With Christmas on its way, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year (Christmas enthusiast here!) and many chose it as the perfect time to pop the big question. Some of the sweetest proposals I’ve ever heard of involve a puppy or a kitten underneath a Christmas tree with a diamond ring attached to their collars and notes such as “Will you marry my new daddy?” I mean… puppies and diamonds? Best day ever or what? But anyway, I’m getting distracted…
I have worked in the jewellery business for a while now and one of my favourite types of customer will always be a man (or woman for that matter) in search of the perfect engagement ring for his/her beloved. I find it very touching, sometimes amusing and always heart-warming! Touching and heart-warming because you can hear about the best, most romantic love stories ever and go “awww” without any shame; you can tell how much the person wants to please the love of their lives and how much they care! Amusing because sometimes, you see a very confused looking person coming your way, and the first thing they say is “I don’t know anything about jewellery but…” So I am just going to list here what I would say to any customer in order to help them make the right choice:
Gemstone ring or plain diamond ring?
The first thing I have to say is that there truly is no right or wrong when choosing an engagement ring – many ladies actually have dropped more or less subtle hints when they know what they want. So, if your future fiancée keeps on talking about sapphire rings, you can most definitely go for a sapphire cluster ring for instance. Do not be afraid of it not being “traditional” enough, if that’s what she wants that’s what she should get, nowadays traditions have changed and you are more than free to do whatever you want. The only thing to bear in mind is that some stones are softer than others so will need some extra care. This leads me to the big bad diamond and the reason why it is the most popular engagement ring choice. Diamonds are the most hardwearing gemstones, with a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale, for this reason they symbolise an ever-lasting love and are the preferred choice.
“Diamonds are forever”
I feel that a personally chosen diamond solitaire ring is a safe bet (not in a boring way), you simply cannot go wrong with such a timeless classic. An engagement ring is going to be worn daily and a diamond solitaire ring is perfect in the sense that it would compliment any outfit. A diamond ring is an easy wear that will never go out of trend.
Now the question is, how do you chose the perfect diamond?
I am going to keep this pretty simple, (although if you want more details have a look at our page ‘Choosing the right diamond’). A basic understanding of the diamond’s four Cs will help: The four ‘C’s’ being: Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat-Weight.
Diamonds come in different colours but the most popular ones still are white diamonds, with a colourless stone being the highest grade. Diamonds are graded from a D colour which would be colourless to a Z which would be light yellow. Basically, anything higher than an I colour can be considered as very high colour graded and will have a nice white colour.
The clarity of a diamond is determined by the size, number and location of natural inclusions within the stone when viewed under 10x magnification. The range varies from an IF, internally flawless indicating no inclusions at all, to an I3 which will be an included stone. Any stone higher than an SI1 or SI2, slightly included, stone will show a good brilliance and the inclusions will not be seen with a naked eye.
The ‘weight’ of a diamond is measured in carats. As the carat weight of a diamond increases, so does its rarity; this will be reflected in the price.
Basically a question of budget here, the bigger a diamond is the more expensive it will be. Simples!
Modern Brilliant round cut
The modern brilliant round brilliant cut diamond is by far the most popular choice of diamond shape these days. Here you can see a beautiful 2.48 carats modern brilliant round cut diamond set in a halo design. And no, a solitaire ring does not necessarily have to be a single stone, it can be embellished on the shoulders or like in this case around the main gemstone.
Old European round cut
This is the antique version of the modern brilliant round cut, with the difference being that it is older (pre Circa 1920s), hand cut as opposed to machine cut, hence why an old European round cut diamond will not be as “neat” as a modern cut one, but it will have a distinctive, classic antique, more unique look! Here again, a stunning solitaire ring with embellished shoulders. What is also remarkable with older stones, is that in addition to a great unique look, such gemstones represent better value for money…
Transitional modern brilliant round cut
This one is an in-between as its name indicates. Between the Old European cut and the modern brilliant round one, transitional modern brilliant round cut diamonds were typically diamonds cut around the 1930s-60s. In all honesty such diamonds are VERY similar to modern brilliant round cut ones.
The princess cut is the most popular non- round diamond cut, it is either square or rectangular cut with pointed corners. Here you can see an example of a plain four claw setting with a plain and simple shank.
Emerald cut diamonds can be square or rectangular, but differ from the Princess cut as the corners are tapered, and the pavillion (underside) has a faceted cut. I must say I have a personal preference for its elegance, I find this cut understated and am a big fan of how it sits nicely on the hand.
The Asscher cut diamond is nearly identical to the Emerald cut except that it is square, with a total depth which is typically greater.
So, these represent the most popular diamond cuts, but obviously there are less well known such as: marquise cuts, cushion cuts, old Dutch cuts, fancy cuts (heart shaped ones for instance), pear cuts, old mine cuts … But I just had to make a choice here before this blog starts putting you all to sleep!
White gold, yellow gold or platinum?
Here again a question of personal taste, but white gold and platinum seem to be the most popular options, with platinum having the advantage of being more hardwearing. Have a look at your partner’s jewellery box, does she have more yellow gold, more white gold? And go from there!
If you really are in doubt but do want to keep it a surprise for your intended (which I think is wonderful) maybe bring someone with you, and maybe not the person YOU would pick, ie: is your best friend really the best person to help there or will he just be as confused as you are? Is your mother the person who knows your fiancée’s tastes best? The question is who would know her taste best? Maybe her mother, sister or best friend could be a good call? Someone who can keep a secret for sure!
The perfect choice – is yours
But more importantly, I have very rarely heard of anyone completely hating an engagement ring that has been chosen with love by their partner, so follow your instinct. After all you are the person she is about to chose to spend the rest of her life with, give yourself more credit, you probably do know her taste well enough to make the perfect choice!