How to choose an engagement ring?
When it comes to choosing an engagement ring, the online and conventional market offer a wide variety of options that can be overwhelming for most of you gentlemen. Through this post, I decided to give you a hand and show you the ultimate guide on how to select the perfect engagement ring.
There are five parts in the process of choosing an engagement ring
Engagement rings can cost from a few hundred pounds to millions of pounds. The price depends mainly on the type, size and quality of the gemstone and the kind of the metal and setting you to choose. All these variables have a huge influence on the final engagement ring price. The best way to do it is to have an individual budget in your mind and the jewellery consultant you chose, to offer you the best alternative for your money. Always stick to your budget! There would be pretty unusual gemstones out there and more if you chose to purchase the ring from reputable online stores.
The diamond is with no doubt the most loved and accepted gem by the majority of people for an engagement ring. Many ad campaigns say that a diamond is forever and in fact, it is. It is one of the hardest gemstones on the surface of the world and can resist a lot of chemical and physical impacts.
As you well know and you can read on different websites this gemstone is chosen depending on four properties
|Colour||Grade of colour of the diamond (from bright white to tinted|
|Clarity||Number of inclusions of lack of them|
|Cut||The style and quality of cut|
|Carat weight||The weight of the gemstone|
Clarity on diamonds (quantity and quality of imperfections and flaws onto a stone): there are five broad categories that laboratories take in count when they analyse the clarity of a diamond
|(F)/ Internal flawless (IF)||Show no inclusions under 10x magnification|
|Very very slightly included (VVS1-VVS2)||Contain minute inclusions under 10x magnification.|
|Very slightly included (VS1-VS2)||Contain minor inclusions under 10x magnification.|
|Slightly included (SI1-SI2)||Contain noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification.|
|Included (I1-I2-I3)||Contain obvious inclusions under 10x magnification which can be seen easily face-up with the unaided eye.|
Colour (second variable with a great difference in price between one tone and another)
|D||Exceptional white +. Face up and face down colourless|
|E-F||Exceptional white/ Rare white+. Face up and face down colourless|
|G||Rare white. Face up and face down colourless|
|H||White. Face up colourless and face down slightly tinted|
|I-J||Slightly tinted white. Face up slightly tinted and face down obviously tinted|
|K-L||Tinted white. Face up slightly tinted and face down obviously tinted|
|M-Z||Tinted colour. Face up obviously tinted and face down obviously tinted|
|Fancy||Fancy colour (yellow, blue, pink, green, red, white, black)|
Cut of a diamond
The most popular and expensive of all different types of cut existent on the market is the round brilliant (The dream of many women).
It is also the most expensive.
Due to the amount of work and yield that is lost when cutting (to achieve the perfect proportions that gives it the brilliance and fire much desired). For diamonds bellow ten carats, the round brilliant is much preferred. For colourless diamonds above ten carats, Fancy shapes are elected. The rings are much more comfortable and easy to wear.
The second must desired design after the round brilliant cut, is a similar cut, slightly modified called Oval cut. I would recommend this design to someone who wants something more unique and different to the popular round brilliant.
The Princess cut is the most popular price wise and a great substitute to the round brilliant. It’s a comfortable design suitable for most settings but slightly cheaper than a round brilliant.
The Emerald cut is a particular cut that it was first applied to the gemstone called emerald. Due to its popularity is applied to other gemstones like diamonds for example.
Marquise cut is a shape similar to the American football ball.Funnily enough, the shapes come from the Marquises of Pompadour mouth shape. The king of France Louis XIV ordered to have a diamond faceted after what he considered to be the perfect shape. This particular cut, due to its elongated shape can make the finger of the person that is wearing it appear slimmer and longer.Other fancy cuts are Cushion, Heart Pear and Radiant.
Diamond with a bigger table like emerald, pear and marquise give you the appearance of a larger diamond.
The last property to look at is Carat weight.
Carat is the weight measurement for a diamond.
A 1-carat diamond can look bigger or smaller depending on the way is cut (proportions), the shape of the gemstone and the setting.
The best thing to focus on is how the actually diamond looks like on setting.
Please remember CARAT refers to the weight, not dimensions.
It is possible to have a one-carat diamond and 0.90 carat diamond of very similar dimensions due to the way they are cut.
When people buy a diamond, they are always worried about the 4Cs (Carat or weight, Clarity, Colour and Cut) but what is important to know is that you have a 5th C called Certificate
A certificate is the Id documentation of a diamond and all you need to know when you purchase a stone:
- What is the carat weight
- Cut of the diamond
- Quality of cut
There are five types of cut: Poor, Fair, Good, Very good and Excellent. An Excellent cut is much more expensive and upgrades a diamond. Why is an excellent cut so important? –It makes a diamond to sparkle much more.
- All the measurements of the diamond and the fluorescence.
There are around five well-known laboratories (the most reliable from high to low order) that are grading diamonds and coloured gemstones:
GIA (Gemological Institute of America)- the most trusted and well know various gemmologists grade laboratory.The diamonds so you can get the most accurate certificate. All their graded diamonds are laser marked on the girdle
AGS (American Gem Society)- it’s the second most reliable after GIA and has a great reputation.
HDR (High Diamond Council) – this laboratory is a well-known European institution based in Antwerp and also very accurate with the diamonds they grade.
IGI (International Gemological Institute) and EGL (European Gemological Institute) are the less recommended labs to their less strict way of certification over diamonds. There is a lot comments over the internet about their less strict politics on grading clarity and colour. For example, what can be an SI2, G colour for GIA, it can be an SI1, E colour for IGI or EGL. This situation can be great for a diamond retailer because he can charge you more for it but it can be an unpleasant situation if you want to sell it after.
All diamonds graded by all these five laboratories are proved to be natural unless the certificate says something different. Also laboratory-graded diamond can reveal if a diamond was treated or not.
I`ve talked a lot about engagement rings with diamond gemstone, and I hope that you understood everything, but about other gemstones?
What gemstone is an alternative to diamond?
Over the last years, there has been an increased demand on coloured gemstone used for engagement rings.
Precious gems are in high demand.
Together with the diamond, the sapphire, ruby and emerald form the big four. Sapphires and rubies are varieties of the corundum family and are the second hardest gemstones after diamonds.
They are a 9 of hardness on the Mosh scale (diamonds has a 10) so are quite resistant to scratches and other physical and chemical impacts, which make them suitable to be worn every day.
As a matter of fact, if you are looking for a more affordable variety of gemstone that can be a simulant for a diamond when you choose an engagement ring, colourless sapphire is the perfect solution.
The blue sapphire received by the Duchess of Cambridge or the ruby received by the Hollywood star Eva Longoria pushed these precious gemstone to be desired by many other women and to want them as protagonists of their engagement rings.
The popularity of the deep green Colombian emerald made it a much-desired option for all kind of jewellery including an engagement ring.
The only downside to it is the vulnerability of the stone itself.
With hardness 7,5 on the Mosh scale emeralds are not too resistant to impacts or daily activities, they brittle and scratches quite easily so an extra amount of attention if it is needed.
When you choose a particular engagement ring setting think about her style and personality (the way she dresses; is she traditional or more adventurous?) Does she like neutral colour simple cuts for her clothes or more vibrant tones and very feminine outfits? Does she wear any jewellery on a daily basis? What kind is it, chunky or minimalist jewellery?
The answers to all these questions can give you an idea about what kind of ring she would wear.
You have to bear in mind that she will have to wear it for the rest of her life and has to reflect her personality and taste.
Another important factor is her environment and lifestyle.
Thus the average weight of a diamond for an engagement ring is around 1-carat women that are working in a high-profile job, or the major cities tend to prefer bigger sizes.
If she travels a lot and works through situations that can put her at risk, maybe a smaller, more modest size is a better option for her.
Does she work in an environment where she has to use a lot her hands (chef, landscape architect, graphic designer, etc.) maybe a bigger size would be uncomfortable and she should have to remove it all the time? For those of you for the smaller budget, I would suggest choosing an average size of 0.50ct, with a good colour like G and at least a very good symmetry. For bigger diamonds, over one carat, clarity would be more important so that I would go for a minimum VS1, F colour and triple “ x” (EXCELLENT cut, EXCELLENT polish and EXCELLENT symmetry )
The gemstone (diamonds or other precious and semi-precious) or gemstones are held in place by 4 or 6 (similar to Tiffany’s one) little metal claws called prongs. In 1886, Tiffany & Co. scientifically developed a specific solitaire six-prong setting to maximise the light return on the diamond and trademarked it.
They can be all kind of shapes:
- V-shaped (used for fancy shapes to protect the stone) also depending on the cut of the gemstone.
The main benefit of the V-shaped type of setting is the simplicity and the fact that allows the stone to be seen and sparkle, especially when is a four prong setting because allows the light to pass through, especially in diamonds.
The only disadvantage with this type of setting (especially if they are high-set) is that can catch on clothing or other materials, so it’s recommended to have the prong inspected every few years to ensure that they didn’t become loosened.
The most common and traditional prong setting is the Solitaire Ring.
This type of setting is mainly focused on one stone raised up and features a plain band or pave diamonds on the shoulders of the ring.
Some of my clients say that a four prongs setting is less safe than six prongs.
I can tell them that both of them are perfectly fine with solitaire ring prong setting.
The three stones engagement ring is also a more traditional alternative to the solitaire.
The three stones set together symbolise the past, present and future of the couple. Either you choose a larger main stone with two smaller gemstones on both side or either three stones at the same size.
The most common cuts used for this type of engagement rings are round brilliant and princess cut. When we talk about gemstones, people prefer different gems, either the central stone a diamond and the other two sapphires, rubies or emeralds, just diamonds or just other precious or semi-precious gemstones.
The cathedral setting is an elegant display that imitates the elegance and grace of a cathedral using arches to frame the diamond or any other gemstone.
It’s a good setting to protect the stone, particularly if the arch extends to the stone’s table or girdle, especially is it a soft one like opal, lapis, tourmaline, quartz. Offers a maximum impact on a smaller budget because of the arches of the design that add height, protection and distinction. Arches can create the illusion that the gemstones size is larger than in reality.
At the same time, cathedral settings have a few disadvantages.
- It ‘s hard to clean: dirt and oil build up in small niches and crevices.
- High arches may snag more easily on clothing, furniture, or other objects.
- The ring or the item snagged can be damaged. It is not the ideal design option for larger gemstones.
Halo engagement ring, a very delicate, elegant and feminine setting
Halo setting adds a circle of invisible-set, channel-set or prong-set diamonds around the main gemstone from the centre.
The gemstone from the middle can be any shape, round brilliant cut diamond, princess cut, radiant, oval, marquise, heart-shaped and pear-shaped.
Other step cuts including emerald don’t work as well because the surrounded stones are more sparkling than the centre one that can appear flat and dull.
This setting is one of the most popular when you want to create an illusion and give the appearance of a bigger diamond size. Choose an excellent clarity and colour stone in the centre. The small diamonds around can have a less good quality but will bring out the main stone.
The pave diamonds, in a circle surrounding the centre gemstone, risk becoming loose over time. Also is a setting that can help to accumulate dirt, so its safe to give it a thorough cleanse from time to time.
Cluster setting engagement ring
A cluster setting means that small size stones are set tightly together to give the illusion of a larger diamond.
It can either contain a larger centre stone or cluster together stones of equal size. For this particular setting, you can choose either diamonds or other precious or semi-precious gemstones.
A bezel setting is the second most popular ring after the prong setting.
It protects the gem much better, has a contemporaneous, clean look to it and gives more movement freedom.
A metal rim surrounds the diamond or other gemstones by the girdle.
This setting can create the illusion of a bigger gem if you choose a white metal setting and a colourless diamond or a yellow gold metal and a yellow diamond.
You have the option of a full bezel, which encircles the whole stone or a partial bezel, which leaves the sides open.
Ideal for ladies involved in physical activities, this setting, is believed by some not to allow as much light into the diamond because of so much metal surrounding it; other argue the contrary.
Also, the price of a bezel-set ring is higher due to the amount of work and metal involved.
The metal band that secures the diamond or other precious stone in place defines the tension setting.
The gemstone appears suspended between the two sides of the shank that are pushing into the sides of the gem.
Lasers are used to calibrate the exact dimensions of the diamond.
Due to precise measurements, it is not recommended to have the ring resized. There are less expensive and complicated variations to make that add an extra dose of security with a prong or bezel setting employed on the side or underneath the diamond to anchor the gem firmly in place.
A flush setting sets the gem into a drilled hole in the band of the ring. The metal is hammered around the diamond to hold it in place. This setting is not recommended for harder stones like diamonds or rubies and sapphires due to the jeweller must knock on this piece of metal to hold the stone in place.
This particular setting is popular among men’s wedding bands as the gemstones are fixed securely in the band of the ring.
Bar setting is a more secure variation of the traditional channel setting.
Diamonds or other gemstones are secured in place between two vertical metal walls either side of the gem.
The bar setting is quite similar to the channel settings.
The difference between them is the fact the first setting leaves the gemstone visible on the two sides whereas the channel settings enclose the stone on all sides.
Diamonds or gemstones are secured in place between vertical metal walls, creating a smooth channel that locks each diamond safely into individual sits in the band, keeping it from being knocked out of place.
It’s a contemporary setting where the stones are settled side by side with no metal in between. This setting is used especially for wedding bands or smaller gems and no centre stone. They are expensive because of the metal and amount of work required.
Pave diamond or other gemstones are set low and very close together (paving) using tiny prongs (beads) from the surrounding metal to hold the gems in place. Designs that use very small diamonds are known as “micro-pave”.
The surface will look encrusted with stones and will give a brilliant effect.
It is a unique design that creates a smooth surface, comfortable to wear and can offer a vintage look. Due to its small measurements, it’s necessary for the diamond to be well set, so you don’t carry the risk of them falling out.
The band of the ring or the part that encircles your finger is called a shank. Most shanks have round shape, but there are also square shaped-shanks or other different forms.The shank that splits into two separate shanks is called a split-shank.
Antique / Vintage/ Art Nouveau
There are three distinct time periods of jewellery fashion, such Edwardian, and Victorian or Art Deco.
Due to lack of the nowadays technology and the cutting tools, many diamonds set in these rings are European cut.
For more up to date vintage designs adapted to modern society, many designers use metal filigree (tiny metal beads cemented together), milgrains (little balls of metal decorating the sides of the band and the crown of the ring) and floral patterns.
METAL OF THE SETTING
We spoke about budget, gemstone, setting, now is time to choose also the metal of the setting.
When it comes to choosing an engagement ring many people ask themselves a few questions (except what I`ve already written about):
- What is exactly white gold and platinum and what is the difference between them?
- What is rose gold?
- Can I combine yellow and white gold in the setting design of a single ring?
- Do I have other options regarding colours when I choose a metal for the setting of an engagement ring?
The first step is to know what your future fiancé prefer.
- Does she prefer cooler tones? Platinum and white gold are the options
- Does she prefer warm tones? Yellow and rose gold are the best way to go.
- If she’s the undeceive type; you can opt for a setting that combines the two and will allow her to compliment her ring to her real jewellery. A yellow gold band can be easily coupled with a white head setting (holds the gemstone in place) like platinum or white gold, so it accentuates the diamond’s fire and brilliance.
When we talk about colours of different metal and most durable white metal with a frosty lustre used for engagement rings settings and is considered the most precious of all jewellery metals.
It’s the rarest from all metals, and its colour boosts the brilliance and fire of a diamond.
It is also hypoallergenic due to the lack of nickel in it so is an excellent choice for ladies with sensitive skin.
On the contrary than other metals, platinum looks better with wearing over the years (no need of re-plating), and surface scratches are considered to make it more desirable. The metal can be quickly returned to its original state if you prefer by polishing.
Due to its scarcity and properties, this metal is the most expensive and prices are considered to be 25-30% higher than the same setting in gold.
It’s the most attractive option for metal setting in engagement rings.
Gold is measured in karats. A karat is divided into 24 parts. 24K gold (24 parts out of 24 are gold) gold is the purest form of gold but is considered to be too soft to be used in jewellery in Europe and is much more preferred in an Arab and Asian market.
In Europe and West, gold is mixed with other metals such silver, nickel, copper and zinc to be strengthened and more durable.
18K gold is 18 parts (75%) gold and six parts other metal.
14K gold is 14 parts (around 58%) gold and 11 parts other metal
9K gold is nine parts (37.5%) gold and 15 parts other metal.
It’s the most attractive option for metal setting in engagement rings together with yellow gold and rose gold. White gold is a shiny, silver-coloured metal that shows off gemstones like diamond and is durable through time. It’s the best option if you prefer a more sophisticated design because it is easier to work with it. White gold is plated with rhodium (a platinum group metal) to have that white bright silvery finish. Over the years need to be re-plated to keep a good colour and also needs re-polishing because can become scratched when worn on a daily basis. Due to the presence of nickel, it might not be suitable for metal allergy suffers.
It’s a warmer tone that doesn’t corrode and loses colour over time, so it preserves its beauty. It’s an excellent investment because gold prices are always stable. Can scratch if worn on a daily basis and also due to the presence of Nickel can be unsuitable for metal allergy suffers. Gold metal it’s much easier to work with and more suitable for intricate designs. The percentage of alloys causes the shade and colour of the gold. An 18K tends to be more rich and saturated, and a 14K may appear a paler yellow.
To create the warm, pink hue yellow gold is combined with copper alloy. Can scratch if worn on a daily basis. The percentage of alloys causes the shade and colour of the gold. An 18K tends to be more rich and saturated, and a 14K may appear a paler rose. Due to the presence of nickel can be unsuitable for metal allergic ladies.
The last but not the least, SIZE
How do I find out her size so I can buy her the engagement ring?
Ring sizes usually go from F to Z. The average ring sizes are K, M, P.
Usually, you can have them resized unless it is a very unusual model or a unique vintage ring. The easiest way to find out her size is to slip away with one of her rings or by printing out a ring sizing guide and compare it with a ring already has.
These five attributes ultimately define the process of choosing THE ring.I hope you found this guide helpful and will answer at least some of your questions regarding engagement rings and the purchase process.
*All pictures are from pinterest.com