From the outside, buying an engagement ring can seem difficult and worrisome. Each aspect of the ring – the design, the metal choice, the characteristics of the diamond – require close attention and need to fit within the budget set.
Like most purchases, we tend to immediately go online to learn about the basics of buying an engagement ring. We’ll read webpages, forums, reviews, watch videos on YouTube, and believe that this would be enough to make the right decision. While it may give us a basic understanding of some of the diamond and ring fundamentals, it’s not enough to determine ‘best value for your budget.’
So where should we begin?
Over the past few years, our clients have shared with us their journey. They shed light on what was most important to them and what they chose to do differently.
‘I asked a close friend to come with me when visiting the stores. Her point of view on the designs was excellent, and when she tried it on, I got a clear picture of what the ring would look like on my partner. It really helped narrow down my design choices.’
Visit a variety of jewellery stores – everyone from your local jeweller to the upmarket brands. Try to gather as much information on ring designs and the shape of the centre diamond as possible. Ask to view a variety of diamond shapes – round brilliants, ovals, emeralds, and cushions. Get a feel of the ring first hand, find the design that you think your partner would find most aesthetically pleasing.
Another important consideration would be the metal preference. Options include Platinum, 18kt Yellow Gold, 18kt Rose Gold, and 18kt White Gold. While you can read more about the options individually here, seeing them in person will always allow for better decision-making.
Once you are confident with the design, it’s important to set your budget.
Since the centre diamond is the most expensive part of the ring, we can alter its characteristics to fit within the budget set. Hence, why we focus on the ring design first and the budget second.
‘Knowing her, the proposal will be just as important as the ring. I’ve set aside a part of the budget to hire a photographer to capture it.’
While the engagement ring is pivotal, it’s important to keep in mind that other costs may have to be considered. Giving yourself time to understand how you’d like to propose will allow you to manage your costs better. Many jewellery companies, online and high street, offer low-interest and interest-free financing options to their clients. Having said that - It’s not about the ring, it’s about what the ring symbolises!
A diamond's price is directly correlated with the following 5 C's:
Cut · Colour · Clarity · Carat · Certificate
The cut of the diamond refers to its shape. There are ten to choose from - Round, Oval, Emerald, Cushion, Heart, Princess, Asscher, Pear, Radiant and Marquise. Traditionally, the Round Brilliant cut is the most popular because of its design versatility and its exceptional brilliance.
On the other hand, the other diamond shapes (collectively referred to as 'fancy shaped' diamonds) offer better value for money. Since most people opt for the round brilliant, the fancy shapes have a lower price per carat. Depending on the ring design you have in mind, this could be used to your advantage!
The colour of a diamond is graded on a letter-based scale ranging from 'D' to 'Z', where 'D' is the most transparent a diamond can be. Ideally, it's recommended to not go lower than a 'K' colour, as the diamond will start to appear yellow. As a rule of thumb:
D · E · F Superior Colour
G · H · I Value for Money Options
J · K Decent in Round Brilliants, Should be avoided in Fancy Shapes
A diamond’s clarity grade refers to the inclusions present in the diamond. Diamonds require the following to be formed - Carbon, Consistent Pressure, Consistent Temperature, and Time (Millions of Years). During the formation process, if there are even minor changes to any of the criteria, the diamond develops an inclusion – sometimes referred to as a ‘clarity characteristic.’ There are different types of inclusions, and depending on the number and the degree of visibility, grading bodies certify diamond clarity in the following manner:
Flawless · Internally Flawless · VVS1 · VVS2 · VS1 · VS2 · SI1 · SI2
Again, as a rule of thumb, if graded by an unbiased laboratory, diamonds ranging from 'Flawless' to 'VS1' will have no inclusions visible to the naked eye. Click here to read further on Diamond Clarity.
'The key is to focus on the measurements and not the carat weight of the diamond. I think if people took a moment to realise this, they would save a significant amount of money.'
Diamonds are priced based on a unit of measurements known as ‘carats.’ Despite what most people believe, the ‘carat’ of a diamond refers to its weight and not its actual measurements. In simple terms, ‘one carat’ is equal to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams.
Diamonds & Diamonds only recommends diamonds that are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It is the only unbiased and non-profit diamond laboratory that works for the betterment of the diamond industry as a whole. Their transparent business practices and consistent diamond grading has gained the respect and approval of insurance companies across the globe.
Whether you choose to purchase your engagement ring online or from a local jeweller, it's crucial that due diligence is done. Customer reviews on their after-sales service, number of years in business, their return policies, affiliations with industry bodies, and industry awards are always a positive sign. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The jewellery industry is one that is based on trust, and any reputable jeweller will have no trouble answering them.