The most traditional engagement ring setting is the single stone, solitaire setting. All jewellers will have a wide range of setting designs, so this is a good place to start when choosing your ring. The most common precious metals for rings are platinum, white gold and yellow gold. Platinum is the most expensive, but also the hardest wearing.
When you choose your ring you will also need to know the ring size. Sizing scales differ between countries – numbers in the USA and letters in the UK for instance. If you are unable to get the exact size before you propose, however, most jewellers will re-size the ring for free.
Choosing the shape of the diamond is the easiest way to narrow down your selection. The most common shapes are round brilliant cut and princess cut – square shaped. Other cuts include emerald, heart, oval and marquise. Be aware that the shape of the diamond will affect the choice of the ring settings available.
The four C’s
The size of a diamond is not the only detail that goes into determining its value. In fact there are four factors, known as the four C’s, that you will need to consider.
Carat – this is the weight of the diamond, and the biggest factor on its price. The smallest diamonds suitable for solitaire rings are usually a quarter or third carat.
Clarity – most diamonds have internal blemishes or flaws – known as inclusions. The very best are given an internally flawless (IF) rating, these are the most expensive. Look for diamonds with a rating of VS1 – S12 for better value, as the markings on these diamonds are usually only detectable under a microscope.
Colour – white diamonds are given a letter grading, which starts at D for absolutely colourless, and ranges down to Z. Diamonds rated G – J offer good value and high quality. Other colours, such as pink or champagne, are very rare.
Cut – this determines the diamond’s sparkle. The best cut stones are rated as ideal, or premium, but grading of very good and good may offer better value.
The trade in conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, has helped fund conflicts in countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone. Schemes, such as the Kimberley Process, are now in place to restrict the sale of conflict diamonds. To ensure your diamond is conflict free make sure you buy from a reputable retailer and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the stone’s origin.
The diamond certificate, dossier or report is your proof of the diamond’s value. Always buy diamonds with a certificate from a recognised laboratory such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The certificate will give full details of the diamond’s characteristics and will help with insuring your ring.
Buying online means you will enjoy prices around 30-40% less than jewellery stores, although you won’t be able to see the ring before purchase. Many online stores do offer a 15 or 30 day money back guarantee, however.
If you do buy online make sure the seller has a physical street address and is a member of a professional jewellers association. Also be aware that if you buy from an online store abroad you may have to pay import taxes.