Our simple 1-2-3 step process makes buying a diamond easier, guarantees satisfaction for both the one buying the diamond and the one wearing it, and will assure you of a better quality diamond for less money.
Set the maximum budget you want to spend, before looking at diamonds or rings. Make it a logical decision, because it's easy to get carried away during the shopping process.
To set your budget, a fair starting point is the national average.You should know the average American woman getting married is 24-1/2, the man 25-1/2. They purchase a 44-point diamond that's an SI-1 clarity, H-I color, and spend $1450. Half spend less, half spend more. DeBeers recommends spending two months salary, and many do honor that, although it is only a guideline.
To prepare you for the sticker shock, here are some approximate price ranges. Why a range of prices for each size? Primarily because prices are not determined by size (carat-weight) alone, but are strongly affected by quality differences. The following are prices for diamonds in a quality range that we would recommend. If we included the full range of quality, the price ranges would be much wider.
Of course, prices are also affected by various jewelers' pricing practices. When you're shopping, don't forget to check out at least one "estate jeweler." That is a jeweler who specializes in pre-owned fine jewelry and gems, in all styles, from antique to modern. Because they buy at below wholesale, they commonly sell for substantially less than a new diamond (they represent the low end of the price ranges given above). And since a diamond is the hardest substance on earth, there is virtually no "wear and tear" from the prior owner.
At least your budget doesn't have to stretch much further to include the mounting, since most of the cost of a solitaire diamond ring is in the diamond.
For the same money, you can choose a larger diamond, or a smaller, higher quality one. There really is no right or wrong quality diamond, just personal preference as to what fits your personality and lifestyle. Don't let the size of the wearer's hand determine the size of the diamond. Be limited only by your budget and quality preferences. The most common regret is buying too small. Women tell me the diamond seems to shrink after a while. This is particularly true after being married a long time, and for those getting married later in life.
The person receiving the ring will usually appreciate it more if they have a choice in how it looks. Many of today's couples shop together for this very important purchase. However, if you want to maintain an element of surprise, do some preliminary shopping together, and pay close attention to how the bride-to-be reacts. Having ascertained her taste and preferences, come back to conclude your purchase. If you decide to shop on your own, be sure the mounting can be exchanged or returned.
To give you the benefit of observation from 20+ years on the jewelry sales floor, I've found most women (and men) like to have some say in selecting the mounting for a ring they will be wearing. In fact, from my customer base, the vast majority of couples who selected the mounting together are still married. I have a number of theories and observations as to how the process by which an engagement ring is selected can be a predictor of the success of a relationship ... but that's another booklet.
Bottom line, if the person purchasing the diamond is happy with what it cost, and the person receiving it is happy with what it looks like, usually everybody is happy. Including the jeweler.