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Diamond Ring Buying Guide and Advice: What to look for in a diamond

Here you will find our full guide to buying great, inexpensive diamond engagement rings the smart way. What you learn here could save you hundreds. If you need help selecting an engagement ring, we'd be happy to help. Just e-mail us at We can even conduct a free search for you if you tell us your budget and tell us what you're looking for. Keep in mind that engagement rings don't have to be diamonds, but most people stick to the traditional route, so we hope this guide helps.

First of all, there are four basics in diamonds: cut, clarity, carat weight, and color.

The most important one is the cut. This is what gives the diamond its "sparkle." Most of the sparkle you see in a diamond is due to the cut (clarity and color help out only a little here). Diamonds can be cut in many different shapes also, such as the round (or brilliant) cut, emerald cut, princess cut, and so on. The round, or brilliant, cut will be more sparkly when compared to the other shapes of comparable diamonds (but not really that much better). Some common diamond shapes are below (there are more like heart-shaped ones and so forth as well):

For the cut, the types that you'll see (the ones that are good enough to market) are fair, good, very good, and excellent cuts (some jewelry makers also claim to have their own version of "Ideal," which is essentially an excellent cut - just make sure that the diamond is certified independently and still says this). Most jewelry stores only carry good cuts and sometimes very good cuts (they usually don't have excellent cuts). Be careful when talking to sales people, as they general say that the cut they have is the best (when indeed it's not). To check this, ask for a certified diamond. Certified diamonds are graded by an independent gemstone grader, and they'll say if they're fair, good, very good, or excellent. Often stores will charge you more for certified diamonds, but they really try to rip you off and sell you a "good" diamond for the price of an "excellent" diamond. Also, some jewelry stores will try to rename cuts to names like "masterpiece" and so on, which is why you again have you be careful and request a certified diamond (make sure they're not just certified in the store itself but ask if they're independently certified (GIA and AGSL certified diamonds are always reliable).

Good cuts do look very nice. Most diamond engagement rings that you see contain "good" cuts, because very few people know that there are better cuts. Excellent cuts will show more sparkle, and you'll notice it a lot, but it all depends on how much you want to spend and what you care about the most in a diamond.

Polish and symmetry also come into play with sparkle (although minimal), and most places don't tell you about this. It has the same ratings (fair, good, very good, and excellent). You probably won't be able to tell much of a difference here between a good and an excellent, but there will be a minimal difference (light can travel through it better when it's more symmetrical).

"Wow! Thanks for saving me so much money and helping me getting a better diamond for $900 less than the lesser one I was already looking at!"

-Tim, PA

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