If you’ve decided to propose on Valentine’s Day, the pressure’s on. Not only do you need to plan the most romantic day of her life but you’ve also got to get the ring 100% right. There’s a lot to take in with diamond shopping – so we’ve written this guide makes life easier for you.
Included this article:
- How to choose a ring style she loves
- Diamond quality, shape and setting
- Ring size
- A bit about coloured gems
- What colour metal?
- Your budget
- Tips on choosing a jeweller
Step 1 – The style she wants
For your partner, the most important thing about an engagement ring is the style.
She will wear it on their hand for the rest of her life, so it needs to look perfect.
To suss this out, look at the jewellery she already wears. Big and sparkly? Understated and simple? If you’re not sure, ask her sister or friends for advice.
The 5 most popular ring designs are:
Solitaire: one single diamond
Halo: One larger diamond encircled by smaller stones
Sidestones: extra diamonds on the band
Cluster: lots of small diamonds set together
Gemstones: colourful sapphires, emeralds, rubies
Step 2 – Ring size, ring size, ring size!!!
Next, you’ll need her finger size. This is crucial. A ring that doesn’t fit will ruin the big moment. To get her ring size, try one of these methods:
- Measure one of her existing rings with a ring sizer app
- Get a free ring sizer tool in the post
- Measure her finger at a jewellery store
- Ask her friends to help you find out her ring size in secret
Step 3: Your budget
There’s a myth that an engagement should cost a month’s salary. Luckily, the reality is that there are no rules.
Just remember, she’ll wear the ring all her life, so it needs to be strong enough, and robustly made, to withstand daily wear.
Find a friendly jeweller and get the best ring you can afford. Some jewellers offer 0% financing to spread out the cost.
Step 4: Diamond shape
(If she prefers a coloured gem, skip to Step 8.)
Most people expect every diamond to sparkle, a lot.
However, a diamond’s sparkle actually depends on its shape, called the ‘cut’. Some diamonds have a cut that creates more sparkle than others.
Here are the most common diamond cuts in the order of sparkliness:
♦ Round cut – Round, the most sparkly
♦ Princess cut – Square, almost as sparkly as round
♦ Pear cut – Looks like a teardrop, medium sparkle
♦ Marquise cut – Rounded sides tapering to points, medium sparkle
♦ Emerald cut – Rectangular, giving off long flashes rather than sparkle
Step 5: Easy way to pick diamond quality
Next, check diamond quality. Most people find this a complete headache, but we’ll make it very simple for you.
If you’re buying a solitaire diamond up to 0.50 carat, H/Si quality is good value for money. In a stone that size, at that quality, you won’t be able to see any flaws in the diamond with your naked eye, and your diamond will have a beautiful white colour.
For larger diamonds, you may want to consider a better quality. In this case, trust your jeweller to recommend a minimum quality that represents the best value for the cut you’re considering.
Step 6: Pick a diamond size
‘Carat’ refers to a diamond’s weight, i.e. size. Large diamonds are much rarer than small diamonds, so they’re more expensive per-carat than small diamonds.
Does she want a big ring? If you’re struggling to stretch your budget to one large diamond, look for a cluster of smaller diamonds.
It will be more affordable than a solitaire, yet look big, sparkly and beautiful, simulating the look of one large diamond.
Step 7: Alternatively, pick a gem
Maybe your loved one desires a colourful gemstone, instead of a diamond? Gems are a beautiful choice that stands out from the crowd.
Kate Middleton’s famous blue sapphire ring has made gems incredibly popular. Plus gems are more affordable per carat than diamonds, so you’ll get a bigger ring for your money.
Bear in mind, though, that not all gems are tough enough to withstand daily wear. Sapphires and rubies are the safest bet. Rubies are red. Sapphires come in blue, pink, yellow and green if you want more choice.
Step 8: Choose a metal
There are 4 precious metal choices for engagement rings:
- White gold
- Yellow gold
- Rose gold
Silver is NOT an option, it’s way too soft and will not withstand daily wear.
Your decision will ultimately depend on what colour metal your partner prefers.
Platinum is beautiful, white, and the most durable of all precious metals. It’s also the most expensive. Platinum does not stain or scratch, although with age it develops microscopic surface denting called ‘the patina of age’. This is considered desirable in platinum jewellery, as it gives it a much-loved and worn heirloom feel.
2. Yellow Gold:
A traditional person will prefer the classic look of yellow gold. Yellow gold may be sold as 18K gold or 9K gold. This is a measure of how much gold is used in the ring. Gold on its own is far too soft, so it has to be mixed with other, harder metals to keep its form. 18K gold simply has more gold content than 9K gold. The latter is, therefore, more affordable.
3. White Gold:
White gold is simply yellow gold alloyed with white precious metals and coated with rhodium to give it a silvery-white sheen. It looks beautiful and most people cannot tell it apart from platinum. The rhodium coating will eventually fade and the yellow gold will shine through. This is normal for all white gold jewellery but means you’ll need to get the ring re-coated every so often. In the same way as yellow gold, explained above, white gold is sold in 18K or 9K purities (9K is more affordable than 18K).
4. Rose gold:
This is a very fashionable and beautiful alternative to yellow gold. It’s made by alloying yellow gold and copper to give it a red sheen. It won’t scratch or need maintenance, but with age, the copper will tarnish slightly making the metal slightly redder. As with platinum, many people like this well-loved antique look that rose gold gets with the passing of time. Rose gold also comes in 18K or 9K, just like yellow and white gold.
Finally… it’s time buy THE ring!
Now that you know exactly what you want, you can tell your jeweller. Stick to jewellery stores that are members of The NAJ and always check your jewellery is hallmarked. Find a friendly professional is happy to give you their time, along with reassuring advice, to help you make this important decision.
Good luck! Get in touch with our expert Personal Shoppers if you have any questions.
Any prices quoted in this article were those available on 16th January 2019 and may vary after this date.