What to Look for When Buying a Diamond Ring

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What to Look for When Buying a Diamond Ring

Diamond comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "unbreakable". This is because diamonds are one of the strongest and most durable materials around. However, diamonds are not just durable, they are also one of the most elegant gemstones available. Diamonds used in retail sale are referred to as gem-diamonds as opposed to industrial-diamonds, which are used in an entirely different capacity. A gem-diamond's optical and mechanical characteristics make it a popular gemstone for all types of jewellery, but particularly rings. Diamond rings often function as the symbol of an engagement, anniversary, or some other type of special occassion. Diamond rings are available from fine jewellery stores, department stores, and online from merchants such as eBay.

Although diamond rings vary in price, they are often a considerable investment on the part of the buyer. Therefore, while a consumer should never go into any purchase blind, it is especially important for a buyer to research a number of things before buying a diamond ring. That being said, a consumer interested in purchasing a diamond ring should be aware of the anatomy of the diamond, the four C's of diamond grading, various diamond ring settings available, and diamond shapes.

Anatomy of the Diamond

Every diamond has a basic anatomy. It is important to understand the basic language used in describing different features of a diamond to help a consumer understand what to look for when buying a diamond ring.


The diameter of the diamond measures the width of the diamond through the girdle. The girdle is the largest width of any diamond gem.


The table is the large, flat surface of the diamond. The table is important for transmitting light and determining the grade cut of the diamond.


The crown refers to the upper portion of a diamond between the girdle and the table. Crown height and crown angle are two different features referred to when looking at a diamond.


The girdle is the narrow sliver that separates the crown from the pavillion of a diamond. The girdle spans the largest width on a diamond.


The pavilion is the lower portion of a diamond between the girdle and the cutlet of the diamond. Pavilion angle is often referred to when describing a diamond.


The cutlet is the smallest part of the diamond at the bottom of the pavilion. The culet is a pointed facet that is the other portion of the cut diamond below the girdle.

The Four C's of Diamond Grading

Gem-diamonds used in diamond rings are graded and characterised based on four categories used in the diamond industry. These four categories are designated as the four C's of diamond grading and include colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight. These four things are important to look at when buying a diamond ring.


The colour of a diamond is a result of the composition of the diamond. Colourless or clear diamonds typically emit the most brilliant and radiant effect. However, it is very rare to find a completely clear diamond. Therefore, jewellers will often be referring to the presence or absence of whiteness when discussing the colour of a clear diamond.

Colour for clear diamonds ranges from completely colourless to a light yellow hue on a scale from D to X, in alphabetic order without skipping any letters. Diamonds that are graded D are the most expensive, whereas diamonds graded X are the least expensive. The greater the whiteness of a diamond, the greater the value. Therefore, consumers who are seeking a clear diamond should look for a diamond that is in the range of  D to G on the colour scale. That being said, some diamonds are also sought after for their rare colours such as red, blue, green, and bright yellow. These fancy colour diamonds follow their own set of rules and are usually quite rare and expensive.


Clarity of a diamond refers to the presence of inclusions and blemishes on and in the stone. Inclusions refer to internal flaws, whereas blemishes refer to surface flaws. Most diamonds have some flaws. When diamonds are graded for clarity, all flaws are referred to as inclusions. Diamonds are graded on a scale from F to I1-I2-I3 for clarity. Below is a chart that helps explain the clarity grading scale.




F (Flawless)

No internal or external flaws

Very rare


IF (Internally Flawless)

No internal flaws

Some surface flaws

Very rare


VVS1-VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included)

Two grades

Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification


VS1-VS2 (Very Slightly Included)

Two grades

Minute inclusions seen with difficulty under 10x magnification


SI1-SI2 (Slightly Included)

Two grades

Minute inclusions easily detected under 10x magnification


I1-I2-I3 (Inlcuded)

Three grades

Inclusions visible to the human eye

Not recommended for use in diamond rings


Diamonds with VVS and VS clarity are excellent choices for consumers looking for diamond rings that are valuable and beautiful in appearance. For consumers looking for a more affordable choice, SI grades still provide a great option with no inclusions visible to the naked eye.


A diamond's cut refers to the reflective qualities of a diamond. The angles and finishes of a diamond are what handles and transmits light. A good cut results in angles and finishes that help make a diamond brilliant. The brilliance of a diamond is the light that is transmitted through the gem resulting in a fiery and flashy effect. A well cut diamond transmits light through the table and into the pavilion. Light is then transferred from side to side and back out through the table. Diamonds should be cut using a set formula of proportions. Diamond grade cuts range from ideal to poor, as the following chart explains.

Grade of Cut




Maximises brilliance

Smaller table

Only applies to round diamonds



Ample brilliance and fire

Similar to ideal cut with regards to round diamonds


Very Good

Good deal of brilliance

Reflect most of the light that enters

Larger table and girdle



Reflect much of the light that enters

Largest table and girdle

Proportions fall outside of preferred range


Fair and Poor

Reflects only a small portion of light that enters

Maximises carat weight over other features


This chart should be used as a guide when researching diamond grade cuts. Diamond grade cuts are important in determining the brilliance and affordability of a diamond ring.

Carat Weight

The carat is the unit used to measure the weight of a diamond. One carat is the equivalent of 200 milligrammes or 0.2 grams. Larger diamonds are more rare and thus more valuable. As a result, the price of a diamond will increase as the carat of the diamond increases. While carat size is important, it should be taken into account in context with the other Cs of diamond grading.

Diamond Shapes

Diamond shapes can easily be confused with diamond cuts because of their specific names. That being said, consumers should be aware that a name such as "princess cut" refers to the shape of the diamond and not the diamond grade cut discussed above. Diamonds come in a lot of different shapes, some of which have been described below.

Round Brilliant

The round brilliant shape is the standard diamond used to measure and assess all other diamond shapes. It is no surprise then that the round brilliant shape is the most popular shape of diamond sold. The round brilliant shape is a 58 facet cut that is divided among its crown, girdle, and pavilion providing for maximum brilliance and fire.


The marquise shape features an elongated oval shape with pointed ends. This diamond shape was named for the late Marquise de Pompadeur of France. This shape works best as a solitaire diamond or surrounded by smaller diamonds.


The oval shape is a perfectly circular shape that has been elongated. The oval shape is popular in diamond rings for buyers who have smaller hands or short fingers as it gives the illusion of a more elongated hand.

Emerald Cut

The emerald cut features a rectangle shape with step cut corners. Unique to this shape is the concentric, broad, flat planes that resemble stairs. It is particularly important to pay attention to clarity and colour grading when purchasing this shape, as the step cut is more prone to inclusions.

Princess Cut

The princess cut is popular among modern engagement rings. The princess cut features a square or rectangular shape with many facets. This shape requires that the cut of this diamond favour more weight toward the diamond's depth, often allowing depths of 70 to 78 per cent. The more depth for this shape, the greater the brilliance of the diamond.

Diamond Ring Settings

While choosing the right diamond ring is often heavily weighted on choosing the right diamond, picking the right ring setting should not be overlooked. A ring setting oftens play a pivotal role in overall style of a diamond ring. Additionally, the ring setting should be fit to the individual's finger who is wearing the ring. The following are a few general categories of diamond ring settings.

Prong Settings

A prong setting is a simple setting that emphasises the diamond or diamonds it holds. Although prong settings can be found in multiple variations from V-prongs to common prongs, they all feature thin wires of precious metals, or prongs, which are elevated above the band to hold diamond or diamonds in place. The prong setting is one of the most popular and common settings for a solitaire diamond ring.

Bezel Setting

The bezel setting features a band of precious metal that wraps around the diamond to hold it securely in place. The bezel is attached to the top of the ring and adds height and dimension to the ring as it envelopes the diamond. Bezel settings are relatively modern and often used with fancy cut diamond shapes.

Channel Setting

A channel setting is used to set round diamonds in a line of stones covering either part of or the entire circumference of the band. Channel settings often do not feature a centre stone and are commonly used for wedding bands. A channel setting also offers the diamonds it holds maximum protection from impact and general wear and tear.

Flush Setting

The flush setting features a diamond or diamonds sunken into a metal band. Only the table of the stone and some of the upper pavilion is visible. Although the flush setting does not allow for maximum light to pass through, it has still become a modern choice. Flush settings are also often used for wedding bands.

Ballerina Setting

The ballerina setting is a multi-stone setting. This setting features tapered baguettes, which emulate around the centre diamond pocket to form a "tutu", giving it the appearance of a ballerina. The baguettes typically hold smaller diamonds.

How to Buy a Diamond Ring on eBay

There are a number of things to look for when buying a diamond ring, regardless for whom the purchase is intended. After you have familiarised yourself with the anatomy of the diamond and specifics of diamond grading, you then have to determine what diamond ring setting and what diamond ring shape you are interested in. Once you have given these things some thought, eBay allows you to browse through a variety of diamond ring options. For example, if you are searching for a princess cut diamond ring for your impending engagement, simply type princess cut diamond ring into the keyword search box within the eBay website portal. A list of princess cut diamond rings will then be populated for you to search through for the perfect fit.

Because a diamond ring is often a relatively large investment for anyone, be sure to pay special attention to the feedback listed under each seller. eBay allows buyers to leave feedback for each seller they deal with, which helps determine a seller's positive feedback rating. Seller ratings are determined based on item description, communication, dispatch time, and postage and packaging charges. By researching each seller you are considering purchasing from, you can be certain you are buying a diamond ring from a reputable seller.


Diamond rings are a piece of jewellery that are meant to last a lifetime. Therefore, a diamond ring can usually leave a hefty dent on a consumer's pocketbook. As such, a consumer should be completely informed about all the different purchasing aspects that go into buying a diamond ring. First, the buyer should be familiar with the anatomy of the diamond so as to better understand how a diamond is graded and priced. Additionally, a buyer should look into the four C's of diamond grading used by jewellers in the industry to value their diamonds. Understanding the nuts and bolts of the many features of a diamond is a necessary precursor to looking for the right diamond ring.

After a consumer has a relatively good grasp on how diamonds are assessed and priced, choosing a diamond ring setting and a diamond shape is generally a choice based solely on an individual's stylistic preference. Whether choosing a wedding band, an anniversary gift, or buying a fine piece of jewellery for oneself, understanding what to look for when buying a diamond ring makes the purchasing process fun and relatively pain-free.

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