Choosing an engagement ring can be an overwhelming task. There are many factors involved with a ring’s design and these styles should match the taste and personality of your partner.
While maintaining a budget is important, you should remember that the ring will become the first thing many people ask to see, as well as an item your partner will want to show off for the rest of their life.
A ring is chosen as a symbol for your relationship, one that will be shared with the world. This is why choosing the right ring is important, especially in the age of social media.
With engagements being announced through Facebook and Instagram, it is the engagement ring that becomes the focus.
Celebrity announcements gain millions of comments and likes, immediately followed by articles discussing the stone and ring design. And, with this great attention placed upon the engagement ring, we are seeing designs becoming more creative so that couples stand out from the crowd.
No longer is simple elegance enough, now a ring should be unique and have creativity. Here are the key design factors and their trends, to help you choose the right eye-catching engagement ring for your partner.
Some of the first descriptors you will encounter when shopping for an engagement ring are the ‘four c’s’. They are cut, clarity, color, and carat. Each describes a different element of the diamond’s design.
- Cut – the shaping of the diamond
- Clarity – how perfect or unblemished the stone is
- Color – there are many colors of diamond
- Carat – the weight, not necessarily size, of the diamond
Each of these qualities are important to consider. America has two continued favorite cuts of diamond, the round and square cut. Together, they make up nearly three quarters of all engagement ring diamonds sold. However, many couples are beginning to leave these designs behind in favor of a more unusual alternative. Many famous engagement rings, such as Angelina Jolie’s and Lady Gaga’s, use different shapes and styles, making them iconic. It is the same for the color of a diamond. Clear diamonds remain the most popular, however, there is a rising demand for yellow and pink diamonds. Both Cardi B and Katy Perry proudly made use of pink diamonds in their engagement rings and has helped pique the public’s interest in the color for their own rings.
The setting of the ring is how the diamonds are placed and displayed upon the ring. Much like the ‘four c’s’, there is a traditional and widely-popular preference for the solitaire setting. Its simplicity is celebrated and it raises the central stone, elevating it for a wonderful sparkle.
Again, however, there are early indications of a shifting preference. Alternative settings, such as halo and pavé settings, are becoming more mainstream. There’s plenty of room to get creative with smaller, complimentary stones. Olivia Wilde was given an engagement ring set in an emerald halo, a vibrant green to match her eyes.
While the diamond is the most iconic stone for Designer Engagement Rings, there is no obligation to limit yourself. While the diamond is the strongest stone and most resilient to damage, there are excellent alternatives.
Two stones could even be combined such as on a halo setting. Now perhaps the most famous engagement ring in the world, Princess Diana’s sapphire was originally the cause of some commotion. However, since the beautiful blue stone has been adjusted for Kate Middleton’s hand, it has opened many people’s minds to a variety of diamond alternatives.
Things to consider when choosing an engagement ring
1. Know what ‘she’ wants. It’s her ring!
It is important that you have a clear understanding of what your girlfriend wants. It is her ring. She will be wearing it for life. So, what ‘you’ think she would like or what ‘you’ would like to get her is a recipe for your buying decision going horribly wrong. You should consider doing the following research:
- Does she want to play a role in selecting the engagement ring? If yes, then it is a process you should go through together.
- Has she been dropping hints as to what she would like? This could be leaving brochures/business cards of jewellers lying around; does she look at diamond rings in a jewellery shop when you go shopping together? Observe what kind of rings does she look at or try on.
- Has she clearly specified what she would like?
- Has she commented on an engagement ring that her friend has received?
2. Size or quality?
What is important for her – the size of the diamond or its quality? Do you want the biggest diamond for your money or of the best quality?
How important is it that the diamond is 1 carat or 1.50 carat and so on? A knowledgeable sales person will inform you that you can achieve a ‘1 carat look’ with a nice 0.80ct – 0.90ct diamond and save money in the process. Remember diamonds are cut for weight and there is a big price difference between a 1 carat and say, an 0.85 carat diamond which has been cut well and looks like a 1 carat in its sparkle.
Likewise, how important is it to get a high colour – like a D or an E? Remember, a high colour does not mean more sparkle. A high colour will add value to the diamond, so the higher the colour, the more valuable your diamond is. But I have seen lower grades of colour – like a G or an H which have amazing sparkle and hence are perfectly beautiful diamonds. And conversely, I have also seen a high colour stone such as an E colour but poorly cut and hence, looking dull and lifeless.
Most sales people are not qualified diamond graders and have a basic knowledge of the 4C’s that judge the value of a diamond. Their biggest tool of trade is to appeal to your emotional side. Which makes it imperative that you do adequate reading and shop around to get an idea of size, quality and value.
3. Have a budget
It is wise to work out your budget and stick to it because in due course you will have wedding and honeymoon expenses as well. To most women, more important than the size of the diamond is the fact that you have gone through the effort of choosing an engagement ring for her. And a genuine partner will value you sticking to your budget as well.
4. Bespoke or off the shelf?
What kind of ring design does she want? Or is it better that you propose with a loose diamond and go through the process of getting a jeweller to mount it into a ring together with her?
Would you like it to be bespoke and custom-made? Or can you find the ring of your choice ready-made? Unfortunately, I have not seen a jeweller who does not claim that their rings are “hand-made”, “bespoke”, “custom-made”. The truth is very few of them are truly manufacturing jewellers. The vast majority will get a cast or part of the ring as a cast and get a jeweller to complete the make. That is if they have not purchased it from a mass manufacturer in Hong Kong or Vietnam or some Asian country. Assuming the same size diamond and identical design, a cast ring will weigh less than a hand-made one.
If your ring is to be bespoke then you should carefully do research for manufacturing jewellers. And ask the salesperson where is their jewellery workshop? How many jewellers do they have on the bench? Will any part of the manufacturing process be outsourced?
5. Questions to ask the salesperson
By this stage, you (a) know what kind of an engagement ring your girlfriend wants; (b) have worked out your budget and (c) have done your research on which jewellers to go to. Here are some of the questions you might wish to ask the salesperson:
- What is the size, colour, clarity of the diamond in this ring?
- Does it have fluorescence? (for the uninitiated, it can be an intrinsic feature in some diamonds whereby in ultra violet light the diamond appears blue in colour. For example: in a disco. If it exists in slight levels it can actually enhance the look of the diamond, but in medium to stronger levels it will reduce the value of the diamond).
- Can you confirm that the diamond has been ethically sourced? (tip: research about the Kimberley Process)
- Is this diamond independently certified?
- Is this diamond fracture filled? (especially if the diamond appears to be too cheap when compared to others you may have seen of a similar size and quality as well – a big ‘no-no’ in spite of the attractive price. If it appears too good to be true, it often is!
- What are their after-sales services and warranties – especially if the diamond falls out of its setting without significant or heavy wear and tear (i.e. manufacturing issues with the ring)
- Can the ring be resized (not all of them can depending on the nature of the ring and the setting of the diamonds) and if yes, will they re-size it free of charge if it does not fit your girlfriend?
- What are the care instructions on how to clean and look after the ring?
- Will they give you a valuation for insurance purposes?
6. The price
By all means negotiate the best price. But be realistic. For example: don’t expect a retailer to give you a diamond ring at a price you could buy it online.
Instead, see what additional value the retailer can add within the price e.g. free resizing, free servicing, extended warranty, a guaranteed diamond buyback, etc.