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The Gemstone and Jewellery Blog

World-Class Gemstone and Jewellery Stories

"Welcome to my blog, here is where I present to you the heart of the gemstone and jewellery trade and really boil it down to a level everyone can understand, appreciate and be inspired by this beautiful industry, art and lifestyle."

- Kai Channon

How to buy the perfect engagement ring

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Engagement rings can be a world of pain, what’s good? What’s bad? What will she love what will she hate, it’s a minefield of questions but hopefully I can take the sting out of buying her the perfect engagement ring and save you a few quid in the process!

Engagement rings, for those not in the know or have no idea what they are getting into can be a very intimidating buy, this is an engagement ring, you’re using it to declare your love for someone, getting married is a crucial moment in a relationship, so guys let me shed some light on the situation for you and help you out with some helpful tips and tricks that could bag you a ring she will love, at a price you will love even more.


How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

Getting off on the wrong foot, I know, but the price you pay for an engagement ring is completely up to you and what you are comfortable with. Later on I can talk about some minimum prices you can consider, but at the end of the day, its between you and your other half and how much the both of you are willing to splash! This is an important point to make as well, don’t go above and beyond on a ring because you know she’s worth it, because a lot of the time, I know women that have been given a pricey engagement ring and simply don’t wear it because they are too scared to have a ring worth that much sitting on their finger where it could get damage or lost, the amount of times I have seen a husband diving around in a swimming pool while on holiday, pinching some kids cheap snorkel and goggles from the corner shop to dive around the swimming pools filter and drain looking for a wedding ring his misses has accidentally had fall off her finger.

So this is up to you, it’s worth taking out your other half to look at a few weddings rings on the down low as a ‘what if’ window shopping spree and then take the feed back she is giving you to go out and buy a wedding ring you know is in the price range that wont make her panic every time she accidentally wacks it against a door or forgetting that it’s on her finger when she gets in the shower.

However...there are some tips that I can give you to use as a staple when going shopping for an engagement ring that I will cover now, so get comfy and whip out that pen and paper and start taking notes:


What style is she?

First of all, we need to discuss style, there are tones of engagement rings out there and the first hurdle we need to get over is what kind of engagement ring she will love, what’s her style, her taste , is she a modern and contemporary woman or is she more of a classic old fashioned sort of woman?

If you don’t know this by now, perhaps buying an engagement ring is not a good idea, but you should get an idea from your general surroundings, her taste in furniture etc. Is she into clean and sharp lines, a contemporary look, or is she more into a cosy hearth.

Her taste in style will determine the cut of diamond we are looking for. If she is into something more classic, you are looking for a round brilliant diamond, the most common cut of diamond for sure. If she is more into her contemporary styles, perhaps a triangle cut diamond , a shield or a baguette cut will be better for her. Then there is the question of one stone or multiple. This is where that little ‘what if’ window shopping trip plays in your favour because you can instantly get an idea what she is picking out from the huge selection that jewellery stores have to offer and funnel it down to some real winners.


What is the most important factor in buying a great engagement ring?

Okay, so we have an idea of what style she is wanting, the sort of cut, now let’s talk clarity. Clarity is the level of inclusion in the stone that mess around with it’s crisp look if you will, you can check more about clarity in our What makes the perfect diamond, the four Cs if you want to learn more. So here is the deal, you don’t want to buy your loved one a massive diamond ring, if it’s got a massive crack through the centre of the stone, it’s not going to look good. For me, even though they do fill a hole in the market , included diamonds always look tacky, cheap and nasty compared to what else is out there, nothing I think could ruin the moment more, when you show her that ring than a big ol’ crack going through it’s centre...and no, you cant get away with it and say “ But it’s a head turner” wrong type of head turner guys, you’re going to be sleeping on the sofa.

So, the best thing for you, I personally feel, is to buy a stone with a minimum clarity rating of VS2 or VS1 , VS1 or higher if you can! These diamonds , at this rating still have inclusions, however they can only be seen through a x10 microscope and in some cases, only a professional can spot the inclusions because they are so minimal. So , as long as you have this kind of rating, you can stop spending money on trying to get a higher clarity rating in a stone because trust me, unless you tell anyone, no one is going to know, and I think the last thing your partner is going to do is whip out a loupe at the dinner table as you propose, checking out her ring and give you a hard time.

The reason I say all this , you must understand, is that there are more noticeable factors that play into a diamonds price than clarity, when clarity gets to a certain point. Would you have a dirty looking diamond with a high clarity, or go for a diamond with a great colour rating that looks like glass with a few inclusions no one is going to notice without some kind of training behind them?


After clarity what comes next?

After clarity, making sure you have a stone that doesn’t look like it was attacked by a rogue belt sander, you are wanting to look for colour, now there is a few tips and tricks you can do to make a lower quality colour diamond look better than it actually is, more about that in just a second.

So colour in a diamond goes from a rating of D all the way to Z, Z being a very very noticeable yellow, brown or grey looking stone and D looking like glass and crisp. So as I said, sort out your clarity to a point you cant even notice the inclusions and then get onto the colour of the stone. Don’t feel like you have to go all the way up to a D either, to tell you the truth, even professionals cant tell a diamond is a D colour diamond unless they put it next to another D coloured diamond that has been certified as such. You can go all the way down to J or K and personally, to me they look just as good as D.

NOTE: If you are going for a high quality colour stone, make sure that the diamond is set in white gold or platinum. Even a perfect D flawless diamond looks yellow and horrible in a yellow gold setting because some of the yellow gold’s colour shows through into the diamond making it look lower quality which kinda defeats the point of spending all that cash...however, cheeky little tip guys, if the diamond you have an eye on is a little bit yellow in colour, have it set in yellow gold on purpose ( if she’s into having a gold ring that is ). Having a lower rating in colour and a tad of yellow in a stone can be a gift instead of a curse if it’s set in yellow gold, because instantly the yellow in the stone is countered by the yellow gold , making the stone look a higher quality in colour than it would outside of the fitting ( this is so effective, that almost all professionals outside of the major gemologist labs around the world cant accurately grade a stone if it’s in a setting because of these colour differences ). So again, if you are wanting to give her a stone that looks amazing, but cant quite make it to those higher grades of colour, don’t panic, get it set in yellow gold and no one will know!


Size, a pebble or a mountain?

Now we get onto carat, it’s not directly related to size, but to the average jewellery buyer, carat is seen as how big a gemstone is. Carat is actually the weight of a gemstone, however, sure, a 5ct stone is going to be smaller than a 15ct stone because that weight has to come from somewhere right?

When it comes to size, again, it depends on how much you are willing to spend on the ring. Though take note that carat can often be the most pricey aspect of a diamond. Thing is 90% roughly of all the diamonds that are mined each year are not of gemstone grade. This small rough is normally what we use in industrial processes like making a bench saw’s blade diamond tipped. I believe some sand papers also use diamond in them ( Though don’t quote that on me, I’m not a hardware DIY kinda guy. ) So in short, the larger the stone, the more rare it is, you don’t actually have to go far up from a carat or two to get into some deep pricey waters. Like I saw the other day, a single diamond necklace, good colour and clarity, not the best but it was great, clear to the naked eye , crisp and colourless but because it’s 5ct, this necklace was going for £150,000.

So yes, carat can make diamonds go a bit crazy in pricing, but here is a great way to get an amazing boulder on her finger, without needing to rob a bank in the process: The secret ...magic numbers, magic numbers are everything, .5ct , 1ct , 1.25ct , 1.5ct etc etc etc. These rounded numbers in carat weight shoot a diamonds price up tremendously because think about the prestige that comes with these whole numbers, .9ct isn’t quite like 1ct , it falls short ...however you cant really tell the difference between the two by the naked eye because it’s not really the top down look of a stone that’s most affected by carat, it’s more of a pavilion issue under the stone which is often hidden away in a setting. Another reason why these rounded numbers are so pricey is because demand is higher for them. You see, you might create this fantasy image in your head of picking out an engagement ring from a jewellery stores window , thinking that some craftsman, some artist has created this piece with their bare hands so that you can wear it and most importantly enjoy it , feel fantastic...when the reality is, engagement rings especially are mass produced on bulk all the time, but because the settings are all the same size from the mass-production process people have to pay a premium more times than not just because a stone is one of these magic numbers.

So here’s the trick...don’t get a diamond that’s a magic number, if you are looking to get a 1ct stone, get a .9ct stone, they looks exactly the same with the naked eye and you are looking at knocking off a total £500 roughly from the cost of the ring, more money you can spend on finding a stone with better colour or clarity , right? For extra brownie points, try and find a ring that is set into an illusion setting, this is a type of ring that has a setting which makes the gemstones in it look much larger than they really are, with a diamond it’s often a halo around the stone that mimics the same pattern as the facets which make the stone look the way it does, so from a distance you can make a 1ct stone looks like a three or four carat stone.


The take away

So if you were not taking notes through this, here is the summary. Guys, you cant really pin a price on an engagement ring, it’s got to be what you are comfortable spending for both you and your partner. The first thing you want to look into is clarity, pick a stone that’s at least VS1 or higher, maybe VS2 depending where the inclusions are in the stone. Once that’s sorted you can splash the rest of your dosh on other features like colour and carat. Make sure the ring you are buying is actually of your other half’s taste, not just your own because ,one, she’s got to live with it on her finger and you don’t want to open up the box and her to instead lose her mind over how gorgeous it is, pull her face into a grimace. Once the clarity, cut and colour are done, then focus on carat, once the other factors are perfect for what you want, then just try and get the biggest size possible ( depending on your partners taste of-course ). Remember , stay away from those magic numbers and save your money for a rainy day, think of it like this, a .9ct and a 1ct ring look exactly the same to the naked eye so you might as well save that extra £500 and spend that on the actual wedding, or another way to think about it, is that , that is one or even both of your plane tickets paid for in savings for the honeymoon! ( We’re not cheap ...we’re thrifty ). And of-course, extra brownie points for getting an illusion setting for the diamond on the ring.

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