We have been in the jewelry business for over 20 years. We can help guide you into buying the right item for your significant other / item recipient. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
Some simple considerations will help you select a great item for your recipient. Ask yourself the following:
Is the recipient more of a low key, simple person? Or do they love big and blingy? Or are they somewhere in the middle? Pick an appropriate item for their style. What do they wear now? What do they own but don't wear? If they have tons of bracelets, maybe go with earrings.
By paying attention to the recipient's current jewelry collection, you will be better able to pick out that perfect something.
Have they hinted at something? Commented on someone else's jewelry? Pay attention. What are you trying to say with the item? Commitment? Love? Friendship? A promise? Consider what the item will say to the recipient. Do they prefer a specific color (like white over yellow) or metal type (like platinum or tungsten carbide as opposed to gold)?
In other words if they have a white gold pendant and a white gold ring, don't buy them a yellow gold pair of earrings.
Lab-created stones are formed in a controlled laboratory environment whereas natural gemstones are formed in the earth by Mother Nature. Both share the same physical and chemical properties. Note that the lab produced stone is usually free from major defects and can have a more vibrant color! In other words don't consider lab created to be sub-standard. They often look even better than the natural stones and are usually much more affordable.
Man simply forces the process that takes Mother Nature thousands of years to do into a very short time frame by using very hi-tech machines (and the same ingredients!).
We recommend lower qualities and colors for earrings, necklaces, pendants and items with small diamonds in them.
For the center stone of an engagement ring, you'll want a little higher of a diamond quality as other people will tend to examine an engagement ring more closely than other jewelry.
Our recommendation for center stones of engagement rings are:
Clarity range VS2, SI1, SI2, SI3, I1.Color: F, G, H, I. Cut: Excellent / Ideal, Very Good, Good. We put these in "best to worst" order from left to right for each category (the Four C's for diamonds which are Clarity, Color, Cut, Carat weight). These recommendations will give you some flexibility on your choices and of course budget while maintaining some minimum standards so that the center diamond is beautiful and will stand up to any scrutiny by curious observers. Look all you want MA! Its gorgeous!
1) Color: Ranked D - Z. D is the best (colorless), and the color gets worse as you approach Z. E and F are essentially colorless. G, H, I, J are near colorless. We don't recommend you go worse than I color in any stones over .20 ctw. And especially in center stones for engagement rings.
2) Clarity: From worst to best - I3, I2, I1, SI3, SI2, SI1, VS2, VS1, VVS2, VVS1, FL / IF SI3 is newer, and ranks just slightly better than I1. "I" simply stands for "included", where "inclusions" would be the characteristics present in or on the stone. Stones with many or obvious inclusions will rank more in the I3 - I1 range. Very clear stones will rank in the VS / VVS range (or higher). Of course the higher you go in clarity, the more expensive the stone! SI simply means Slightly Included. You need a 10x loop to see any of the characteristics in the stone. VS simply means Very Slightly. And you guessed it, VVS means VERY VERY Slightly. FL / IF mean Flawless or Internally Flawless.
3) Cut: Fair, Good, Very Good, Excellent / Ideal. You'll want at least "Good". If you can afford Very Good for an engagement ring, it's worth it. Cut means how perfectly the stone was cut against what are considered ideal measurements for that partucular shape of stone. It is often the "under-rated C", as it is often overlooked or misunderstood. Basically the better the cut, the more sparkle, brilliance, and fire the diamond will have. And lets face it....a diamond that sparkles a lot is going to look better!
4) Carat: (carat weight). This is the weight of the stone as measured on a diamond scale. Most certifications measure in decimals where 1.00 would be a 1 carat diamond. Carat weight is basically "How big of a stone can I afford?" You may lower your other three "C's" in order to find a larger stone that fits your budget. In other words, it can be a balancing act where changing the Four C's to lower or higher qualities will affect the size of diamond that will fit your budget. Decide what's important to you (or her, or both of you) and then see what size you can afford. For example, if you decide the Clarity has to be at least SI2 because you don't want to be able to see any inclusions with the naked eye, and that the color needs to be at least "H" as you want it to be near colorless, and the Cut has to be at least Very Good because maximizing sparkle and brilliance is a priority, there you have it! Now using those minimums, price out stones at a 1.00 carat with those standards and then go down or up in carat weight until you hit your budget!
It's just a guide that can help give you a general idea on a budget for an engagement ring. The 2.5 months of salary is simply a financial number that, if you spend it, you will most likely recover from the expense and not put yourself in the poor house. Obviously people who make a lot of money may not need to spend 2.5 months of salary, and someone who doesn't make a lot of money may want to spend a little more, but it is by no means mandatory and no one should judge you against it! A "rule of thumb" is just a general guide and it won't fit every scenario.