Dear Future Fiancé,

Size does matter when it comes to my best friend. Oh, we’re not talking about your best friend down South, but you know… the cliche that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Sure, every girl envisions a flawless ring that is not only blindingly beautiful, but massive enough to induce arthritis. However, with budget constraints in mind and a healthy dose of reality, let’s breakdown why some women equate and emphasize their search for a husband and rock as if it’s the search for the Holy Grail.

One tiny piece of jewelry has become a symbolic piece with its ruminations beginning centuries ago. In olden days, the reason why people wore engagement and wedding rings was due to traditional belief of Vena Amoris, a Latin name meaning, literally, “vein of love”. Folklore for centuries instilled that this vein ran directly from the heart to the fourth finger of the left hand.  The ring itself was a symbol of spirits, both of whom were also related to the home and hearth. The endless circle showed the eternal nature of the bond of two people, while the open center was meant to be a doorway to things unknown.

An engagement ring is a direct reflection of how one views your supposed life partner, equal and the relationship. Every diamond is unique, just as the person you want to marry. So, the entire ring should embody their personality, do justice to the relationship, and symbolize all future hope and potential for the future. You should either be proudly romantic and weeping or contemplating eternal bachelorhood right about now.

While some little girls grew up playing with Barbies and playing house, I grew up accompanying my diamond specialist Mother to jewelry stores. I ogled all the glittering goods and soaked up insider knowledge like a sponge, with Barbies and My Little Ponies in tow, of course. I was raised on the notion that men should be the ones who purchase fine jewelry for their beloveds; while in more contemporary times, I’m coming around to independent women celebrating single girl status with ‘right-hand rings’. My soapbox is where modern meets archaic and traditional. Wherever your stance on the great diamond divide may be, let me educate you a little on not the ABC’s of diamonds, but the 4C’s – cut, clarity, color, and carats.

Diamond Engagement Rings

I remember the first time, instead of being filled with elation – trepidation and the overwhelming urge to vomit overtook my body. As the words, “I love you beyond comprehension. Will you do me the honor of spending the rest of your life with me? Will you marry me?,” stammered out of his mouth, I cried tears of sorrow knowing in that moment that I loved and cared this man, but I couldn’t spend the rest of my life with him. One glance down at the ring box confirmed my heartache and my eyes became broken faucets with profuse amounts of tears and regrets running from them. He really didn’t know me at all.

The 4 C’s of Diamonds

Cut – Describes the finish, proportion and polish of the diamond. These factors determine the fire and brilliance of a diamond. Let me put this in layman’s terms – the facets of the cut will determine how much sparkle and bling factor the diamond possesses. It also deals with the shape of the diamond itself. While my body may be pear-shaped, that doesn’t mean I would want a diamond to be! My first boyfriend made this mistake, but his ring wrong-doings were not the fatal error in our relationship.  Tried and True choices: Round or Princess (maximum sparkle) 2nd Round Picks: Cushion or Emerald For the Unique: Asscher or Radiant (P.S. I’m an Asscher kind of gal)

Clarity – Describes the clearness or purity of a diamond. A grade is assigned to each diamond, with ‘F’ representing a flawless diamond to ‘I’ meaning that the diamond has inclusions. For novices, inclusions are flaws and fractures, which some can be well hidden with certain cuts, while others will create dullness and a sight for sore eyes.  While in school you may have never wanted to get an ‘F’, in the school of big rocks – the closer you get to ‘F’, ‘VVS1’, ‘VVS2’ or ‘VS1’ will help you graduate to some pre-marital bliss. So, if you like it dirty, this is not the time, nor place for it, buddy. Keep it in the bedroom and your eye on a pure prize.

Color – From white to yellow, diamonds receive a grade for the amount of color they contain. Most women prefer colorless to near colorless diamonds; however, colored diamonds over the years have gained popularity due to J Lo’s pink diamond during Bennifer days and Paris Hilton’s canary yellow super sparkler from a fiancé with shocking the same name. Take note that unless your pockets are as deep as an A-List celeb with a penchant for in-your-face bling, you’re better off sticking with a near colorless diamond. To put it in some manly terms, I’ll go with an octane gasoline grading system: Premium – D, E, and F; Supreme – G, H, and I; Regular – J and K; Bus Fare – Anything lower than K. If you end up with a yellow-tinged diamond, don’t sweat it; you can offset the color by setting it in a yellow gold band and your lady in waiting will be none the wiser.

Carat – Carat is the weight of the diamond, with one carat equaling .20 grams. The more carats, the pricier the diamond, although the other “C’s” can influence the damage you’ll be doing to your wallet greatly. Appearances can always be deceiving and in this case, weight and size are always easily confused. The cut, depth, setting, shape, and hand size all play a part in how large a diamond will appear on the final product. A fine craftsman will know the tricks of the trade to give the illusion of a maximized dimension; think of the male grooming of your best friend and you’ll catch my drift. While, I’m glad you grew some cajones to get down on one knee, but don’t let a dinky ring make others question your manhood. 1 carat and up are always safe bets, though larger hands or lengthy fingers will look better with at least 1.5-2 carats.  Err on the side of practicality as a huge diamond can just also be gaudy and garish and don’t sacrifice quality for a large, underwhelming rock.

The extra credit C: Cost

While some will advise you to save up 3 months to a quarter of your salary, the reality is it is whatever you are comfortable with within your budget. The moment you decide to go with the Cartier, Tiffany, or Harry Winston route, you can be sure to expect to say goodbye to all your pretty pennies in exchange for a serious rock that will carry some name-dropping clout. In the end, just try to be fiscally responsible, while keeping in mind the wise words of Kanye West, “I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ with no broke n…” and avoid those toxic Gollum “My Preciousssss” types.

Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement RingsDiamond Engagement Rings