If you’re hunting for an engagement ring, you’ve likely come across a slew of jewelry terms that are hard to understand. That’s okay! We’re here to break it all down, so you can make the most informed decision and choose the perfect ring for your partner!
4 C’s: This stands for Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight, all of which describe a diamond’s quality. These four components serve as the basis of the Gemological Institute of America’s international diamond grading system, which was developed and introduced in the 1950s. Each area is evaluated differently based on unique scales.
Accent Diamond: These smaller diamonds surround and typically enhance the center stone.
Alloy: A combination of two or more metals that are mixed together.
Amethyst: This stone is part of the quartz family and most recognized for its various shades of purple, from lilac to deep plum. The diverse shades of color that you may see in a single amethyst stone is due to its unique angles when cut. Amethyst is the birthstone of February, representing serenity. It’s also a fairly durable gem, scoring a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Anniversary Ring: A ring that’s given to your partner to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary. One option is a three-stone ring, where each stone represents the past, present and future of your relationship.
Antique-Inspired: A ring design influenced by a classic-style engagement ring that was created more than 50 years ago. Some features of an antique ring could include beading, milgrain, engraving, scallop work and pave diamonds.
Appraisal: A document that describes an engagement ring, its value, rarity and overall quality. Descriptions could specifically include the ring’s weight, materials and any potential markings.
Aquamarine: This beautiful blue-green gemstone is part of the beryl family and known as the gem of the sea. The shades of color reflected from the stone can range from very light to moderately dark. Lighter shades of aquamarine tend to have better clarity, while darker shades are cloudier. Aquamarine is also the March birthstone and official gemstone for celebrating your 19th wedding anniversary.
Art Deco-Inspired: Ring designs influenced by the Art Deco era, which spanned the 1920s and 1930s. Features of Art Deco rings often include geometric, angular shapes and bold lines.
Asscher Cut: This octagonal diamond cut is essentially a more brilliant, square version of an emerald cut diamond. An asscher diamond instead has steeper step cuts and a smaller table (aka flat surface on the top of a diamond).
Baguette: You might immediately think of French bread. But in the jewelry world, a baguette is a rectangular-shaped stone with long, clean lines. It looks like an emerald-cut diamond and is typically used as a side stone. To help you remember, baguette means “rod” in French.
Bar Setting: Similar to a channel setting, where two walls of metal create a groove/channel to secure stones in the ring band, a bar setting features a thin piece of metal (aka narrow bar) placed vertically between each stone.
Basket: A space created by the ring’s prongs/claws and horizontal bands where the diamond/gemstone can sit. In a traditional prong setting, four to six prongs typically extend from the base of the ring band to hold a single diamond in place. Other rings feature additional horizontal bands that connect the prongs and provide a “basket” for the gemstone.
Bezel: Unlike most rings that use prongs to hold diamonds/gemstones in place, a bezel setting uses metal to completely enclose the diamonds/gemstones. Only the upper portion of the diamond is visible. This type of setting is a stronger and more protective option.
Blemish: An imperfection on the outside of the diamond, such as an abrasion, scratch, polish line or burn mark. This can alter the clarity of the stone.
Blue Topaz: As the official gemstone of Texas and December’s birthstone, blue topaz has become the most common and affordable type of topaz in the jewelry industry. Topaz is a durable gem and resistant to scratching; it scores an 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. In its natural form, topaz can often be found in long, cylindrical shapes. Therefore, it looks best in oval and pear shapes. Most topaz also starts out as colorless or pale blue. The stones undergo a treatment of heat and radiation to enhance their colors.
Bowtie Effect: A diamond defect that essentially looks like a bowtie, with a black strip appearing near the middle of the stone. This area of the stone is usually darker because light isn’t properly reflected. Bowtie effects are more common in elongated diamond shapes — such as oval, pear and marquise cuts — as it can be difficult to precisely cut the diamond facets (aka flat surfaces).
Brilliance: The sparkle/brightness that results from light hitting the top, flat surface of a diamond and reflecting back through it.
Brilliant Cut: A style of cutting diamonds/gemstones that creates maximum sparkle. Triangular, kite-shaped or cone-shaped flat surfaces are arranged around the center of the stone, allowing light to enter from various angles. Brilliant cut stones come in a variety of shapes, including round, heart, oval, marquise and pear.
Canary Diamond: A casual term that’s used to describe an intense yellow diamond. Unlike other diamonds that may possess a dull or light yellow color, canary diamonds are extremely coveted and valuable. The deep yellow color is a result of nitrogen molecules during the diamond formation process. These molecules absorb blue light, which is therefore reflected as yellow.
Carat: A standard term in the jewelry industry that indicates the weight of a gemstone. Carats are identified by “ct” written after the stone weight. Ex. One carat would be 1.00 ct and a half carat would be 0.50 ct. Carats can also be divided into points, where one carat represents 100 points.
Carat Total Weight: This term identifies the weight of all diamonds in a ring featuring multiple stones. “Carat weight” only applies to the weight of a single stone. You might see “tcw,” “CTW” or another abbreviation representing total carat weight.
Cavity: An opening in the diamond that occurs when part of a feathery-shaped fracture breaks off or a crystal near the diamond’s surface falls out, particularly during polishing. Cavities can also form when diamond cutters need to remove large, internal flaws resulting in dark spots in the diamond. Doing so, however, would ultimately impact carat weight.
Center Stone: A diamond/gemstone that serves as the focal point of an engagement ring. It’s also usually the largest stone in a multi-stone ring.
Certificate: A document accompanying an engagement ring that assesses the color, clarity, cut, carat weight (aka 4 C’s) and other characteristics of a natural or lab-grown diamond. Learn more about the various diamond certifications.
Channel Setting: In this setting, small accent diamonds/gemstones are placed in a row in the ring band and secured by two walls of metal, called “channels.” This creates a smooth surface, making the channel setting an ideal choice for active lifestyles.
Chip: A shallow opening in a diamond/gemstone resulting from damage to the surface. Chips are typically found along the stone’s border (aka girdle), where the flat diamond surfaces meet (aka facet junctions), and at the bottom point of a diamond (aka culet).
Citrine: A form of quartz that’s often seen as a transparent, yellow-to-orange gem. Citrine in its natural form is rare. Therefore, most citrine in the jewelry market is actually amethyst that has undergone a heat treatment to alter its color. Citrine is durable, affordable and typically lacks visible imperfections inside of the stone. It’s also a November birthstone and the official gem for celebrating your 13th wedding anniversary.
Clarity: Diamond clarity refers to the purity of the stone. Most diamonds have imperfections, called blemishes and inclusions. Therefore, diamonds with fewer imperfections will have better clarity and more sparkle. Trained diamond graders follow the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) Diamond Clarity Scale to rank stones.
Clarity Characteristics: Another term for diamond imperfections. Imperfections/clarity characteristics typically fall under two categories: blemishes, imperfections on the outside of a diamond, and inclusions, imperfections found inside of a diamond. The number, size, location, visibility and nature of the imperfections determine a diamond’s clarity.
Cloud: A type of diamond inclusion (aka imperfection on the inside of a diamond). Clouds are groups of tiny, close-set crystals. Together, they have a hazy appearance, but they’re often difficult to distinguish individually.
Cluster: A type of engagement ring that features close-set smaller diamonds to resemble a larger stone. The stones in a cluster ring sometimes form unique shapes, such as a flower or starburst. Cluster rings can also be identified by their antique look.
Cobalt: A bright, white metal that’s highly scratch-resistant and great for sensitive skin. In its natural form, cobalt can’t be used in jewelry and therefore needs to be mixed with other metals for additional strength and wearability. It’s unlikely for cobalt to tarnish or corrode easily, and it’s a popular alternative to white gold or platinum for men’s wedding rings.
Color: Despite what you may think, the less color in a diamond, the better. Diamond color is rated on a 23-point scale that starts with “D” (colorless) and ends with “Z” (light yellow or brown). A colorless diamond lets more light pass through the stone and creates more sparkle. Differences between color grades may not be visible to the untrained eye, but they’re apparent in the diamond’s quality and price.
Colorless: A diamond that lacks color. It therefore lets more light pass through the stone, creating more sparkle and better value. A colorless diamond receives a “D” rating on the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) industry standard color grading scale.
Criss Cross: A ring style where the metal band splits and intertwines, drawing attention to the center stone. The twisted sides represent two lives becoming one and the strong bond that you and your partner are creating.
Crown: The top portion of a diamond, starting from the stone’s border (aka girdle) and moving up to the top flat surface (aka table).
Crown Angle: The measured angle between a diamond’s top flat surface (aka table) and border (aka girdle). This angle can impact the stone’s appearance when being viewed face-up. Experts say a crown angle between 32 and 36 degrees is ideal for a brilliant and fiery diamond.
Crystal: A mineral crystal that’s found inside of a diamond and can therefore be considered an imperfection. Small crystals sometimes become trapped inside of a diamond during its early stages of formation. As the crystals grow, there’s a chance they can develop irregularities in their atomic structure.
Culet: A small, flat surface (aka facet) that’s sometimes located at the bottom of a diamond to protect the pointed tip from chipping and other damage.
Cushion Cut: A square-shaped diamond with rounded corners that looks like a cushion/pillow. This shape is almost 200 years old and may also be referred to as an “antique square” or “modified cushion.”
Cut: Considered a diamond’s most important feature, the cut refers to a stone’s proportions and how its flat surfaces and angles are cut and polished. This impacts how light passes through the gem and therefore the level of brilliance and sparkle. Each diamond is graded on the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) Cut Grading System, which classifies stones as excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD): A process for creating laboratory-grown diamonds. Molecules of a carbon-rich gas, like methane, are broken down into carbon and hydrogen atoms. These atoms are later used to develop a square-shaped diamond crystal. Most CVD-grown diamonds need further treatment to enhance or change the stones’ colors.
Depth: The measurement of a diamond from its top flat surface (aka table) to its pointed, bottom tip. Depth is usually written in millimeters and as a percentage, which is determined by dividing the stone’s total height by its total width.
Diameter: In a round cut diamond, this indicates the distance from one edge of the stone’s border (aka girdle) to the opposite edge. Since diamonds aren’t perfectly shaped, the diameter is often measured in multiple places to get the smallest and largest measurements.
Diamond: A precious gem made of carbon. Some diamonds are natural (formed billions of years ago below the Earth’s surface) while others are grown in a laboratory. But only trained gemologists and sophisticated equipment can tell the difference. Diamonds score a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making them an extremely durable gem.
Dispersion: When white light breaks apart/disperses into separate wavelengths of color. Upon entering a gemstone, the color wavelengths travel at different speeds and exit the stone separately, creating flashes of color. “Fire” is another term used to describe dispersion.
Double Halo: Two circles of smaller diamonds/gemstones that surround a larger center stone in an engagement ring. This design often makes the center stone appear larger.
Emerald: A striking green gemstone that’s a part of the beryl family. The color is a result of impurities with chromium and vanadium. Emerald is a durable gem, scoring between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. It’s also the May birthstone and official gemstone for celebrating 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Emerald Cut: A rectangular-shaped diamond/gemstone featuring small, rounded edges; step cuts; and a large, flat surface at the top of the stone. These characteristics create a hall-of-mirrors effect and vintage look. A square version of the emerald cut is similar to the asscher cut.
Engagement Ring: A ring given by one partner to their soon-to-be spouse when a marriage proposal is made. The recipient wears the ring on the left ring finger to indicate a commitment to marriage.
Engraving: A form of carving that’s used to add details on the outside of a ring band or personal messages inside of the band. This can be done with a laser or by hand.
Eternity Ring: A ring that’s typically given as a milestone anniversary gift or a special romantic gift and features side stones that wrap around the entire ring band. This ring represents never-ending love and is commonly worn on the left ring finger, between the wedding and engagement rings.
Facet: A flat, polished surface on a diamond/gemstone. A diamond is made of many facets, and their placement determines the amount of light reflecting through the stone. Therefore, this impacts brilliance and fire. Facets have several shapes, including triangles, octagons, trapezoids and kites.
Fancy Color: Colorless diamonds may sparkle more, but other diamonds can be found in a variety of natural and dyed colors, such as yellow, pink, blue, chocolate and black. These diamonds fall outside of the color grading scale.
Fancy Cut: A term simply describing diamond shapes that aren’t round. These shapes could include oval, pear, marquise and emerald-cut diamonds.
Feather: A small crack or break in a diamond that looks white and feathery. This is considered an inclusion, as it’s an imperfection inside of the diamond.
Filigree: When fine, flexible threads of precious metal — such as white, yellow, rose gold or platinum — are twisted and curled into a delicate design on the band or elsewhere on an engagement ring.
Fire: Flashes of color that are reflected from a diamond. This happens when white light enters a diamond, disperses into separate wavelengths of color and exits the stone.
Flaw: According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), this is an inaccurate term to indicate a diamond’s imperfections. Instead, “blemishes” is the term used to describe imperfections on the outside of the diamond. “Inclusions” is used for imperfections on the inside of a diamond.
Flawless: A diamond that doesn’t have any blemishes (imperfections on the outside of a diamond) or inclusions (imperfections on the inside of a diamond) when examined under 10x magnification by a trained diamond grader. It’s extremely rare to find a flawless diamond.
Fluorescence: Light that’s temporarily emitted by certain diamonds and gemstones when they’re exposed to ultraviolet rays from various sources, such as the sun and fluorescent lamps. The light can appear in different colors, particularly blue for diamonds. Diamond Grading Reports typically indicate whether a diamond has fluorescence.
Flush: In this setting, a diamond is placed in a tapered hole in the ring band, making the stone flush with the surface. Jewelers then hammer the surrounding metal to secure the diamond. Softer gemstones could crack during the hammering process. Therefore, durable stones are recommended for flush settings.
French Pave: In this setting, accent diamonds are carefully positioned so that light could hit them from all sides. Small, V-shaped prongs sit beneath each stone, and the appearance of very little metal provides added sparkle.
Gallery: The area of an engagement ring that’s just beneath the center diamond/gemstone. This additional design and framework supports the center stone and provides more comfort for your finger.
Garnet: A set of similar minerals, with gemstones in practically every color, that are part of the same family. All garnets basically have the same crystal structure, but they differ when it comes to chemical composition. These stones are often cut into standard shapes and available in a variety of colors — such as green, orange and red, which is the most common and widespread. Garnet also serves as the January birthstone and official gem for celebrating a second wedding anniversary.
Gemstone: Minerals that have been selected, cut and polished for use in engagement rings as a result of their durability and beauty.
GIA: An acronym that stands for the Gemological Institute of America. When it was established in 1931, GIA became the world’s first reliable resource on diamonds, colored stones and pearls. Now, it’s a leader of “knowledge, standards and education in gems and jewelry.” GIA is responsible for establishing the 4 C’s and the International Diamond Grading System, which is still considered the industry standard for evaluating diamond quality.
Girdle: A thin border around the widest part of a diamond. It divides the crown (aka top part of the diamond) from the pavilion (aka V-shaped, bottom portion of the diamond) and can be polished or unpolished.
Girdle Reflection: At quick glance, this looks like a white and feathery crack in a diamond, but it’s actually caused by the flat surfaces on the diamond’s pavilion (aka V-shaped, bottom portion of the diamond). The girdle reflection changes positions, depending on how you’re tilting your diamond, and its size relates to the thickness of the girdle.
Girdle Width: This is another way of saying thickness of a diamond’s border (aka girdle). The girdle width tends to fluctuate at different points around the stone, so it’s common to see a range indicating the thinnest and thickest parts. It’s important to note that girdle width can impact diamond weight and the positioning of surrounding facets (aka flat surfaces). For example, a thicker girdle can result in a heavier diamond, while a thinner girdle can pose a greater chipping risk.
Gold: A precious metal that comes in 10kt, 14kt and 18kt. In its natural form, pure gold is soft and often mixed with other metals — like silver, copper, platinum or palladium — to make it stronger. Yellow is gold’s natural color, but it becomes darker as it’s combined with other metals.
Gold Plated: An extremely thin layer of pure gold that coats a metal of lesser-value.
Grading: An international system created in the 1950s by the Gemological Institute of America that’s used to determine the overall quality of diamonds. Diamond professionals focus on four key areas: clarity, color, cut and carat weight (aka the 4 C’s). Each area is evaluated differently based on unique scales.
Halo: A circle of smaller diamonds/gemstones that surrounds a larger center stone in an engagement ring. This design complements many diamond shapes and often makes the center diamond or gemstone appear larger. Rings can be designed with multiple circles of diamonds.
Hardness: A measurement of a diamond/gemstone’s durability and resistance to scratching. This is often determined by the Mohs Hardness Scale. Diamonds score a perfect 10 on this scale.
Head: Section of an engagement ring that holds the center diamond/gemstone in place. There are several types of head styles, some of which feature prongs while others use metal to surround the stone.
Height: This term refers to the vertical distance of a diamond’s crown (aka top portion of the diamond), starting from the stone’s border and moving up to the top flat surface. The crown height factors into a diamond’s total depth.
HPHT: An acronym that stands for “High pressure, high temperature.” This is the primary process for growing diamonds in a laboratory. Conditions that formed natural diamonds below the Earth’s surface are recreated with high pressure and high temperatures. As a result, lab-grown diamond crystals develop. HPHT also refers to a treatment process that alters, enhances or removes color in diamonds.
Hue: Another term for diamond color. Color is rated on a 23-point scale that starts with “D” (colorless) and ends with “Z” (light yellow or brown). A colorless diamond lets more light pass through the stone and creates more sparkle. Differences between color grades may not be visible to the untrained eye, but they’re apparent in the diamond’s quality and price.
IGI: An acronym for the International Gemological Institute. With 18 laboratory locations worldwide, it’s the largest organization for grading finished jewelry, diamonds and gemstones. IGI is also a leader in education, offering 14 schools of gemology, where thousands of new jewelry professionals reportedly graduate every year.
Imperfection: Another term for clarity characteristics. Diamond imperfections typically fall under two categories: blemishes, imperfections on the outside of a diamond, and inclusions, imperfections found inside of a diamond. These can include abrasions, scratches, chips and feathers. The number, size, location, visibility and nature of the imperfections determine a diamond’s clarity.
Inclusion: An imperfection that developed when the diamond first formed and can be found inside of the stone. As one example, small crystals can sometimes become trapped inside of a diamond during its early stages of formation. As the crystals grow, there’s a chance they can develop irregularities in their atomic structure. Other examples include chips and feathers. These can alter the clarity of a diamond.
Karat: The industry standard measurement to indicate the weight and purity of gold. Karat is identified by “k” written after the piece of gold’s weight. Please note: This is different than a carat that indicates gemstone weight.
Kimberley Process: A trade organization established in 2003 that aims to prevent the sale of conflict diamonds within the global jewelry marketplace. Conflict diamonds or “blood diamonds” are stones that come from areas led by anti-government groups. These groups ultimately use the diamonds to fund military action against their governments. More than 80 countries are part of the Kimberley Process and guarantee that diamonds are mined in humane conditions. Nearly 100% of retail diamonds now come from conflict-free zones.
Knot: A type of diamond inclusion (aka imperfection on the inside of a diamond). A knot is a white or transparent crystal in a diamond that grows toward the surface after the cutting and polishing process.
Lab-Grown Diamond: Despite the name, this is a real diamond! It’s sustainably created in a laboratory and made of carbon, just like natural diamonds. HPHT and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) are two processes used to create lab-grown diamonds. These stones have the same look, durability and sparkle as natural diamonds. Only trained gemologists and sophisticated equipment can tell the difference. Learn more about lab grown diamonds.
Loupe: A small, handheld magnifying lens that trained gemologists use to examine diamonds and other gemstones for imperfections and overall quality. The magnification levels on loupes might fluctuate, but 10x magnification is often considered to be the industry standard.
Marquise Cut: This diamond cut features an elongated shape, pointed corners and a large surface area. These characteristics create more brilliance and make the stone look bigger than its actual size.
Metal: Material that makes up an engagement ring band. Various types of metal can be chosen for the band, such as gold, white gold, tungsten, cobalt, platinum and palladium.
Milgrain: Also referred to as beading, this is a decoration typically seen on antique or vintage-inspired rings. Milgrain is often used as a border and looks like little beads of metal that are closely set in a row.
Mohs Hardness Scale: This scale, invented by geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812, ranks the durability of diamonds, gemstones and other minerals. This is determined by the ability of a harder stone to scratch a softer stone. Diamonds score a perfect 10, making them extremely durable gems.
Moissanite: An alternative option to diamonds (aka diamond simulant) that’s also created in a laboratory. This stone is made from the rare mineral, silicon carbide, which was discovered more than 120 years ago in a meteorite crater. Moissanite is highly durable, brilliant and looks similar to diamonds. However, it doesn’t follow the same diamond grading system.
Natural Diamond: A precious and one-of-a-kind stone, as it was formed billions of years ago between 90 and 120 miles below the Earth’s surface. Only about 30% of diamonds mined across the world qualify to become gems. Natural diamonds are also extremely durable, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Needle: A type of diamond inclusion (aka imperfection inside of a diamond). This term refers to a narrow, elongated crystal in a diamond that appears as a tiny rod at 10x magnification.
Onyx: This is typically known as the black gemstone. Onyx is a member of the quartz family and can often be found with few imperfections. During the late 1800s, it was a popular gem, especially for those in mourning. In addition to black, onyx is available in a variety of colors. In fact, sardonyx (a form of onyx with white, red, brown or yellow tones) is the traditional August birthstone. Onyx is also durable and scratch-resistant, scoring a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Oval Shape: A fancy cut diamond with an elongated shape, creating the appearance of a larger diamond. Oval-shaped stones are available in a variety of widths, from slim to wide.
Palladium: A precious metal with a grayish-white tone that’s part of the platinum family. It’s extremely durable and resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making it a great choice for everyday wear. Palladium is also hypoallergenic.
Pave: A setting where the engagement ring band looks as though it’s paved with small round cut diamonds. Small prongs or tiny metal beads hold the stones close together to prevent metal from showing between the diamonds.
Pavilion: The V-shaped, bottom portion of a diamond.
Pavilion Angle: The measured angle between the main flat surface of the V-shaped, bottom portion of a diamond and the top flat surface (aka table). This angle can impact the stone’s appearance when being viewed face-up. Experts say a pavilion angle between 37.4 and 44 degrees is ideal for a brighter stone.
Pavilion Depth: A measurement indicating the vertical distance from a diamond’s border (aka girdle) to the bottom, pointed tip. Pavilion depth is expressed as a percentage and factors into a diamond’s total depth.
Pearl: A precious gem that represents beauty and purity. Pearls are created by mollusks, such as oysters and mussels, and they can be found in bodies of freshwater and saltwater. Natural pearls exist, but they’re extremely rare and therefore pricey. Instead, there are alternative options, like cultured pearls (where a pearl farmer usually intervenes to start the growing process) and imitation pearls (typically a coated glass bead). An ideal pearl should be smooth and free of scratches. Pearls also come in several shapes, such as round, oval and pear.
Peridot: A green-colored gem that comes from the magnesium-rich mineral, olivine. Peridot is the modern August birthstone and could serve as a gift for 15th wedding anniversaries. This stone gets its iconic green color from iron, which is an essential part of peridot’s composition. Peridots are nearly as durable as quartz gems, ranging from 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Round and emerald-shaped peridots are most common, but you can also find them in oval, pear, cushion, triangular and marquise shapes.
Pinpoint: A type of diamond inclusion (aka imperfection inside of a diamond). This term refers to a tiny crystal that appears as a microscopic dot under 10x magnification.
Platinum: A precious metal that’s one of the strongest and most durable in the jewelry industry. It boasts a silvery-white color, as it’s a 95% pure white metal. Platinum is low maintenance as well as hypoallergenic, and it isn’t likely to fade or tarnish.
Plot: Also referred to as a diamond certificate, a plot is a map that closely resembles the shape of your chosen diamond and shows how the facets/flat surfaces are arranged and where blemishes (aka outer imperfections) and inclusions (aka inner imperfections) are located.
Point: A unit of measurement that serves as an alternate way to describe a diamond’s carat weight. Carats can be divided into points, where one carat represents 100 points and one-half of a carat represents 50 points.
Polish: A term that describes the smoothness of a diamond. A polishing wheel is often used to polish all finished diamonds.
Precious Metals: These are rare and valuable metals as a result of various factors, particularly scarcity. Variations of gold (white, yellow and rose) and platinum are the most common precious metals used in everyday jewelry.
Princess Cut: Another name for a square or rectangular-shaped cut diamond. The princess cut is the second most popular diamond shape, following the classic round cut. This look features the step cut of an emerald cut diamond and triangular facets (aka flat surfaces) of a round cut.
Prong: A metal tip, claw, bead or arm that holds a diamond/gemstone in place. The prong setting is most common for solitaire engagement rings, as its design allows the greatest amount of light to enter the diamond from all angles. While prong shapes could vary, three to eight prongs are typically used to secure a single diamond.
Proportions: This term refers to a diamond’s key measurements: ratio and size of the stone’s depth, width and table (aka top flat surface). Table dimensions and depth percentage specifically play an important role in the overall look of a stone. With excellent proportions, a diamond reflects light well and has plenty of brilliance and fire. But if a diamond is disproportionate, it will look dull and lifeless.
Radiant Cut: A square or rectangular-shaped diamond that features minimal curved edges. It combines the step cuts in an emerald cut diamond and triangular facets (aka flat surfaces) in a brilliant cut stone.
Refraction: When white light changes direction as it passes through a diamond or gemstone. This is caused by the stone’s internal angles. As light exits the diamond, it separates into different color wavelengths and exits through the table (aka top flat surface).
Ring Enhancer: Also referred to as a ring guard, this creative ring is meant to be worn with a solitaire ring to enhance the look with additional detail and gemstones. Together, both rings appear to be part of the same, cohesive design. Ring enhancers also serve as a buffer to keep the ring firmly in place and minimize bumps against everyday surfaces.
Rough: This term is used to describe diamonds/gemstones in their natural state, before they’re cut and polished.
Round Cut: This style is the most popular choice for an engagement ring. As the name suggests, it features a circular center stone with nearly 60 facets (aka flat surfaces).
Ruby: A beautiful red gemstone that’s said to be one of the rarest among popular colored gemstones, such as sapphires and emeralds. Ruby is part of the corundum family, a mineral that’s actually colorless in its natural form. Variations of color arise when certain elements become part of a ruby’s crystals during the growth process. Its deep red color is a result of chromium in the stone. The more chromium that’s present, the deeper the color. Ruby is the July birthstone and the official stone for celebrating 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. These stones are also incredibly durable, scoring a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, just below diamonds.
Sapphire: As the September birthstone, sapphire is a precious gemstone that’s also part of the corundum family, just like rubies. In fact, sapphires and rubies share a lot of the same chemical makeup. When the mineral corundum is red, it’s called a ruby. When it’s another color, it’s often referred to as a sapphire. Sapphire is typically a blue gem, but it’s also available in a wide range of colors, such as pink, orange, yellow, green and purple.
Scallop: When shared metal prongs in the engagement ring band form a scallop/U-shape to hold the diamonds in place. You can see this shape when viewing the ring from its side.
Scintillation: A term gemologists use to describe flashes of lighter and darker colors that can be seen whenever a diamond moves under lighting. This is caused by light reflecting off of the diamond’s facets (aka flat surfaces).
Setting: A term that refers to the way that diamonds/gemstones are placed in a metal ring band.
Shank: This is simply another term for the engagement ring band (aka the part that encircles your finger).
Shape: The outline of a diamond when it’s viewed from above. A round diamond is the most common shape, but diamonds/gemstones come in several shapes, including oval, pear and princess. Please note: This term is different than a diamond’s cut, which refers to the proportions and how the stone’s flat surfaces and angles are cut and polished.
Shared Prong: When a prong/metal tip is used to secure two diamonds vs. one. In this type of setting, multiple stones are lined up next to each other, showcasing the full diamond/gemstone.
Shoulders: The slanting sides of an engagement ring that connect the ring band with the head (aka section that holds the center diamond/gemstone in place). You’ll often see the shoulders of a ring decorated with additional accent/smaller diamonds for an extra layer of beauty.
Side Stones: Smaller diamonds or gemstones that are placed on either side of the center stone. Side stones often make the center diamond appear larger. A three-stone ring is one example of an engagement ring with side stones.
Silver: A precious metal that’s typically used to make jewelry. It’s a fairly soft and shiny metal that tends to tarnish slowly. In its natural form, silver is too soft to be used in jewelry, so it’s often mixed with other metals for additional strength and durability. Different types of silver are also available, such as fine silver and sterling silver.
Size: This term refers to the circumference of an engagement ring band. Rings come in a range of sizes, from 14.8 millimeters to 22.8 millimeters, to comfortably fit your future spouse’s finger. To find your finger size, wrap a piece of string around your finger, close to your knuckle. With a pen, mark where the string overlaps with its end. Then, measure the string against a ruler to determine the millimeter length.
Solitaire: Also known as the “prong” setting, the solitaire setting is the most classic engagement ring style and complements the most diamond shapes. Three to eight prongs/claws hold a single diamond or gemstone in place, allowing for maximum light exposure and sparkle. Solitaire rings are easy to maintain and will never go out of style.
Sparkle: Another term for scintillation. When a diamond sparkles, flashes of lighter and darker colors can be seen as the stone moves under lighting. This is caused by light reflecting off of the diamond’s facets (aka flat surfaces).
Split Shank: An engagement ring style where the band separates into two pieces to perfectly hug the center stone — creating symmetry, character and sophistication. With this secure design, split shanks can hold just about any diamond shape and can be designed with various elements.
Stacked Set: Multiple rings worn on the same finger to create a stacked/sandwiched look. As an example, the engagement ring, wedding ring and additional rings could make a stacked set.
Step Cut: Diamonds/gemstones, such as the emerald and asscher cuts, that have square or rectangular outlines. The stone’s facets (aka flat surfaces) also create straight lines and are arranged parallel to the girdle (aka the stone’s border).
Straight: Essentially a solitaire ring with small accents around the center stone. The added side stones enhance the ring’s sparkle and draw your eye to the center stone.
Surface Prong: Unlike a shared prong that holds multiple diamonds in place, a surface prong is a metal tip that secures a single diamond/gemstone. It’s the most common ring setting, and prongs come in various shapes, including round, flat, pointed and V-shaped.
Synthetic: A material or mineral that’s manufactured to imitate a natural product, such as diamonds. One example of a synthetic diamond is moissanite, which looks identical to diamonds but isn’t made of carbon. Please note: Although lab-grown diamonds are created in a laboratory, they’re made of carbon and therefore real diamonds!
Table: The top flat surface (aka facet) of a diamond or gemstone. It’s also the stone’s largest facet.
Tanzanite: A beautiful blue, violet and purple gemstone that reflects three colors, depending on the viewing angle. Tanzanite is found in just one place: near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was named after the country once discovered there in 1967. Most tanzanite stones receive heat treatments to maximize the blue and violet shades and remove/reduce any yellow, green or brown tones. Along with turquoise and blue topaz, tanzanite is a December birthstone and the official gemstone for celebrating a 24th wedding anniversary.
Three-Stone Ring: As the name suggests, the three-stone setting highlights three stones: a larger, center diamond/gemstone and smaller stones on both sides. Each stone represents the past, present and future — a symbol of the journey that you and your partner are about to take.
Tourmaline: A gemstone that features one of the widest color ranges, and it’s the only common mineral that features three-sided prisms. Hints of iron and possibly titanium could be responsible for producing green and blue colors, while manganese is responsible for red, pink and possibly yellow shades. In addition to opal, tourmaline is the October birthstone and the official gem for celebrating an 8th wedding anniversary.
Treatment: Often referred to as an “enhancement,” this is any procedure that improves the color and/or clarity of a diamond. One example is the HPHT (“High pressure, high temperature”) treatment that permanently alters, enhances or removes color in diamonds. If a stone receives a treatment, it should be referenced in the diamond grading report.
Tungsten: A metal that has become an extremely popular choice for men’s wedding bands. It’s the heaviest metal used in jewelry, tarnish resistant and a beautiful choice for active lifestyles. In its natural form, tungsten can’t be used in jewelry and therefore must be mixed with other materials, such as carbon, nickel and cobalt, to make it more durable and malleable. Tungsten also scores a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making it a very durable and scratch-resistant metal.
Vintage: Similar to an antique ring, this ring design is influenced by a classic-style engagement ring that was created before the early 20th century. Some features of vintage rings could include beading, milgrain, engraving, scallop work and pave diamonds.
Wedding Ring: A ring that each spouse receives when they exchange vows during the wedding ceremony. Unlike a fancy engagement ring, a wedding ring is typically a plain metal band or a diamond-studded eternity band. Wedding rings are often worn on the left ring finger and inside of the engagement ring. That way, it’s closer to your heart.
Width: Another term for the diameter of a diamond. In a round cut diamond, width indicates the distance from one edge of the stone’s border (aka girdle) to the opposite edge. Since diamonds aren’t perfectly shaped, the width is often measured in multiple places to get the smallest and largest measurements.
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