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It signifies your commitment and is an everlasting symbol of your love. That’s the politically correct way of describing your engagement and wedding rings. But what do you really know about your diamonds and the surrounding setting? Here are the simple facts about diamond details, along with a bit of heavy metal material to round it all out.
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A girl’s best friend
When it comes to engagement rings, diamonds are hands down the most popular choice in gemstones. They’re valued according to the four Cs – color, clarity, cut, and carat size. The color refers to the color (of course!) of the diamond. While white is the most desirable of all colors for engagement rings, diamonds come in many different colors. The following letter scale grades a diamond’s color: D, E, F – colorless G, H, I – nearly colorless J, K, L – slightly yellow M, N, O – light yellow Anything further down the alphabet is considered yellow and therefore less desirable. The Z grade, which is given to fancy-colored diamonds, is the rarest and most expensive grade. The clarity of a diamond refers to how clean or clear the diamond appears. The following scale grades a diamond’s clarity:Flawless: free from inclusions (imperfections inside the diamond) and blemishes.

Internally flawless: free from inclusions, but may have slight blemishes when viewed under magnification.

VVS1 and VVS2: considered very, very slightly included and has minute inclusions or blemishes when viewed under magnification.

VS1 and VS2: considered very slightly included with inclusions and blemishes smaller than a grain of salt when viewed under magnification.

SI1: slightly included with inclusions and blemishes larger than a grain of salt when viewed under magnification. Most of the flaws cannot be seen with the naked eye.

SI2: slightly included with the same flaws as an SI1grade, though some of the flaws may be visible to the naked eye.

I1 and I2: considered an imperfect stone with inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye that may make the stone appear cloudy and dull. The cut of a diamond refers to the actual shape of the stone, along with the proportions, which can determine how well the diamond sparkles. The most popular remains the classic round cut but many couples are choosing the square-shaped princess cut for a more unique look. If square and round are just too status quo for your taste, there’s marquise, pear, oval, or emerald cuts to choose from as well. And don’t worry about choosing a cut that’s popular; the great thing about diamonds is that they never go out of style.
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We’re down to the last C, which to many brides is the most important: carat. The carat weight of a diamond refers to its actual weight, not necessarily its size. There is no industry standard when it comes to a stone’s carat weight, and it’s important to keep in mind that a large carat weight doesn’t necessarily make for a beautiful or valuable diamond. The right combination of the four Cs, according to your own personal preferences, is the best way to choose the perfect diamond for your engagement or wedding ring.

Karats vs. Carats
If you’ve read this far you already know that carat refers to the weight of the gemstone. But what about karat? The word karat, or K, is used to describe the fineness of gold with 24K being the most pure. Gold that is 18K consists of 75% gold combined with another metal for strength, and 14K gold is 58.5% pure gold mixed with 41.5% of other metals. Most gold ring settings are either 18K or 14K; pure 24K gold is much too soft and can bend or become scratched very easily. Gold comes in both yellow and white colors, making it a versatile choice for ring settings. White gold begins its life as yellow gold, which is mixed with another metal such as nickel or palladium to give it a white appearance. Whether you choose yellow or white gold is up to you, but keep in mind that the prongs on the setting should be created from white gold or platinum only. Yellow gold prongs could give your diamond a yellowish cast.

Platinum is quickly becoming the most popular metal for ring settings. It’s rarer and stronger than gold, which of course makes it more expensive! But the strength, shine, and everlasting white color of platinum makes it a great choice for diamond ring settings, and many couples feel it’s worth the extra expense.

When choosing the setting for your rings, it all comes down to personal preference. You’re the one who will be wearing the ring for the rest of your life, so be sure you choose what you like best regardless of it’s popularity with other consumers.

Let it shine
Normal wear and tear can make your engagement and wedding rings appear dirty and dull. Soap scum, moisturizers, and the natural oils from your skin can make even the highest quality diamond less brilliant. But the good news is that there are a couple of different ways to bring the sparkle back into your baubles. First, try a good old-fashioned scrubbing at home. Soak your rings for about 10 minutes in a simple solution of two-parts water and one-part sudsy ammonia. When you remove the rings from the solution, scrub the top and underneath with a clean, medium bristled toothbrush. Rinse in warm water, and then dry your rings with a lint-free towel. Ultrasonic cleaners are another easy way to clean your rings at home. Ultrasonic cleaners contain a cleaning solution in which shock waves are sent through to vibrate dirt and debris from your rings. While this is a great alternative for diamonds and metals, not all ultrasonic cleaners are safe for all gems. Read the manufacturer’s directions carefully and if you’re in doubt, don’t try it out.

You can also take your rings to a professional jeweler for cleaning and while you’re there, have the prongs checked to make sure the stone isn’t loose. If you choose this route, it’s important to mention that you should only leave your rings with a jeweler that you know and trust to protect yourself from theft. While it’s extremely rare that your diamond would be switched, you’d hate to be on the receiving end of that worst-case scenario.