Are you confused by diamond cut grades? How is a diamond graded for it's cut quality? What is an ideal cut diamond? Do you need some simple, clear, diamond buying advice?
Look no further. We are Little Bird - Diamond & Engagement Ring Consulting. It is our job to explain the basics of diamond grading in a way that makes sense to a non-gemologist.
Cut is one of the 4 C's of diamond grading, along with Clarity, Carat size, and Color. Cut evaluation is by no means everything you need to know about a diamond, but it will help you understand why some diamonds have more fire and brilliance than others. Here is a great article from GIA on how they grade a diamond's cut. (GIA stand for The Gemological Institute of America.)
GIA is the largest gem grading laboratory, operating facilities all over the world. They are certainly not the only lab, but their grading system is considered the standard in the in industry. In addition to grading diamonds, GIA also has an educational facility. Us Little Birds are very familiar with GIA's grading system. If you need help understanding a GIA diamond certificate or even help buying an uncertified diamond please get in touch, or leave us a question in the comments section. This is a lot of information to take in, and you are not expected to understand all the details immediately.
The best part of a proposal is that it marks a pivotal moment in life that neither person will forget. Plan your proposal moment as if you are painting a memory for you and your fiancée to look back on when you are retired and sitting together, hand-in-hand on your front porch.
Let's start with the background. Do you two feel drawn to glittering nighttime cityscapes? Many fancy downtown hotels have rooftop gardens with amazing views of the city at night. Or a stunning forested vista? Camping is always a great excuse to get away from it all and be alone together. Would you prefer a crowd of people cheering when she says yes or the quiet sweetness of a private moment?
Well, the holiday season is upon us once again! The holidays can be a stressful time to get engaged, yet somehow it's the most popular time of year to pop the question. Why do so many couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and New Years'? We've heard various versions of this scenario from hundreds - HUNDREDS - of people.
The holiday season presents the annual family check-in time. For many folks, it goes something like this:
You're attending another Thanksgiving event with your significant other. Family members ask the same questions about your life. How's your job? Would you consider it your career path, or is there something else you would like to do? Did you ever finish getting that real estate license? What is the current state of your health insurance? So, you've moved in together? That's nice....will we be receiving a Save the Date soon? You look across the room at your girlfriend / boyfriend / partner and you get that warm fuzzy feeling.
You might not be shocked to hear that 100% of people who reach out to Little Bird are, in fact, planning to get engaged (winky face). Yikes! Well, now it's crunch time. Believe it or not, it can take 4-6 weeks to educate yourself in the field, find the right jeweler, put together the perfect ring and then have it made. If you want to get engaged by New Year’s, you better find that perfect ring ASAP. The problem with this: EVERYONE else is also looking for the perfect ring AND it's the busiest shopping season of the year. Stores hire uninformed holiday help, the lines at the cash registers are almost as big as the bottom line sales goals. It's the most difficult time to receive impeccable service and in the meantime all the coveted inventory is being snatched up. If you're in the market for a specific type of ring, such as a Canadian diamond engagement ring, an oval sapphire halo ring, or maybe a custom opal engagement ring, the least you can do is be prepared.
We are offering our 30 minute Expert Engagement Ring Consultation to help get folks ready for what will be a huge purchasing decision. If future marriage has been on your mind as of late, as the leaves start to turn and the family events start stacking up on the calendar, contact us to schedule AND/OR refer a friend and you both get an early holiday present from Little Bird...check it out here.
An interview with Brent Rose, self described actor, burrito-eater, filmmaker and writer for Wired, Outside Magazine, Gizmodo, Deadspin, Men’s Journal and Men’s Health Magazine.
Little Bird loves to hear from guys in the real world. Sometimes it can be hard for experts in a field to remember what the situation looks like to non-experts. We are constantly optimizing our services to be as awesome and helpful as possible. Brent Rose is a regular contributor for a variety of guy-tailored blogs, so he has a unique vantage point to see consumer trends in the man-universe. Brent is a rare gem in his ability to cut through pretense and ego, and answer questions with the kind of unfiltered honesty that would make most bros run for the hills. His insights were invaluable and really got us thinking...
Little Bird: So Brent, how would you start your engagement ring search?
Brent: I have no idea. Like most guys I would probably start with the internet - because that is where you look for everything these days. I would Google “diamond ring” or “engagement ring” or even search for “how to pick the right ring”.
I might look at places like Zales, the Diamond Center or Jared to try and get an idea of the baseline market. If I did ask any friends, I would try to talk to guy friends that make the same sort of salary as I do and are already engaged or married. If you ask rich friends, you’re opening the door to soul-crushing despair.
Little Bird: Good point. Within every group of friends some are reasonable about budget, and some just spend… unbelievable amounts. So how would you go about calculating your engagement ring budget? Do you think this is how most guys these days come up with a number?
Brent: I don’t know a lot of guys who can afford to spend 2 months salary. Which is hard to face because you are in love, but realistically, you can’t drop 8k on a ring. You have to pay rent. Guys may start with 2 months salary but they usually scale it down.
Little Bird: Yeah, the two months salary deal was from a really different era. It seems like life is just SO much more expensive today. As a guy, what are your top priorities when looking for a ring?
Brent: Well the first phase is usually the budget phase. Then comes the depression phase when you start seeing some of the diamonds that are out there. Closely followed by the panic and anorexia phase [maybe I can't afford food this month]. And then the realistic budgeting and financial planning phase. Next you’d probably go through her jewelry and look at her taste - does she like simple and low profile or BLAM? You are trying to find a design that matches her personality. For some girls a decadent ring might be totally wrong style-wise.
The problem then is that guys don’t know the search terms because most guys have never had to think about them. Even if they had a picture of a ring in their mind, they have no idea what to call the thing they are looking for. It would be great to be able to talk to her, but they don’t want to ruin the surprise. The vast expanse of options is overwhelming.
And then there’s sizing. Even if she has other rings, you never know the right size for her ring finger because women generally don’t wear rings on that finger. You can try to be sneaky, but it almost never works.
(Side Note: Brent is absolutely right about this. Being sneaky about determining a ring size almost never works. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog “Macgyvering her ring size.” with all sorts of 007-worthy ring sizing tricks that actually work.)
Little Bird: What about ethical origins of diamonds and metals? Is that important to you?
Brent: Most guys know to think about ethical origin - but they can’t tell how to actually avoid bad diamonds. Some of the industry terms get really confusing.
Little Bird: You are absolutely right. The definition of “conflict free” the Kimberley Process is very different from what you and I would consider to be “ethical origin.” Luckily for me, our Little Bird Co-Founder, Danielle, is a super-expert on this subject, so I can just ask her.
Little Bird: How much time do you think the average guy is willing to spend learning about diamond grading and the industry?
Brent: It would be great if someone could explain diamonds in simple human terms. If I had to guess... hmm, very little. I mean some people go totally OCD, but most people are willing to go as far as whatever gets a ring that their girl will like. Most guys will try to do some preliminary research, but it gets overwhelming really fast. Someone once mentioned Etsy, but when you start searching around you realize how little you know and you start to doubt your own taste.
Little Bird: You’re the expert on guy shopping, what do you think is another one of the nuanced purchases that guys make? How do they get help? What works?
Brent: I guess the best comparison is a new car. For some people a ring can be just as much. There are a lot of variables when you are buying a car, but you can get a lot of objective information from the internet or magazines. That being said, you are buying a car for yourself and a ring is a gift so you can’t just pick whatever you would like to wear. This is a guessing game with a lot riding on it.
There is this element of judgment with rings. You picture a bunch of girls squealing over a ring because you have seen it on every TV show and in movies. It seems so cliché, but then you see it over and over again in the real world! It shouldn’t matter at all but you worry that it is going to matter to her. You don’t want the ring to be an object of ridicule. There is a lot of stigma for cubic zirconia or other non-gems, so it can be a stressful calculation. You want to get her something that is worthy of her, and of your love.
(Side Note: There is certainly a stigma around cubic zirconia because it is considered a badly done fake, HOWEVER some alternative gemstones - like sapphire - are awesome and should definitely be considered. Check out our post on
How to Get a Celebrity Worthy Engagement Ring at a Fraction of the Cost on Ringspotters for more information on alternative gemstones.)
Little Bird: When guys are uncertain about any part of the engagement ring process, who do they go to for help or advice? Married buddies? Parents or relatives? Her friends? Internet? Is this something that guys talk about amongst themselves?
Brent: Maybe one of her friends that you trusted to keep a secret. Maybe. Ideally one of my own female friends that knows both of us. When you ask a friend you have to trust they would give you an honest response and not spare your feelings. Guys don’t know who to talk with to ask questions, in case something changes or someone gives it away...
Little Bird: Of your guy friends that are married, do you know what their ring shopping experience was like? Have they said anything that sticks in your mind?
Brent: Truth is, guys don’t talk in too much detail. Some have inherited rings, which is not an option for everyone. I know some couples shop together... but that kind of wrecks the surprise. Actually, I think guys don’t talk about this much at all... which is probably why there is so much confusion. Guys want to appear smart and in control and not scared.
If you are worried about rent, you have no idea how you are going to pull this off. It is incredibly stressful. Buying a ring is such a major thing in life and it becomes representative and emblematic of the greater turmoil around asking someone to marry you.
Little Bird: I have to admit, I am a little surprised because I have thought of ring shopping as being so much more fun!
Brent: No. Most guys don’t see this as fun. Guys that are worried about money are not having such a good time.
Guys are really afraid they are getting ripped off. An expert in your corner would give you major peace of mind. You are about to drop onto one knee and you are already freaking out - this is one less thing to worry about.
Check out some of Brent’s remarkable and almost uncanny acting talent, or his Friday booze column for Gizmodo, Happy Hour, OR his pretty awesome twitter feed, all of which are hilarious and fascinating.
Guys: we want to hear from you too! If you have a totally different answer, or a totally similar answer, or a funny story about any of these issues, please get in touch with us. We are dedicated to making this process more fun and less stressful for you.
-orignally posted November, 2013
Well that didn't go according to the plan...
Cue the sad love songs. Sometimes life does not happen the way we planned. If you or someone you know bought an engagement ring and things didn’t work out, Little Bird can offer some advice.
Option 1: Return
Before you do anything drastic, call the store where you bought the ring. Request a manager to review the specifics of your ring purchase. Some stores have one month return policies, some give you three months. Some stores will SAY that there is a one month policy, but if the ring hasn’t been worn they are more willing to negotiate. Be prepared, some stores charge a restocking fee of 10-20%. If the ring has been worn, some stores will still take it back, minus a refurbishing fee. It may seem like a lose/lose, but it is better than losing 50% if you try to resell it yourself. If this isn’t an option, check our Option 2.
First, what is a diamond solitaire? It can actually be confusing as this nomenclature is thrown around for rings that aren't actually solitaires. Hint: it doesn't have to do with the shape of the center stone....
A solitaire ring is when there is only one diamond in on the ring and that diamond is the main focal point of the ring. Solitaries do not have any other diamond accents on them, no diamond halo's, nothing - just one beautiful diamond! The name actually refers to the technical setting and can mean to any piece of jewelry with a solitaire setting - such a necklace, or earrings.
Solitaires are an extremely popular style these days and are known for showing off the classic elegance of beautiful diamond. But, be careful! The thing about a solitaire is that you simple must nail the design. As with all things simple, you need to refine, refine, refine. Think about the concept of "jeans and a shirt" - this simple layout can be super polished and date night ready or it might be what you wear to repaint your room that chic gray you've been pinning all week at work.
Any stylish low key dresser will tell you that you have to have a particular vision in mind in order to slay minimalism. Same deal with your fine jewelry, curation is crucial when designing the ideal solitaire diamond engagement ring.
How To Create Your Dream Solitaire Ring
Step 1 - The Center Diamond
Since the diamond is the centerpiece of the ring, it best to start with picking a stone shape that resonates best with you. The most popular shape you see in a solitaire setting is round but any stone shape can be in solitaire. Such as pear, heart, oval, emerald, Asscher, marquise, etc. Because the solitaire setting shows off the diamond as the main focal point, we would recommend you work with your jeweler to really find a stone you love.
Step 2 - The Prongs
The prongs are those claw like things that hold the stone in place. First and foremost, they must do their job holding the stone in place but after that is done they we can talk about the aesthetics of the prongs.
You have a few choices to make here: metal type, the number of prongs, shape of prongs and orientation of prongs.
1. The metal type could be the same as the band or you might switch it up and go for a mixed metal look. Imagine the combinations out there with rose gold, yellow gold, white gold and platinum all at your fingertips (see what we did there?!)
2. The number of prongs you choose will be based on many factors. In short, you can go with 4 or 6. There are some stones larger enough to accommodate 8 or even 12 - very Marie Antionette and we love this antique twist on a solitaire if your stone has the surface area to pull it off.
3. The shape of the prongs is really a place to get creative and personalized. The prongs can be rounded/"bead shaped", pointed/"claw prongs"/"talon prongs"/"pointed prongs" (all terms for the same thing), or paddle shaped prongs. Then once you pick a shape, you can add another dimension: you can have split prongs or single prongs - seriously the list is endless. You can find good examples of all of these prong shape options online, but most jewelers don't have examples of all the shapes in one store. This a great question to ask your jeweler about because the prongs can really add style and personality to a ring and an important for a solitaire setting.
4. The orientation of prongs is another thing to consider. The most common prong orientation for 4 prongs is to have them at the four corners of the stone, as if each was the corner of a square. You can switch this up by going for a "compass prong orientation" where you shift the prongs to sit at the North, East, South and West points of the stone. The 6 prong options are the opposite. The classic 6 prong has a prong on the North and South point of the diamond and the East and West are open. The alternative 6 prong option is to leave the North and South open, covering the East and West. This is a lot to visualize, but it's simple enough once you do a little visual research.
Pro tip: you might also consider a bezel or semi-bezel setting.
Step 3 - The Setting
Here we are referring to the band and the way in which the prongs connect to it. There are so many types of settings that we can't go into them all. But here are a few key questions to ponder when choosing the setting.
Is stacking with bands important to you? You may want to consider a cathedral setting that allows the diamond to be visible and stack with multiple rings. Do you have any antique stone that might be more fragile? You might want a bezel setting. Wear gloves every day? You might want a low profile setting with diamond set into the band.
Because the diamond is the focal point in a solitaire setting, the details are super important! Make you go over all of them with jeweler or reach out to u for a chat about what options might suite your personal style best!
This post is co-authored by Danielle of LITTLE BIRD and Catherine Cason of Gem Hunt
Ah, rose cut diamonds! With a name like that what's not to love? We started a month long affair with rose cuts when we kicked off the Dream Diamond x Gem Hunt pop-up which features 10 rings made from rose cut diamonds.
Rose cuts are currently the Edison light bulb of the fine jewelry world. Soft, glowing, warm and yet functional - designers just can't seem to get enough. And we don't mind one bit. While this cut is all so en vogue at the moment, rose cuts are not new - they have a very rich history. This cut dates back to the 1500s.
Rose cuts were first seen in the Georgian and Victorian Eras, with many cuts coming out of the Dutch region of Europe. They faded in popularity, but as we entered the 20th Century and brilliant cuts became more popular for their firey sparkle. Rose cuts have re-surged in popularity in the last five years and many designers are finding inspiration in their glowing facets and flat bottoms - there are some seriously incredible designs featuring rose cuts.
They are not as *flashy* as brilliant cuts and they can sit more flush to the finger and accommodate a different variety of setting types. Rose cuts a great alternative from someone looking for something more subdued or alternative. Even though they are having a moment, rose cuts have and always will be here to stay.
They were named rose cut because the cut resembles the petals in a spiraling rose bud. In general, they have a flat bottom and a domed crown coming to a subtle peak at the top. It's important to note they have no pavilion (basically, the triangular bottom part you see on a brilliant cut - rose cuts don't have that). This cut creates a more subtle look and won't have the same intense scintillation and light return you see in a brilliant cut diamond, instead you see a softer, glowing kind of sparkle. Rose cuts sort of beg for candle light and flowers (and champagne). And we're cool with that.
Without that pavilion, they can be cut into many different shapes and tend to have more "spread" which means more of the carat weight faces up making the diamonds appear larger than a brilliant cut of the same carat weight. We're also cool with that. Rounds reign supreme in terms of popularity, but you'll also find elongated cushions, pear shapes, kites, ovals trillions... the list goes on.
Unlike many modern cuts that have standardized facets and cut patterns (aka rules), rose cuts can have anywhere between 3 or 24 facets. The faceted top is what makes them different from other flat bottomed stones such as cabochons or sugar loafs. The most popular and classic ones you see today have 24 facets but many have less to make some very unique and beautiful shapes. Despite their specific flat bottomed fashioning, they look baller next to small brilliant cut accents, so don't be afraid to accent a killer rose cut with small traditionally cut stones with pavilions. Magic. Another spectacular thing in the rose cut family is what is known as a double rose cut! It's essentially like you have two rose cuts put together. These stones are exceptionally beautiful because double the facets double the sparkle!
Before you leave and start creating your Rose Cut Diamond Engagement Ring *secret* Pinterest board, let's talk colour. We spelled it fancy there just now to match the allure of a rose cut gem with color. In the diamond category, you're going to find that opaque white, grey, champagne, light brown, salt and pepper, and black diamonds are increasingly common. The cool part about this is that each one is totally one of a kind. The hard part about this is that designing a custom ring and sourcing your ideal rose cut stone can present itself as a challenge. Take a deep breath and know your ideal rock is out there. It might just take some digging! It's a good idea to find an artist you love that already works with the stones and then have that artist help you source your perfect gem.
A note on sapphire rose cuts! Sapphires look amazing in rose cuts. So, go for it. Here are a couple of tips: turn the color saturation up a notch to maintain the color when worn over skin, or ask your ring designer to back the rose cut with metal in order to reflect light and maintain the color through the stones, esp if it's a lighter color.
There's always one more thing: we don't 100% recommend a rose cut for an engagement ring that isn't diamond or sapphire. Because of the shallow depth of the stone, you especially need a hard mineral. So, diamond and sapphire are your go-to's for a rose cut ring.
This post was co-authored by Danielle Mainas of LITTLE BIRD & Catherine Cason of Gem Hunt and
Well, there are quite a few ways that an Engagement Ring Consultant can save you money on the purchase of a ring. Chase.com points out three reasons to consider hiring a LITTLE BIRD Engagement Ring Consultant:
1. Hiring a Ring Consultant can save you 20 to 40 percent off the cost of the ring
Linda DiProperzio of Chase.com says: "This is key, since spending on engagement rings is at its highest ever. A survey by The Knot, a popular wedding resource, found that the average price of an engagement ring is about $6,000. Making sure you get the most for your money is crucial." LITTLE BIRD agrees. Big time. There's not a lively secondary market for private engagement ring sales out there. So, you're likely going to hold on to this ring for a very very long time. Let's make sure it's an investment you can stand behind for the long haul!
2. Ring consultants have insider knowledge
We go way beyond the 4c's. A consultant can inform and educate you on nitty gritty diamond and ring vocabulary that you won't glean online. We can also review diamond and gemstones certificate prior to you pulling the trigger. Furthermore, do you have the right metal type selected? Is this the right style of pavé? How will this ring jive with your future wedding band. We know this stuff inside and out and getting personalized advice based on YOUR goals and your lifestyle is what getting great ring consultation is all about.
3. We can offer a wider selection
AND we can help you figure out what you want. Picking out an engagement ring isn't a cake walk. You might not be aware of all your options and of all the bespoke and custom elements that are available to you for each little part of the ring anatomy. The options are endless. Your ultimate ring IS possible. It's just a matter of understanding what's out there!
A word to the wise: check on the commission
The thing is there are a few types of consultants out there. There are consultants with affiliate relationships with 6-8 online diamond companies. There are consultants who also sell diamonds. And then there's LITTLE BIRD. "Consultants like LITTLE BIRD don't profit off the sale of the gems or the design of the ring. Instead, the company charges a flat fee, with packages starting at $75. 'Our clients know that we're giving them unbiased recommendations because we're not profiting in the amount someone pays for the ring,' says Beth Moore, LITTLE BIRD's expert GIA certified Graduate Gemologist."
A Favorite from the Little Bird Ring Vault: Diamond Chanel-set Halo with Bezel-set Round Diamond Center
Check out this stunning halo diamond ring we helped come to fruition. These stories are meant to help folks at the beginning of the process gain insight into the creation of a unique engagement ring. Through personalized diamond and gem selection, metal choice, and lots of innovative custom design work, beauties like this one made their way onto some very happy hands.
This client knew he wanted to maximize for the size of the center diamond, but he also felt strongly about selecting a color grade in the upper echelons of the scale. We were able to find him a larger-than-average diamond that featured an E color (very very high), and a once-in-a-lifetime, completely eye-clean twining wisp S12 inclusion grade. The result was a diamond over .10 carats larger, and 2 color grades better than every other option in his price range. W.I.N.
We designed each element of this stunning engagement ring, start to finish, with the groom-to-be. His other half was never once briefed on the process - it was a complete surprise. This halo style engagement ring features a very unique blend of design elements. The bride-to-be was described as being a very physically active, finance professional with a simple, unique and modern personal design taste. Oh yeah, she also wanted her ring to maximize for diamond size. Round diamond halos are a great way to maximize for visual size, but we also knew that adding a bunch of little diamond accents may prove complicated if she was super active, and planned on wearing this ring on her exercise and traveling adventures. In response, we advised a platinum bezel set center diamond, so that a smooth frame of very durable precious metal held the gem in place instead of the classic prong-set design. Additionally, we made the halo diamond accents each smaller than the status quo, and increased the quantity of them. This specific design choice served to magnify the size of the center gem, while increasing the total number of diamonds on the ring itself. We also chose to channel-set each diamond in the halo instead of the usual prong-ladden pave setting you always see, which is typically more fragile than the clean channel setting. The result is a smoother, far more durable, and just plain cooler halo style ring.
Bonus Points: We quizzed our boy on inside lover's jokes between him and his girl to uncover the special inscription on the inside of her band. Special touches like these impress for a lifetime. Literally.
Now What? Your design story is bound to be different, but the rules of engagement remain: get some help. We will happily lend an ear and help you get on the right track. Schedule a COMPLIMENTARY BIRD CALL.. This is a free consultation and very smart investment in the search for your ideal engagement ring. Let’s hop on the phone, find out where you are in the process, and get you headed in the right direction.