The first thing we would encourage you to do is whether together as a couple or individually (perhaps you are surprising your partner!) decide on your budget and even more importantly to stick to this!
Firstly you need to familiarise yourself with the Four C’s – these four little words will be at the forefront of your mind every second when you are newly engaged! The four C’s are as follows:
(i) Diamond Colour:
Diamonds range in colour from D (which would be a colourless diamond) to Z (a diamond with a strong yellow tint). Diamonds that are in the range from D to F are generally regarded as being colourless and will therefore be more expensive, diamonds in the range G to H are near colourless and are what a lot of people aim for. We advise you to view the diamond in day light or under a day lamp as many jewellers have lights which make a diamond look brighter than it actually is. Just 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. By reducing the colour ranking of the diamond, this 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. A big tip here is to buy a diamond where the weight is just under one of the magic points. For example a 0.9ct stone can cost up to 20% less than a 1 ct stone with both diamonds looking very similar in size. It is extremely difficult to distinguish between them.
(iii) Diamond Clarity:
This refers to the number of inclusions that a diamond may or may not have. Clarity ranges from Flawless to Heavily Included (inclusions visible to the naked eye). Only 1% of the world’s diamonds are flawless, all others have clarity characteristics that were created when the diamond was being formed millions of years ago. The best value for money would be VS2/Si1 or Si2, be careful when buying Si1 or Si2 stones as quite a number of them have visible inclusions if you look closely enough. If you reduce the clarity in your diamond this would really save you money.
(iv) Diamond Cut:
The Cut of the diamond is without doubt the most important of the 4 C’s. Many people get confused between the cut and the shape of the diamond. Shape refers to Round, Princess, Cushion, Pear, Emerald etc, while 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. In other words it will not sparkle! 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 a 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 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. If a jeweller provides a self certified diamond, always question this as it simply means it is not independently verified.
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 if it is uncertified. All jewellers should have a UV light and should be able to easily test a diamond in front of you to confirm there is no fluorescence.
4. Engagement Ring Insurance:
When looking for engagement ring Insurance make sure to shop around as there may be room for some negotiation with the insurance company (usually as part of your home insurance). It is important that you do not over insure you engagement ring as there are no benefits to doing this. 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.
5. Ring metal: Yellow gold, Platinum or White Gold
When choosing your metal type and deciding between yellow gold and either platinum/white gold then this is a matter of taste. However when choosing between White Gold and platinum we can offer some advice. 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.
6. Buying abroad:
If you decide to buy your 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. Also consider the costs of travel, hotels, time off work, currency rates etc. You are also liable to Irish duties and taxes when you return to Ireland. Another big consideration is 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. But remember – if something looks to good to be true, it usually is. Diamonds and metal are commodities. If they are being sold aw exceptional low cost, there is definitely a reason.
7. Ring style
Different diamond shapes will look better on different peoples hands. A diamond raised up on a mount will usually make a finger look slimmer. Three stone rings usually look best on short fingers. Some styles, while may look nice in a jewellers window/website, but they will not suit your hand. Try on many styles and diamond shapes to ensure you know what style and shape you prefer and which one suits you best.
Typically, marquise, oval and pear cut diamonds help elongate a finger and make it look longer and slimmer.
8. Buy your wedding bands at the same time:
Any Jeweller will more than likely give you a good deal if you buy his and hers wedding bands at the same time as buying the engagement ring (we here at Bespoke Diamonds certainly do). 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. It is 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!
9. Shop Around before your buy – it may sound obvious but ensure that you shop around to ensure you are getting the best ring you can for your budget. You will be amazed at how much money you can save by doing this. Also try on lots of rings to ensure you know which style you like and that suits you best. We encourage our customers to shop before they visit us so they know what they like and know the value they receive!
10. Finally remember your only option is not just the Traditional Jeweller. The Appointment only Jeweller is gaining much popularity for very good reason. Appointment only Jewellers are becoming increasingly popular and offer many advantages as opposed to traditional shop front jewellers. The most important one is that generally they are much more affordable due to lower overheads.
Your budget will also get you a much better quality diamond. Also you will generally be given more time and privacy to try on all of the rings in a nice surrounding.
We at Bespoke Diamonds Dublin typically can offer engagement rings 25% - 35% below high street jewellers prices (possible this helped us win the “Weddings On Line Jeweller of the Year 2014”).
This is a big investment financially therefore take your time and remember shop around and stick to your budget and most importantly, enjoy the day!
Getting engaged is such a special time in our lives and we want to help you to find your perfect engagement ring and get the best value for your budget.
We have been selling diamonds for many years at Bespoke Diamonds Dublin and the following is a short list of things we think would be useful for all couples when starting to find their perfect engagement ring.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.