When it comes to the bling in your ring, there’s no doubt that size matters — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger is always better. In fact, there are several factors worth considering when you’re choosing the perfect diamond for your engagement ring. So, whether you’re planning to purchase a gorgeous preset ring or considering a custom piece, here are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting a diamond.
1. Hand Size
In the same way that oversized details on a wedding gown can overwhelm a small frame, the size of the diamond you choose should be appropriate for the size of the wearer’s hand. Smaller diamonds that may be the perfect size for delicate fingers may look way too tiny on wearers with larger hands, and large diamonds that perfectly complement bigger hands can seem disproportionate to smaller digits.
If you’re shopping together as a couple, take the time to try on jewelry set with diamonds of various sizes. You’ll get a good idea of what size stone looks best. If you’re shopping solo in preparation for a surprise proposal, invite along a friend whose hands are similar to your bride-to-be to serve as a stand-in or ask a friendly sales associate for help.
It’s easy to get blinded by bling, but one thing many couples forget to factor in when shopping for engagement rings is their lifestyle. Couples who have active or sporty lifestyles may find smaller, lower-profile diamonds — or multiple smaller stones — better suited to their activities. Smaller stones may minimize the risk of snagging your ring on sporting equipment, which can cause damage, including loose prongs that could ultimately result in the devastating loss of your stone.
If you’re eyeing a larger sparkler that doesn’t suit your active lifestyle, consider purchasing a second, more modestly outfitted ring for active days.
3. Personality, Taste and Style
Maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to make a big splash with your wardrobe, or perhaps you’re a die-hard minimalist. Personalities and personal tastes can be as varied as engagement ring styles, and a diamond that’s perfect for one person may not suit someone else.
Ultimately, the size of the stone you select for an engagement ring should suit the wearer’s unique tastes and style sensibilities. Extroverts who gravitate toward bold colors and eye-catching accessories will likely want a larger diamond. Brides-to-be with more modest tastes in fashion may prefer a smaller stone.
If you want the right diamond for the perfect proposal but you don’t know where to start, pay attention to the pieces your loved one wears most often or sneak a peek at their jewelry box. Looking at their current favorites can help you determine whether they prefer big and bold or modest but elegant, and it’s a great way to pick out a diamond that will hit just the right note.
Your soon-to-be fiancée has no doubt daydreamed about the shining ring you’ll place on her finger, and expectations can play a huge role in the size of the diamond you choose. So, if you’ve been talking about the possibility of marriage, it’s a good idea to discuss expectations. That includes the ring.
Many young couples have no idea what’s involved in the selection and purchase of a diamond, which can lead to unrealistic expectations about the size of the stone you’ll get. By learning about the 4Cs of diamonds — cut, carat, clarity and color — and how they affect the price of a stone, you can set reasonable expectations and arm yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to successfully shop for the ring of your dreams.
For many couples, the price tag of a diamond is the deciding factor when it comes to selecting a stone. Because larger diamonds are rare, they’re much more valuable than their smaller counterparts and typically cost exponentially more. In fact, two smaller stones that equal the weight of a single larger diamond generally have a significantly lower price tag.
Size isn’t the only thing that impacts the price, however, so if you have your heart set on a large diamond but your budget is tight, here are several easy ways to stretch your dollars.
- Compromise on color or clarity. Opt for a slightly lower grade when it comes to color or clarity. Clear, nearly flawless diamonds come with a higher price tag. If you choose a stone that isn’t perfectly clear or has minor blemishes or inclusions, you can often walk away with a larger gem that fits neatly into your budget.
- Choose a fancy cut. A diamond’s cut directly influences its price, and although round diamonds are a popular choice for engagement rings, they’re also usually the priciest cut. By opting for a less expensive fancy cut, such as marquise, Asscher or radiant, you can potentially afford a larger stone for your ring. In fact, these fancy-cut stones can cost up to 43% less than a round-cut diamond. Even better, elongated diamonds such as pear, marquise and oval cuts typically appear larger than round cuts of a similar weight.
- Buy shy. Because diamond prices tend to jump at certain weights, one great trick for getting a larger diamond is to buy one that doesn’t quite hit the next-highest carat mark. For example, if you have your heart set on a 1-carat ring but can’t afford the price tag, choose a stone that weighs in at .98 carat. It’ll typically be much less expensive.
- Consider the dimension of the stone. Size doesn’t just mean weight, and not all diamonds of a similar carat and cut look the same. To get the appearance of a larger gem for a lower cost, choose a shallow stone. It’ll almost always appear larger than a deeper stone of the same weight.
- Opt for a lab-grown stone. Man-made diamonds may cost significantly less than their natural counterparts while giving you the same clarity and sparkle. The price of synthetic gemstones can also vary widely according to the 4Cs.
- Choose a diamond alternative. Diamonds aren’t the only clear stones that look great in engagement rings. Colorless diamond alternatives such as moissanite can be equally dazzling at a fraction of the cost.
- Be creative. By choosing multiple smaller diamonds or opting for a colorful gem such as a sapphire or emerald instead of a single large diamond, you can stretch your budget and express your individuality at the same time.
- Shop online. You may be able to increase your purchasing power and buy a larger stone simply by shopping online. A reputable online jeweler can work with you to find the best — and biggest — gem for your budget.
It’s All About the Sparkle
What we often notice more than the size of a diamond is the way it sparkles on your hand, and the better the facets of your stone reflect white light, the more brilliant it will be. So, if you can’t afford or don’t want a large diamond, there are other ways to amp up the wow factor by ensuring maximum sparkle.
- Choose a super-sparkly shape. Round brilliant-cut diamonds, for example, are exceptionally dazzling, followed closely by oval, pear and marquise cuts. In fact, the more facets a cut has, the more it should sparkle.
- Go with a high-quality cut. Cut quality affects the sparkle of a diamond almost as much as the caliber of the stone itself does. Opting for a higher-quality cut may be the way to get the sparkle you desire but with a smaller, more affordable stone.
- Incorporate multiple diamonds. By adding more diamonds of any size to your ring, you’ll ensure exceptional sparkle. A halo ring, which features a focal center stone surrounded by a ring of smaller diamonds, may be the ideal choice if you or your bride-to-be loves bling.
- Set your stone with prongs. The right setting should enhance the sparkle of your diamond. If you want the full effect of your gemstone’s brilliance, have it set with prongs rather than a bezel. Prongs cover less surface area, so they let more light enter your diamond, promoting optimal reflectivity.
- Clean your diamond regularly. Jewelry can accumulate dirt and grime that can dim its natural shine. By following your jeweler’s recommendations for cleaning your engagement ring, you can make sure your diamond always sparkles the way it should.
Making the Final Decision
These days, thanks to online jewelry retailers, there’s a nearly endless selection of engagement rings to choose from. You can even custom design your own to make your ring-buying experience one you’ll never forget.
But no matter what size diamond you choose, you should make sure the ring you select fits both your budget and personality. After all, your love is forever. Your ring should be, too.