Hello, I was hoping you could help me put together the best diamond engagement ring. I am most likely looking to spend around $9-1oK. Ideally, I would like to buy a round brilliant cut diamond weighing 1.75 – 2.00 carats. However, I don’t want to sacrifice too much when it comes to cut, color and clarity. Inclusions that are not apparent to the naked eye are more acceptable than a color that can be seen from an arm’s length distance. I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have. My girlfriend prefers white gold. She likes a simple solitaire band without any other stones or complicated distractions. Thank you, Mark
So what are the characteristics that create the best diamond engagement ring? The answer to this question obviously depends on your perspective. Deciding which characteristics are most important to you, depends upon your personal preferences and expectations.
What constitutes the best diamond engagement ring for one person, might not appeal to another person. But I can tell you that from my perspective, it’s all about maximizing light performance. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend $9-10K (or more) on an e-ring and not have it light up the room!
Therefore I’m going to focus on diamonds that meet the criteria outlined in the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success.
But I’ve got to say that your budget is not aligned with the carat weight and characteristics you desire. This is not uncommon, people face this type of situation all the time. We create the perfect diamond engagement ring (boat, car, house, whatever) in our minds, and then have to Slay the Dragon of Price.
I’m reminded of the time we were scouring La Paz, Mexico in search of the perfect house to rent. I’d spent weeks running all over town in hopes of finding the perfect house. The perfect little house which would live up to my expectations, hopes, and dreams. The perspective of which was seen through the eyes of somebody who grew up in the United States. I grew up in a moderately nice house, with nice furniture, and nice neighbors.
Of course, the absolutely perfect house would offer incredible ocean views. That would enable me to capture incredible sunset photographs like this one. Which was taken with my camera phone while walking the Malecon (boardwalk). In a perfect world, the house would also have a large, modern kitchen. And it definitely needed an open, spacious yard for Duscha the Dog to patrol.
It would also be great if the house had a built-in dog door. That way I wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to let the dog out every time he hears a cockroach fart.
This is the wish list that we proudly presented to several property management agents. In the meantime, we were staying in a little one-bedroom, studio style, hotel room. It was located ten, long, hazardous blocks from our beloved Malecon, but it allowed dogs (the deciding factor).
While the hotel was quite nice and accommodating, it was not the place we envisioned for ourselves. The cramped living quarters and severe contrast to our expectations created lots of tension.
But the fact of the matter is that the negative feelings we were experiencing were primarily due to our expectations. You are probably familiar with the psychological formula that states:
This simple principle is applicable whether defining the best diamond engagement ring, or shopping for a house.
The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of vacation rentals available for rent in La Paz, Mexico. The vast majority of them are within walking distance to the Malecon. Many of them offer amazing views of the ocean. Quite a few are beautifully furnished and equipped with all the modern amenities that a person could want.
However, most of those also happen to be high-end vacation rentals which cost much more than I’m prepared to spend.
In essence, we were caught within a dichotomy of conflicting desires…
Using this description to define the best diamond engagement ring for you, we’re looking for:
We’re going to limit our search to round hearts and arrows diamonds because that is going to ensure the best light performance. The combination of super ideal proportions and a higher degree of optical precision produces incredible sparkle. If we’re going to worry about what people might see from across the room, let’s focus on the sparkle factor.
Diamonds which are D-color to I-color are going to face-up white when set in white gold or platinum prongs. Rather than get into a long explanation on diamond color, I encourage you to read this tutorial on diamond color.
If you really want to be sure the diamond faces-up eye clean, then buy a VS-2 clarity diamond. Buy an SI-1 clarity diamond if you can handle the possibility of being able to see the inclusions with just your eyes. Sure, I’ve heard all the hype about SI-1 clarity diamonds being eye-clean. However, in my experience, I’ve always been able to locate the inclusions within SI-1 clarity diamonds with just my eyes.
Understand that I’m perfectly fine with being able to see the inclusions within a diamond with just my eyes. The diamond that I selected for my own wedding ring was a 2.25 carat, I-color, SI-2 clarity, super ideal. I could find the inclusions within the diamond rather easily with just my eyes, but nobody else seemed to be able to. Accepting this clarity and color combination, enabled me to afford a larger diamond without sacrificing performance.
Obviously the dilemma that I’m facing is whether to focus on what you say you want, or your price range. I suppose that it makes the most sense to begin with what you say you want. This 1.700 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond is absolutely stunning! The proportions are spot-on and the hearts and arrows pattern verifies the cut quality. Any variation in the degree of optical precision will be evident in the hearts and arrows pattern. Since this hearts pattern looks phenomenal, we know that the cut quality is superb.
The 40.8 degree pavilion angle is going to produce an incredible light return. While the 34.4 degree crown angle produces a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion. The combination of the 76% lower girdle facets and optical precision will produce broad-spectrum sparkle.
Broad Spectrum Sparkle tends to be larger in size, and which is bolder, brighter, and more vivid. Compared to the pin-fire type sparkle produced by most standard ideal cut diamonds with 80% lower girdle facet length.
The proportions of this diamond are within the range commonly known as Tolkowsky Ideal Cut [TIC]. The light performance and sparkle factor will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
The carat weight is within the range you specified. The I-color is going to face-up a nice, bright white when set in white gold or platinum prongs. The VS-1 clarity ensures that the diamond will be eye-clean. But all of this comes at a price of $15-16K depending on whether you take advantage of the cash discount price.
The other way to approach buying the best diamond engagement ring is to focus on light performance and price. With that in mind, I’d buy this 1.330 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond. This diamond is cut to the same exacting standards for all Brian Gavin Signature diamonds. So it is going to exhibit the same incredible light performance and sparkle.
But the discount applied to blue fluorescent diamonds enables you to pick up some extra carat weight. Plus, the strong blue fluorescence is likely to improve your perception of diamond color. All the while keeping you right at the top of your desired price range! So you’re able to buy a big, bright, white, super ideal cut diamond with incredible sparkle factor. While maintaining your desired price range, but you fall a little short of the 1.75 – 2.00 carat mark that you set for yourself. Of course, there is always the option of buying a warmer diamond.
The reality is that not everybody prefers diamonds which are whiter in color. There are lots of people who truly prefer the warmer tones offered by Brian Gavin Cape series diamonds. Take a good look at this 1.820 carat, M-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Cape series diamond.
Now the odds are that you can see a hint of warmth in the face-up position. However, the diamond still faces-up pretty white considering the M-color designation. This is largely due to the overall cut quality of the diamond. It is cut to the same exacting specifications as all Brian Gavin Signature diamonds. The tighter proportions and incredible optical precision produces more light return and brighter, bolder, more vibrant sparkle. Which in turn, serves to distract our eyes and make it more difficult to ascertain the true color of the diamond.
So then, what do you think people are really going to see from across the room? Or from across the dinner table for that matter? That’s right. People are going to be mesmerized by the sparkle of your diamond.
Regardless of the carat weight, color, or clarity of your diamond, the only thing people tend to focus upon is the sparkle. They see diamonds cut like this from across the room!
Not so long ago, I received an “out of the blue” email from a client. She wanted to share something incredible with me. Apparently she was at Sunday brunch with her family. She got up to go to the bathroom. Another woman barges into the bathroom behind her and says:
“I’ve been admiring your diamond earrings from across the room. They sparkle like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Where did you get them?”
Interestingly enough, she didn’t find any part of this in the least bit creepy. Obviously women operate from a different model of the world regarding the social context of the bathroom. For instance, I’m not likely to be excited about somebody following me into the bathroom to ask about my diamond earrings! Err, especially since I don’t wear diamond earrings!
But my client thought this experience was the most incredible thing that ever happened to her! While I was stuck on “she followed you into the bathroom?!?!” She was focused on “she saw my diamonds sparkling from across the room!”
Now in case you’re wondering, I helped her select those diamond earrings from Brian Gavin. Not surprisingly, my clients share stories like this with me all the time. People seem to walk up to my clients all the time and ask them where they bought their diamonds. From my perspective, this is validation that light performance is the most important consideration when buying a diamond. It is for this reason that I direct so many of my clients to Brian Gavin Diamonds.
After exhausting the resources and patience of every property management company we could find, we decided to search for ourselves. Because it’s always a good idea to drive around parts of Mexico that you’re not familiar with. When you don’t have a full grasp of the language. Nor do you really know where you are: Si, es una buena idea Güero.
In spite of the obvious, we set out with newspaper in hand. Just so you know, Google Maps is even more unreliable in Mexico. Stopping to ask a local for directions goes something like this:
Me: “Can you tell me where Francisco Villa crosses Emiliano Zapata?”
El Señor: “That’s not funny Mee-eester…”
Actually, it is a little funny. Both from a historical perspective and because my neighbors and I routinely slaughter the Spanglish language.
But anyway, if you stop to ask for directions in Mexico, here’s what you’re likely to get:
“All right, so you’re going to drive straight down that road. This one right here, not that one over there. You’re going to continue on that road for, uh, one, two, hmmm, three, four, yea, four stops. Then you’re going to see hotel on the left corner. That’s not the one you want.”
I’ve learned not to stop and ask for clarification at this point, it only makes things worse:
“All right, so you’re going to keep going down that road. The one with the hotel on the corner. Then you’re going to see another hotel, but this one will be on the right. That’s not the one you want either.”
And just so you know, there is no polite way to get out of it at this point…
“Okay. So what you’re going to do then, is you’re going to make a U-turn at the intersection with the hotel. You’re not supposed to, but if the police officer stops you, just tell him that I said it was okay. El es mi primo! (he’s my cousin).”
“Anyway, if you’re stopped by anybody else, just slip them 200 pesos behind your driver’s license.”
[Blinking in utter disbelief while the flies fly in and out…]
“So then you make the u-turn and Emiliano Zapata will be on the right.”
This Emiliano Zapata turns out to be an elementary school.
Where of course, I’m stupid enough to get out and ask for directions.
This guy gives me all new directions but delivers it in very much the same style. As near as I can figure, they will take me back to the point of origin from where I started.
But then he asks why I want to go there, so I tell him that we’re looking for a house to rent. And guess what?
“Mi primo tiene una casa por renta!” = My cousin has a house for rent!
I’m so excited.
And you know what happens next, right? The guy hops into the car and gives us directions to his cousin’s house. Which we did not rent. But this I can assure you of with 100% certainty. It’s much easier to:
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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