Shopping for a diamond engagement ring can be a romantic and exciting adventure, but how do you choose your perfect symbol of everlasting love from the thousands of styles available?
“One of the best ways to zero in on the ideal engagement ring is to start by considering diamond cut,” says Hutton Wilkinson, designer of Tony Duquette Jewelry, based in Beverly Hills, CA. “Classic cuts such as the round brilliant or the emerald cut are of course beautiful,” Wilkinson explains, “but you owe it to yourself to find the diamond cut that best suits your hands, your style, your budget and your life.” To that end, he suggests you compare, contrast and try on different diamond cuts. “You’ve got to see and feel which one sings out to you with the most emotion,” he says. “Listen to your heart and hold out for a cut that you know you love, because this takes time, energy and consideration.”
As Wilkinson puts it, “When choosing engagement rings and diamond cuts, take an honest inventory of your hands before you start shopping.” For example, if you have very small hands, but want to make the most dramatic yet affordable statement, consider a rough, uncut diamond in white or gray. “With uncut diamond crystals, you get the organic magic of nature and relatively more stone for your money because a cutter didn’t labor over it,” he says. If an uncut stone doesn’t sing to you, “Other affordable choices that can look very icy without breaking the bank include diamond halo rings.”
While a traditional round brilliant retains about 50 percent of the rough diamond, a princess cut embodies about 80 percent of the diamond crystal. As a result, the princess cut diamond is usually slightly less expensive than round brilliant cut diamonds of the same carat weight. (This is also why the princess is popular among diamond cutters.) “If you are looking for the largest and most dramatic affordable diamond cut,” Wilkinson continues, “a princess may be perfect for you.”
Any discussion of engagement rings must relate how certain diamond cuts can create the illusion of thinner or longer fingers. As William Hermsen, owner of the Los Angeles, CA. design-driven jewelry store August Los Angeles, explains, “Wider pear shapes, ovals and emerald cuts can make large fingers appear thinner.” What’s more, he suggests, ovals are especially flattering as their silhouette resembles that found in many famous antique jewels. When it comes to larger, elongated cuts, Hermsen adds that those embodying long, narrow proportions, such as a marquise (and yes, it’s pronounced “Mahr-KEEZ”) can create the illusion of longer fingers. Shaped rather like an American football standing straight up, the marquise’s tapered shape maximizes carat weight while giving the illusion of a much larger diamond.
Diamond engagement rings sold at August Los Angeles range from $900 to $28,000. While a relatively small round brilliant cut may not be the best choice for larger hands, realize that there are no hard and fast rules. “When choosing engagement rings, people always gravitate towards certain diamond cuts that inherently complement the other jewelry they wear on a daily basis. Many people appreciate a stylistic contrast between their engagement ring and their other jewelry, because they’re committed to expressing their individual taste. This is how it should be,” he says. Likewise, “Sometimes a relatively small diamond in an elegant cut such as an emerald or baguette can make a major style statement while being very affordable,” he notes.
New York-based jewelry designer Rosanne Pugliese agrees, adding, “I think a smaller diamond often has more room to succeed visually in a bold design.” A popular engagement ring that Pugliese has made for over a decade is a wide 18k gold or 22k gold cigar band, with a 0.20 baguette, or emerald cut, stone in the center. Pugliese, who sells engagement rings ranging from about $3,000 to $6,000 in her Brooklyn Heights store and at August Los Angeles, explains, “Many couples believe that a small baguette or emerald cut diamond in a wide band ring is more visually appealing, artistic and distinctive than a bigger round brilliant on a slender band.”
New York-based designer and jeweler Deborah Meyers agrees. “I design and create mixed metal engagement rings out of 22k gold and sterling silver that range from $850 to $2400,” she says. Her brand, Deborah Meyers Experience, is available at ABC Home in New York.
Containing 24 facets that create a stone resembling petals within a rose, the rose cut diamond is the historical forerunner of the round brilliant cut, which contains 57 or 58 facets. Unlike the round brilliant’s conical pointed bottom, the rose cut is flat on the bottom. While the rose’s fewer facets create less fire and brilliance than that generated by the round brilliant, “Rose cut diamonds shine and sparkle with a romantic, antique charm,” says Meyers. “I find the rose cut very subtle and sexy, but of course there are brilliant cuts and with halos or double halos that make amazing engagement rings. Let your emotions be your guide!”
A rose cut may reveal inclusions, or occurring fine lines or dark spots within the stone. “This can be desirable or not, depending on how you feel about flaws,” says Meyers. “Some people like visible inclusions as they believe they enhance a stone’s character.” Those who opt for a brighter, whiter stone may want to consider purchasing high clarity grades such as VS1 or VS so that flaws are invisible to the naked eye. While a foil backed bezel can intensify a rose cut diamond’s sparkle and magnify its color, the setting and band are equally important as they affect the ring’s overall aesthetic. Depending on clarity and color grade, a rose cut diamond may cost appreciably less per carat than other cuts.
Whatever your final choice, “Choosing your engagement ring and settling on a cut is a chance for you and your partner to bring more love, authenticity and pleasure into your lives,” says Meyers. “Choose what you love.”