The Complete Guide to Diamonds for Your Engagement Ring
“There is an extreme beauty to a diamond. It’s like art. It gives you incredible pleasure, and it speaks to you with its life.” – Laurence Graff
Diamonds are one of the most valued stones in the world, but why do we love them so much? Is it because they’re only found deep within our Earth? Is it because diamonds make us think of love and adoration? We at Abby Sparks Jewelry love this classic stone because it helps us create custom diamond engagement rings for our clients that exclusively fit their aesthetic, lifestyle, and unique love on a regular basis. There are a million reasons to love diamonds and in honor of that, we’ve created a complete guide of everything you need to know about diamonds and how to choose the perfect one for your custom engagement ring.
How do Diamonds Form?
Deep within the Earth’s mantle, billions of years of carbon mixing with high temperatures and pressure work together to create unique carbon bonds that give diamonds their crystalline structure. To reach the surface, these stones are blasted out of the Earth through deep volcanic eruptions of a special magma called kimberlite. When they’re unearthed, diamonds have a milky skin that hides their brilliance. Only through precise cuts that optimize a diamond’s shape and size do these stones shine the brightest and become what we recognize as the diamond we love using to create custom engagement rings.
Diamond Engagement Ring History
Diamonds are one of the most popular stones in the world. Used mainly for jewelry such as engagement rings and wedding rings, more money is spent each year on diamonds than all other gemstones put together! But how did these sparkling stones surpass all others? Diamond’s popularity has to do with many factors, the main being: history, marketing, and fashion. It was Pope Innocent III who first declared in 1215 that rings would be a symbol of a couple’s commitment in marriage. It wasn’t until 1477 that the first recorded diamond engagement ring came about when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy. Because diamonds were considered beautiful and rare, they were reserved only for royalty and the upper class, making them a highly sought after stone.
(18k white gold, 2 carat diamond center stone custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Colleen)
“A diamond is forever.” The DeBeers advertising campaign is one of the most popular marketing campaigns in the world and sent diamond sales skyrocketing. As popularity for this precious stone increased, so did the tradition of using diamonds to commemorate milestones such as engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. Our clients choose diamonds for their custom engagement rings as center stones and accents more than any other gemstone. See some of our beautiful diamond engagement rings like The Colleen shown above in our Custom Engagement Rings.
(Sparkle video of a one carat round, diamond in the Abby Sparks Jewelry showroom)
The 4 Cs of Diamond Quality
A diamond’s value is based on its rarity and quality. Developed in the 1950’s by the Gemological Institute of America, the standardized method of determining the value of a diamond is determined by four specific factors: clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. Check out these factors in action on our Diamond Sparkle video above.
Rarely is a diamond completely clear and free from surface blemishes and internal inclusions. Most have microscopic imperfections that contribute to their value and their uniqueness. Though these irregularities are considered flaws, we’ve found that our clients love these little imperfections! No two diamonds are alike, making the one they choose for their custom engagement ring as unique and special as their love.
It is common to use colorless diamonds in engagement rings, but there is a range of stunning colored diamonds to choose from if you’d like to create a ring that is out of the ordinary! If you aren’t one to follow the crowd, colored diamonds are a fun option and are sometimes more rare than a colorless stone. Occurring in a variety of hues from red to blue and pink to black, the value of each colored stone depends on quality and intensity of color. To see our colored diamond engagement rings, check out our Custom Engagement Ring.
Diamonds are best known for their brilliance. A high reflective index of 2.417 and high dispersion, give diamonds the brilliance and fire that have led to their unwavering popularity. To achieve full brilliance, an experienced stonecutter must find the clearest part of the stone and optimize cuts for the size and shape of each diamond. The angles at which a facet is cut require acute design and precision in order to give each diamond its maximum fire. Round, princess, heart, radiant, brilliant, opal, pear, cushion cut; each unique cut refracts light in a way unique to their shape and facets.. A spectacular cut can only shine brightest when it’s kept properly cared for. To ensure that your diamond engagement ring is as brilliant as the day you received it, check out our blog on How to Care for Your Diamond Engagement Ring.
(18k rose gold, 4.07 carat diamond center stone custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Kristin)
Diamonds are precisely weighed and sold by the carat. Fractions of a carat can be worth hundreds of dollars. If all other factors are equal, the higher the carat weight the higher the price tag. Our Kristin rose gold custom engagement ring shown above is a dazzling 4.07 carat diamond center stone and starts at $68,900.
Though the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” does refer to a lasting love, it also speaks of a diamond’s durability. Consisting of three properties (hardness, toughness, and stability) a diamond is a great option for an engagement ring stone for those who live active lifestyles or who are accident prone. With a score of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, a diamond is the hardest known substance, making it highly resistant to scratching unless by another diamond. Due to the strength of carbon bonds, diamonds are often used as abrasives. This strong stone is also pretty tough so it is less likely than other stones to chip, break, or crack. Diamonds are also the greatest conductor of heat, making them less likely to be damaged in jewelry repair, in a house fire, or with chemicals. Due to their durable properties, diamonds are often used in heirloom pieces because they can withstand the test of time. Check out our Heirloom Upcycle page for more information on the process to include old family gemstones into a new custom engagement ring.
How to Avoid Buying a Blood Diamond
As consumers become more ethically and environmentally conscious, the social and environmental ethics of diamonds have become subject of scrutiny. The term “blood diamond” or “conflict diamond” has been attached to certain stones that are obtained using unethical mining practices and/or human labor. Many consumers do not want to indirectly support war and conflict, thus systems have been put in place like The Kimberley Process to stem the flow of unethical diamonds and practices.
(18k yellow gold, 2.26 carat solitaire diamond center stone custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Amanda)
Where to Get Ethically Sourced Diamonds
Since the discovery of diamonds in Africa in the late 1880’s, violence and conflict has been tied with diamond mining. From environmental degradation to worker exploitation, these bright stones have a dark history. Africa, Angola, and Zimbabwe are among many countries plagued with civil wars fueled by diamonds. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that the ethics of diamond mining was exposed to the public and the diamond industry began seeing consumer backlash.
Though many countries have adopted and are actively using the Kimberley Process, it will take much longer to completely rid the world of diamond-related conflict. Diamond mining and human labor issues are improving but there is no way to be 100% sure that your diamond is completely free of conflict, even with Kimberley Process compliance.
Canada goes above and beyond when it comes to ethical stones. Being one of few countries that exceeds expectations and the Kimberley Process standards, Canadian diamonds are are great option for the ethical, earth-friendly natural diamond engagement ring. Canadian diamonds are certified and also laser-inscribed with numbers letting consumers know that their diamonds are ethically sourced. Each individual stone’s tracking number, can be traced back to their origin through CanadaMark, so consumers can verify exactly where their stone is from. Canada is a fantastic place to source your stone from if you’re looking for a conflict free diamond. At Abby Sparks Jewelry we recommend and source diamonds from Canada for our clients who are ethically conscious and wish to steer clear of any association to conflict like The Amanda shown above.
Natural Diamond Alternatives
(14k white gold, 1 carat lab-grown diamond center stone custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Ginny)
There is a common misconception that lab-grown diamonds are not diamonds. This is completely false. Lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds are structurally, chemically, and visually the same, however, lab-grown diamonds are created in a laboratory, thereby making them the more ethical option. If you’re set on diamonds but want to avoid indirectly supporting diamond-related conflict, lab-grown diamonds are your best bet. Additionally, lab-grown diamonds are usually priced 15-20% less than mined diamonds, giving you more of your dream engagement ring for a smaller price tag.
Don’t believe us that lab-grown diamonds are visually the same as mined, natural diamonds? Check out our Ginny lab-grown diamond engagement ring shown above! Still not convinced? When you work with Abby Sparks Jewelry, we offer a unique Stone Sourcing experience as part of our Custom Design Process. We bring our client and their favorite stones together so they can touch, feel, experience, and choose the perfect one for their custom piece. We love showing clients natural diamonds as well as lab-grown diamonds so that they can experience them first-hand.
Lab-grown moissanite is another great option for anyone who wants the stone in their engagement ring to be eco-friendly and ethical. Lab-grown moissanite is not a diamond; however, many of our clients love them for white, crisp sparkle, much like a diamond, and for their ability to shine bright like a diamond. Natural moissanite is rare and found in few places such as the tops of volcanoes or in meteorites. Due to its scarcity, almost all moissanite on the market is lab-grown. This stunning gemstone rivals diamonds in fire and brilliance and is budget-friendly. An engagement ring featuring a lab-grown moissanite center stone can cost about half the price of a diamond one. To view the pricing of our lab-grown moissanite custom engagement rings, check out our Custom Engagement Rings.
(18k yellow gold, (3) 0.5 carat repurposed heirloom diamonds with accent diamonds and emeralds custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Jacqueline)
If you have old family gemstones or diamonds that are collecting dust, repurpose the family diamonds into a new engagement ring or new setting. Not only will heirloom stones help make the new custom engagement ring more affordable, but also you’ll be keeping the family legacy and sentiment but making the new design fit your unique aesthetic. We love it when a client comes into our showroom with outdated jewelry or vintage, family jewelry and heirloom stones and metals because get to take their heirloom jewelry and do a jewelry remodel. We remove the heirloom diamonds or gemstones and create an entirely new jewelry piece, one that matches our client’s unique personality, lifestyle, and aesthetic while still keeping the family sentiment with their original stones. For more information about how to turn old jewelry into a new custom piece of jewelry, visit our Heirloom Upcycling page or check out our other heirloom diamond custom engagement rings like the Jacqueline shown above at our Custom Engagement Ring page.
Diamonds are one of the most popular and well-known stones in jewelry for a reason. Their billion-year journey to us makes them a rare and sought after stone. From different cuts to different colors, each diamond has their own unique characteristics that make them one-of-a-kind. Not only do these dazzling stones have a high brilliance and fire, they are also extremely durable, making them a good choice for active lifestyles. Yes, diamonds can come with some proverbial ‘baggage’ but if ethically origin for stone sourcing is of high-value, conflict-free diamonds and lab-grown options are just as beautiful.
(Platinum and 14k rose gold, 1.78 carat diamond center stone custom engagement ring made exclusively by Abby Sparks Jewelry, The Julia)
Check out some of our diamond custom engagement rings like the Julia shown above for inspiration on yours! And if you’re leaning towards lab-grown diamonds, lab-grown moissanite, or other gemstones, we’ve got those too. See everything on our Custom Engagement Ring page. If you’re ready to start creating your one-of-a-kind, custom engagement ring, call us at 303.957.6502 or contact us online to book an initial consultation at our showroom in the Lower Highlands of Denver, CO. Not in Denver? No worries! Our Custom Design Process works just as well over the phone or over video chat. We help you through every step of the way and create the custom engagement ring of your dreams.
We are by appointment only!