Friday, March 28, 2014

Diamond Cluster Settings, the Next Big Engagement Ring Trend?

Diamond cluster settings may just be the next biggest thing in engagement rings, offering an elegant alternative to halos AND saving the average groom-to-be thousands of dollars.
First, let's talk about halo settings. If you follow engagement ring trends at all, it's hard not to notice how hot halo settings have been for the last few years. Surrounding a center stone with a halo of smaller, often pave set, diamonds offsets the centerstone to make it appear larger in contrast. And brides have been jumping on the halo bandwagon because it's just downright beautiful and classy.
Not to get in the way of any bride and her bling, BUT, we have a hunch that the next major engagement ring trend will be cluster settings. Whereas a halo setting features a sizable center stone encircled by much smaller stones, a cluster setting usually "clusters" stones of equal size tightly together, with or without a center stone. The effect of the cluster setting is mega sparkle due to the many more facets of diamonds now reflecting the light in all different directions, as opposed to the halo setting's big center stone plus lots of little scintillation from the mini halo diamonds.
And not that we need celebrity engagements to prove our point (because we certainly can start trends without them), but it's interesting to note one celebrity engagement ring that took full advantage of the cluster setting's sparkle, so much so that people did not know she had a cluster setting. From the picture, it appeared that Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burress's ring was a massive 2 carat oval-cut centerstone when upon further investigation, I noticed that the ring was actually a cluster setting of smaller diamonds set in the shape of an oval. As I explained in this article, the difference in price is enormous: instead of $40,000 with a 2 ct. high-quality oval-cut diamond, Kandi's actual ring cost about $11,000 since it did not have a multi-carat center stone but rather lots of smaller diamonds clustered together.
And this, my friends, is where the trend gets exciting for you. Not only are cluster settings beautiful, but they can save you a lot of money. If Kandi's fiance Todd Tucker could save almost $30,000, can't the average Joe out there save at least a couple thousand? The concept of a cluster setting can be applied to engagement rings, diamond stud earrings, and pendants, and the end result is that diamond jewelry becomes more affordable for the tight budget. Let's take a look at this.
This diamond cluster setting from James Allen features a 0.76 total carat weight of smaller diamonds clustered together, which provide comparable brilliance and diameter to a 1.50 carat diamond. What is the price tag of this cluster setting? $1,890. In order to compare the price of a 1.50 carat loose diamond with this cluster setting, I searched for a diamond with the same color and clarity as the clustered diamonds, but that was 1.50 carats. The average price I came up with was $12,500 for ideal cuts. That's not even including the ring setting, which would probably run about $1000. If we do the math here, that means a savings of over $11K!
Of course, there are smaller diamond cluster settings, and there are bigger, just like with any ring. Would a rich and famous celebrity cluster together big diamonds? Yes. Does that mean that you need to? No. If the objective of a diamond engagement ring, according to most of the future grooms who write us for diamond advice, is to find a diamond that is big and sparkly, then ladies, why not go for a cluster ring? You can get big and sparkly and pocket the savings for your down payment or honeymoon. Now doesn't that just make a whole lot of practical sense?
I know, practical does not always describe every bride. Some brides really have their hearts set on a minimum number of carats. But if it's possible to suggest this cost-saving and still beautiful alternative, I think it's worth your consideration. And who knows, maybe you'll be the trendsetter with the cluster ring since, ladies; halo settings are becoming so passé.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Custom Jewelry and Loose Stones

When it comes to getting married creating a unique event is more important than ever.  Brides are creating Pinterest accounts before they can drive.  This is why the push for custom engagement rings has become increasingly important.   Not only is a custom piece is something that is sure to be a sentimental heirloom it is also easier than ever in the world of jewelry today. 
Designing a custom engagement ring or wedding band set is fairly simple now days.  There are multiple ways to go about finding a jeweler that will help create a custom piece that your bride to be will adore.  There are a multitude of online jewelry retailers that will create custom pieces as well as local jewelers.  Designing the ring is relatively simple choosing a loose diamond might prove to be a little harder. 
Choosing a loose diamond really comes down to personal preferences.  Remember when choosing a diamond she will wear it every day. Every time she glances down at her hand you want her to remember how important she is to you and how much she loves her ring. 
Diamonds come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.  The shape of the diamond is based solely on what your bride desires.  This might take a bit of effort but paying specific attention to the jewelry she wears or looks at when you are shopping together may help to lead you down the right path.  Many women if given the choice will choose a classic diamond solitaire however this is not always the case so you want to follow your future brides lead here.  She will be wearing this ring for a very long time. 
The size of the diamond you choose may depend more on the budget you have set aside for his purchase.  An old adage used to claim that the engagement ring should cost a total of three months’ salary.  This however is not true any longer.  You need to purchase a stone based on what you can afford and what she will like, not on a lame society standard.  A reasonable budget to set aside for a loose diamond starts at around one thousand dollars. A thousand dollars will but a significant diamond with good color, a decent cut, clarity and a decent carat weight.
A loose diamond on its own should have a certain wow factor to it.  Even smaller diamonds with great color and clarity can have a significant appeal.  Choose a jeweler that offers certified loose diamonds.  This will ensure a few things.  One it will assure you that the value of the diamond has been certified.  This means you have proof of the diamonds value.  The next thing that purchasing a certified diamond does is tells you that the diamond was harvested from an area free of conflict. 
Next is designing the ring to go with the diamond.  You may be thinking that you can go into any store and find a setting to fit this diamond so why bother having a custom ring designed for the diamond to be set into. 
A custom, one of a kind ring stands out from the crowd as does the women you are about to ask to marry you.  Take the diamond you have selected along with several design ideas and show them to a custom ring designer.  They will make several mock ups that take into consideration the diamond you have chosen along with setting styles you appreciate, pulling it all together into one perfect custom engagement ring.  A custom engagement ring/bridal set will be pieces she is sure to treasure for years to come.

Choosing An Engagement Ring Style and Complementary Setting

When it comes to wedding rings and engagement rings the setting that you choose is as important as the diamond or gemstone you choose.  The setting you pick should be based on your style, taste in jewelry and your personality.  This is a piece of jewelry that you will wear every day from now until forever.  To choose something that will bring a smile to your face each and every day you should get a basic idea of the vocabulary that is used when it comes to wedding ring and engagement ring settings.
The first setting we will discuss is the bezel setting.  This setting holds a stone in the shape of a circle, it wraps around the diamond or gemstone.  Some bezels come with scalloped edges but most are smooth and molded into the shape needed to accommodate the diamond.  When it comes to bezel settings the one advantage is that the stone appears larger.
It is also can hide small imperfections in the diamond.  It is important to note that if you do choose a bezel setting with yellow gold it will make the diamond appear less brilliant.  Yellow gold in a bezel setting is perfect for gemstones but if choosing a bezel setting with a diamond it is best to go with white gold or platinum to enhance the shine and clarity of your diamond.
An illusion setting is a mount on a wedding ring that enhances the size of the stone to make it appear larger.  It takes the stone away from the band and sets it higher than the band.  A band with diamonds set in via a channel setting is commonly used with an illusion setting.  The channel setting allows smaller diamonds to be set into the main band while the main diamond is set above the band.  This combination can appear rather glamorous at a fraction of the cost.  Smaller carat diamonds can be used and because of the way they are all set into the diamond it appears grand.
A bar setting is similar to a channel setting.  The difference is that instead of each singular diamond being set into the band the diamonds are set into the band are held by individual prongs.  This is a very classic, contemporary look.  Bar setting usually are done with larger side diamonds then channel settings.  A thin bar connects the individual prongs continuing around the band.
A cluster setting is a beautiful option used to accentuate the main diamond.  A cluster setting is where a bunch of small diamonds is added around the large diamond.  A cluster setting is very pretty.  With the smaller diamonds centering on the main stone it appears if they are giving it a squeeze.  This setting works well for a wide variety of stone sizes.
A classic, undated look that is sure to be around forever is the solitaire setting.  A diamond solitaire is often used as an engagement ring and then transferred into a wedding band setting depending on your desires.  For most men this is a fool proof way to purchase an amazing diamond, in a simple setting, that can be enhanced later on.