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Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring

Learn everything you need to know to get started ring shopping.

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Diamond Buying Tips

Choosing the right center stone for your ring can seem a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of center stone options to match your desired look and budget range – even $0 !!! Read on for a bunch of important info to make picking your perfect center stone easy.


The carat weight and size of your center stone are important to consider as they will impact both the look and the price of your ring, i.e. the larger the diamond, the more it will cost.


As the name suggests, the center stone is the centerpiece of your ring and is often the most admired detail.


Whichever type of center stone you pick, there are a variety of different shapes to choose from.

DIAMONDS: Brilliant, Durable, and One-of-a-kind.

Diamonds deserve your consideration when choosing the perfect center stone for your ring. There are a few things you’ll want to know to become a savvy diamond shopper and get the best deal. We’re happy to fill you in on this because at Wilson Diamonds, we know you’ll find the best selection of hand-picked diamonds at the best price, guaranteed!

The 4Cs are the four main characteristics of a diamond that determine quality, beauty, and value. Here you will learn the basics of the 4Cs, plus some valuable tips to help you shop like an expert.

Learn About The 4 Cs

MINED DIAMONDS (aka below earth diamonds)

Mined diamonds have been used in engagement rings since the year 1477, and have become a global symbol of marital promise. Diamond is the hardest natural substance known on earth and sets the top of the Mohs Hardness Scale. (Link to

Diamonds are virtually unscratchable; however, their crystal structure can be broken under the right conditions. As the saying suggests, a diamond may very well last forever. Many diamonds are passed down for generations to enjoy. At Wilson Diamonds, we offer only responsibly sourced, “conflict-free” mined diamonds that have gone through the internationally recognized Kimberly Process. (Link

  • Brilliance and sparkle.
  • Durability.
  • Longevity.
  • Globally recognized value.
  • Symbol of a forever promise.
  • 100% upgrade credit towards a like-diamond (shape, type) for life.


  • Higher price point.

Find the quality and size you like at a price you can afford. Not all diamonds are created equal, it pays to do some research and find the best option for you.

If you know you want a diamond center stone, it’s worth looking at both mined and lab-grown options to get a better idea of what’s available in your budget range.

Pricing: The diamond price is determined by the 4Cs (size and quality factors), so it will vary depending on the size and quality you are looking for. A diamond that is large enough to be considered a center stone can range from several hundred to many thousands of dollars. For more information, contact one of our expert diamond consultants by texting us via the messenger button at the bottom right of your screen. They can guide you to a diamond that will fit your desired size, quality, and budget range.

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LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS (aka above earth diamonds)

When it comes to real diamonds, you now have two options: mined diamonds and genuine lab-grown diamonds. These are real in every sense of the word; chemically identical to mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are just as beautiful, just as hard, just as unique, and they last forever! The same 4Cs grading scale is used to determine the value and quality of lab-grown diamonds. And just like mined diamonds, no two lab-grown diamonds are alike. In fact, they are not actually man-made, they are man-grown. Similar to a tomato plant being grown in the garden or in a greenhouse; both are tomatoes, regardless of where they’re grown! The same goes for diamonds—they are literally grown from a diamond seed. Truly amazing!

It has only been about 15 years since they cracked the code to be able to grow gem-quality diamonds. There are two main methods used to accomplish this: High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

The most common process now used to grow new diamonds from a diamond seed is called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). This process uses ultra-clean carbon-rich gases injected into a controlled environment meant to replicate below-earth conditions in which a diamond crystallizes. The result is a type IIa diamond which is the rarest, purest, most beautiful form of the diamond crystal. Fewer than 2% of all mined diamonds are Type IIa (2A). Read more (Link


  • All the benefits of mined diamonds plus:
  • Get a bigger, higher quality diamond for the same or less than a mined diamond of equivalent quality.
  • Cost savings of approx. 20-35% of mined diamonds.
  • Get a Type IIa diamond—the rarest most beautiful type of diamond in the world.
  • 100% upgrade credit towards a like-diamond (shape, type) for life.


  • Like mined diamonds, every lab-grown diamond is unique. Do some research to see what quality you want and how much you can afford. Our expert consultants can help you figure out the best options for you.
  • Pricing: Lab-grown diamond prices will be about 20-35% less than their mined diamond equivalent. Contact one of our expert consultants by texting us via the messenger button at the bottom right of your screen to get specific pricing.
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HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature) Treated, Mined Diamonds

When a *Type IIa (2A) mined diamond is lower in color, a process can be used to treat the diamond and improve or reduce the amount of color. This process is called High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). The diamond undergoes intense pressure (70,000 atmospheres) and high temperature (3,682°F), which essentially continues the process diamonds go through as they’re forming inside the earth, and brings it to a more mature, colorless state.

*There are several types of diamonds, including Type Ia (1A) and Type IIa (2A). Type IIa is the rarest type of diamond and only makes up about 2% of all mined diamonds. Because of its pure carbon chemical structure, it is the only type of diamond that can be used to grow new diamonds (see Lab Grown Diamonds) or treated to improve the diamond’s color.

Once a diamond has been treated to improve the color, the process cannot be reversed. The change is permanent and the new, better color is the official color grade of the diamond.

Because the process is irreversible and harmless to the diamond’s beauty and durability, it is the only diamond treatment the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will provide a diamond report on.

  • HPHT diamonds usually have the highest quality grades at a significant cost saving, 15-30% of the equivalent untreated diamond.
  • GIA reported.
  • They are mined diamonds.
  • Permanent color improvement.
  • 100% upgrade credit towards a like-diamond (shape, type) for life.
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Fancy Colored Diamonds

When a clear or “white” diamond has color, it lowers the value. But when it comes to fancy colored diamonds, the opposite is true. The more vibrant the color, the higher the value. Diamonds can form in many colors; white, yellow, and pink are the most common, but they can also form in varying shades of blue, green, and others.

Note: All of the 4Cs apply when searching for a fancy colored diamond, only the color scale will vary based on the hue of the diamond color. The range on any color other than yellow goes from Faint to Fancy Vivid and in yellow diamonds, the scale goes from Fancy Light to Fancy Vivid.

  • Very rare and beautiful.
  • Still, a diamond will last forever.
  • Beautiful natural colors and some enhanced colors.
  • The perfect option for someone who loves color and diamonds.
  • Usually, you’ll pay a premium for rarity.
  • Many colors can also be found in the lab-grown variety for a lot less expensive.
  • More challenging to find and most jewelers don’t carry a lot of colored diamond selection. Make sure you give yourself extra time to find the right option.
  • Pricing: Be prepared to pay 15-30% more for a natural pink or yellow colored diamond.
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Diamond Alternatives (man-made non-diamond gemstones made to look like diamonds)


Moissanite is a durable man-made gemstone. The stone was originally discovered on a meteorite, and then it was recreated in a lab. It is extremely hard and nearly impossible to scratch. It has a brilliance that rivals medium-higher grade diamond cuts and, to the untrained eye, can easily be mistaken for a diamond.

  • Similar looks to a diamond.
  • Durable enough to last a lifetime.
  • Never scratches, clouds, or changes color.
  • Around 5-10% of the price of a diamond of similar size.
  • Larger look for significantly less money.
  • 100% trade credit for life when you upgrade to a diamond.
  • Be aware there are three types of Moissanite: Forever One Colorless, Forever One Near Colorless, and Forever Classic. Each is significantly different in color. The newest and most colorless of the three is the Forever One Colorless. It’s the best value for your dollar in moissanite.
  • Less valuable than a diamond.
  • Each Moissanite is essentially the same with no unique identifying qualities.
  • Pricing: Moissanites typically run about 5-10% of the cost of a diamond of similar size, i.e. a Moissanite the size of a $2,000 diamond would cost about $200-$300. Note: This is a generalized example and does not reflect actual cost comparison.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ)

A man-made gemstone meant to imitate the look and sparkle of a diamond. At first glance, a Cubic Zirconia does look similar to a diamond, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see a significant difference in brilliance and sparkle.

A CZ is often used as a placeholder to represent what a certain size diamond might look like in a specific ring setting. They are fairly durable but will scratch and cloud over 6 months to 2 years. It is a man-made gemstone that acts similarly to very hard plastic or resin when it comes to durability. 

  • Inexpensive alternative to a diamond.
  • Good temporary option when another gemstone is outside the budget.
  • Lighter weight and more brilliant than glass or plastic.
  • Lasts between 6 months to 2 years before it starts to look cloudy and scratched.
  • Inexpensive to replace
  • Not a good option for side stones (melee) on the band of a gold ring or wedding band because of their lack of durability.
  • Pricing: Usually less than $50-100 including setting costs
  • Included with your ring purchase at Wilson Diamonds. If your budget is $0 for the center stone, this is the choice for you!

White Sapphire

A white/clear gemstone that can be cut to look similar to a diamond. White Sapphires have a similar color to white diamonds, but they reflect light differently which means they have a more see-through look and don’t sparkle quite like diamonds.

  • Similar in color to a diamond.
  • Is the second hardest natural gemstone and is scratch-resistant.
  • Costs significantly less than a diamond.
  • Has a lower light performance than diamonds and Moissanites, so it will appear more see-through and glassy than other options listed above.
  • Sapphires come in many different colors as well.
  • Will eventually scratch and cloud and will need to be replaced.

Colored Gemstones

There are gemstones of nearly every shape, color, and size used in jewelry. Some gemstones are softer than others, some reflect light better, etc. Not every type of stone is a great fit for a ring you’ll wear every day, that is a big reason diamonds have become the favorite choice for engagement rings.

If you are interested in using another type of gemstone for your ring, one of our expert consultants can fill you in on the pros and cons of the different options. Just text us using the messenger button at the bottom left of your screen.

Some common gemstones used as ring center stones are Morganite, Sapphire, Emerald, and Ruby.

Morganite: Usually a light pink or amber color, morganites are affordable and beautiful. Morganites usually have the most color the larger they are, so if you’re looking for a lot of colors, you may need to go big. But not to worry, going big with a morganite should not break the bank.

Morganites are a somewhat soft member of the beryl gemstone family and will scratch and get cloudy over time. Usually within 2-4 years. When this happens, you have a couple of options—replace your morganite with a new morganite or another gemstone, or have your existing morganite polished and reset in the ring. Contact a Wilson Diamonds consultant to help you find out the best option for you.

Sapphire: One of the hardest gemstones behind the diamond, sapphires are commonly used for center stones. Sapphires come in many different colors and can be found in both the genuine and synthetic categories.

Emerald: Gemstone with varying hues of green. Like morganite, emerald is a member of the beryl gemstone family, so it shares many of the same toughness attributes. They will scratch and cloud over time and can be replaced or repolished for a relatively low cost.

Ruby: Gemstone with varying hues of red. A member of the same gem family as sapphire, rubies are hard and often used as center stones. Rubies have a higher price point than many other colored gemstones, in fact, certain deep red rubies are among the rarest gemstones on earth and are considered more valuable than diamonds.

As you can see, when it comes to your center stone, you have a lot of options. The first place you should look is at our incredible diamond selection. If you are interested in another gemstone option, we can help you with that as well. Contact us to find the right options for you.

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