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July 24, 2012updated Feb 13, 2013

Four Steps to Buying the Perfect Engagement Ring

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Nashville, Tennessee – Reported by David Adam King for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

I’ve always been fascinated by the brilliance, fire and composition of diamonds. Few children are privileged to grow up admiring and learning about these scintillating creations of nature. This passion led me to study chemistry and physics at the University of Pennsylvania, which made my experience only that much more enjoyable at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). When I joined the family business, I realized that my knowledge of diamonds and bridal designs was at best at an intermediate level. It took me almost a decade of experience to master and appreciate a diamond and its value as an asset. More importantly, I learned to closely listen to my clients and to guide them with expert knowledge. While some women know exactly what they want when it comes to buying and/or designing a diamond engagement ring, others are clueless and even worse, indecisive. There’s a plethora of educational sites and salespeople to provide you with information, yet shopping for an engagement ring is a great unknown for even the most experienced shopper. So if you don’t know jewelry, then I recommend getting to know your jeweler and answering these four basic questions when purchasing a diamond ring.

1. What’s the diamond shape for you?

The first and most important decision is picking the diamond shape that is perfect for you. The center stone of an engagement ring should be the biggest investment when purchasing the engagement ring. Soaring diamond prices over the last couple of years have caused many consumers to buy into the look instead of the quality of an engagement ring, which is a tragedy in my opinion. While round stones remain the most popular shape, certain fancy-cut diamonds that provide greater surface areas and ultimately a larger look have gained popularity, most notably oval and radiant cuts. For those interested in fancy-color diamonds, it’s important to realize that most colored diamonds are mainly fancy-cut shapes, like cushions and radiants, which dominate the marketplace.

The diamond shape is also key to helping you identify the ring mounting that best complements your style. If you don’t focus on the shape, you can find yourself running in circles, trying on ring after ring, loving certain elements of one design only to be frustrated that it doesn’t look good with the center diamond you select.

Focus on the shape of the center stone. Certain diamond shapes look better in specific designs based on the natural dimensions of the center diamond. Round, cushion, oval and pear shapes have flowing curves as opposed to asscher, emerald, princess and radiant cuts, which tend to have more rigid lines with their 90-degree angles, even if they are modified-cut stones.

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2. Next up, what style of mounting do you like?

Whether your style is classic, modern-retro or avant-garde, bridal designs should bring your diamond to life with fire. As discussed with the diamond shape, the natural lines of the center stone will be complemented by certain ring designs. For example, round stones look beautiful in French pavé settings where the rounded metal flows with the circular shape of the stone. In comparison, a princess-cut diamond with natural right angles shows well when set in mountings with a squared-style ring shank.

In regards to the precious metal of the mounting, I always recommend setting your diamond in either platinum or 18K white gold. Rose and yellow gold mountings are an occasional bridal request, but the downside is that the darker metals cast color into the white center stone, thus darkening the diamond’s appearance.

When setting the diamond, even with today’s popular halo style, it’s best to prong set the diamond using only four prongs so as to limit the amount of metal surrounding the center stone. The idea behind a well-cut, brilliant diamond is to allow as much light into the stone, allow it to internally refract and then reflect light back to the eye. Why focus on an ideal-cut diamond if you’re just going to bury it with metal in the mounting?

For canary yellow diamonds, I always recommend a platinum mounting with a 22K green gold basket to intensify the diamond’s color saturation. Whatever your preference, there are hundreds of mounting options available from leading bridal designers and most fine jewelers offer custom design as well.

3. Do you want to stack a wedding band?

While you’re searching for a mounting, it’s best to think ahead and pick out your future wedding band. While it might be many months down the road before you actually purchase the band, you will save yourself headaches, time and money if you’re prepared from the beginning. Answer this: Do you want to stack your wedding band or wear it on the opposite hand?

Many women look to wear their wedding band(s) against the engagement ring, thus stacking the two (or three) rings together. This popular style is compatible with most bridal designs and many are created as natural sets. The idea is to select a complementary wedding band that sits as flush with the engagement ring as possible. You never want the wedding band to dominate the overall bridal look, so it’s ideal to match it with the dimensions and design of the engagement ring shank. Stacking challenges arise more often when dealing with fancy-shaped diamonds versus round, yet regardless of diamond shape, make sure to plan ahead so you are forever happy with the engagement ring and wedding band.

4. Budget???

Ultimately, what you like and what you end up with is essentially based on how much money you want to spend. The reality is that diamond prices have increased exponentially over the last decade. Most consumers have an ideal range when searching for an engagement ring and you’re most likely to be on the high side of that budget based on today’s diamond market. Over the last year alone, prices have risen more than 40 percent. While I never recommend going above your planned budget, try not to sacrifice quality too much to fulfill your bridal dreams. Diamonds are priced based on the balance of the 4Cs, and there are ways to find that fine balance between quality and quantity. If you focus your attention on the cut of the stone, the absence of fluorescence, and answer the four basic questions above, you’ll be able to create your very own fairytale.

About the author: David is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, consults for various luxury Swiss watch brands, sits on the advisory board of Watch Journal magazine and OPT Central Technology, and is the brand manager for King Jewelers and www.kings1912.com. As the fifth generation to own and operate King Jewelers, David grew up in a jewelry manufacturing business with haute couture fashion and design in his blood. King Jewelers this year marks a century in business with five generations of Kings who have owned and operated King Jewelers. King Jewelers features fine jewelry, Swiss watches and wholesale diamonds in both Middle Tennessee and South Florida. With brick-and-mortar stores located in Aventura, FL and Nashville, TN, King Jewelers has won numerous regional and national awards of distinction. Key watch brands include Cartier, Breguet, Breitling, Chopard, DeWitt, Harry Winston, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis. Jewelry designers include A. Link, Charles Krypell, Leslie Greene, Marco Bicego, Mikimoto, Roberto Coin, Stephen Webster and Tacori.

Contact: David King, (615) 724-5464; david@kings1912.com; www.kings1912.com

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