5 Questions with... Elizabeth Paddock

Cartier's Bridal Specialist gives her expert tips on shopping for an engagement ring

The famed French jewelry company, Cartier was founded in 1847. Attracting royalty, celebrities and socialites for over 150 years, some of the world's most exquisite pieces of jewelry were created by the talented jewelers and watchmakers at Cartier. In 1895 the company created an engagement ring setting, Solitaire 1895, and over the years several other engagement ring settings followed: Ballerine, Declaration, Honeymoon and C de Cartier. We asked Elizabeth Paddock, Bridal Specialist at Cartier's flagship store in New York City for her expert tips on how to shop for an engagement ring. Here's her advice:

Most brides and grooms have heard about the 4 Cs (cut, clarity, color and cost), but what else should they look for in an engagement ring?

I would tell a couple to visit a reputable jeweler so you know you have quality on your hand. Once at the jeweler, be open-minded. Often a bride comes in with an image of what she thinks she wants and ends up changing her mind after trying on rings. The groom should pay attention to which ring makes the bride the most excited. You can tell just by how long the ring stays on her finger—she is falling in love with that ring.

The classic round or brilliant cut diamond has been around for over a century, which cut or cuts are making a comeback today?

For engagement rings, women love the princess cut, cushion cut and emerald cut. These are classics and never go out of style. A growing trend we've seen are brides requesting two wedding bands—one platinum band for casual wear, for the beach, the gym or travel, and a diamond band for a more formal look.

If you'd prefer a colored stone over a diamond, what should you pay attention to when shopping for one? Do the same 4 C's apply?

All diamonds are graded in the same way—through the four C's: cut, clarity, color, and carat. However, for colored rings, it is the color, not clarity, that is crucial for determining the value of the stone. Vivid colors will be more costly than pale hues, and quality stones will be evenly distributed in color.

Couples are becoming more aware of the term "blood diamond" or "conflict free diamond." How can they ensure that the diamond they are buying does not fall in to this category?

Couples should inquire into the jeweler's diamond purchasing policy. For example, at Cartier, all diamond purchases are subject to the conflict-free Statement of Warranty. Cartier requires the Statement for every invoice it receives in relation to diamonds and only deals with legitimate, reputable dealers.

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