Buying a diamond for the first time is a scary thought to most. A venture into a world that you are aware of, but been happily oblivious to – until of course, you decided you want to propose. Naturally, many turn to the internet for research on the 4 C’s, until your head is exploding with all the information on clarity, color, proportions and carat weight.
Here’s the thing though – none of that matters until you set a budget. Just like a wedding, there should be a planning process that goes into buying a diamond and steps taken before you set foot into a jewelry store.
How do you set a budget? The old adage claims that it should be 2 months salary, but in reality whatever you are comfortable spending is the right amount. Then, you can focus your time to finding the nicest diamond possible for your money. If you do not set a budget before going into a jewelry store, you are likely to end up frustrated or disappointed. The sales associate may show you a beautiful ring you love, but find out that it is much more than you want to spend – then you will be disappointed. If you tell them your budget right off the bat, then they will show the ones that you can afford and be able to compare rings within that range, instead of with the unattainable.
One situation that is common: you know that your girlfriend wants a certain shape that is at least X amount of carats. You set out to find such a stone for the least amount of money possible. The truth is, many people have no real concept of diamond size. Try managing your girlfriend’s expectations by browsing a jewelry store to see diamonds in person, of different carat weights to compare. Say for instance, she has expressed that she wants a 2 carat round diamond, and your budget is around $10,000. You have a choice to buy a low quality, dull diamond that is 2 carats or a very nice quality, white sparkling diamond of around 1 carat. The choice is ultimately up to you. Be realistic with what you can buy with your budget, bigger is not necessarily better.
A trusted jeweler with solid credentials is your best ally in finding the perfect engagement ring. Try to find a jeweler who has formal gemology training, the best would be a Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) or Certified Gemologist from the GIA or AGS. They will have the knowledge base and tools to source suitable diamonds. The best ones will be able to work with your budget to find you the best stones.