Not something you decide to do every day, buying an engagement ring is an obviously important, considerable and considered purchase. Let us guide you along with a few simple pointers. It’s definitely worth spending more than a little time and effort on research before commiting to buy to ensure you get it right.
Many couples shop for their engagement rings together but if you’re a brave one and are planning a surprise proposal here is our simple guide.
First, set your budget. You’ve probably heard the oft-repeated mantra “twice (or even three times!) your monthly salary” repeated as if it were an immutable law of physics. It isn’t.
The “correct” budget is the one you feel comfortable with, what's affordable. Of course, you don’t want to be a cheapskate but over-extravagance has caused many a headache in relationships and you're planning to be saving for a wedding soon!
Learn on how to get the most value for money and get her a brilliant ring that she will love and you can comfortably afford.
Next, the stone. It doesn’t have to be a diamond, other stones are becoming more popular and will see your money go further. Ruby and Sapphire sidestones are also popular and since Kate Middleton got her huge Sapphire, Sapphire rings have grown in popularity too.
As with all trades there is a certain amount of jargon and ambiguity, which may be off-putting to the layman but anyone can grasp the basics quite quickly. The most important points are the 4 Cs: Carat, Cut Colour and Clarity.
One carat is 0.2 grams and the more your stone weighs the more it will cost. So, more carat, more money. That’s obvious but what is not quite so obvious that larger stones are disproportionately more expensive than smaller ones.
A 1 carat stone costs much more than twice a ½ carat stone. Choosing a stone is a balancing act between the 4 Cs with a little less here meaning you can have a little more there. Most people nowadays go for brilliance over sheer size so a well-cut smaller stone may make a bigger impact than a less well cut larger one. You can also choose a stone slightly undersize and get alot more for your money. Choose a 0.95 or 0.45 stone and you can expect save up to 30% on the full half and one carat weights without being able to see any real difference in actual size.
The cut determines the amount of light reflected back to the viewer. A well-cut stone throws light back at you giving the sparkle and brilliance we prize. But a less well-cut stone will allow light to escape through the sides and back of the gem, giving a duller appearance. Not really what you buy a diamond for.
The most popular shape and cut at the moment is the Round Brilliant, for which by the way you will pay a premium because it is so popular, but there are many, many other cuts and shapes. Your jeweller will help with information and advice but ultimately it depends upon what you think looks good, or rather, what you think she thinks looks good.
Clarity denotes the number of flaws in the stone both internal (inclusions) and external (blemishes). It is true that a completely flawless stone will reflect more light than a flawed one, but at the higher end of the market we are talking of differences indistinguishable to the untrained eye - but very distinguishable to even the most untrained wallet.
The same is true of colour. Diamonds range from colourless, grade D, to brown or yellow at the lower end. Vashi.com do not sell gems below grade I and within the range we do sell it takes a practised eye, and usually a comparison stone, to spot the difference. An easy way for a non-expert to tell the difference, however, is to look at the price.
By making small trade-offs between the 4 Cs you should be in a position to get the best impact from the stone that suits your budget.
The ring itself must in a way play second fiddle to the stone if you are choosing a solitaire, but give a thought to colour and style. Yellow gold is classic, and coming back into mainstream bridal and engagement in a big way. Most women still prefer white metals now. A quick glance at what she normally wears might be a good idea. If silver, white gold and platinum are preference, you can really wow her with precious Platinum or get the same effect for around half the price with high quality 18 carat White Gold.
Finally, stone meets ring in the setting. Vintage style halo rings are incredibly popular at the moment. This is good news if you don't have the budget for a large single stone. The numerous smaller diamonds encircling the centre stone or along the shoulders add amazing sparkle and look very expensive, often costing less than a larger solitaire. For example, below is a 1 carat solitaire in Platinum; you can purchase this from Vashi.com at £3099. Next to it is our 0.75 carat halo ring at £1699, almost half the price, but it looks like more diamonds. Clever, eh?
A high setting is traditional in the U.S.A. as it raises the diamond up to the light to reflect the maximum sparkle but it is also more vulnerable and may not be suitable for some modern, active lifestyles. In the U.K. most people choose a more traditional either low or medium height setting, which still shows the diamond well while protecting the engagement ring.
Hopefully, you will be able to combine these tips with a good knowledge of your beloved to purchase the very ring she would have chosen herself. A useful double check might be to ask her friends, mum or sister what they think she would like, chances are, she has some idea of what her dream engagement ring will look like and now it's up to you to find it.
Our engagement ring and diamond experts will be delighted to provide you with tips and tricks on how to purchase the engagement ring of your girlfriend’s dreams, and they are available for live chat (online, on the phone or in person) 7 days a week. You can also email us on email@example.com