Tips on How to Buy an Engagement Ring
Pay attention if you plan to buy a diamond engagement ring this year. You are not only about to spend a significant portion of your annual income, more importantly, you are about to buy an item of jewellery for the single most important person in your life!
So just what are the most important things that you need to keep in mind when purchasing a diamond engagement ring? Remember that an engagement ring is composed of two important parts – "the setting" and the "stone". Choose a setting your fiancée-to-be will love and devote the rest of your time and budget to choosing a diamond that is both beautiful, good value and independently certified.
Invest in Quality not Quantity!
When deciding on the budget, The most important thing to remember is that you should invest in quality not quantity. An engagement ring should last for decades as a permanent reminder of the most important decision of your life. So invest in the finest quality setting that you can. Most people make the mistake of spending virtually their entire budget on the largest diamond they can afford with little thought about the setting itself. Remember, the setting is the frame for showing off and protecting your investment so don't underestimate it's importance. As a general rule, your overall budget should be roughly two or three month’s salary for a bespoke diamond ring.
Geology of Diamonds
Diamonds are as old as the Earth, between 1-3 BILLION years old in fact. Diamonds are made of virtually pure carbon that has been crystallised under extreme temperature and pressure deep within the Earth's core. Due to their unique atom structure they are the hardest known natural substance ever discovered. Brought to the Earth's surface during violent volcanic activity within hot molten magma. When volcanoes cool and die the rough diamond crystals are left behind in layers of gravel known as kimberlite, which is later mined.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
This is an extremely rare natural process and because of this, diamond mines can only be found in very few locations around the world. Once mined, rough diamonds are shipped to the world's cutting centres in Antwerp, Israel and Mumbai to be cut and polished before being set into fine jewellery. It is the hardness and unique light dispersing properties of a diamond that make them a girl's best friend!
History of Engagement Ring
You may be curious to know where the history of engagement rings actually began. Legend has it that it was a lovestruck Austrian called Archduke Maximilian back in 1477, that came up with the idea of giving a ring set with a diamond to Mary of Burgundy to celebrate their imminent engagement. Believing the ancient Egyptian legend that a vein led straight to the heart, he placed the ring on the third finger of her left hand. So now you know! But it's called history for a reason and in the name of progress feel free to place the ring on any finger you want!
The FOUR Cs
Now that you know the reason why you are buying a diamond engagement ring you can do some research to educate yourself on the diamond Four Cs - cut, colour, clarity and carat. All of these factors should be considered in combination when comparing diamonds, but when purchasing diamonds it is important to know that the overall beauty of the stone is influenced first and foremost by the diamond-cutter (the other characteristics are determined by nature alone).
Of each of the 4Cs it is the quality of the diamond cut (or “Make” as it’s known in the trade) where the diamond-cutter genuinely expresses his skill. Contrary to what some diamond merchants would like you to believe, every single diamond is unique and prices can vary wildly (even if they appear identical on paper) which is why a diamond should always be selected according to the quality of "Make" rather than simply its certificate. As they in trade Buy the Diamond, Not the Cert!
Diamonds occur naturally in all spectral colours, from red to blue. However, the most commonly occurring colours are yellow and brown. The amount of colour a diamond possesses corresponds to an alphabetical scale beginning with D and ending with Z (the originators of the system began with D in case a whiter diamond was ever found!)
Most clients are unnecessarily fixated with diamond clarity. If you were to look into most diamonds with a jeweller's loupe you will most likely see some small imperfections known as "inclusions", They may look like small clouds or feathers but most will be invisible to the naked eye. Inclusions can affect the diamond's brilliance and fire but they also make your diamond completely unique, like natures own fingerprint. They shouldn't always be seen as a fault, and unless you can see it with naked eye, why worry about it? As long as the stone is graded at least SI1 (Slightly Included) or better (which means its clean to the naked eye), you should be fine.
The weight of a diamond, as with all gemstones, is expressed in carats. The word Carat is derived from the Greek word for the Carob tree. Ancient merchants discovered that the seeds were always uniform in weight and used them for weighing pearls, diamonds and other precious stones. A carat can be is divided into 100 points, so a 1/2 carat stone equates to 50 points, a 1/4 carat diamond 25 points and so on. Very small stones, such as those used in channel and micropave settings are collectively known as melee. The significance of a diamond's weight, like the other quality grades, is a question of rarity. Out of 250 tons of diamond-bearing ore only a single one-carat diamond of gem quality may be found!
Any reputable jeweller should know about the diamond four Cs and should also be prepared to talk you through them all especially when you are viewing diamonds. When purchasing a Daniel Prince diamond over 1/4 carat it will have already been certificated, assessed, graded and laser-inscribed by an independent gemmological laboratory. The certificate is important, as not all gem labs are universally recognised. The most internationally recognised are GIA and HRD. The price for a independent grading of a diamond will vary depending upon the carat of the diamond, but this will usually be included in the cost of the diamond anyway.
Diamonds are sometime treated to enhance their appearance, usually by being fracture filled, irradiated or laser treated. All of this is perfectly legal, but it is illegal if it is not disclosed to the buyer, At Daniel Prince we only sell 100% natural and untreated diamonds that have been ethically sourced.
How much should you pay for a Diamond?
Often referred to as Fifth C - COST. Obviously, the amount you decide to spend on a diamond ring is a personal matter, but you will no doubt have heard that 3 months' salary is about the norm. I'm not sure where this stemmed from originally, probably from the great De Beers' PR machine. Feel free to spend whatever you feel comfortable with and more importantly, can realistically afford. These are tough times and after the credit crunch we're all having to get used to tightening our belts and saving for that special purchase rather than shoving it on the credit card. One important thing to remember is that De Beers and the Diamond Trading Council (DTC) have a near total and complete monopoly on the entire diamond industry and therefore have a significant interest in what you spend. At Daniel Prince our raison d'être is providing you with an exclusive personal and tailored bespoke service. You set your budget, and we will source the highest quality cut stone just for you.
Get Her What She Wants!
It may be perfectly adequate knowing your 4cs but if you don't end up buying the right engagement ring design then all could seem lost. One way of finding out what she prefers is the style of jewellery that she may already own. Is it modern contemporary jewellery or more traditional classic and understated? Does she prefer to wear white or yellow gold jewellery? Also, does she ever display an interest in the engagement rings of other women? However, the chances are that you will glean a pretty accurate picture of her likes and dislikes from her friends and family (assuming they can keep a secret!).
More than likely, she will prefer a Tiffany style diamond solitaire - which accounts for around 3/4 of all diamond engagement ring sales - However, there are many ways to present a quality diamond or coloured gemstone in a ring, take a look at our guide to setting styles. The beauty of commissioning a custom made engagement ring is that we can design something unique and personalised and tailored around your budget and requirements. If you do want to involve your partner in the design of what will ultimately be a unique engagement ring, why not buy the diamond first and present her with it set securely in one our free 9ct white-gold proposal rings.
What else do you need to know?
British Jewellery and Giftware Federation
(Tel: 0121-236 2657, http://www.bjgf.org.uk/)
British Jewellers' Association
(Tel: 0121-237 1109, http://www.bja.org.uk/)
Jewellery & Allied Industries Training Council
(Tel: 0121-237 1109, http://www.jaitc.org.uk/)
National Association of Goldsmiths
(Tel: 020-7613 4445, http://www.jewellers-online.org)
Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain
(Tel: 020-7404 3334, http://www.gagtl.ac.uk/)
Diamond Information Centre (sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company, part of the De Beers Group)
(Tel: 020-7404 4444, http://www.uk.forevermark.com/)
Diamond certificate issuers
Gemmological Institute of America Inc (GIA)
(Tel: 001 760 603 4000, http://www.gia.org/)
Diamond High Council (HRD)
(Tel: 0032 3 222 0511, http://www.hrd.be/)
European Gemmological Laboratory (EGL)
(Tel: 020-7916 3519, http://www.egl.co.za/)
Independent Gemmological Laboratories, Inc (IGL)
(Tel: 001 212-557 0111)
American Gem Society (AGS)
(Tel: 001 702-233 6120, http://www.agslab.com/)