March 20th marks Proposal Day, the day on which an estimated 50,000 couples will get engaged!
Is March 20th the day to pop the big question? Possibly, but this lesser known holiday was initially started for the purpose of giving a nudge to couples who have not yet taken the ultimate step of commitment. Interestingly enough, it was a man by the name of John Michael O’Laughlin who founded Proposal Day. After seeing his cousin being strung along for years by a boyfriend who wouldn’t commit, O’Laughlin decided enough was enough and decided to dedicate one day out of the year just for the act of proposing.
Proposal Day falls on the Vernal Equinox, one out of two days of the year on which the Earth’s North and South poles are both perpendicular to the Sun’s rays. This means that the Sun appears approximately an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth, so that day and night are equal lengths. O’Laughlin specifically chose the day of an equinox because he believed the equal day and night symbolized “the equal efforts of the two required to comprise a successful marriage.” The Autumnal Equinox falls about six months after March 20th, and is considered by some to be a second Proposal Day for that reason.
The holiday is an opportunity to start a conversation about the possibility of a future proposal, according to ProposalDay.com. Besides, nowadays couples wait longer before tying the knot; a recent poll found that roughly 27 per cent of women whose partners had popped the question dated their partner for three to five years. As an added benefit, talking to your partner about the proposal beforehand means that you can go engagement ring shopping together, which takes some pressure off of finding the perfect engagement ring!
Although it’s certainly not as widely recognized as Valentine’s Day, there are signs that Proposal Day is gaining traction. It has been creating a buzz in numerous social media outlets like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter and has even been featured in the national news media.
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Here we will only consider diamonds. If you are considering other stones, speak to a gemmologist to find out your options and get their recommendations. Remember: knowledge is power, know as much as you can about what you are spending your money on.
Diamonds are rocks that form naturally in the earth, so there is no ‘one size fits all’. It is like choosing between apples – size, sweetness, crispness, juiciness are categories you want to balance when picking an apple. It is similar for diamonds but with different criteria.
- Carat: In gold this word refers to the purity, with diamonds it is the weight/size. Bear in mind that diamonds are priced per carat digitally. In other words 0.5-0.99 is one price bracket, and 1.00-1.49 is another. Therefore it is possible to buy a 0.98 for the price of a 0.5 and it will look like a 1 carat. The other factors are also critical, however, so bear in mind that a 1 carat diamond can vary in price dramatically depending on the other variables.
- Clarity: Being an organic material, most diamonds have impurities known as inclusions. Inclusions are usually white or black and some can be seen with the naked eye. A stone without inclusions is called ‘flawless’ and carries a high price tag. Clarity is graded using letter-number combinations. For most rings the range to look for is either VS1 and VS2 which are very clear, then S1 and S2 have inclusions that can easily be seen with 10x magnification, but not so easily with the naked eye. Diamonds also possess blemishes such as tiny cracks which can make the diamond cloudy (see warnings below).
- Colour: diamonds vary in colour from colourless to brown and even black. Unless you are after a diamond that is noticeably coloured, you want to aim for as white as possible. Colour is graded using letters. D is colourless, through to zyx (noticeably tinted). Aim for D-G range for a quality diamond.
- Cut: this determines the overall shape of the stone (round, square, rectangle, oval, pear shaped etc) and sparkly (fire). The more facets the more the light is bounced around in the stone and is reflected back to you as sparkle. Round brilliant cut is the most popular and gives a lot of sparkle. Also more facets can hide impurities, for example, if you are in the market for a flawless diamond, this will be well seen in an emerald (rectangle) cut.
Speak to a jeweler who knows their stones. If your priority is high purity, then maybe you can go down on the carat size or colour etc.
Not enough emphasis can be made on the importance of buying from a reputable retailer. It is really important that you trust who you are buying from as not all jewelry is what it seems.
- Castings of the ring mounts when machine made can be porous (tiny bubbles in the metal); the claws that set the stones can be loose, and these rings will not last.
- There are imitation diamonds on the market, so be sure to get a certification so that you know you are not buying a cubic zirconia or moissanite when you want a diamond.
- Especially when buying jewelry unseen, such as on the internet, be aware that even if the dealer is obliged to state colour, clarity and carat value, it is not obliged to state cloudiness or treatments that have been made to artificially enhance the stone. These include laser drilling where tiny pin holes are made into the inclusion to bleach it white or dissolve it. These can look like natural flaws and don’t necessarily impair the appearance or structure of the stone. Fillers, however are not considered permanent and the substance used (usually glass) has different properties to diamonds and can appear as colour flashes unusual to diamond. Also, heat and sunlight can effect this substance over time darkening or eroding it. Even though diamond is the hardest substance, cracks (especially unfilled) are weaknesses and make the stone vulnerable to cracking. There is nothing wrong with buying a treated stone (it can make a lesser quality stone appear better), but make sure that this is disclosed when you purchase so that you know you are paying the right price.
You are now armed and ready to browse those jewelry stores and know what you are looking at! This is all very technical information, as you browse you will find that some diamonds “speak” to you more than others. Don’t be held down by the numbers – find a stone you love and a setting that compliments the stone and your personality. And shop around for the jeweler you trust.
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