Like all jewelry, the price for an engagement ring can vary considerably depending on the materials used, the design of the ring, whether it includes a gemstone, the value of any gemstone, and the seller. The idea that a man should spend two to three months’ personal wages for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials in the early 20th century, in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds. In 2007, the average cost of an engagement ring in USA as reported by the industry was US$2,100.
The price of the gemstones, if any, in the ring depends on the type and quality of the gem. Diamonds have a standardized description that values them according to their carat weight, color, clarity and cut. Other gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies, moissanite, emeralds, have different systems. These may be chosen to honor a family tradition, to use family heirlooms, to be unique, to be socially responsible, to fit the individual’s stylistic preferences, or to manage cost. Synthetic stones and diamond substitutes such as cubic zirconias are also popular choices that reduce cost while maintaining the desired appearance.
A wedding set, or bridal set, includes an engagement ring and a wedding band that match as a set. In some cases, the engagement ring looks “incomplete”; it is only when the two halves are assembled that the ring looks whole. In other cases, a wedding set consists of two rings that match stylistically and are worn stacked, although either piece would look appropriate as a separate ring. Although the wedding band is not to be worn until the wedding day, the two rings are usually sold together as a wedding set. After the wedding, the bride may choose to have the two pieces welded together, to increase convenience and reduce the likelihood of losing one ring. A trio ring set includes a ladies engagement ring, ladies wedding band and a men’s wedding band. These sets often have matching rings and are lower in price.
A Tiffany mount or Tiffany setting is a set of prongs (called a claw, crown, or coronet) that hold a gemstone and attach it to a plain band ring. It is the most common setting for a diamond solitaire engagement ring. It is named after Tiffany & Co., which popularized it.
Four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: these are carat, cut, color, and clarity.
The most popular of diamond cuts is the modern round brilliant, whose facet arrangements and proportions have been perfected by both mathematical and empirical analysis. Also popular are the fancy cuts which come in a variety of shapes.many of which were derived from the round brilliant. A diamond’s cut is evaluated by trained graders, with higher grades given to stones whose symmetry and proportions most closely match the particular “ideal” used as a benchmark. The strictest standards are applied to the round brilliant; although its facet count is invariable, its proportions are not.
The size of a diamond may also be a factor. Very small (< 0.02 carats (4 mg)) diamonds.known as stars.are usually given simplified cuts (i.e., with fewer facets), but as cutting and polishing technology has improved this is not necessarily always the case. This is because a full-cut brilliant of such small size would appear milky to the human eye, owing to its inability to resolve the stone’s dispersive fire. Conversely, very large diamonds are usually given fancy cuts with many extra facets. Conventional round brilliant or fancy cuts do not scale up satisfactorily, so the extra facets are needed to ensure there are no “dead spots”. Because large diamonds are less likely to be set in jewelry, their cuts are considered for how well they display the diamonds’ properties from a wide range of viewing directions; in the case of more moderate-sized diamonds, the cuts are considered primarily for their face-up appeal.
Diamonds occur in a variety of colors . steel gray, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink to purple, brown, and black, virtually in every color of the rainbow. Colored diamonds contain interstitial impurities or structural defects that cause the coloration, whilst pure diamonds are perfectly transparent and colorless. The scale ranges from D which is totally colorless to Z which is a pale yellow or brown color. Brown diamonds darker than K color are usually described using their letter grade, and a descriptive phrase, for example M Faint Brown. Diamonds with more depth of color than Z color fall into the fancy color diamond range.
The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven grades. The clarity categories and grades are:
- Flawless category (FL) diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless category (IF) diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x magnification, only small blemishes on the diamond surface.
- Very, Very Slightly Included category (VVS) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. The VVS category is divided into two grades; VVS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VVS2. Pinpoints and needles set the grade at VVS.
- Very Slightly Included category (VS) diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The VS category is divided into two grades; VS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VS2. Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however infrequently some VS2 inclusions may still be visible to the eye. An example would be on a large emerald cut diamond which has a small inclusion under the corner of the table.
- Slightly Included category (SI) diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to very easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The SI category is divided into two grades; SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
- Included category (I) diamonds have obvious inclusions that are clearly visible to a trained grader under 10x magnification. Included diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible without magnification or have inclusions that threaten the durability of the stone. The I category is divided into three grades; I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the unaided eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to threaten the structure of the diamond.