Understanding The 4 Cs Of Diamond Engagement Rings

After living in the world’s most jaded city for a few years, I momentarily forgot that love is still a thing people do. But a few days ago, I was reminded of its existence in the most obvious way possible: I witnessed a marriage proposal. That’s right, the girl who wears T-shirts with holes in them on first dates accidentally stumbled upon an engagement (in Central f*cking Park, no less). To my future husband, if you exist, please do better. Anyway, in all seriousness, the engagement was beautiful and my faith in true love (and curiosity in engagement rings) has been temporarily reactivated.

After she said yes, the lucky onlookers (hi) cheered, and then everyone except me just carried on with their lives. I, however, was full of questions: how long did it take him to write that speech? When did he realize he wanted to marry her? How did he decide tonight, a random Thursday, would be the night he’d ask the most important question of his life? How did she not notice that giant engagement ring box in his pocket? Speaking of the ring, I got a quick glance and it was truly stunning. That giant, glistening cushion-cut got me thinking: how on earth did this man wearing a navy suit with salmon-colored socks pick out such a beautiful marvel of an engagement ring? He was def no jewelry savant (he was wearing a gold class ring on his pinky—gag), but he did his homework, and for that, I give him an A+. Here’s the thing: a person proposing to another person is essentially asking him/her to wear something every day for the rest of his/her life upon seeing it once for like, a second. Can you say yes to the proposal but hell no to the ring? Is that allowed? How is the fiancé supposed to just guess? Enter, Stephanie Gottlieb, jeweler to the stars. Gottlieb has been designing timeless pieces of jewelry that have garnered her some serious attention on Instagram, and we are here for it. If you’ve ever seen that episode of Sex and the City where Aidan’s choice of engagement ring literally sends Carrie into a violent vomit fest, rest assured, your SO can’t f*ck up like that after reading Gottlieb’s valuable lessons.

Just Because You Like A Ring In Concept Doesn’t Mean You’ll Like It On Your Hand[/embed]

Have you ever ordered a midi dress online just because it looked so damn good on the model, but when you try it on, it’s a floor-length trash bag? Same. Hate to break it to you, but models have different bodies than we normal folk do, so what’s fierce on them can be less so on us. Engagement rings are the same way. You can’t base your entire decision on a photo you see online, or even on another person for that matter. Gottlieb says, “I think it helps to start looking online, and Instagram and Pinterest are both really great resources. Instagram can help you find a jeweler whose style and aesthetic aligns with yours, and then Pinterest can help you create a vision board for different styles you like.” I’ve never heard truer words in my life. I always thought I wanted a 2-carat (currently on the hunt for a fiancé with family money), but one day while walking around New York’s diamond district, I tried one on, ya know, for sh*ts and gigs, and it actually didn’t look very good. Disclaimer: my hands are huge and my fingers are really long and skinny, so a 2-carat stone weighed down my ring finger and made me look like a sickly and distressed Mrs. Havisham. One of the great things about Instagram, aside from providing an outlet for thirst traps and food pics, is that it can help you find a jeweler who will actually work with you to figure out your taste in engagement rings and design the perfect one. And unlike name brands that basically steal your money with absurd price hikes, smaller jewelers don’t use blood diamonds to create your dream ring, so you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing you got a bigger and better stone that didn’t cost a human soul. Sign me up!

The Four Cs Are Important

The four Cs of diamond engagement rings are carat, cut, color, and clarity. If you’re an ill-informed peasant, you probably only care about carat and cut (AKA the size and shape of the diamond), but the other two c’s are just as important, people! “In the step-cut stones (asscher and emerald), clarity will be more important than color since these shapes are very ‘windowy’ and allow you to see into the center of the stone easily,” Gottlieb says. So what does this mean? It means imperfections would be more easily detected in a step-cut than in a brilliant cut (round, cushion, oval, pear, marquise, radiant, and heart). So in the brilliant cuts, color will be more important, since, like my high-rise Levi’s, these cuts do a very good job at hiding imperfections in their faceting. Unless you and your judgey friends are diamond aficionados, the carat weight will likely be your biggest concern, because you’d rather have a big-ass rock with microscopic imperfections than a smaller one that’s technically perfect. I care way more about how it looks on my hand than I do about the color grade and clarity. To me, a diamond is a diamond and I just want a big one. Sue me. That said, you do you and get whichever engagement ring makes you feel your most sparkly.

To Go Trendy Or To Go Timeless?

As with any facet of your wedding, deciding what style is best for you is a personal decision, but there are a lot of options to consider thanks to Instagram offering fashion-forward lewks to the masses. Gottlieb says, “Instagram provides access to more unique designs than the classics you’ll find in any jewelry store.” Good, because if I have to see one more three-stone ring with a circular center diamond, I will chop off my ring fingers in protest. The Stephanie Gottlieb brand doesn’t just give the people what they want, though. No, her brand has a very niche style that appeals to a specific group of people. “Most of my clients are coming to me instead of their local jewelers because our engagement rings are more interesting and the aesthetic is super dainty, feminine and fashion-forward.” That’s her style, and the fashion gals are here for it. Her signature trend? The “band and a half,” which Gottlieb and her team of designers are creating in all different renditions, with different colored stones, combinations of metals and setting styles.” Ok, I’m getting myself one, brb. However, if you’re a classic betch, going timeless isn’t a bad idea. Gottlieb says, “Round and emerald cuts are the most timeless shapes. What I love about them is that they can feel very traditional in a more classic setting, like a three-stone or solitaire, and they can also feel very trendy in our more fashion-forward settings, like a split-shank or double-band.” Luckily, you aren’t really limited here. If you can’t decide between trendy and cool or a classic and timeless, por qué no los dos? Do both.


Metal Type Is A Game-Changer[/embed]

It’s hard not to forget about about the setting, which is almost as important as the diamond. I, for instance, only wear yellow gold jewelry, but because yellow gold is considered a softer metal that bends easily, I’m thinking that may not be the best way to go for an engagement ring I’m supposed to wear forever. So how are you supposed to know which type of metal to get? Does it actually make a difference? Obviously! Gottlieb’s specialty is rose gold. It’s subtle, it’s glamorous, it’s girly, it’s the metal of the moment. Once the type of metal is decided, it’s time to move onto the setting. Gottlieb says, “Any jeweler can execute a pave diamond setting, but if you line up four jewelers’ pave settings, they will all look fairly different.” Fair enough. Every jeweler has their signature style, so make sure that style aligns with your own before making a final decision. The thing is, some women have woes about mixing metals, which they think can help guide them in their decision when it comes to the engagement ring. IMHO, engagement rings don’t count, and it is allowed to be different from the rest of your jewelry. If you only wear yellow gold, but want a platinum setting, get the platinum setting. This is a big decision, so it’s worth it to get exactly what you want. 

Of course, looking at engagement rings is a major moment in your life, so it’s important to consider every aspect when choosing. There’s a different ring out there for everyone, so don’t feel pressured into picking something just because it’s popular. Do you have other questions for Stephanie Gottlieb? What’s at the top of your engagement ring checklist? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Stephanie Gottlieb; @stephaniegottlieb / Instagram (4)

Betchy Draper
Betchy Draper
Betchy Draper's real name is Jess. Just Jess. Like Madonna, only younger and less good at singing and dancing.