Hey, Frugs! Buying a diamond ring can be one of the biggest expenses that you have in your life, so I am addressing it here on TheFrugalista.com. I met jeweler Tara Rose of Miami’s Ring Finger Studio at a blogger networking event and was impressed. This young professional works with top celebrity clients (Eva Longoria has worn one of her rings) AND she’s big on using recycled materials in her jewelry. I knew right away that she had the Frugalista spirit. As you can read from her answers below, she’s a jeweler we can trust. Tara didn’t even say that men should spend three months of income on a ring!!! Enjoy and share this frugal and fabulous interview with Tara!
How To Purchase A Diamond: Frugalista Style
Please tell me about the “Four Cs” when buying diamonds! Do they matter?
The 4 C’s are the four categories that are used by the diamond industry to assess the quality and value of a diamond. They are Carat Weight, Cut, Color, and Clarity.
They play an important role in creating a world-wide standard to which diamonds can be compared.
For the individual consumer, it is important that you are familiar with the 4 C’s. However, it is even more important to work with a trusted expert who is trained in diamond grading. Otherwise, a consumer can easily be mislead into thinking they’re getting a great diamond, when in fact they’re getting a stone that performs well in only one of the 4 C’s.
How can you tell where a diamond originates from? Is there a certification process? I know diamonds can be political.
Some diamonds will have paperwork certifying the country of origin, for example most Canadian diamonds will. However, you will pay a premium for Canadian stones for this reason.
More importantly than knowing the specific country a diamond came from is knowing that the diamond is certified conflict free under what is known as the Kimberley Process and the System of Warranties.
Ask your jeweler if your diamond will come with the United Nations Compliance Statement insuring that the diamond has been sourced and transported ethically, then you can breathe easier.
How does the number of carats in a diamond factor into the price?
Cost conscious diamonds buyers should know the diamond “hallmarks” when it comes to carat. Prices will jump significantly as soon as you hit whole and half-carat hallmarks, for example, 1.0 carat, 1.5 carats, 2.0 carats, 2.5 carats, etc.
To save money, if you’re looking for approximately a 2.0 carat diamond, tell your jeweler that you would like to save some money by going for a stone in the 1.80-1.90 carat range. It will look like a 2.0 carat, but you’ll spend less.
Is it important to have a lot of carats for quality? I’ve seen some beautiful diamond rings that don’t have a lot of carats.
A diamond does not have to have a lot of carat weight to be stunning! When you see a diamond that has a lot of sparkle and flashes of color, that is because the diamond has a good balance of color, clarity, and most importantly it is well cut.
Carat simply measures how much your stone weighs. Many people mistake carat for a measure of face-up size. It is important that you have a well-cut diamond, or a 1.5 carat diamond can face-up look like it’s only about 1.25 carats.
If you want to see what the face-up size should be for various carat weights, email us at email@example.com, and we can send you our actual diamond size chart.
What should you look for in a diamond?
You should look for a diamond that appears flawless to the naked eye, but on paper, it can have some inclusions and less than perfect color.
Remember, diamonds are graded under perfect lighting conditions, and 10x magnifications, so go with a stone that is three color or better, and SI2 clarity or better. You’ll save money and it will still look gorgeous!
Can you tell us some of your favorite types of engagement rings that are good quality and priced well?
The classic white gold four-prong Tiffany-Style of engagement, with no added diamond embellishments is the most affordable type of engagement ring.
Our 4 prong styles are nice heavy weight rings, so they’re durable, well priced, and they’ve got a really classic timeless look.
We suggest this style to clients when budgets are tight, because it allows the bulk of your budget to go into the center diamond, and you can always change the setting out for a fancier one down the road for an anniversary or birthday.
If you are on a budget, what types of engagement rings look nice but are cost conscious? Should we opt for white gold instead of platinum? I heard platinum is heavy.
To maximize the overall look of a ring, we have two tips. One, choose a ring style that has a “halo” of small diamonds encircling the center diamond. It will make the center diamond look MUCH bigger! Also, choose a ring style with a thin band. The thin band again gives the illusion that the center diamond is bigger, and in turn it uses less metal, so the cost of the setting will be less than a heavier style.
Also, opt for white gold or palladium over platinum, which is a heavier metal, so it will cost more.
Are diamonds a good investment? Are they really forever?
Each diamond is unique, so some diamonds are better investments than others. However, if you work with a diamond expert, like us, we can advise you on which diamonds will have the greatest chance for appreciation over time.
It is possible to damage a diamond, but they are one of the hardest natural substances found on Earth. So, in most cases, they truly are forever. That is unless you lose your diamond…so make sure that regardless of how much you spend on a diamond, you take out an insurance policy on your sparkler.
I noticed that you use recycled metals. We love being environmentally conscious at TheFrugalista.com. Are they more affordable? Tell us why you do that.
We use recycled metals that we buy from the public in the form of old, broken jewelry as well as recycled metals from what are known as secondary refiners. We chose to do this because we felt the manufacturing behind our rings needed to reflect the symbolism that they carry. Small choices can have big effects. Using recycled metals prevents permanent scarring of the landscape and damage to local water supplies.
What’s the lowest you should spend for an engagement ring? Why? Can a man get a nice ring without spending three months of salary?
Our engagement rings start around $2,000. A man absolutely does not have to spend three months salary to get a nice ring! In fact, unlike ALL other jewelers, we discourage our clients from over spending. We remind them that the engagement ring is the first step in a lot of momentous occasions in life, a wedding, a first home, and eventually children.
We build trust with our clients. By helping them make smart choices when it comes to their budgets, we ensure that they feel happy and confident in their purchase as opposed to sick to their stomachs as they hand over that credit card.
Work with a trusted expert and you’ll be able to get a great ring without putting yourself in a place of future financial strain.
What do you think about the diamond suggestions from Tara? What are some of your tips for purchasing diamonds? Do you think men should spend three months worth of salary on an engagement ring?
Photos courtesy of Tara Rose, Ring Finger Studio