Buying the Right Engagement Ring
Diamonds are forever. Read our five-step guide to help you find the perfect diamond engagement ring your partner will love without breaking the bank.
1. Decide whether to buy online or in a physical shop
An engagement ring will probably be the most valued piece of jewellery you will ever purchase, so you might feel nervous about buying online. We will explain why we think you might be better off getting your engagement ring online, providing that you choose a reputable online diamond jewellery store that offers hassle-free returns.
The most obvious advantage of buying diamond engagement rings online is its cheaper cost. Since the overhead costs of running an online shop are much lower than that of physical stores, online sellers can pass significant savings onto their customers.
Another advantage of buying your diamond engagement ring online is that you can take as much time as you need, as you will never feel pressured by a salesperson. Do your research, compare prices from different online retailers, and make sure that your chosen ring ticks all the right boxes.
If you are considering purchasing from us but are still concerned about buying an engagement ring without seeing it first, we accept appointments at our office in North London, where we can show you our selection.
2. Understand the 4 Cs – Cut, Carat weight, Colour or Clarity
When buying an engagement ring, it’s essential to understand the diamond’s 4Cs – carat weight, clarity, colour and cut. Each one of them has a significant impact on the stone’s appearance. Therefore, it’s vital to find the right balance while considering your partner’s preferences. For example, they might desire a larger stone, even if it’s not colourless and has slight inclusions. Or maybe they would prefer a smaller stone as long as it has no tint. Or perhaps a brilliant sparkle is the most important consideration.
Carat refers to the diamond’s weight. One carat equals 0.2 grams.
To help you get an idea of the size, a one-carat round cut diamond would measure around 6.4 mm in diameter, and a two-carat stone would be approximately 8 mm.
The size of a three-carat diamond would be about 9 mm, while a four-carat one would measure slightly over 10 mm.
If you ever wondered, the average size of a diamond engagement ring purchased in the UK is around 0.60 – 0.80 carat.
The diamond’s clarity grade tells you how clean and sparkly the diamond is. The fewer inclusions and blemishes the diamond has, the higher its clarity grading. As natural diamonds grow under the ground for one to three billion years and face extreme heat, they are rarely perfect. They usually contain some surface blemishes and internal inclusions.
Clarity grades range between IF (Internally Flawless), which are extremely rare, VVS1 and VVS2 (Very Very Slight Inclusions – 1st and 2nd degree), VS1 and VS2 (Very Slight Inclusions – 1st and 2nd degree), SI1, SI2 and SI3 (Slight Inclusions – 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree), and I1, I2 and I3 (Inclusions – 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree).
The clarity impacts the diamond’s value. Having said that, many imperfections that might affect the diamond’s clarity grade will not be visible to the naked eye.
Diamonds worldwide are graded using different spectrums, such as the GIE and AGI standards in the US or the EGL and HRD in Europe and IGI popularly Asia.
The GIA grading uses a scale of D (colourless stones) through to Z (deep yellow).
Whereas the EGL grading would grade on a scale from D (colourless stones) through to M (deep yellow).
Fancy, coloured diamonds, such as blue and vivid yellow, are graded on a different, separate colour scale.
A cut grade refers to how well the diamond is cut, including the depth, symmetry, and proportions. It also rates how well-polished the stone is. Cut grades are given only to round diamonds.
The cut quality has an impact on the diamond’s brilliance. A well-cut diamond reflects white and coloured light, resulting in brilliant sparkle, while a poorly cut diamond will look dull.
Choose the perfect diamond shape
Another vital consideration when choosing an engagement ring is the diamond’s shape, as it will be one of the first things everyone will notice. There are ten different shapes of diamonds commonly available. Each of them was designed with a specific objective in mind.
Round Brilliant Cut
The Round Brilliant Cut is the most popular diamond shape as it utilises the reflection of light to maximise brightness, brilliance and fire. Round diamonds have 58 facets, or 57 if the culet (the bottom of the diamond) hasn’t been cut and remains pointed. The facets are distributed among the diamond’s crown (the top of the stone), girdle (the widest part of the stone), and pavilion (the base).
The Princess Cut is the second most popular diamond shape, and it was created after an extensive poll asking women what they wanted. A princess-cut diamond has a square shape with 57 or 58 facets giving it incredible shine. It requires a four-prong setting to protect its corners.
The Cushion Cut is the third most popular and can be traced back to the 19th century. It combines the round cut with the princess cut, giving it soft edges and a cushion-like appearance. Cushion-cut diamonds have 58 facets and come in different ratios, making them square or rectangular.
The Oval Cut was designed in the middle 1900s, and it’s essentially a lengthened version of the round brilliant cut diamond with the same number of facets and similar visual qualities. It can help make the wearer’s finger appear longer and thinner.
The Marquise Cut design resembles an eye. The stone’s elongated shape can make it appear larger than its actual size and is perfect for a wearer with long, slim fingers. It has 57 facets giving it a brilliant sparkle.
The Pear Cut diamond combines the oval and Marquise cuts to create a shape that resembles a teardrop. It can be worn either way, which makes it versatile. It has 58 facets, and the light reflects through the stone in a similar way to a round cut for amazing sparkle.
The Emerald Cut has 58 layered facets for symmetrical sparkle and simple elegance. It’s one of the oldest diamond cuts in the world and can be traced back to the 15th to the 16th century, but the term ‘emerald cut’ wasn’t officially used until the 1920s.
The Radiant Cut has 70 facets, making it one of the sparkliest and shiniest diamonds, hence its name. It was designed to combine the brilliance of the round cut with the elegance of the emerald cut. 1 to 1.05 ratio will produce a square-like shape, while a 1.30 to 1.50 ratio will create a rectangular shape.
The Asscher Cut has an almost octagonal outline with X-shaped facets from the centre culet to the corners. It was developed at the beginning of the 20th century. Like the round cut, it has 57 or 58 facets depending on whether the culet has been cut.
Despite its unique shape, The Heart Cut is based on the round brilliant cut and has between 56 to 58 facets. If well cut, it can have remarkable brilliance. The ideal cut ratio is between 0.90 : 1 and 1.10 : 1, making the heart wider or taller.
4. Select the Right Setting for Your Diamond
Next, consider the ring setting. Some settings can make a diamond look more prominent, sparklier or brighter. In addition, certain settings work better for different diamond cuts and shapes. Ring setting can also reflect the wearer’s personality. So whether your partner prefers simple elegance or something a bit fancier, we will help you make the right choice.
There are many different diamond engagement ring settings available on the market. However, we will focus on some of the most popular ones.
First, we will look at the four most common methods of how diamonds are attached to the ring’s band.
Prong Setting (Also known as Claw Setting)
The prong diamond ring setting has four or six evenly spaced prongs (also called claws) extending from the ring’s body to hold the diamond safely in place. The prongs can be flat or rounded. This setting is suitable for all diamond shapes.
Like the prong setting, a basket setting has prongs extending from the ring’s base to hold the stone in place. But when viewed from the side, you will see horizontal bands connecting the prongs, creating a base into which the diamond is set.
With bezel set engagement rings, the centre diamond is held securely inside a thin gold or platinum rim. While this setting protects the stone, it partially hides the diamond, making it potentially appear smaller and less sparkly than it is.
When looking at a trellis set ring from above, it looks just like a prong setting. But the prongs, usually four or six, are twisted together, giving the ring a woven basket appearance. When looking at a trellis ring from the side, the overlapping prongs usually form a stylised X shape. This setting works best with the round and princess cuts; it can hold one, three or even five stones.
Now, let’s consider the number of stones and whether you would prefer the engagement ring to look simple and elegant or have a bit more bling.
A solitaire diamond ring has a single diamond set in a plain gold or platinum band for a timeless, elegant look, where the stone takes centre stage. Combined with the prong setting, the light can enter the stone from all sides for brilliant sparkle and fire. This setting works well with all diamond shapes, cuts and sizes.
A pave set ring has rows of small diamonds that are level with the band and sit along the main stone to add additional bling and accentuate the main stone. This stylish setting is suitable for any diamond shape. You can buy a fully-paved or half-paved ring, but full-paved settings are a bit problematic, as they are difficult to resize.
Rings with cathedral settings feature two arches which rise above the band, giving the ring extra height. This can make the centre stone, which is usually held by prongs, appear more prominent. The arches of the cathedral ring can be plain or embellished with small diamonds.
Our unique regency ring setting is designed by us after many of our customers asked for a wider band embellished with pave diamonds. Elegant and classy, this setting is the perfect choice for the most important person in your life.
Also called a trilogy ring, this type of setting has three stones that sit side by side. Each stone symbolises different phases in life. The middle stone stands for the present, while the side stones stand for the past and future. Trilogy rings work best with the round cut and emerald cut. The diamonds can be the same size, or the middle one can be larger.
Halo rings have small stones, typically pave diamonds, set in a circle around the centre stone. Halo settings are usually the same shape as the main stone, but occasionally, they can be a different shape. For example, a round diamond can be encircled by a cushion-cut halo. This setting works best with the round, cushion and oval cuts.
5. Make sure diamonds come with independent certification
When buying diamond jewellery, always ensure it comes with an independent certificate. We recommend that you never buy an uncertified diamond.
Diamond certificates, known as grading reports, are supplied by accredited, independent Gemological Laboratories, such as the GIA, GIE and AGS. A diamond certificate contains information and a grade based on the diamond’s 4Cs. Below are some of the best-known and most reputable Gemological Laboratories that issue Diamond Grading Reports.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was set up in 1931. It has since revolutionised the diamond grading system by creating the 4Cs in the 1940s. GIA’s goal is to protect buyers and sellers of diamonds and other precious gemstones by setting and maintaining the high standards used to evaluate the quality of precious stones.
The Gemological Institute of Europe (GIE) was established over 30 years ago to protect customers buying diamond jewellery. GIE is an independent laboratory that has offices around Europe and worldwide. The GIE invest heavily in research and ensures that its laboratories use the highest quality and up-to-date equipment.
A group of jewellers founded the American Gem Society (AGS) in 1934 to protect buyers of all types of jewellery from false advertising and fraud. AGS is committed to improving the jewellery trade and protecting consumers by setting and maintaining high standards within the jewellery industry.
The European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) was established in 1974 and is the largest independent network of Gemological laboratories in the world, with offices in almost every continent, including Europe and America. EGL provides clear, concise reports for polished diamonds, coloured diamonds, and other coloured gemstones.
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) was founded in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1975 and is the oldest diamond lab in the City. It has offices in twenty locations worldwide, including the USA, Europe and Asia. IGI specialises in screening small diamonds and separating natural stones from lab-grown on behalf of the jewellery trade.
The grading reports can differ slightly from one lab to another.
We hope you found this guide helpful. However, if you are still unsure, get in touch. You can call us, email us, or fill out the online form. Our experienced, London-based customer advisors are always happy to help you choose the perfect diamond engagement ring.