Wedding Checklist

The Proposal:
  1. Should I Propose?
  2. When to Propose
  3. The Marriage Talk
  4. Asking Permission
  1. Wedding Budget
  2. Venues & Destination
  3. Design & Decor
  4. Timelines & Checklists
  5. Roles & Responsibilities
  6. Guest List
  7. Invitations
  8. Websites & Registries
  1. Venue
  2. Catering
  3. Entertainment
  4. Photos & Video
  5. Florist
  6. Wedding Cake
  7. Event Rentals
  8. Lighting & Audio
  9. Transportation
  10. Guest Accommodations
  11. Childcare Services
  12. Dance instructor
  13. Hair and makeup
  14. Planners & Coordinators
Wedding Attire:
  1. The Bride
  2. The Groom
  3. Bridal Party
  4. Guest Attire
  5. Special Roles
Pre-Wedding Events:
  1. Bachelor Party
  2. Bachelorette Party
  3. Rehearsal
  4. Rehearsal Dinner
Wedding Ceremony:
  1. The Procession
  2. The Vows
  3. Ring Exchange
  4. Readings & Rituals
  5. The First Kiss
Wedding Reception:
  1. Grand Entrance
  2. First Dance
  3. Speeches & Toasts
  4. Dinner Service
  5. Cake Cutting
  6. Party Time
  7. Bouquet Toss
  8. Farewell
  • Farewell Breakfast
  • The Honeymoon
  • Anniversaries
  • Traditions & Keepsakes
  • Marriage License & Certificates
  • Name Change Process
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Finances & Taxes
  • International Weddings
  • Immigration Issues

Diamond Decisions: A Buyer’s Guide to Engagement Rings

In the glittering world of diamonds, knowledge is more than just power: it’s sparkle! When you’re about to embark on the journey of choosing a diamond engagement ring, understanding the “4 C’s” – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat – is your first-class ticket to making an informed, confident decision.

The 4 C’s are the globally recognized standards for assessing the quality of a diamond. They’re like the special ingredients in a secret recipe that, when combined in just the right way, make your diamond utterly irresistible.

The 4 C’s of Diamonds

  • Cut: The precision of the diamond’s facets and symmetry, which influence its brilliance and sparkle.
  • Color: The degree to which a diamond is colorless, with the highest quality diamonds appearing completely clear.
  • Clarity: The presence (or absence) of imperfections, known as inclusions and blemishes.
  • Carat: The weight, and thus the size, of the diamond.

Navigating the 4 C’s might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but this guide is designed to bring you comfort and confidence in your buying decision. You’re about to become a diamond connoisseur! So, let’s dive into the dazzling details and unlock the secret language of diamonds.

Diamond Cuts (The 1st C of Diamonds)

When we talk about the cut of a diamond, we’re not referring to its shape (like round, oval, or pear), but rather how well that shape has been executed by the diamond cutter. The cut is an integral aspect of a diamond’s allure, impacting its brilliance, or how much light it reflects.

Diamond cut is determined by a number of interconnected factors:

  1. Proportions: The dimensions of the diamond and how they relate to each other can significantly impact how light travels within the stone. The table size, crown angle, and pavilion depth must all work together in harmony to maximize the diamond’s sparkle.
  2. Symmetry: This refers to the arrangement and evenness of the diamond’s facets. When facets are well-aligned, light can bounce more accurately, leading to a more brilliant shine.
  3. Polish: The quality of the surface finish, or polish, can also affect a diamond’s brilliance. A finely polished diamond will allow light to enter and exit without distortion, enhancing its overall appearance.

Grading Diamond Cuts

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) assigns cut grades ranging from Excellent to Poor. Each grade gives you insight into the craftsmanship of the diamond, with a higher grade indicating better proportions, symmetry, and polish.

Diamond Cut Grades can be:

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Think of a diamond as an object with lots of little mirrors (called facets). The light bounces around these mirrors, breaks the light into spectrums, and eventually returns to your eyes. By using highly calibrated optical measuring devices, the GIA is able to evaluate the following areas:

  • Brightness – how white light reflects from the diamond
  • Fire – the scattering of white light in all the colors of the rainbow
  • Scintillation or the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond

They also use 360 degree imaging to determine the diamond’s weight relative to diameter, girdle thickness (which impacts durability), symmetry of the diamond’s facet arrangement (the little mirrors), and the quality of polish on the facets.

Pay close attention to the cut of a diamond before you look at it. Put similar but differently rated diamonds side-by-side, comparing their appearance at different cut grade levels. It’s unmistakable: diamonds with better cuts sparkle more; making “Cut” the most important of the 4 C’s for many people.

Pick Your Shape: Popular Diamond Shapes

While the cut doesn’t refer to the diamond’s shape, the shape you choose will influence the cutting process. Some popular diamond shapes include:

  • Round brilliant (the most common)
  • Princess (square)
  • Cushion (square with rounded edges)
  • Marquise (oval with pointed ends)

Each shape has its unique facet arrangement, which can affect the diamond’s brilliance. It’s the skillful craftsmanship that unleashes a diamond’s captivating sparkle, making it a critical factor in your diamond decision.

Diamond Color (The 2nd C of Diamonds)

When you think of a diamond, you might picture a colorless, sparkling gem. However, most diamonds contain slight tints of color, usually yellow or brown, which can affect their overall appearance and value.

Color Grading Scale

Diamonds are graded on a color scale established by the GIA, which ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). It’s important to note that this scale only applies to white diamonds; fancy colored diamonds, like blues and pinks, are graded differently.

  • D: Absolutely colorless. The highest color grade, extremely rare.
  • E: Colorless. Only minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.
  • F: Colorless. Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a “colorless” grade. A high-quality diamond.
  • G-H: Near-colorless. Color noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but these grades offer excellent value.
  • I-J: Near-colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.
  • K-M: Faint color. Noticeable color.
  • N-R: Very light color. Noticeable color.
  • S-Z: Light color. Noticeable color.

The closer a diamond is to being colorless, the rarer and more valuable it is. However, color differences can be so slight that they’re only discernible to the trained eye. A slightly yellow diamond can still look beautiful, especially when set in certain metals like yellow or rose gold.

Fluorescence: A Hidden Glow

Fluorescence is a characteristic some diamonds have that makes them glow under UV light. While it often goes unnoticed in natural light, strong fluorescence can sometimes make a diamond appear hazy or oily, particularly if the diamond is near colorless (grades D-F). However, in lower-grade diamonds (I-M), fluorescence can actually improve the appearance by making the diamond seem whiter.

Choosing the Right Color for You

When selecting a diamond, it’s essential to choose a color grade that suits your preferences and budget. If you’re looking for a colorless diamond but are on a budget, consider a diamond in the G-I range. These diamonds appear nearly colorless to the untrained eye but are significantly less expensive than D-F diamonds.

Remember, the most important thing is how the diamond looks to you, not just its color grade. After all, you’ll be the one seeing and admiring it for years to come.

Diamond Clarity (The 3rd C of Diamonds)

Clarity is the measure of how clean a diamond is from both internal and external imperfections, known respectively as inclusions and blemishes. The fewer the imperfections, the higher the clarity, and typically, the more exquisite (and expensive) the diamond. While these tiny characteristics might seem like flaws, they are nature’s fingerprints – a profound reminder of the fiery journey that formed your diamond over billions of years.

Inclusions refer to internal characteristics present within the diamond. These could be tiny crystals, feathers (small fractures), or clouds (a group of tiny crystals that are too small to be seen individually). On the other hand, blemishes are external features on the surface of the diamond that can include scratches, pits, or chips.

Grading Diamond Clarity

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has established a diamond clarity grading scale that ranges from Flawless (no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification) to Included 3 (inclusions and/or blemishes visible to the naked eye).

Here is the list of possible Diamond Clarity grades:

  • Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions, only blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Minute inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Minor inclusions observed with effort under 10x magnification but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions noticeable under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance

When it comes to selecting the best clarity for your needs, remember that many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. Lower clarity diamonds can be excellent choices, as they are more common and more affordable. Look for a diamond that is clean to the naked eye (usually VS2 or SI1 and above) to get the best value for money. Remember, it’s all about finding a balance that works best for you and your budget.

Diamond Carats (The 4th C of Diamonds)

Carat is the term we use to measure a diamond’s weight – and by extension, its size. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. It’s an essential factor that directly impacts a diamond’s value because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. But remember, bigger isn’t always better, and carat weight is just one piece of the puzzle.

The relationship between carat weight and value isn’t linear. As the carat weight increases, the diamond’s price can exponentially grow. That’s because larger diamonds are less common. For instance, a 2-carat diamond isn’t just twice the price of a 1-carat diamond; it’s likely to be more than double the price.

The size of a diamond may also not increase as dramatically as the weight does. This is due to the diamond’s cut: a high-carat poorly-cut diamond may look smaller than a lower-carat well-cut diamond. Hence, it’s essential to consider the diamond’s cut quality and shape.

When it comes to balancing carat weight with the other 3 C’s, it all comes down to your personal preference and budget. You might prefer a larger diamond and be willing to compromise on color or clarity. On the other hand, you might prioritize a flawless appearance or a specific color, and therefore choose a smaller carat weight. It’s all about finding the sweet spot that suits you and your budget best.

Remember, the perfect diamond isn’t necessarily the biggest or the most flawless. It’s the one that makes you (and your partner) smile every time you see it.

Pro Tips for Buying Diamonds

Armed with the knowledge of the 4 C’s, you’re on your way to being a well-informed and educated diamond buyer. But how do you apply this newfound knowledge? Here are some expert tips to help you on your diamond selection journey:

  1. Striking the Perfect Balance: Remember, the 4 C’s of diamonds are interconnected, and it’s all about balance. A diamond with an excellent cut but low clarity may not be as beautiful as a diamond with a good cut and higher clarity. Similarly, a large diamond with a noticeable yellow tint might not be as desirable as a smaller, colorless one. It’s all about finding the right combination of Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight that aligns with your personal preferences and budget.
  2. Highlight What Matters Most: While it’s crucial to consider all four C’s, focus on what’s most important to you and your partner. If size matters most, you might prioritize carat weight. If sparkle is your primary concern, then cut should be your top priority. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer; it’s about what you value most in a diamond.
  3. Tap into Expertise: Don’t underestimate the value of professional guidance. An experienced jeweler can provide insight into the nuances of diamond selection that go beyond the 4 C’s. They can help you understand how different settings might impact the diamond’s appearance, how the diamond will look under different lighting conditions, and guide you in the right direction based on your unique needs and desires.
  4. Trust Your Instincts: The 4 C’s are incredibly helpful for understanding the quality and value of a diamond. However, the most important factor is how the diamond looks to you. If you’re drawn to a particular diamond despite its lower grading in one of the C’s, trust your instincts. After all, you’re the one who will be admiring it every day!
  5. Don’t Forget the Setting: The setting can dramatically influence the appearance of your diamond. For example, a white gold or platinum setting can make a slightly yellow diamond appear more colorless, and a halo setting can make a smaller diamond appear larger. Make sure to consider the setting in conjunction with the diamond to achieve your desired look.
  6. Certification is Key: Always ensure the diamond you choose comes with a certification from a reputable laboratory, like the GIA or AGS. This certification will verify the quality of your diamond according to the 4 C’s.

Remember, choosing a diamond isn’t a test—it’s an adventure! Use these expert tips as your compass, leading you towards the diamond that’s perfect for you.

The Final Verdict: Your Diamond Decision

Just as every love story is unique, so is every diamond…

The 4 C’s—Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat—provide a map to guide you through the sparkling labyrinth of diamond selection. Understanding these fundamental concepts is essential when you’re on a quest for that perfect diamond engagement ring. It equips you with the knowledge to make an informed decision, ensuring that your chosen gem not only aligns with your budget but also embodies the love you share with your partner.

To get the best value, we recommend buying a diamond that’s:

  • Cut: Very Good to Excellent. This is where you don’t want to compromise too much, as the cut significantly influences a diamond’s brilliance.
  • Color: In the G to I range. These diamonds appear virtually colorless to the naked eye but are less expensive than those in the D to F range.
  • Clarity: VS1 or VS2. These diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to see without magnification, providing excellent value.
  • Carat: Just shy of the full or half carat (for example, .9 instead of 1 carat, or 1.4 instead of 1.5 carats). These diamonds cost significantly less and the size difference is hardly noticeable to the naked eye.

However, remember that a diamond’s worth isn’t solely defined by its technical attributes. The real value of a diamond engagement ring lies in its symbolism—a tangible reflection of your love, commitment, and the unique journey you’re embarking on together.

So, as you stand on the precipice of this exciting journey, remember these guiding principles, but also let your heart lead the way. A diamond’s true beauty is more than just its sparkle; it’s a radiant testament to the enduring love it represents. Your understanding of the 4 C’s will serve as your compass, leading you to a diamond that perfectly mirrors your unique love story.

You’re not just buying a piece of jewelry. You’re investing in a symbol of your shared past, present, and future. So take a deep breath, embrace the adventure, and find the diamond that speaks to you. After all, diamonds, like love, are forever.