)"  or "Very Very Slightly Included (VVS)." Blemishes will be invisible to the naked eye and require a magnification device called a "loop" to really be seen. Within each category, there is also a scale of 1-2.

Color: One of the "Four C's" to memorize prior to buying diamonds, color affects price. Most people will opt for a "colorless" diamond, what people often refer to as white diamonds. They're also the most sparkly. Yellow, black, brown, and other colored diamonds are actually more expensive.

Cut: The most important of the "Four C's," cut refers to a diamond's reflective properties. There are different kinds of cuts like the Brilliant Cut, which is the most common, or the Princess Cut. A quality cut diamond reflects light from one end to the other, before pouring up at the center.

GIA Diamond Color Scale: The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world's foremost authority in diamond grading. Their color scale for colorless diamonds (the most sought after for engagement rings) goes from D-Z, with "D" diamonds being practically flawless to the naked eye, and therefore more expensive. Usually, people go with a color grade of F or G to get a good balance of color, clarity, and carat. Below is a diagram of the GIA Color Scale from London's The Diamond Store.

Encrusted: when something is overlaid with an ornamental crust of diamonds or gemstones.

Four C's: Memorize these four c-words when shopping for a diamond, as they affect price. Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat.

GIA Clarity Grading Scale: The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world's foremost authority in diamond grading. A diamond rated by the GIA gets GIA certification. Diamonds are priced according to how the GIA grades them, usually having to do with "inclusions," or surface irregularities, visible to the naked eye. I1-I3 "Included" diamonds are the lowest grade, followed by SI1-SI2 "Slightly Included" diamonds, then VS1-VS2 "Very Slightly Included" diamonds, VVS1-VVS2 "Very, Very Slightly Included" diamonds, and lastly, IF "Internally Flawless" diamonds. The higher the grade, the more expensive the diamond. Although, most high-priced jewelry tends to contain VS or VVS graded diamonds, while IF diamonds are pretty rare, especially in white.

Inlay: a decorative technique where part of the surface of a piece of jewelry is imbedded into a hollowed-out area until it becomes level with the surface of the piece.

Invisible Setting: a style where rows of princess cut diamonds or other stones are perfectly flush against each other in a metal frame or border without any metal separating them. 

Pavé: derived from the French term for "pavement" or "cobblestone," this refers to a setting technique where small stones are set next to each other to create a "paved" effect. In a micropavé, the effect is similar, albeit on a smaller scale.

Princess Cut: Similar to the Brilliant Cut, but in a more square shape to increase the diamonds' "brilliancy" and accommodate invisible setting.

Setting: 1) the part of the jewelry where stones are set. 2) the process by which a stone is held by precious metal into a mounting.

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