Ready to put a ring on it? If you’ve got your eye on a diamond, you undoubtedly want the best stone you can afford, but balancing your wish list with your target budget can be tricky. Before you start shopping, the first step is to get familiar with the Four Cs (the standard by which diamonds are graded and priced). Once it all starts to make sense, you can play around with the “Cs” to find a winning combination—say, trading a little lower color grade for a larger stone—that nets you the biggest, brightest diamond your wallet can handle. Read on for more on this and other money-saving tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most bling for your buck.
Prioritize the Cut
If you’re hoping to get more for your money, think diamond cuts rather than budget cuts—and you’ll end up with the best of both worlds. Cut is really the C that matters most because an exceptional cut can mask a multitude of flaws, such as inclusions or an unremarkable color grade. It’s also arguably the only way to get a stone that looks bigger, without having to spend more money.
For example, Christopher Designs is known for its proprietary diamond cuts, all carefully engineered by best-in-class stonecutters to make traditional diamond shapes appear larger. Regular diamond-cutting techniques create a sort of “iceberg” effect, with most of the diamond’s weight residing beneath the surface, hidden by the ring setting. But L’Amour Crisscut diamonds are cut with a larger silhouette—overall they’re broader and taller, and place all the action at the surface of the diamond. This way, the diamond appears 30 to 60 percent bigger than traditional cuts (depending on the shape), with the added benefit of a unique facet alignment that gives the diamond extra fire and brilliance.
Shave Off the Carat Weight
Full-carat sizes are more in demand, which means they come at premium prices. The easiest way to save a little dough is to tweak your target carat weight to a size that’s slightly less than what you want (i.e. .89 or 1.92). Any decrease in weight will generally lower the ticket price, but going even just a few points smaller won’t require you to adjust your standards in the size department. Because, visually? The difference in appearance is negligible—barely discernible to the naked eye—but that slight discrepancy translates to savings of a few hundred dollars or more. (Of course, with Christopher Designs’ proprietary cuts, you’re already getting more surface area for your money, so this step wouldn’t be necessary.)
Diamonds with very high clarity grades (IF to VS2) and no visible inclusions are rarer than their counterparts (SI1 and SI2 are about as low as you want to go), and they’re much more expensive for that reason. But don’t get fixated on this C—it pays to be flexible. A common way to save is to go higher on color grade and lower on the clarity grade. For example, a G-color (near colorless) with slight inclusions is a popular combo. It may be helpful to think of inclusions as the thing that gives your diamond personality—hitchhikers from a billion or so years ago when the diamond was forming. Here’s where you might want a jeweler to hand-select stones with your desired criteria, as opposed to shopping online. The jeweler’s expertise not only gives them access to the best of the best, but also enables them to choose diamonds (even ones with low clarity grades) through a lens that’s way more discerning than a website’s search function.
Consider a Cluster
Solitaire diamonds weighing one carat or above are rare and more in demand, which is why they command the highest prices. But a collection of small diamonds grouped together can create the look of a single stone, while costing less—even if they weigh up to a carat or two in total. To achieve the optical illusion of a solitaire, the small diamonds are arranged in a circular pattern (or square, or oval, etc.), with each stone set in barely there prongs so that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Framing the configuration in a diamond halo further blurs the clustered effect so that all you see is bright, white light.
Get Hold of a Halo
Speaking of halos, you know how applying lip liner before lipstick makes your lips look fuller? The same concept applies to halo engagement rings. That ring of diamonds around your center stone adds heft to the overall appearance—without having to spring for the cost of a single diamond solitaire. So that means you can skimp on the center stone’s size and have your halo make up for the deficit, a sneaky way to save, especially if you have your heart set on a certain carat weight.
Ready to start ring shopping? Learn more about Christopher Designs’ proprietary cuts that give you a larger-looking diamond for less at ChristopherDesigns.com.