If you’ve decided to propose on Valentine’s Day, the pressure’s on to buy the engagement ring that she really wants. Not only do you need to plan the most romantic moment of her entire life on the most romantic day of the whole year… You’ve also got to get the ring 100% right or the moment will be ruined. There’s a lot to take in with diamond shopping so we’ve written this guide makes life easy for you.
Step 1 – What style she wants
For her, the most important thing about an engagement ring is the style. She’ll wear it for the rest of her life, so it needs to look perfect. To suss out her style, observe the jewellery she already wears. Big and sparkly? Understated and simple? If you’re not sure, don’t be proud – ask her sister or best friend for advice.
These are the 5 most popular ring designs right now:
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. Whatever you do, don’t try DIY methods like measuring her finger with a piece string. 95% of home measurements end up in disaster. Do one of these instead:
♦ Measure one of her existing rings with a ring sizer app
♦ Get a free ring sizer tool in the post
♦ Visit a jeweller and get her finger/existing ring measured
♦ Enlist her friends’ help to find out her ring size in secret
Step 3: Your budget
There’s a myth circulating around that an engagement should cost a month’s salary. Luckily, the reality is that there are no rules. Just bear in mind she’ll wear the ring all her life, so it needs to be high quality enough to withstand daily wear. Find a friendly jeweller, be honest about your budget and get the best ring you can afford. Some jewellers also offer 0% financing.
Step 4: Diamond shape
Now it’s time to shop for the ring. Most people expect a diamond to have lots of sparkle, and this will depend on its shape, referred to as the diamond’s ‘cut’. Here are the most common cuts, in 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
- Round cut
- Princess cut
- Pear shaped
- Marquise cut
- Emerald cut
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 1 carat, buy quality H/Si or above. It’s the best, most popular and most affordable price-quality ratio for diamond sizes of up to 1 carat. If you stick to that as your minimum quality, you can’t go wrong. This is because in a diamond less than 1 carat in size, at that quality you won’t be able to see any obvious flaws in the diamond with a naked eye.
Step 6: Pick diamond size
(If she prefers a coloured gemstone, skip to the next step.) “Carat” refers to a diamond’s size. Large diamonds are much rarer than small diamonds. So they’re more expensive per-carat than small diamonds. She wants a big, sparkly ring? If you’re struggling to stretch your budget to one large diamond, look for a ring made with a cluster of smaller diamonds. It will look big, sparkly and beautiful, simulating the look of one large diamond, yet be affordable.
Step 7: Alternatively, pick a gem
Sapphires – Rubies
Maybe your loved one desires a colourful gemstone, instead of a diamond? Gems are a beautiful choice that stand out from the crowd. Kate Middleton’s famous blue sapphire ring has made gems incredibly popular in engagement rings in the recent years. Plus gems are way more affordable per carat than diamonds, so you’ll get a much bigger ring for your money. Bear in mind, though, that not all gems are not tough enough to withstand daily wear! Gem hardness is measured on a scale from 1-10. Diamonds are the hardest, rated 10. Sapphires and rubies are 9. Then topaz at 8, emerald and aquamarine at 7.5-8, tanzanite 6.5-7. We’d usually recommend sapphire (comes in many colours) or ruby (red) to be on the safe side.
Step 8: Choose a metal
There are four choices of precious metal for engagement rings: platinum, white gold, yellow gold or rose gold. Silver is NOT an option, it’s way to soft and will not withstand daily wear.
Your decision will depend on her metal-colour preference and your budget.
Platinum: Platinum is beautiful, white, and the most tough and durable of all precious metals. It’s also the most expensive choice. Platinum does not stain or scratch, although with age it develops microscopic surface denting, forming a look that’s called “the patina of age”. This is considered desirable in platinum jewellery, as it gives it a much loved and worn heirloom feel.
Platinum engagement rings
Yellow Gold: A traditional woman 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 has more gold content than 9K gold, but is also more expensive.
Yellow gold engagement rings
White Gold: White gold is simply yellow gold, but alloyed and coated with white precious metals to give it it a silvery-white luster. It looks beautiful and most people cannot tell it apart from platinum. Bear in mind though that its white precious metal coating will eventually fade and the yellow gold will shine through. This is normal for all white gold jewellery, but means the ring needs to be re-coated every so often. Same as yellow gold, white gold is sold in 18K or 9K purities.
White gold engagement rings
Rose gold: This is a very fashionable and beautiful alternative to yellow gold. It’s made by alloying yellow gold and copper. 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 rose gold gets with the passing of time. Rose gold also comes in 18K or 9K, just like yellow and white gold.
Rose gold engagement rings
Now… it’s time buy THE ring she wants
Write down your checklist:
✓ Her preferred style – overall design, diamond shape, metal colour
✓ Ring size
✓ Your budget
Now that you know what you want, you can explain your exact requirements to your jeweller. In the UK, it’s a good idea to stick to jewellers who are members of The National Association of Jewellers. You can find verify a jeweller’s membership on their website. Find a friendly jeweller who’s happy to show you rings, explain what they’re all about and help you with all aspect of this important decision. Good luck! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert Personal Shoppers if you have any questions.
Visit TheDiamondStore.co.uk now to view engagement rings.
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Any prices quoted in this article were those available on 26th January 2018 and they may vary any time after this date.