How to choose an engagement ring? How much should I spend on an engagement ring? & other questions.
The quality of diamond engagement rings varies massively from shop to shop. To ensure you do not become the victim of an unscrupulous jeweller it is a good idea to ask a few questions when looking to buy a diamond engagement ring. So...which questions should you ask the jeweller when buying an engagement ring?
Q1) Is your white gold rhodium plated?
"Why ask this?" I hear you say. Well around 99% of jewellers plate their white gold with a metal called rhodium. It does not protect it, it is purely cosmetic & it makes it look much whiter. The jeweller will tell you that this plating lasts for at least a year & this is nonsense! It will wear quickly (around the back at first) & once this happens you will have a lifetime of maintenance at around £50 per rhodium. The confusing thing is that the true colour of white gold varies from shop to shop but sometimes it is very yellow (which I've always found odd as it's called "white gold"!). So when your partner hinted she likes white gold the chances are she has never seen its true colour! At RING jewellers we use superior alloys & do not plate our white gold because it is a beautiful colour in its natural, unplated form. We also offer Palladium as a metal option which is whiter than even our white gold. It basically looks the same as Platinum but costs less leaving more budget for the diamond. You can find out more about the different metals by clicking here: Guide to metals.
Q2) Are your diamonds GIA certificated?
This is the most important question by far when you are deciding where to buy an engagement ring! Less reputable jewellers offer diamonds with their 'opinion' of the diamonds grade & quality. This is usually an excuse to sell a low grade stone masquerading as a higher colour & clarity than it actually is. The GIA are the strictest independent diamond grading laboratory in the world. They even go to the extent of laser engraving a tiny serial number on the stone (invisible to the naked eye) so you know that diamond matches the laboratory report it is being sold with. If you buy a genuine GIA certificated diamond you can rest assured it is the carat, colour & clarity the shop is telling you it is. Warning signs Are jewellers saying things like "You don't want a GIA diamond they cost more". This is utter nonsense Diamonds are a commodity so the only way an ungraded stone would be cheaper is if the seller is lying about the grade. Otherwise it would be like selling a £10 note for £5. Other problems in more recent times are so called 'laboratories' opening in Hatton Garden & other places outside of London. When you look closely at the certificates it is basically a guy out the back of his shop with a laminating machine rather than a reputable laboratory steeped in history. You can find out more about GIA diamond grading by clicking here: GIA certificates.
Q3) Why is this diamond engagement ring in a 70% off sale?
As the old saying goes "If something seems to good to be true, then it probably is ". This has never been more apt than when asking yourself "How much does an engagement ring cost?". As mentioned above Diamonds are a commodity. Each month a trade list is generated which tells jewellers which weights & grades are rarer at that time & have risen the most steeply in price & which have remained stable (the retail value of diamonds can drop in price but this is rare over a long period). Bearing this in mind why would a rare, natural gemstone be hugely discounted. It is usually because the jeweller is not being honest about the grade of the diamond. The best advice is to shop around & go to independent jewellers. The high st chains have similar pricing structures but if you go to several independent jewellers then you should see a pattern of similar quotes forming which means that is probably about the right price.
Q4) How much should I spend on an engagement ring?
The answer to this commonly asked question is simple - what ever you are comfortable spending. No matter how much you love your partner she probably would not want you getting into huge debt when buying a diamond ring. Do you really want to buy on finance & be paying it off for years to come? Also, don't get obsessed with what ring her friend has. I think it would be far more special if you designed & commissioned a one-off, unique bespoke design with a slightly smaller diamond than to buy a huge rock in a setting that you see everywhere. At RING jewellers we do not charge extra for bespoke rings so by all means contact us for a quote. Many of my customers really pin me down for an average price of an engagement ring & what I say is the average would be misleading because we sell some very large & rare stones which bring up the average spend considerably. What may be more helpful if you really want to know is a common budget. At RING jewellers it is around £2000. I'm sure if you asked 2 other jewellers though 1 would say more & the other would say less!
Q5) How do I pick a design that will not date & go out of fashion?
The secret here is to keep it simple. The more unusual detailing there is on one ring the more chance there is the ring could date. I would say stick to the rule of 1 or 2. If you would like more than one colour of metal choose no more than 2 (i.e. Platinum & Rose gold or Yellow & white gold. The same goes for the diamond shape & cut. If you choose a square princess cut it can work really well with round, brilliant cut diamond shoulders but it is best not to introduce a 3rd & 4th shape of stone. The most popular diamond engagement ring designs are simple 4 claw solitaires & diamond halo rings (one large diamond with a ring of tiny round diamonds circling it).
Q6) Which grade of diamond should I choose?
As established in Q2) firstly ensure you are looking at GIA certificates diamonds then, once you have my advice would be the following:
COLOUR - This is graded from a perfect colourless 'D' colour right down the alphabet (gradually turning a yellow/brown colour) to 'Z'. Unless you are grading diamonds on a daily basis the general rule of thumb is people have trouble spotting even a slight yellow tint in any stone above an 'i' colour. In other words an 'H' colour is still a beautiful stone & by not going for a 'D' colour you can put more of your budget towards carat & clarity.
CLARITY - Diamonds are graded from a perfect 'Flawless' (IF) stone down to heavily included 'i3' stones. The important thing to consider is that if you are buying a diamond under 1.00ct you should only be able to spot inclusions with the naked eye in the bottom 3 inclusions. The only exception to this is Emerald & Baguette cut diamonds because their stepped facets make them a very unforgiving cut. So although there are 10 clarities you will need a jewellers loupe to spot the inclusions of the top 7!
CARAT - My advice would be to get quotes on several grades of diamond in several carat weights. This should enable you to choose between a very high grade smaller stone & a larger one at a slightly lower grade (but not too low!).
CUT - This can refer to the shape of the diamond (which is really a matter of personal taste) or how well it has been cut. On Diamond laboratory certificates you will see a grade for cut, polish & symmetry. All of these do have an impact on a Diamonds appearance & 'brilliance' but my advice would be go for good or above. If you obsess about sourcing an excellent cut polish & symmetry you may be compromising on far more noticeable factors like the diamonds colour.
You can find out more about Diamond grading by looking ate our guide here: Guide to Diamond grading.
You can take a look at some of our previous Diamond engagement ring commissions & stock designs that were made in our local Brighton workshops here: Diamond engagement rings. Or, if you are feeling brave & are thinking of choosing a more unusual design you can look here: Unusual Diamond engagement rings.
If you need any advice feel free to contact us by calling or using our online enquiry form.