The ultimate engagement ring guide
Hello. So you’re here. About to embark on one of life’s greatest adventures and ask the one you love to spend the rest of their lives with you. It’s the most exciting and beautiful thing we can imagine as well as, if we’re honest, quite overwhelming.
You’ll want everything to be perfect: the timing, the proposal… the ring. So how do you ensure that little box has the perfect ring inside? Fear not. We’re here to help. Here are the steps you need to walk through and you’ll get there.
Decide on your budget
Let’s get the practicalities out of the way. It’s useful to know your ballpark budget before you go ring shopping – just as you need to know how much you can afford if you’re looking for a new car.
Traditionally the groom-to-be was expected to spend anywhere between two and three month’s salary on an engagement ring but this doesn’t have to be the case now.
It really depends on what you are able to afford and what you feel comfortable with. Is a big diamond with a lot of bling important to you and the one you love or would she prefer something more understated? Remember it is about the two of you. No one else.
Consider which metal to choose
Start thinking about which metal you would like the ring to be made out of. Your options include: gold, rose gold, yellow gold or platinum. Does she wear mainly gold jewellery? This should give you a good steer.
We would love to help you with this decision, so get in touch and we can talk through all of the options. For example, if you go for a ‘warmer’ but bigger diamond it is often a good idea to go for a yellow gold or rose gold setting as they work so well together.
Decision time: the four C’s
This is where the ring design starts to take shape. Our first piece of advice would be to make sure you have the right jeweller – someone who is going to carefully and expertly walk you through each step. No matter where you are in the world, we are here to help so please do give us a shout.
These four Cs are the best place to start when it comes to designing your own ring.
The ‘cut’ of a diamond is different to its ‘shape’. ‘Cut’ refers to the way that the stone is cut in order to increase its sparkle, whether deep in shape or more shallow. A well-cut diamond should have the right shine, and should reflect light easily internally and externally.
There are lots of different diamond cuts or shapes to choose from. If you think she loves all things sparkly – then consider a Cushion or Brilliant cut. If she wants something more edgy – then perhaps an Emerald cut or if she’s more classic, an Oval.
Finding a picture of a ring you love is a great place to start making the decision. Have a look at our Pinterest page for some inspiration.
We often think of ‘carat’ referring to how big the diamond is but it is actually the measurement of weight. When it comes to the four Cs, carat weight has the biggest impact. The carat of the diamond is what is seen first so although bigger isn’t always better, it will create that first impression. The carat of diamond should be taken into account alongside the cut, clarity, colour and of course the ring setting.
Our tip: If your budget does not allow for a 1 carat aim for a 0.5 or higher – if you are looking at stones below 0.5 then you need to compromise on colour or clarity as you should not buy a diamond smaller than half a carat unless it is a side stone or for a pair of earrings.
All diamonds have natural imperfections – some are more noticeable than others. No two diamonds have the same imperfections in the same place in the diamond – the key is getting your jeweller to find the ‘right imperfections’ so that they are not visible to the naked eye. You can also get ‘internally flawless diamonds’ but you pay a large premium for this which is not necessarily worth it. Clarity is measured by these imperfections – are there visible specks in the diamond? Is it flawless? This is just something to consider when choosing your diamond.
Our tip: Don’t be adverse to an SI or SI2. Ensure that the stone is ‘eye-clean’ to the naked eye. If you are a little unsure then call us… we specialize in handpicking the best of the best.
Diamonds vary in colour from absolutely colour-less to quite a bright yellow. Diamonds with no colour used to be on everyone’s wish list but these days, yellow diamonds also have their draw card.
Diamonds are graded on a colour scale from D to Z – the higher in the alphabet, the more colourless the diamond is (D/ E / F) to more of a yellow or brown tinge (Y to Z). Yellow and coloured diamonds are graded on a different scale all together.
Our tip: Something to think about when deciding on the colour of your stone(s) is, ‘Do you want to get a halo of small diamonds around your centre stone?’ If yes, then make sure your jeweller is able to match your side stones to your centre stone otherwise you will notice the colour difference.
Certification and fair trade
You should ask some important questions about your diamond, not only about cut, clarity and colour but also whether the diamonds are certified by the leading Gemology Labs in the world. Is the jeweller committed to fair trade? This ethical aspect of engagement ring design is definitely worth putting on your checklist.
In the months to come we are going to delve into the intricacies of engagement ring setting but here we shall just say that the world is your oyster. There is so much fun to be had choosing the setting of your diamond(s). Would you like to add more stones? Are you keen on using only diamonds or would you like to add some other stones for colour? How high a setting would you like? Would you like a traditional straight band or something more fancy like a criss-cross or tapered design?
The ring size
If your dream proposal entails you going down on one knee and opening a box, only to hear the magic ‘YES’ and pop that beautiful ring on her finger, then you will need to make sure you get the ring made to size. So how are you going to measure the size of the ring finger without getting the measuring tape out in the middle of the night?
Find a ring she wears often – perhaps in her jewellery box – and take this to your jeweller as soon as you can. Or chat to us and we will send you a ring sizing guide. But seriously, don’t stress about this part. We can always make the ring in a standard size and re-size it once you’ve asked the big question.
All that remains for you to do is to find the perfect spot and ask the one you love to be your person until the end of time. Goosebumps.
Please do give us a call in South Africa or London and we would love to arrange an appointment with you and start the engagement ring design process.
Until then, take care of yourselves,
Jackie and Colleen