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How to super-size your diamond without breaking the bank

How to super-size your diamond without breaking the bank

We all know size doesn't matter. Then again we all know that actually it does a bit. When it comes to diamonds, the wow factor is paramount and small diamonds just don’t have it. You never hear a celebrity boasting about their half-carat diamond ring do you?

Okay, so you don’t have an A-lister’s budget, but that’s no reason why you shouldn't aim high when it comes to diamond size. And believe it or not, it’s NOT about carat weight. The fact is, a 3-carat diamond costs much more than a 1-carat diamond – there’s simply no getting around that. But there are ways of…shall we say…creating the illusion of size and making the diamond you can afford look more like a diamond you clearly must have shoplifted. Intrigued? Read on to find out how…

Super-size the shape

Top secret diamond tip number one: some diamond shapes appear bigger than others. In particular, brilliant diamonds that have a long outline such as Oval, Pear or Marquise will look bigger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. It may just be an optical illusion but it works so use it!

Super-size the sparkle

Top secret diamond tip number two: the more sparkle a diamond has, the bigger it will look. All that light reflecting, shimmering and scintillating has a dazzling effect on the eye of the beholder so they can’t tell where the diamond ends and the sparkle begins. Result? A bigger looking diamond.

So, how do you get lots of sparkle? You look to the Four C’sCut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight. Carat weight is no use to us here but that still leaves us three lovely C’s to play with.

Cut 

A well-cut diamond reflects more light, so make this your primary focus. Choose a diamond with the best cut grade you can afford - ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ if you can. Don’t skimp on this – it’s that important.

Colour

As diamonds slip down the colour scale they start to look yellow. You want to avoid a yellow tint as it ‘closes’ your diamond up, making it appear smaller than it really is. Luckily, the difference from one colour grade to the next is very slight – anything above a ‘J’ will appear colourless to the naked eye.

Clarity

Inclusions and blemishes in a diamond aren't good for sparkle as they deflect or block light as it whizzes through the stone. But this really won’t be a problem unless the diamond you buy has lots of flaws. What you’re looking for here is clarity that’s good enough – namely, a clarity grade of VS2 or higher.

Super-size the setting

Top secret diamond tip number three: a poorly chosen setting is the biggest cause of DCDS – Dimensionally Challenged Diamond Syndrome. Many well-meaning shoppers spend oodles of time and money buying the perfect diamond only to obscure its size and beauty with an unsuitable setting.

A setting should complement the diamond, not overpower it, especially if you’re trying to make a diamond appear larger. I know I said ‘supersize the setting’ but really the key is to minimize the setting and emphasize the diamond. Namely…

Lower the contrast

Yellow gold settings contrast strongly with diamonds and so draw attention away from the stone. White gold, platinum or palladium settings blend with the white of the diamond to make it look larger. As a bonus, these silver-coloured metals also enhance clarity and sparkle.

Minimize fuss

A fancy setting competes with the diamond for attention so avoid elaborate metalwork or intricate patterns on the band. Opt for four-prong settings. Six-prong settings invade the diamond’s personal space, prevent light getting in and out and so reduce sparkle which is a big no-no.

Raise it up

High pronged settings raise the diamond up, making it really stand out. They also allow light to enter the diamond from more angles, so enhance sparkle. However, high set diamonds are prone to snagging and depending on your lifestyle may be susceptible to damage (rock climbers beware!) so think carefully whether this style of setting is right for you. If it isn't, forget it – it’s not a big deal.

Think thin

A wide band will make your diamond appear smaller whereas a narrow band will make your diamond appear larger. ‘Nuff said.

Surround it with friends

This is one area where a bigger setting is better. Halo or pavé settings encircle the central stone with lots of tiny little diamonds. This will make your diamond appear much bigger than it really is from a distance and even close up, it helps create a feeling of opulence and extravagance. However, an extravagant setting may turn out to be more expensive than buying a larger diamond so bear that in mind before you go mad with the pavé sprinkles.

Super-size the soap!

This one’s a bonus: a clean diamond is a sparkling diamond, so clean it well and clean it often!