Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but these days money has become a pretty close friend of the bride and groom as well. We’re giving you a quick rundown of what to look for when shopping genuine diamonds, but we’re also providing you with some less expensive alternatives that look gorgeous but won’t leave you in the poor house.
Shopping genuine diamonds? Remember the four Cs.
Cut – During the cutting process, artisans sculpt tiny angles — known as facets — into a raw stone. Poor sculpting creates dullness. The cutting process also creates the shape. Shapes include round brilliant (more that 80% of diamonds), pear, marquis, emerald, asscher, cushion, princess and heart. When shopping for diamond rings, look for brilliance (how it reflects light), fire (it flashes color) and scintillation (it sparkles). Be sure to examine the stone in a variety of different lighting.
Color – There are two categories of color: colorless and fancy. Colorless diamonds are graded on a scale of D (completely clear) to Z (traces of yellow, brown or gray). Most colorless diamonds found in jewelry stores range from D to L. Fancy diamonds (yellow, pink, blue and other naturally colored stones) are rare and more expensive.
Clarity – Most diamonds contain two types of imperfections: internal flaws (inclusions) and surface flaws (blemishes). Flawless stones exist but are very rare. Most jewelers have never seen one. Many jewelry stores sell diamonds that are considered “eye clean,” which means inclusions are only seen under 10x magnification. And believe it or not, a few inclusions can be a good thing. They’re like fingerprints, making each diamond unique.
Carat – Carat refers to a diamond’s weight. Each carat contains 100 points. A 75-point diamond weighs 75 carats and is smaller than a 100-point diamond that weighs 100 carats. Carats aren’t always a reflection of cost. A diamond cutter could choose to leave in a flaw and the stone would be bigger but less brilliant and less expensive. When shopping, remember that stones weighing just under full are much less expensive.
Looking for affordable alternatives?
Why should your fiancé pay two months worth of salary for something you can find at a much lower cost — and just as beautiful and meaningful? If you’re interested in diamond alternatives, check these places out.
Synthetic diamonds are created to be gorgeous, conflict-free and affordable.
Moissanite, a fairly new discovery, has become a popular alternative to diamonds. It’s just as brilliant, very durable and more affordable.
High-grade cubic zirconia is a lovely and super affordable alternative to diamonds.
If you’re a more down-to-earth kind of couple, check out Turtle Love Co. for unique, beautiful options — many of which include colorful gemstones.