The Four CsCost is based on the four Cs: cut, color, clarity and carats. Cut is not the same as shape. Cut refers to the roundness, width and depth of the stone, and the consistency of the facets. Jewelers rate color on a scale of D (the best) to Z (the worst). Diamonds should be as close to colorless as possible. Clarity refers to how clear a stone is. Diamonds contain small imperfections called inclusions that are measured on a scale. Stones are put into categories on this scale that indicate clarity. Finally, carat means diamond weight, which is not necessarily the same as size.
Finding the Right Size and ShapeWhile beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are some guidelines for choosing the best ring for your hand shape and size. A thicker band with a more prominent stone is more flattering on long, slender, bony fingers or large and/or muscular hands. A larger, prolonged setting -- where the diamond sits higher off the band -- is better for large hands with long fingers.
Women with wide or short fingers should stick to a medium-width ring with a large stone. Stick with bands and settings that lay flat against the finger. For small hands with thin fingers, delicate settings complement your hand best. Short, thick fingers require small stones.
Does it Have to be a Diamond?No! While diamonds still reign as the most common choice for engagement rings because of their durability and strength, more women are choosing colored diamonds or gemstones. Fancy-colored diamonds span nearly every color of the rainbow, and sapphires come in a myriad of colors other than blue.
The Wedding BandsRings typically come in two different metal colors: yellow, which means yellow gold, or white, which includes white gold or platinum. Platinum and white gold are essentially the same color, but platinum is more durable and more expensive.
Choosing metal color is based on preference and style, but in general lighter skin tones look better with yellow gold. Most brides-to-be these days choose white gold over yellow gold. Rose gold is also gaining popularity. A two-tone ring -- either white and yellow gold, or rose and yellow gold -- makes your ring style more flexible as times and trends change.
Have it Custom MadeJewelers can make just about any ring shape or style work for your hand (and even use optical illusions to do so!). Ask a jeweler if he or she can make something just for you. The most important thing to remember is to go with your gut. Your gut instinct is the ring that will make you the most happy. Even after browsing for an hour or more, you will most likely go back to the first ring you picked out.
Get what you want, but make sure it can withstand a passing trend. Find a stone within your budget and talk to your jeweler about a custom design that will effectively protect it for daily wear.