How to Buy an Engagement Ring

Are you planning on buying a bespoke engagement ring this year? Listen carefully because you are about to make one of the single most important purchases of your life!

The most important things to keep in mind when purchasing a diamond engagement ring is to bear in mind that the ring is composed of two important parts; “the setting” (or “mount” in the trade) and the “stone”. The setting is the only thing keeping the stone from being lost so you should plan to spend a significant portion of your budget on it. Key things to know are that most jewellers nowadays produce their rings using CAD/3d printing and casting because its cheaper. It is also significantly inferior in quality and durability in comparison to traditional hand-forged jewellery sold by Daniel Prince. Learn about the differences and the pros and cons of the various jewellery-making techniques.

Invest in Quality not Quantity!

When deciding on the budget, you will no doubt be drawn to compare prices online with traditional bricks and mortar jewellers on the high street. I’ll be writing another article on that soon, but the most important thing to remember is that you should invest in quality not quantity. When choosing a diamond, remember that whilst diamonds may appear identical on paper, no two are alike so its important to view diamonds in person side by side to make a subjective comparison. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is impossible to judge by comparing certificates alone. A diamond may be big and have extraordinary colour, but if it isn’t cut for maximum brilliance, fire and scintillation, then you have a dull and lifeless stone, because the cut is What makes a diamond sparkle. Just remember; Diamond brilliance equates to Diamond beauty, so it contributes massively to the diamond value. It’s what we call that “Across the room” sparkle, and she will never forgive you if you present her with a large stone that resembles a piece of glass, in fact that says more about YOU than HER!

Finally, an engagement ring should last for generations as a permanent reminder of the most important decision of your life, unfortunately most people make the mistake of spending virtually their entire budget on the largest diamond they can afford with little thought about the ring itself, so remember, the setting not only shows off your diamond, but it protects it too, So don’t underestimate its importance!

Geology of Diamonds

Natural Diamonds are as old as the planet itself, between 1-3 BILLION years old in fact. They grow deep underground and consist 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. Diamonds travel up through to the planet surface during volcanic activity within hot molten magma. When volcanoes cool and die the rough diamond crystals are left behind in layers of hard earth known as kimberlite, which is where the majority of diamonds are discovered during mining.

Protect your investment with a Hand-Forged setting

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 various cutting centres of the world in belgium, Israel, India and the US, to be cut and polished before being set into fine jewellery. It is their hardness and unique light dispersing properties that make Diamonds so desirable.

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 the 15th century that came up with the idea of giving a ring set with a diamond to Mary of Burgundy to celebrate their 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!


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” in the trade) where the diamond-cutter 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 Make rather than simply its certificate. As they say in the trade Buy the Diamond, Not the Paper!


Diamonds occur naturally in a variety of 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!


Fluorescence is never a problem unless the stone appears milky/hazy in normal light (usually only seen in very very strong fluorescence), and it often desirable in lower colours and fancy colours when it has a positive effect on the colour appearance (ie, yellows looks more vivid, whites look more colourless). It’s a natural phenomenon in diamonds. It’s only with the recent rise of online diamond sellers that fluorescence has unfairly gained a bad reputation with consumers.

Discerning buyers will never be put off by it. Before diamond grading reports became popular, there was widespread preference in the trade for stones with fluorescence. White “D” coloured stones were known as “blue-white” diamonds and were considered the crème-de-la-crème, in fact many buyers would actually insist on diamonds with fluorescence. Sadly the term “blue-white” was outlawed by the Federal Trade Commission in the US. Unfortunately, it had the unintended effect of casting suspicion over all diamonds with fluorescence, whether it enhances the beauty of the stone or not. The most likely reason for their decline is probably because many jewellery salespeople can’t be bothered or are simply unable to explain when asked: What is Diamond Fluorescence?. When the word “fluorescence” is written on a Diamond grading report, the diamond becomes that much harder to sell. Can you imagine a jewellery salesperson saying: “Fluorescence is visible light emitted by electrons when a diamond is excited by a higher energy source like UV or xrays.” Most consumers just aren’t interested!

Whenever I’m asked to describe it in laymans terms, I simply say ; think of it as the “Soul” of the Diamond!

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. At Daniel Prince, you set your budget, and we will source the highest quality cut diamond for you. For more information see our guide on How to buy a diamond

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 classic solitaire however there are many ways to present a quality diamond or coloured gemstone in a ring, take a look at various setting styles. The beauty of commissioning a custom engagement ring is that we can design something unique and personalised and tailored around your budget and requirements. It will be individually handcrafted to fit the diamond and the finger perfectly. If you do want to involve your partner in the bespoke design, why not buy the loose diamond first and present it in one of our courtesy proposal rings.

What else do you need to know?

Trade associations

British Jewellery and Giftware Federation
(Tel: 0121-236 2657)

British Jewellers’ Association
(Tel: 0121-237 1109)

Jewellery & Allied Industries Training Council
(Tel: 0121-237 1109)

National Association of Goldsmiths
(Tel: 020-7613 4445)

Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain
(Tel: 020-7404 3334)

Diamond Information Centre (sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company, part of the De Beers Group)
(Tel: 020-7404 4444)

Diamond certificate issuers

Gemmological Institute of America Inc (GIA)
(Tel: 001 760 603 4000)

Diamond High Council (HRD)
(Tel: 0032 3 222 0511)

European Gemmological Laboratory (EGL)
(Tel: 020-7916 3519)

Independent Gemmological Laboratories, Inc (IGL)
(Tel: 001 212-557 0111)

American Gem Society (AGS)
(Tel: 001 702-233 6120)