Tips and Tricks

From Quality to Design: The Perfect 3 Carat Oval Diamond Engagement Ring

In the world of diamonds, oval is one of our most popular silhouettes as an engagement ring choice… and for good reason too! This is a timeless shape that feels feminine and romantic, and at 3 carats, this diamond will be a true beast of a show-stopper. To really know which diamond you want to buy, it’s important to understand how diamond quality works - cue the 4C’s! I will break down each of these essentials, we’ll touch on some basic design ideas to help complete the perfect engagement ring, and plus I’ll explain why the oval is such a fantastic ring shape. I am genuinely a big fan of the oval diamond and if you aren’t an enthusiast yourself already, I think you’re about to be!

The 4C’s

Any time we talk about diamonds, whether we’re buying or just curious about good quality, the 4C’s will always, always come up. These basic factors are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. It is important because they are literally our fundamental guidelines to how all diamonds are graded… and ultimately, how each diamond is priced (which is actually quite convenient considering not long ago there were no grading scales at all). So just having a basic understanding of how a diamond’s quality is established will help in the process of finding the perfect stone for you.

Cut

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The cut of the diamond is often confused with the shape of the diamond, but they are totally different! The cut grade is based on how well the diamond was cut from its raw, natural, rough form into the sparkly faceted end version we see in jewelry. The standard round brilliant diamond is unique in that they have exact percentages and angles to be cut into. This was the culmination of modern diamond cutting techniques (and lots of research) that led to our ability to have a high standard that is repeatable in maximizing everything we love about our diamonds (brightness, sparkle, symmetry, etc.).

Oval cuts, and other fancy shapes in general, aren’t graded by the same standardized percentages or angles but instead are mostly judged by their visual appearance. The important elements of a beautifully cut oval are the length to width ratio, pleasing overall symmetry, and the bow-tie effect. For the bow-tie effect specifically, if the oval is cut too deep a black “bow-tie” looking shadow will occur across the face of the diamond. Sometimes the bow-tie is minor and sometimes it is extremely obvious, but in general, it can be pretty distracting. Essentially, having a well cut oval stone means that it is symmetrical, and that light can interact with the diamond and reflect back fully and properly without weird optical effects.

Comparison between an oval with a strong bow tie (left) and one without (right)

Color

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The grading scale for colorless diamonds is actually pretty simple… almost all diamonds have some kind of yellow or brown tint to them and so our color scale tells how visible that tint is. The scale ranges from D-Z, with D-E-F being our colorless and Y-Z being our most saturated in color. After the Y-Z grade, our diamonds become saturated enough with color that they become fancy colored diamonds- which is a whooooole different world all together. True colorless and fancy colored diamonds are rare, which means they are more valuable, and thus, more expensive (but especially the fancy colored diamonds).

The truth is most of us won’t be able to see the color in a diamond until the K to L grade anyways… which means anything above it would basically appear colorless. To have a truly colorless diamond is a total flex, but also not a necessity.

Clarity

A chart showing the different clarity grades for a diamond FL - I3

The clarity of the diamond is important because it’s massively influential to the pricing of a diamond. And just like with a colorless stone (or maybe even more so) a Flawless diamond is extremely rare. Almost all diamonds have clarity characteristics, aka inclusions, and depending on certain details of these specific inclusions (size, shape, location, etc.), this is where we get our clarity grade. Our scale ranges from Flawless to I3… but I would never advise anyone to buy an I3 diamond, especially for an engagement ring (or an I2… or I1…). Anyways, knowing the basic layout of the clarity scale will be key in narrowing down exactly what you are looking for in your diamond!

The highest priced diamonds on the market will always be Flawless because they literally couldn’t be any more perfect (what a rough life huh). The sister of the Flawless diamond, and one step down on the scale, is the Internally Flawless diamond… which is basically just as good, but it also isn’t. An IF diamond might have a blemish, or two, but blemishes are confined to the outside- which means they have the potential to easily become a Flawless graded stone. Both of these are in a league of their own when it comes to clarity though.

Our VVS grades are where we begin to see our inclusions… and by “see” I mean microscopically, and actually pretty much invisible even then. These are another total flex move when picking the quality of a diamond. VVS graded stones will look flawless, no matter how large the diamond itself might be.

VS diamonds have clarity characteristics that are slightly larger than VVS, but honestly, most of these inclusions are still ridiculously impossible to see without magnification. These stones are a great option for an eye-clean diamond as well.

Moving into the SI range is where the best value is to be found. Some SI1 diamonds are eye-clean, and some have visible inclusions. So! If you find an SI1 without eye visible clarity characteristics, then you are paying SI prices for an eye-clean diamond! …which sounds like an obvious win to me.

An I grade diamond will most definitely show visible inclusions, and some gems might even have durability concerns. I truly love all diamonds, but it really isn’t worth the money to invest in an I grade diamond for a ring that is worn every day for life.

Carat Weight

A carat is how we measure the actual weight of our diamond. One carat = .200 grams. Since we have already picked the size of a dazzling 3 carats, we already know the carat weight of our stone! The larger the stone, the rarer it is, and a 3 carat diamond is definitely on the rarer side. By the way, if you happen to be asking yourself (and me) if 3 carats is too big- I say definitely not! ...then again, I don’t know if a diamond could ever be too big (but that’s just me).

Also, I should note that choosing a size right under 3 carats, perhaps a 2.8 or similar can have a noticeable price difference because it isn’t the “magic” 3.00 carat weight, but the diamond really looks almost identical in size on the finger (just saying).

Ring Design

Besides the shape and actual gemstone selection (we picked an oval diamond), the true influence of the essential design of an engagement ring is the setting and the band style. The setting is basically what we recognize when we look at a ring (what holds the diamond), while the band style is the metal and design of the actual band. Both different, but both integral, parts of basic ring design.

Prong Setting

4 prong white metal solitaire round diamond ring

When it comes to setting options, we have a billion possibilities. Yeah, that’s probably not actually true but we do have quite the selection. One of the most recognizable settings is the prong. Usually, we will see this with our solitaire diamond engagement rings, but the prong, in general, is a safe way to secure all gemstones in jewelry. Prongs look like little metal claws with 4 or 6 points, where the metal tips come up and over the diamond to hold it in place. These settings are great for allowing maximum brilliance since they allow light to reach most of the diamond! They are also awesome for any shape or sized diamond, which is convenient.

Occasionally, like twice a year would be ideal, the prongs do need to be checked to make sure they haven’t loosened… and sometimes a prong can snag on clothing… but otherwise the prong is a pretty reliable option as a setting.

Halo Setting

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Yes, as in THE halo, and yes, it technically is a setting. If you didn’t already know, the halo style is actually a design in which the main, center stone is surrounded by a “halo” of smaller accent diamonds. This is a hugely popular style that will forever be a popular style. Reasons people choose the halo are simple- because it increases the overall size and sparkle of the ring, it securely holds and protects your center stone, and the fact that there are tons of different design options is really great (so almost everyone can find a halo they like).

On the flip side, because the halo itself is comprised of much smaller diamonds, the chances of one falling out eventually is very possible. Plus, it can be challenging to clean the ring with such small crevices being created by such small stones.

Bezel Setting

A round diamond in a rose gold bezel set solitaire ring

The bezel is definitely up there in one of the most popular setting styles. This design has a diamond that is surrounded by a custom fit metal strip that snugly secures the stone. This is easily the most protective of all the settings because of the bumper like design. If you are an active person, or live an active lifestyle, this is a great practical choice for you!

A slight downside of a bezel setting is the fact that light can’t reach the entire diamond… which means the diamond won’t be as bright and sparkly as it would be in other settings.

There are so many more designs out there - three stone setting, tension setting, pave setting, channel setting, etc., (you get the picture)... Settings on settings on settings to choose from. The only way to know what you really like is to know what the options are. My suggestion is to do a little research before you make any final decisions because you never know what you might aesthetically connect with!

Band Materials

The metal choice probably isn’t super exciting to think about, but it is definitely important for a few reasons - some metals are more durable, it can emphasize the color (or lack of color) in a diamond, and some metals are a little costlier than others.

The most popular options are usually yellow, white, or rose golds, platinum, or sterling silver. Platinum and gold are definitely our top two, with platinum being excellent for durability and gold being our true classic choice.

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The important difference worth noting between using a white or a colored metal will be how it can influence the color of a diamond. If your diamond is colorless, a white metal will accent the diamond making it appear extra bright and white. If you chose a white metal for a yellowish tinted diamond, the white of the band will exaggerate the yellow of the diamond, slightly dulling the overall appearance. Alternatively, opting for a gold band with a yellow tinted diamond will create a warm and harmonious looking ring.

As far as pricing, sterling silver is our most affordable metal and platinum is our most expensive. Just remember you get what you pay for though and sterling silver may not make it through a lifetime of wear. But realistically this is just a personal preference call so don’t stress too much.

Why Choose an Oval Shape

An oval diamond is a split shank with pave set in white gold

Okay, I have a few good reasons for you on why oval shaped diamonds are awesome… First, and unsurprisingly my favorite reason, is that they look larger on the finger than a round diamond of the same weight. The oval shape just naturally happens to cover more surface area, which is convenient for those who like a bigger looking stone. Tell me that’s not the best reason to love an oval diamond??!

My next favorite thing about the oval shape is that it can be more affordable than our standard round diamond. This is because the round shape is by far the most popular, which makes it the highest in demand. High demand = higher prices… which is lame if you want a round diamond but amazing if you’d prefer an oval!

Less excitingly, but still worth a mention, the shape is unique and makes the finger appear slimmer. And for some, not having sharp corners that could snag or catch is also definitely an advantage.

The only real downside I can think of is that the oval can have that bow-tie effect I mentioned earlier if it isn’t cut very well. Just look straight down at the diamond though and if you don’t see a bow-tie, you are good to go!

When picking out an engagement ring it’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole of options. Somehow though you have managed to come to consider a 3 carat, oval diamond ring… which is such a great start. Seriously, regardless of final decisions on quality details and design choices, and I think this is literally a perfect ring that will be drool worthy no matter what.