Engagement Ring Buying Guide

October 16, 2017 6 min read

Buying a diamond is just like anything you're buying when you have no understanding of it at first. But, after you spend a little bit of time educating yourself, you can actually gain a tremendous comfort level in making that significant purchase.

Typically, when a gentleman walks in looking for a diamond engagement ring you can spot him about a mile away. Often times he'll even take a stroll through the whole store, pretending he's looking at watches, then finally admit that he's here looking at diamond. He usually doesn't have a whole lot of understanding about diamonds and feels a little bit intimidated.

If you are buying for a woman, you should have some idea of what she's interested in. That would typically start with shape. Diamonds can come in a whole of number of shapes. Round is by far the most popular, then princess cut, then there's asscher cut, oval, marquis, pear shape, cushion, and radiant cut.

It's important that you discover what your intended fiancée would like as far as shape is concerned.

If you are wondering how to buy a diamond, you really you start with the four C’s. It is the four C’s determine the value of the diamond that you're purchasing.


Carat Weight



We like to say there's a fifth C, and that's Cost.

At Henne Jewelers, we have been selling fine jewelry and diamonds for over 130 years. And here is an engagement ring buying guide to help you start your journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or make an appointment.

The Four C’s of Diamond Buying

Understanding how diamonds are cut and graded will make you a more informed consumer and improve your buying experience.


Of the four C’s, cut is really the most important, because diamonds have of all the same color, clarity and weight can differ in value by as much as 50% depending on the cut.

A diamond should be cut for maximum brilliance, but sometimes diamonds are cut for maximum weight retention and do not look nearly as brilliant.

A properly cut diamond reflects the maximum light back to the eye. You can look at two stones that have the same color and clarity and same size, and they will look dramatically different because of the cut. If it's cut to its optimum performance the light really comes back through to the eye. If it's cut to save weight, you may lose a lot of sparkle and brilliance in that diamond.

Differences between a well-cut stone and a poorly cut stone with the same weight and grade can mean a price difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars.


The carat weight really is how much a diamond weighs or how large a diamond looks.

Diamonds are weighed in metric carats; one carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat is divided into 100 “points,” so that a diamond of 25 points is described as a quarter of a carat or .25 carats.

Shown are some examples of the approximate size of diamonds of varying carat weights.


Color is really the absence of color. When you're buying a white diamond, you're looking for it to be as white as possible. Diamonds can come in just about every color of the rainbow. Most people think of diamonds as white, but diamonds come in yellow, blue, red, orange and a whole host of other colors and are known as “fancies.”

The differences between one grade and another are subtle, as can be seen by the number of grades within one category. However, slight color differences in diamonds of comparable weight and clarity can make a huge price difference.


When we talk about clarity, we're looking for the relative number of imperfections or inclusions within the diamond created in advance by nature.

Diamond clarity is determined by taking into account the number, size, placement, color and nature of any internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes” and are separated into grades.

  1. Flawless
  2. Very, very slightly included
  3. Very slightly included
  4. Slightly included
  5. Included

Each of those grades have two divisions within them, except for included, which actually has three.

  1. Very
  2. Very slightly one
  3. Very, very slight two (Only for Included grade)

Most diamonds that go from flawless all the way to slightly included one or two look the same. It's only when looking at it under magnification that you can distinguish a difference between those various grades.

When inclusions do not interfere materially with the passage of light through the stone, they do not affect its beauty. However, the fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the diamond.

Cost of a Diamond

Cost certainly has a lot to do with size, but you can have a diamond that is twice the size of another that actually costs less. It really is a combination of all the factors: the color, the clarity, the size and the cut.

Today one of the most important things that you should know when buying a diamond is to know you are actually getting the grade that you are being told you are getting.

The best way to do that is to buy a diamond that comes with a grading report or a certificate from one of the most reputable gem labs in the country or in the world. Those two would be the Gemological Institute of America, the GIA, or the American Gem Society, the AGS.

Ethical Sourcing

The sale of jewelry should enhance and strengthen relationships and that every diamond should demonstrate love towards others. Because of this, we are committed to sourcing our diamonds from ethical and conflict free zones.

When purchasing a diamond, it is strongly recommended that the jeweler strictly adhere to the Kimberley Process, a set of requirements that ensures all diamond mining, trade, and sales are certified conflict free.


The Kimberley process regulates diamonds by ensuring that every diamond is certified conflict-free before it enters the legitimate diamond trade. These standards are upheld through a series of import, export, and internal controls in order to ensure the diamond is sourced ethically from mining all the way through the final sale to the consumer.

Members of the Kimberley Process cannot legally trade with any other company who does not adhere to the minimum standards of the process.


The mining and sale of diamonds from Zimbabwe has been reported to be the cause of various human rights issues, including the funding of wars against legitimate governments. Because of our commitment to ethical business practices, we do not do business with any supplier who sources diamonds from the Marange diamond district in Zimbabwe.


We believe so strongly in our convictions that our president, John Henne, sits on the Executive Committee of the Jewelers of America; one of the organizations that helped to found the Kimberley Process in an effort to end the sale of conflict diamonds around the world. This process now regulates 99% of all diamond trade globally.

Jewelers of America also holds its members to strict social, environmental, and ethical business practices in order to ensure that our customers can trust their jeweler.


We strive to source our gold from suppliers that adhere to the highest possible mining standards. Our goal is to ensure that our gold is sourced from suppliers that are both environmentally friendly in how they remove the gold from the earth and influential in improving the standard of work and living for their miners.

Final Word on Purchasing a Diamond

Many times, when a you are ready to purchase an engagement ring, you will be looking at a loose diamond first. Let's say for instance we pull out a one carat GVS2. He asks how much that costs, and then we can pull out a stone the same size with a slightly lower or better color or clarity and see the effect it has on price.

Generally, the process takes more than one visit. Usually the first visit understanding, becoming educated, getting an idea of how much things cost and what you are really drawn to.

After that, they usually come back in and then maybe narrow their focus down and select exactly what they're looking for.

When looking for a diamond, you really should be looking for something that is beautiful, something that sparkles and has a tremendous amount of brilliance. That's how you buy a diamond!

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