A Girl's Best Friend, How To Buy A Wedding Ring

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A lot of people have been getting engaged or married lately, and as unfortunate as it may sound many of these guys have been ripping off their woman when it comes to selecting a wedding ring. Your girl has been dreaming about her big day ever since she was a child, so don’t let inadequate research on your part spoil her dream of a beautiful ring. Here is a short guide on how to choose a wedding ring for your lucky lady, because when you think about it, this is the one gift that she will wear for eternity. You only get one chance, so get it right!

Because of their value we are going to assume that you will be choosing a diamond ring for your girl. Diamonds were first discovered  by the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent 6000years ago and  were used by the locals as both a religious icon, and as an engraving tool because of their hardened strength. Because of their immense value the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed in the 1940s a system for grading the gemstone that is now an international standard. This system is known as the 4c’s: Carat, Colour, Clarity, Cut.

Just like other precious gems, diamonds are weighed in metric carats (one carat is equal to 0.2g, approximately equal to one paperclip). So why do we have such unusual nomenclature? The name takes its origin from the carob seed. Carob seeds are always of similar weight and size, early jewellers used these seeds as a counterbalance in their scales. It will be much easier to understand the concept of a carat if you compare it to a Dollar  which is divided in to 100 equal portions by 100 pennies, one carat is also equally divided by 100 points. For example a 0.50 carat stone is equal to 50 points.  Because of their extreme value where even fractions of a carat can change the cost of a ring significantly the industrial standard is to measure the gemstone to the hundred thousandth of a carat. And remember this fact, no matter how much you hear in the movies....carat weight alone is not the single determinant of how valuable the ring is.

As paradoxical as it may sound at first, diamonds are measured by what you can’t see. This means that the less colour that is visible the greater the value of the gemstone. An expensive stone is determined by how closely it can approach being colourless, unless it is a “fancy-colour” gemstone meaning it is pink or blue. The majority of stones that you will encounter while shopping for your girl will be close to colourless with slight hints of a yellowish tinge of colour. The GIA scale commences at D (colourless) and with each incremental amount of colour tainting the stone proceeds up to Z (near-colourless). You as a layperson will not be able to detect some of the slight differences in colour, however, they will make for a large difference in price. 
The most complicated of the four C’s, clarity refers to the absence of small inclusions and blemishes. Due to the fact that a diamond is formed deep within the ground, small birthmarks such as blemishes are often included within the structure of the stone. The gemstone is graded from Flawless (FL) to obvious inclusions (I3). Here is a basic rundown of the scale.
Flawless (FL) No inclusions or blemishes detectable by a skilled grader when using 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions, but some blemishes are visible to the grader using 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions are difficult for a grader to detect with 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VS2) Inclusions are clearly visible under 10x magnification, but are minor.
Slightly included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable to a grader using 10x magnification.
Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance of the stone.
The allure of a diamond depends a lot on the cut, and the traditional round brilliant diamond will have 58 facets to bring out that sparkle that women so desire. The cut of a diamond posses three attributes: the brilliance (total light reflected from the stone), fire (dispersion of light) and finally the scintillation (flashes of light when the diamond is moved. The sparkle of light that you see emitted from the ring when she shows it off to her friends).
In a well cut diamond the light will enter the upper facet (called a table) and travel inside the stone reflecting off the various facets, and ultimately be reflected out of the stone and into the viewer’s eye.  In a poorly cut stone (too shallow or too deep) some of the light will escape or “leak” out of the stone through the sides or bottom and not reflect into the viewer’s eye.
The standard cut that you will find at your local jewellery store is called “standard round brilliant” and all other cuts are known as fancy shapes such as, marquise, pear, oval and emerald.
So that covered the basics about stone selection, but a good idea when purchasing a wedding ring is to ask the salesperson to show you the GIA certificate. This is essentially the blueprint for the diamond, and it will give you details about the diamonds dimensions, cut, quality, and weight. A certificate is very different from an appraisal because it tells you about the quality of the diamond without putting a monetary value on the stone. By seeing the certificate you will have a better understanding of the quality of the stone in the ring, and you can use this information to shop around. 
So now you know the basics about the 4C's of wedding ring purchases. If there is enough demand in the comment section below future articles will discuss the various diamond cuts that are availble on the market today.
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