An all-encompassing guide to making one of the most important purchase of your life
You have found the person you want to spend the result of your life with. You have an idea of how and where to propose. However, before you can plan any further you need to find the perfect engagement ring, one which your Significant Other (SO) will love and cherish forever. Shopping for an engagement ring may be a delightful and romantic experience for some, and some may not know where to start, this guide was created to help everyone in search an engagement ring for the once in a lifetime event.
Setting a budget may not be the first step when buying the perfect ring, however it is important to understand the options within your budget range. Whether you are after a simple, minimalistic ring for under £500 or that bespoke diamond ring for £5000, it is critical to understand and set realistic expectations of what is available at the different price ranges, as they can vary from hundreds to tens of thousands and above.
The Style, Colour and Shape
The style of the ring should mimic the style and personality of your fiancé-to-be. If they have previously described their perfect dream ring, it could be tricky territory to deviate from this. If not, think about whether they would prefer something classic, contemporary or bold. A traditional ring may be a yellow gold band with an elegant diamond. Contemporary; an elegant platinum band with an eye-catching rock. Bold; an engagement ring encrusted with diamonds all over. Having an idea of this is key and will dramatically help you locate that perfect ring.
Tip: When visiting a jewellery store, if you don’t have a clear vision of the type of engagement ring you are looking for, you can describe the personality of your significant other to the jeweller, to help ensure the ring matches their personality.
There are broadly 5 band colours to consider; silver, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and platinum. For a classic traditional ring, many would opt for a silver or yellow gold band. For something more contemporary, go with white gold or platinum. Rose gold is a recent trend, it can provide your SO something a bit different and stylistic. This is not to say the other bands are not stylistic, just that rose gold is very much the new kid on the block, whether the style lasts, only time will tell.
There are many different diamond shapes, some of the most popular shapes are:
Choosing the diamond is probably the most critical part, and there are two distinct categories you need to be aware of (i) Natural Dimond vs Lab Grown (ii) The 4 Cs.
A Natural Dimond, as the name suggests, are the traditional diamonds. They are sourced naturally and are extremely rare, which drives the price up and hence more expensive. When purchasing a natural diamond engagement ring, do take the time to ensure the diamonds are certified.
By contrast, a Lab Grown Diamond is one which is artificially produced in a lab. Whilst they are not natural, their completion is near identical to naturally occurring diamonds.
Tip: It is worth considering your budget at this point. Lab grown diamonds can be more than 40% cheaper than natural diamonds.
The 4 Cs
1. Cut – The Cut is the most important ‘C’ in our view, and should be front and centre of your requirement. The Cut describes the diamond’s symmetry, facets and proportions. An excellently cut diamond will accentuate the true beauty of the stone, a poorly cut diamond will be noticeable and generally will have less brilliance and reflectiveness. In short, a well cut diamond will give you that unique diamond sparkle, providing the perfect symmetry and brightness. When shopping around you will find that the cut of a diamond is usually categorised as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Naturally, the higher the category, the more eye-catching the sparkle will be.
2. Colour – This in our view is the second most important element when choosing your perfect diamond. It refers to how clear and white the diamond is. A diamond which is colourless is usually much rarer than one which leans towards “yellow” in appearance. If you are aiming for that perfect eye-catching sparkle, opt for a diamond closer to the “colourless” category.
3. Carat – The most well-known of the ‘C’s, and for most people, this identifies the size of the diamond. Although there is an element of truth in this, the carat size in fact explains the weight of the diamond. However, for simplicity it is easy to understand that a 0.5 carat diamond will be smaller than a 3 carat diamond.
Tip: There is little difference between carat sizes which are incredibly close to one another. For example, to the naked eye the difference between a 0.95 carat and 1 carat diamond may not be noticeable at all.
4. Clarity – This describes how clean the diamond is. The highest standard is Flawless and the clarity of a diamond can range all the way down to Imperfect (see graph below). It is worth bearing in mind that the clarity of a diamond is broadly determined based on a 10 x magnification and to the naked eye it would be fairly difficult to see the difference between a diamond which is flawless vs VVS1.
The Ring Size
Now that you have found that perfect ring, it is time to think about any intimate personal touches which you may like to add. This could be a special engraving on the inside of the ring; denoting the date of your proposal, a special nickname of your partner or a personal message. This part of the ring can be a little secret between you and your fiancé-to-be, so you can allow yourself to be as expressive and personal as you like.
If you are unsure of your partner’s ring size, ask your jeweller whether engravings would be impacted by potential re-sizing.
Tip: If a bespoke ring is being made, consider including your birthstone to the inside of your wedding band. This is a romantic way to say that part of you will always be with your partner (on their finger) for ever!