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.
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.
New Trends in Wedding Jewelry
By: Jeff Martin
The wedding rings that the bride and groom end up selecting will serve as lasting symbols of their commitment to each other. They are a tangible representation of their love and dedication to one another. Long after the cake has been eaten, the flowers wilted, and the music fades away, the wedding rings remain. Realizing what an important element of the wedding experience the wedding rings are should impact brides and grooms as they choose their rings.
Couples now have more styles and designs of wedding rings available to them than ever before. We are seeing everything from cutting edge design to tried and true classic styles. The options and combinations of different metals, gemstones, and diamonds have become too numerous to list. Both bride and groom are encouraged to seek out the design that truly reflects their individual tastes and styles.
When considering the style of her wedding ring, the bride should first consider what design will compliment the ring she is already wearing, the engagement ring. If the engagement ring is a simple solitaire, or other basic design, the bride will find more options are available to her. If the engagement ring is more elaborate and intricate in design, there will likely be fewer styles of wedding rings available that will look complimentary. If this is the case, the bride should consider having a wedding ring custom created to match the style of her engagement ring. A competent jeweler who specializes in custom design can create a wedding ring that matches perfectly.
We have found that many brides lately have been requesting design elements in the wedding ring that are a bit less traditional. Color has been quite popular in our custom designs. We have seen a marked up tick in the use of both colored gemstones and colored diamonds being used in wedding ring design. Brides are desiring to express themselves a bit more boldly through implementing some accent colored stones. Shades of blue, pink and yellow have been the most popular.
Another way color is being used to “jazz up” wedding ring design is through using different metal colors and types. Rose or pink gold has truly seen a resurgence in bridal jewelry design. Many brides are fond of the “warmth” this color of gold brings to the design. Palladium is enjoying huge success now in the bridal jewelry market. A relatively new precious metal to the jewelry trade, palladium has made impressive inroads to the “white” metal market. With the price of platinum skyrocketing to over $2000.00 an ounce on the open market, palladium is proving to be a perfect alternative. In fact many brides who have platinum engagement rings are having wedding bands created in palladium. The two metals are near identical in color, yet palladium is a fraction of the cost and is actually a superior metal for jewelry purposes. It does not scratch or bend nearly as badly as platinum, yet has that nice grayish silver color that many women love about platinum.
The market for men’s wedding rings has truly evolved from the former days of just plain styles. Groom’s now have a plethora of different styles and types of metals available to them. We strongly encourage men to get out and consider the many possibilities available. Resist the urge to just get a plain wedding band like Dad, and seek out a style that truly represents you!
In addition to the numerous designs now available from wedding ring manufacturers, we are seeing a solid increase in the number of groom’s opting to have their wedding band custom created. Our use of CAD (computer assisted design) and CAM (computer assisted manufacture) has really increased the number of custom groom’s ring we are creating. Men are intrigued by the virtual 3-D design process and have really responded to the photo-realistic renderings we produce of the ring design before we even begin the actual fabrication process. Many grooms have a special pattern, symbol, or other element that they want to incorporate in the ring design. They don’t want the same ring as every other guy. By custom created the ring, with our CAD/CAM process, the groom can get exactly what he wants. This makes brides very happy, because if he loves his ring, he’ll wear it!
Metal choice is important when selecting or creating the groom’s ring. We are finding high demand for both white gold and palladium, while platinum’s popularity seems to be waning. Both white gold and palladium are affordable in comparison to platinum, and both wear very well. As with ladies rings, we are seeing increased popularity in palladium in gent’s styles. The primary reason is due to palladium’s natural silver color. White gold has a slight yellow tint, which requires periodic re-plating to keep the nice silver color. Palladium requires no plating.
Alternative or exotic metals such as tungsten and titanium have become popular with grooms in recent years, especially with the younger set. Both metals sport a darker gun metal color. These metals wear well, tungsten being the better of the two, and feature lower price points than their precious metal counterparts.
Individual expression is the name of the game these days with couple selecting their wedding ring styles. It’s an exciting time to be a bride or groom in need of a wedding ring!