If you are thinking of popping the question this Valentines Day and you are in the market for an engagement ring then we have the fool proof guide to buying an engagement ring. Be it for your fiancé to be or if you are a newly engaged couple choosing the ring together.
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. If possible ask the Jeweller if you can take the ring outside to see it in natural light to get a real sense of the diamond’s colour. Many jewellers have lights which make a diamond look brighter than it actually is. A diamond colour “G” for example and a diamond colour “I” will look very similar. However, there could be a big difference in price. “I” diamond being less expensive. If you compromise slightly on the colour then some savings with minimal consequence could be made.
Diamond carat relates to the weight of a diamond. Prices jump at what jewellers call “magic points”. Magic points are 0.5carat, 1 carat, 1.5carats, 2carats 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. Both diamonds looking very similar in size.
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 Si1/Si2. However, be careful when buying Si 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.
Cut is the most important of the 4 C’s. Some people get confused between Cut and Shape of the Diamond. Shape refers to whether the diamond is 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 sparkle a lot. 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 jewelers.
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. 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.
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. It is best to keep the metal the same for both rings too so the colour remains the same. Remember a curve or odd shaped wedding ring may look great with the engagement ring. However, it may not look great if you want to wear the wedding band on its own!
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. €30. 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 very similar to platinum and white gold but less expensive. Palladium is a strong metal, has a permanent whiteness, is easy to polish and repair and is scratch resistant.
Always buy from reputable Jewellers and 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. You should consider costs of travel, hotels, time off work, currency rates etc. Remember you are also liable to Irish duties and taxes when you return to Ireland. Also consider after sales service, what if there are problems with the ring. It may be costly to return to the jeweler.
Different diamond shapes will look better on different hands. A diamond raised up on a mount will usually make a finger look more slim. Three stone rings usually look best on short fingers. Try on many styles and diamond shapes to ensure you know what style and shape you prefer.
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. If you buy in a jewelers you can see what you get and it is available to take home immediately. In the unlikely event something breaks you know where to go. If you get your ring made specifically it can be less expensive. Less overheads exist than purchasing from a traditional jewelers. If you buy on-lines it may be more difficult to return if a problem occurs at a later date. 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.
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.
All Jewellers will ask the budget question first so be sure of what it is and stick to it! Also do not be afraid to haggle on the price as the first price offer should never be the final price paid. Also if you purchase the two wedding rings from the same jeweler they will usually do a good deal for you.
Diamonds are not the only option with many women choosing sapphire or other gem stones. Finally another great option are cluster rings. These are a series of small diamonds clustered together in one big diamond. The savings on these are huge and worth a look! They sparkle brilliantly, certainly more bling for your buck!
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