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The Budget Buster: Go Big

Are you ready to buy a budget-busting diamond engagement ring? Think rare metal, many carats and big style to achieve the “wow” factor you desire.

Find yourself admiring that can’t-look-away gigantic diamond engagement ring? Thinking about a ring that takes her breath away? As more couples marry later in life, and are more established in their lives and careers, they can afford to spend more money for an engagement ring than they could earlier. If you take the diamond engagement ring purchase “standard” of two to three months’ salary, his salary later in life is likely to be considerably higher. He may be entering his second marriage — again, more established and perhaps feeling more committed to a new life. And he might just be affluent no matter what age he is — always able to afford what he wants.

There are three key ways to enter budget buster territory: big carat weight, big style and rare metals.

No matter what the driver, there are three key ways to enter budget-buster territory: big carat weight, big style and rare metals.

Rare metals

When considering the type of metal for the setting, remember color is a personal choice. As the gold karats get higher, the yellow color gets richer and more lustrous. However, the higher the karatage, the softer the metal (the addition of alloys lowers the karatage but strengthens the metal). For that warm, golden color, an excellent choice is 18K gold. It’s “tough enough” for daily wear. And it has more pure gold than the more common 14K gold.

The need for strength and durability in a setting is really determined by how active the woman is who will wear it.

Your woman may require a tougher material. She may be harder on her hands, very active or out of doors in variable weather. Platinum is more expensive than gold, but is much more durable. Platinum is also white, so its color is distinctly different from yellow gold.

Compared to gold, platinum is five times as rare and much purer when used in jewelry. To be considered “platinum,” the metal must contain at least 90% pure platinum. Platinum is valued for its purity, rarity and strength, and is considered the most precious of all jewelry metals — so if you’re going for a budget buster, platinum is the way to go.

Big style

Big style is also all about personal choice. On one end, there is pure bling. Big center diamond, perhaps circled by a halo of diamonds or flanked by two smaller diamonds on a split shank set with still more diamonds.  These big looks with many diamonds will flash and spark with every move of her hand.

On the other end is a beautiful large-carat-weight solitaire that sits simply and cleanly in a traditional or modern-style setting. Or perhaps a classic three-stone ring. You can find pre-owned rings at auctions and estate sales or new rings at your favorite jewelry store. Your jeweler can make it easy for you to go big setting and big style with a finished ring from the selection in the store.

Another way to go is to create your ring piece by piece. You can find the setting you like, then the loose diamond or diamonds to go with it, and have your jeweler create the finished ring. Or find the diamond first and the setting next. Some settings already come with diamonds and are just waiting for the center gem of your choice.

Big carats

It’s important to remember that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to diamonds — although it certainly is memorable. Color, cut and clarity are also important measures of diamond quality.

In colorless diamonds, “D” is the most expensive grade because it’s the rarest. When you’re looking for “white” (colorless) diamonds, the Gemological Institute of America scale of D-F is where you want to be (and note that it takes a trained eye to even see those grade differences). The key is that when mounted, these stones will appear white. Grades further down the scale will appear more and more yellow.

The sparkle is going to come from the cut, and there are a number of trademarked brands on the market that specialize in various ideal cuts. But all are based on Marcel Tolkowsky’s 1919 formula of a set combination of angles to allow light to enter the stone and be reflected back. This created a brighter-looking diamond than had been cut before.

Another way to go big is with a natural color diamond. Natural yellow natural diamonds are rare, but extremely popular with the rich and famous. Your fiancée-to-be can play in the big leagues with a natural color diamond.

Clarity refers to internal inclusions and/or surface blemishes found in most diamonds. Flawless large-carat diamonds are rare, but are out there. You really don’t need to agonize over a flawless stone, though. A well-cut diamond can minimize the impact of minor inclusions and maximize the flashes of white light and the spectrum of colors within the stone.

How will you find that perfect big-carat diamond? Online diamond searches place a large and amazing diamond selection at your fingertips. You can refine your search to display the exact cut, color, clarity and carat weight you want. You can view the diamonds you’re most interested in under a virtual jeweler’s loupe as well, which lets you compare the characteristics of one diamond to the next until you find the one that’s right. Match diamond to setting and you’re done.

But to truly appreciate and understand the incomparable draw a large colorless near-perfect diamond has, you’ve got to see it for yourself. Go to your jeweler, look at loose and set diamonds. Compare your D-H stone with others of lesser grades. Look at it under magnification. You’ll be stunned by how incredible a truly fine diamond is. You’ll also have the satisfaction that what you see is what you’ll get.

Go big

Big is relative. Scan the style pages of any entertainment blog and you’ll discover the latest celebrity engagement rings. One post looking at the top 19 engagement rings on celebrities noted prices that varied from a $14,000 cushion-cut sparkler to a $5 million flawless, 18-carat, emerald-cut diamond. All were spectacular rings. Whoever you are and whatever your goals, going the distance on a budget buster means busting your budget, not a celebrity’s. Unless, of course, you are one.

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