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4Cs of Diamonds & Engagement Rings

Is knowing the 4Cs of diamonds enough? Understanding the Basics of Engagement Ring Shopping.

A reporter with the Chicago Tribune asked us what everyone should know about diamonds before they go out shopping for an engagement ring.

They had a series of questions for us that were designed to help their readers understand the basics for diamond and ring shopping.

Below is part of the interview:

Diamonds, Engagement Ring Shopping & the 4Cs

What should you know about diamonds going into the process? Is it enough to know the 4Cs?

It's important to know as much as you can about diamonds. For most of us, buying a diamond engagement ring is the first time (and often the last time) we will spend so much money on a piece of jewelry.

Diamonds are tricky because to the untrained eye it is very difficult to determine authenticity or overall quality.

The 4Cs are a great start and we believe that everyone should have a basic understanding of what they are and how they affect quality and cost before you go out shopping. The best place to get a clear and unbiased understanding of the 4s is from the education section of the GIA website.

However, since diamonds are not manufactured, just like every person on the planet, each diamond has its own unique character and personality so to assess a stone’s beauty and quality solely based on the 4Cs and gemological reports is unfair.

Diamonds, like people, are not interchangeable. Two diamonds that are comparable on paper don’t necessarily share a similar value, can ultimately look quite different from one another in reality, and generate completely different responses from you.

Grade, shape, and light performance all play a role in determining the commercial value of a diamond. So when shopping, know and understand the 4Cs but choose a stone that you feel some sort of connection to—and the more diamonds you look at, the easier it will be to recognize the one that speaks to you at an emotional level.


Engagement Rings: How Much To Spend

Do you really have to spend two or three months' salary?

Absolutely not!

You should spend what you can afford and what feels right for the two of you!

The engagement ring is a traditional symbol of commitment of marriage and the level of that commitment is not reflected in the cost of the ring or even in a diamond.


In fact the diamond engagement ring only came into vogue after a clever marketing campaign by the DeBeers Diamond Company in the 1940s that coined the saying "A Diamond is Forever"—it would eventually be pronounced as the best advertising slogan of the twentieth century by Advertising Age Magazine.

It is rumored that in order to increase diamond sales, the clever executives at DeBeers followed up the campaign by setting the standard of two to three months salary as a way of providing an acceptable cost guideline (from their point of view) for all men, thereby making diamonds more accessible to the masses.

Since no specific figure is given, all that was really required for you to demonstrate your love and commitment was a diamond ring that cost about a quarter of your yearly salary whatever that may be.

Those guys were brilliant!

Once you recognize the origin of this standard you can understand why jewelry stores and others with a vested interest perpetuate that standard and why we're still talking about it today.

Of course, every girl wants a huge rock to show off and if one can truly afford it and it is within their means, we say “Bring on the Bling!"


It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy and by what we see in the media, but the reality is that many of us today need to be more practical, if not by desire then by necessity.

This seems to be a trend that is catching on with more and more couples saving their extra dollars for their first home and future together instead of putting it towards a more expensive ring. They understand that the true meaning of the ring comes not from its cost or the size of the rock, but instead from the strength of the commitment it represents.

Read more to learn about how to figure out what kind of engagement ring to get her and how to determine her ring size.

We also discuss some common engagement ring-buying traps and how to avoid them.

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