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Tipsheet: A Design of One's Own

In the U.S., the average engagement ring weighs one carat and costs $2,600. That's hardly a diminutive diamond, but in New York, many brides want more. Sadly, financial concerns force a lot of women to settle for something slightly smaller (or less lustrous, or less beautifully set) than the diamond of their dreams. Our solution? Design it yourself. Having the ring made to your specifications can be a surprisingly wallet-friendly option, and you're virtually assured of getting the ring that you want. Enter Lockes Diamantaires (212-823-9511),a high-end retailer where you can make your engagement ring from scratch, whose diamond pros helped us come up with some tips to help you on your way.

Check the Stone's Origins.

Because their parent company is a Diamond Trading Company sightholder (the DTC is the mining arm of DeBeers), Lockes gets their diamonds from the same source as DeBeers. They're just as authentic and high-quality, without the labels' exorbitant markups. So don't worry about getting a shoddy stone-it's Tiffany's-grade, minus the admittedly covetable blue box.

Prioritize the C's.

Lots of variables determine the ring's value, and they're all on a sliding scale. Tweak the price by sliding clarity up or down, trying heavier and lighter carat weights, and so on, until you're both visually and economically comfortable with the result. Think about what's important to her: Does she want a massive rock? Then ask for one with a larger table. Two diamonds can have the exact same carat weight but the top-heavier one (the one with the larger table) looks much bigger. And always think creatively: Maybe there's a stone with an inclusion in it but it's in the corner and when set, it'll be tucked and hidden under the prong. If that doesn't bother you, get it. Most retailers do this on their own without telling the client and still charge the premium for it.

Bring Tear Sheets.

There's no copyright on a round diamond with side-baguettes; if the one you like happens to be from the Tiffany's catalogue, have a designer make something very similar. And if it's $50,000 over your budget, they'll find a less expensive centerstone but reproduce the setting. If there's an heirloom diamond in the family, you're in luck: One groom brought an old 2.5-carat stone to Lockes Diamantaires and ended up with a ring worth well into the five figures-and only paid $5,000 for the setting

From the Fall 2005 New York Wedding Guide


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