Engagement Ring Buying Tips
When shopping for a diamond engagement ring you should keep in mind the following which should assist in ensuring you find your perfect ring.
1. Become familiar with the 4 C’s
Information on the four C’s can be found at the following link: Diamond 4 C’s
Summary of the 4 C’s:
(i) Diamond Colour:
- Diamonds come from range D (colourless) to Z (strong yellow tint)
- D - F are regarded as colourless (and most expensive), G - H are near colourless
- Where possible try and view a diamond in day light or under a day lamp as many jewellers have lights which make a diamond look brighter than it actually is. Perhaps ask the Jeweller if you can take the diamond outside to see it in natural light to get a real sense of the diamond’s colour.
- Viewing a diamond colour “G” for example and a diamond colour “I” will look very similar but there could be a big difference in price with the colour “I” diamond being less expensive
- Reducing the colour ranking could result in some savings with minimal consequence.
(ii) Diamond Carat:
- The diamond carat relates to the weight of a diamond.
- Prices jump at what jewellers call "magic points". Magic points are 0.5ct, 1 ct, 1.5ct, 2ct etc. Best value is to buy at just under the magic points.
- eg A 0.9ct stone can cost up to 20% less than a 1 ct stone with both diamonds looking very similar in size.
(iii) Diamond Clarity:
- Clarity ranges from Flawless to Heavily Included (inclusions visible to the naked eye).
- Only 1% of the worlds diamonds are flawless, all others have clarity characteristics that were created when the diamond was being formed millions of years ago.
- Best value for money would be VS2/Si1, be careful when buying Si1 stones as quite a number of them have visible inclusions if you look closely enough.
- Reducing clarity in your diamond is probably the best saving technique as the consequence is believed to be less obvious.
(iv) Diamond Cut:
- Cut is the most important of the 4 C's.
- Some get confused between Cut and Shape of the Diamond.
- Shape refers to Round, Princess, Cushion, Pear, Emerald etc.
- Cut refers to how well the diamond was crafted from its rough state.
- If a diamond is not cut correctly it will not have maximum brilliance, fire and scintillation.
- The cut grade scale is Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.
- Always select a diamond that has an Excellent or Very Good Cut grade otherwise you may be disappointed when you leave the bright lights of the jewellers
2. Diamond Certificate:
- This is often regarded as the fifth C.
- Many people incorrectly believe a diamond with a certificate means it is not a ‘blood diamond’. The two are not related in any way.
- A certificate simply means that the carat, colour, clarity, cut has been verified by an independent third party.
- The top three certification bodies in Europe are GIA / HRD / IGI. Diamonds sold under other certification bodies can cost substantially less as they may not be as well respected in the diamond industry and may not be as strict in their grading standards.
- Always ask to see the certificate when buying a certified diamond.
- A popular myth is that if a stone doesn't have a cert it isn't a diamond. This is not correct. There are a lot of beautiful stones out there that aren't certified and a lot of stones exist where the quality doesn't make the cost of certification viable.
- Generally, if the salesperson is trained, they can tell you what you need to know by looking at the diamond ring.
- A money saving technique would be to buy a diamond which is not certified, the risk however is that the colour, clarity etc may not be what the jeweller tells you they are! But going to a reputable jeweller should mitigate this concern.
3. Diamond Fluorescence:
- This refers to the diamonds reaction to Ultra Violet (UV) light.
- If a diamond has fluorescence it may turn milky/cloudy on a sunny day when there is strong UV light.
- Your diamond may also turn blue under artificial UV light
- There is a scale for fluorescence - Nil, Faint/Slight, Medium, Strong and Very Strong.
- Where possible, one should buy diamonds with only Nil or Slight, prices drop significantly when the fluorescence is medium or stronger.
- The fluorescence of a diamond will appear on the certificate if available.
- It may be difficult to know the fluorescence of the diamond is uncertified.
4. Engagement Ring Insurance:
- Shop around and there may be room for some negotiation with the insurance company (usually as part of your home insurance)
- Do not over insure you engagement ring as there are no benefits.
- If your engagement ring is lost or stolen, most insurance companies now replace the ring or write a cheque for the replacement value, they generally do not write a cheque for the insurance value
- Over insuring results in you paying much higher premiums which most insurance companies will gladly accept.
- Many insurance companies require the ring to be kept in a safe if they are over a certain value when not being worn (if valued at €13k or above on average) which can be another expense to keep in mind.
5. Consider the wedding ring
- To avoid the costs of custom made wedding rings, also consider the wedding ring when buying your engagement ring.
- Always check if a straight wedding ring fits snugly against your engagement ring, if not, you may need to have a wedding ring custom made unless you are happy with slight gaps etc.
- Best to keep the metal the same for both rings too so the colour remains the same.
- View a wedding ring on its own as you may not always want to wear your engagement ring. A curve or odd shaped wedding ring may look great with the engagement ring, but on its own may just look wrong!
6. Ring metal
Platinum or White Gold ,
- White Gold stays fresher looking for much longer than platinum.
- White Gold is a little lighter than platinum and needs to be rhodium plated every 12-18 months, this costs approx. €20.
- Platinum goes a dull greyish colour very quickly but is regarded as the strongest precious metal and most resistant to damage.
- Many jewellers will promote Platinum mainly due to the fact that there is a larger margin on this metal.
- Palladium is another option for people. It is again very similar to platinum and white gold.
- Palladium is less expensive than platinum or white gold and is growing in popularity.
- Palladium is a strong metal, has a permanent whiteness, is easy to polish and repair and is scratch resistant.
7. Buying Diamond Ring abroad
- Always buy from reputable Jewellers, research jewellers on Internet forums before you travel.
- Ask if the diamond is 100% natural or has it been clarity enhanced, line filled or artificially treated.
- Consider costs of travel, hotels, time off work, currency rates etc.
- You are also liable to Irish duties and taxes when you return to Ireland.
- Consider after sales service, what if there are problems with the ring, diamond becomes loose, diamond on shoulders falls out, ring needs resizing, rhodium plating etc.
- Recommendations are best from friends/family if travelling abroad.
8. Ring style
- Different diamond shapes will look better on your hand.
- A diamond raised up on a mount will usually make a finger look more slim.
- Three stone rings usually look best on short fingers
- Some styles, while may look nice in a jewellers window/website, will not suit your hand.
- Try on many styles and diamond shapes to ensure you know what style and shape you prefer.
9. Build a ring, buy pre made or buy on-line
- The main options when buying a diamond are to buy one in a jewellers pre made, get one made specifically (usually takes 3-6 weeks) or buy on-line (usually 3-6 weeks to arrive). Each option has benefits
- Buy in a jewellers: You can see what you get and it is available to take home immediately. If something breaks you know where to go.
- Make your ring: Can be less expensive as less overheads than a traditional jewellers
- Buy on-line: similar to above but possibly more difficult to return if a problem occurs at a later date as less (or no) face to face contact. Most are UK or American based companies. You will also need to know your ring size to order on-line.
- A reputable jeweller or website is a must for piece of mind.
- View blogs and search the web for reviews of jewellers to obtain a complete view of the jewellers reputation.
10. Finding the Perfect Ring
From my experience from buying a diamond ring last year I found the best thins to do are:
- Have an idea of your budget as all jewellers will ask you for this Euro value as it will determine the quality of diamond in your range.
- Try on many rings in many jewellers to ensure you know what you like. Perfectring.ie has many rings from many jewellers across Ireland so browse through for ideas. You will be wearing this ring for the rest of your life so make sure it is something you love.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle on price as the first price offer should never be the final price paid. If you get the two wedding rings from the same jeweller they will usually do a good deal for you
- Diamonds are not the only option with many women choosing sapphire or other gem stones.
I hope that this helps people looking for information. If I think of anything that I may have missed, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll add to this list. This information was compiled from advice from reputable Irish jewellers on various websites along with personal experience.