This guide is for anyone embarking on the search for the ideal engagement ring, before they get down on one knee to ask for your hand in marriage. Unless of course, your partner has already popped the question and you have, with squeals of delight, said ‘Yes’. Not only are you over the moon to be engaged to your beloved, but it is time for a bit of engagement ring shopping.
You may feel overwhelmed with the choice of beautiful rings in the market place and I don’t blame you, but hopefully this guide will help you demystify the array of options and create a clear path to finding that perfect engagement ring.
Firstly Step one, and the least romantic step, set yourself a budget. Historically, an engagement ring is supposed to cost between 1 to 2 month’s salary, but realistically it is totally up to you what you would like to spend and what you can afford. It is a big investment, not only in your future, but also for a single item of jewellery, so take your time in deciding what you can comfortably pay out.
Onto Step two – Style is an important factor in buying the right ring. With the fashion world dictating colour and trends, this also affects Jewellery and highlights the ‘must have’ engagement ring style of the moment. A word of warning here – this ring is going to be worn for many years and will outlive the latest trends, so although a particular ring may look ‘on trend’ now, it might not do in 10 years time.
Know your style – if you are buying the ring together, then this is not a problem, as you will know what type of jewellery and rings you like wearing and you have probably created a Pinterest board of your ideal designs. If you are an intrepid fiancé boldly going solo and selecting the ring on your own, then do your homework. Have a look at the style of jewellery your partner wears, do they make a statement with striking pieces of jewellery or is their style more delicate? Do they like a vintage styling or have they got a classic edge? If you have the chance, ask their friends what they think? It is more than likely they have had a conversation with your beloved about the engagement ring they would love to be given!
Other areas to take into consideration are the size of fingers and hands – of course the ring has to fit, but this is more about proportion of the ring to the finger. If you have small hands, is a large rock going to suit your finger? What if you have long elegant fingers – is a small dainty diamond ring going to be lost on your hand?
Now Step three – Time to start taking a serious look – You will need to decide if you are going to select simply Diamonds alone or add a bit of colour with maybe an Emerald, Sapphire or any of the other pretty coloured gems that are available. Whatever your choice is, this is where your budget plays a huge part! Whether it is a single diamond solitaire, three diamonds in a row or a cluster of diamonds with a central coloured stone, the parameters of style, quality and price are huge.
A few facts – You may have heard of the four C’s when reading about diamond jewellery – these are the attributes used to grade diamonds – Carat, Clarity, Cut, and Colour.
Diamonds are measured in Carat’s – One carat is defined as 200 milligrams. As you can imagine, with such a lot of rough Diamond wastage, larger cut Diamonds are both rarer and more desirable, so the price per carat increases with carat weight.
Clarity measures of internal defects of a diamond called inclusions. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy. Clarity has its own measurement scale, starting with the very best, Flawless and reducing on a sliding scale, VS – Very Slight inclusions, SI – Slight Inclusions, I – Inclusions – the fewer inclusions a Diamond has, the more valuable it is.
You may think that all Diamonds are a clear, colourless stone, but this is not the case. The most popular Diamonds are called ‘White’ Diamonds and as part of the GIA’s grading, these stones come in different tones of white labelled with letters, from “D” to “Z”, D being “colourless” and Z having a bright yellow hue.
The cut of a Diamond signifies the shape, whether it is round, square or oval. The modern brilliant cut Diamond was developed in 1919, creating a round stone that has 57 facets – polished faces, and produces the best reflective attributes when viewed from above. Typically a round brilliant 1.0 carat diamond should have a diameter of about 6.5 mm. Of course, there are many other cuts of Diamonds and these are known as ‘Fancy Cuts’.
Want to know more about Diamond cuts? Keep an eye out for the next blog post which will guide you through all the most popular diamond cuts.
Coloured gems are graded in a similar way to diamonds, weighted by carats, checked for inclusions, and available in all the regular shapes. When it comes to colour, this is where it differs – the colour of a coloured gemstone is based on the Hue, Saturation and Tone of the colour in each stone and ultimately comes down to personal preference – you may prefer a lighter shade, when the dark version is classed as the more desirable and valuable stone.
Time for Step four – The type of setting you choose is very much related to your style and design choice, but also worth considering your lifestyle. If you want to wear your engagement ring all the time, do you really want to be worried about catching the claws of the setting while going about your daily routine? Do you have a job that will affect the type of ring you wear? There are many different types of setting including claw set, rub-over, tension setting, plus many more. They all have their own characteristics like a setting sitting high above the finger or nestled low and flush along the band of the ring.
Then you have other decisions to make with regards to the overall design of your engagement ring. Are you going to have just a single stone with plain shoulders or maybe you would like extra stones set in the shoulders or a decorative pattern? (‘Shoulders’ is the terms used for the area either side of the central stone on the band of the ring). A three stone ring or cluster might be an option, using all diamonds or adding that touch of colour in the centre or either side.
Your penultimate step – Step 5 – Metal choice, this is where your budget play a role again. Do you wear yellow or white coloured metal? If it is yellow, then you will be offered a choice of 9ct or 18ct yellow gold, 18ct being the more expensive of the two. Gold is available in yellow and white colours as well as the increasingly popular rose colouring. One small point to note is white gold, in its raw state, still has a yellow hue due to the way it is made and generally is plated with Rhodium to give it its silver-like look. The other metal choice is Platinum, the most expensive of the precious metals and has a slightly greyer, steely-like colour, plus being very hard wearing.
Finally, Step 6 – Decision time! Ultimately, you want to choose a ring that you love wearing, that suits your style, hand, lifestyle and your budget of course! Once you have made your choice, next on the agenda is a wedding band – but this is for another time and blog post!