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The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Engagement Ring

Posted by Mim Ferris and Katherine Lovage on Jan 26, 2018 8:16:10 PM

Couple getting engaged

Congratulations! 

If you’re reading this post, then there’s a good chance you have fallen in love and decided to spend the rest of your life with your partner. Here at Burrells, we know that this sentiment is the most precious thing in the world, no matter how exquisite engagement rings are.

However, most people do like to purchase an engagement ring for their significant other because it signifies their devotion. But where do you start looking? And how do you find the perfect engagement ring?

Here at Burrells, we have decades of experience matching engagement rings to happy couples, so we want to share all of our knowledge to help you make the best decision. You want your partner to love their ring, and we do too!

So in this blog post, we’re going to take a look at the many considerations that come along with choosing your perfect ring. From prices and diamonds to cut and colour, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about engagement rings.

 

How Much Does an Engagement Ring Cost?

It may not feel very romantic, but there’s no getting away from cost.

Deciding how much you want to spend on a ring can be a good starting point for your search. Before you start looking, try to have an approximate idea of your budget, which you can always rethink later as you refine your choice.

How much you should be spending on an engagement ring is a hot topic. There are many notions about the cost of engagement rings but remember: it is frequently the diamond industry who invent these concepts.

For example, in the 1930s, a De Beers advertising campaign suggested spending one month’s salary on an engagement ring. However, the same company had a 1980s campaign which proposed spending two month’s salary instead!

burrells-three-stone-pear-diamond-engagement-ring.jpgChoosing how much you want to spend on an engagement ring is a personal decision. Everybody has a different budget.

In fact, there are many varieties of engagement ring, and their prices vary massively. This means that you do not have to break the bank to find a ring that your partner will love.

Nevertheless, our primary piece of advice is this: remember that an engagement ring will be worn every day, for the rest of your partner’s life. Moreover, an engagement ring is a symbol of longevity and will be the centrepiece of your partner’s jewellery collection. This makes an engagement ring the ultimate cost-per-wear example, a true investment piece.

 

Should I Buy a Diamond Engagement Ring?

The diamond engagement ring has a long history; it is a tradition that can be dated back many centuries.

Today, the most commonly sold engagement ring is the diamond solitaire ring, as pictured below. Around three-quarters of engagement rings sold in the UK are solitaires.

However, engagement rings do not have to include diamonds. There are countless ring choices on the market, including coloured gemstones, eternity rings, clusters, and trilogies. So the more styles you look at, the better - you might end up falling in love with something you’d never even imagined.

Still, when choosing the stone for your ring, we recommend that you are mindful of practicality. Once again, an engagement ring should be practical as your partner will wear it every day. Therefore, it is best to keep delicate designs and fragile gemstones for dress rings and other jewellery.

Burrells round diamond solitaire engagement ringDiamonds, on the other hand, are naturally robust and one of the hardest natural minerals on earth, which makes them a perfect choice for an engagement ring. Some other gemstones are also generally considered sturdy enough for everyday wear. We can tell this by looking at their grade on the Mohs scale.

The Mohs scale is a grading system that depicts the hardness of a stone. Many people consider a Mohs scale score of 8 or above to be ok for everyday wear. A diamond has a score of 10, which makes it the best regarding durability.

Other examples of gemstones on the Mohs scale are rubies and sapphires which score 9 and topaz, which comes in at 8 on the scale.

 

Which Diamond Should I Choose?

Regarding classic style, the diamond solitaire is the epitome of timeless elegance. Nothing shows off the attributes of a diamond as well as the pared-down simplicity of a single-stone setting.

Many people think you can’t go wrong with a solitaire ring. So if this is you, then choosing a diamond is your first task, and we can look at the four C’s to help us do that.

 

The Four C’s

‘The Four C’s’ refer to the cut, colour, clarity and carat of a diamond.

 

Diamond Cut

A diamond’s cut is the only one of the four C’s which is not decided by nature. The cut of a diamond does not actually refer to the shape of the diamond (e.g. round, square) but rather to the proportions of the diamond’s facets (or faces).

A diamond expert, such as a member of the GIA, will grade a cut depending on the diamond’s ability to return light (how much sparkle the diamond has). Even if the colour, clarity and carat weight of a diamond are great, a poor cut will result in a stone that lacks fire and radiance.

The diamond’s cut majorly affects how big the diamond appears. A well-cut diamond will appear more prominent than one with a lower grade cut because of the extra light return. Additionally, some diamonds cuts have more ‘spread’ (a shallow cut with a wide diameter). A spread diamond will look bigger from above.

However, diamond size does not necessarily correspond with an increase in price. The four C’s are much more likely to affect the value of a stone, and bigger is not always better. You can read more about this in our article, Is a Bigger Diamond Always Better? Here’s What You Need to Know.

People sometimes refer to a diamond's shape as 'cut'. Below we have compiled a list of the ten most popular diamond shapes:

 

1. Round Brilliant Cut

The round brilliant is by far the most popular cut. This faceted cut provides maximum light return and sparkles more than any other. It is timeless, and if in doubt, this is the best cut to choose.

 round-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

2. Princess Cut

Another faceted cut, but square in shape. The facets of a princess cut retain the diamond’s twinkle, while the clean lines give a more contemporary look. Princess cut diamonds are often the best value for money because their shape follows that of the naturally occurring rough diamond crystal, and so produces less waste. We've compared the two most popular diamond shapes, round and princess cut, in our article, Round Brilliant vs Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Rings.

 princess-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

3. Emerald Cut

The emerald cut is a ‘step cut’, which means the diamond’s cuts are parallel. Step cuts do not throw light around in the same way that faceted cuts do, but are more subtle. The overall shape is rectangular with trimmed corners and can vary in width and length.

 emerald-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

4. Asscher Cut

The asscher is another step cut. It has a distinctly 1930’s Art Deco feel and is beautifully minimal.

asscher-diamond-shape.jpeg

5. Cushion Cut

A cushion cut is a faceted, rounded square, and its soft lines give a slightly vintage look. Popular in the 18th century and enjoying a modern revival, many celebrities opt for this elegant shape.

 cushion-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

6. Oval Cut

The oval is a faceted cut which is a quirky alteration of the round brilliant. Many feel the oval’s elongated shape flatters the finger.

 oval-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

7. Marquise Cut

Marquise cut diamonds are elongated and pointed at the top and bottom. They are very elegant, and due to their slim shape, they tend to give a big look for their carat weight.

 marquise-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

8. Pear Cut

This cut is a blend of the round brilliant and the marquise cut. It is a faceted cut, and its lines evoke a tear or raindrop. The beauty of this shape is in its variety and rarity; no two pears are alike, and they are quite unusual.

 pear-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

9. Radiant Cut

The radiant cut can be a square or rectangular cut but has the corners trimmed off. This cut combines the lines of an emerald cut with the facets of the round brilliant. If you are looking for a rectangular stone but want to retain more sparkle, this is a good choice.

 radiant-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

10. Heart Cut

Diamonds come in many fancy cuts, but the heart is the most romantic. The heart cut is a modified round brilliant, and every heart cut is different. Heart cuts are quite rare, so give your jeweller plenty of time to gather some together!

 heart-cut-diamond-shape.jpeg

 

If you are are wondering whether to buy a certified or non-certified diamond, we've compared the pros and cons of both in our article, Certified Diamond vs Non-Certified Diamond Engagement Rings.

 

Diamond Colour

We grade diamonds by their colour. The whiter the diamond, the more rare and valuable it is.

The diamond colour grading scale begins at ‘D’ and continues all the way through to ‘Z’. This scale starts at ‘D’ rather than ‘A’ in case someone ever discovers an even whiter diamond.

‘D’ grade diamonds are completely colourless, but as you move down the scale, a tint of yellow appears. ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘G’ diamonds are still brilliantly white, and an untrained eye would be hard-pushed to see a difference between them. ‘H’ and ‘I’ start to show a hint of warmth, and ‘J’ and ‘K’ have a definite yellow tint.

Additionally, there are also fancy coloured diamonds. Coloured diamond could be yellow, brown, pink, blue, and even green, this is due to other trace elements within the crystal structure. Often referred to as ‘fancies’, these diamonds are exquisite and have their own colour grading scale.

gia-colour-grading-scale


Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity refers to the natural inclusions or marks that are within almost every diamond. Inclusions affect the value of a diamond but not necessarily its beauty - that, as we know, is in the eye of the beholder.

A diamond is a natural occurrence, formed under extraordinary conditions over millions of years. Feathery wisps, microscopic flecks and even tiny crystals are all commonly found nestled within them.

We grade the progressing degrees of diamond inclusions on a scale. Diamonds without any natural inclusions are very rare, and classified as ‘Internally Flawless’ or ‘IF’.

Then comes ‘Very Very Slightly Included (1 and 2)’ diamonds, graded as ‘VVS1’ and ‘VVS2’. After this, there are ‘Very Slightly Included (1 and 2)’ or ‘VS1’, ‘VS2’.

Crucially, the inclusions in VVS and VS diamonds are not visible to the naked eye. Even an expert with a loupe (a jeweller’s eyepiece that provides 10 x magnification) will have to look very carefully to see the marks in a VVS diamond. At VS the inclusions will be easier to notice, but only under magnification.

It is not until you get to Slightly Included diamonds (‘SI 1’ and ‘SI 2’) that you can begin to see flaws. Even then, such defects will not be noticeable, especially in a faceted cut such as a round brilliant cut or a princess cut.

 

Diamond Carat

A carat does not refer to the size of a diamond, but rather to its weight. Large diamonds are much rarer than small ones, so you’ll pay exponentially more as you go up in carat weight.

Moreover, the value of a diamond tends to jump at the milestone of each half-carat. Therefore, it is often worth considering diamonds which weigh just under a carat, rather than precisely one carat.

 

engagement-ring-sizes-on-real-hand.jpg

 

Which Diamond Setting Should I Choose?

You should always consider the setting of your engagement ring because a well-designed setting will ensure decades of worry-free wear. Here are the main things you need to know:

  • Some settings, such as a ‘claw’ setting and ‘bar’ setting, leave a diamond somewhat exposed. Increased exposure allows for excellent sparkle, but also the possibility of damage.
  • Other settings, such as a ‘rub-over’, protect the diamond because they cover its circumference. However, this setting lets in less light which means decreased sparkle.

 You can learn more about the most popular engagement ring settings in our article, 

 

Should I choose an Engagement Ring with my Partner?

Ask yourself: Do you want to surprise your partner or would you like to go and find a ring together? Perhaps your partner is desperate to be involved in choosing her engagement ring or already has something in mind.

If you are considering surprising your partner, then bravo! A surprise proposal can be exciting and romantic, and if your partner likes surprises, then this is a great idea. Before you select a ring for your big surprise, you’ll have to do some research into what your partner likes, and understand their style. Remember to find out their ring size, too.

On the other hand, more and more people are choosing to buy their engagement ring together. Although this is considered less traditional, choosing a ring together is a fantastic way to know you’re getting it right.

Additionally, choosing an engagement ring together can be a very special occasion. Here at Burrells, we will even provide champagne while you search, and hide the prices of the rings upon your request.

 

couple-getting-engaged.jpeg

 

Which Engagement Ring Style Should I Choose?

When you’re looking to buy an engagement ring, getting the style right is crucial. Style is all about knowing what your partner likes (or doesn’t like!) and making sure you choose the right ring for them!

Here are some tips for finding the perfect style:

  • Think about what jewellery your partner already owns. Do they have a preference for metal colour or tone? Perhaps they like simple contemporary jewellery, or maybe they prefer dramatic, glittery pieces.
  • If you’re still unsure about your partner’s style, take a look at their wardrobe. Clothes offer a great insight into a person’s style and can assist you when buying a ring.

For example, try looking at whether your partner prefers cool or warm toned colours and if her clothes are simple, unusual, or vibrant. Any information like this is helpful, especially if you are aiming to surprise your partner! For more tips on finding the right style, have a read of our article, Which Engagement Ring Matches My Personality?

 

Which Engagement Ring Metal Should I Choose?

The metal that you choose for your engagement ring could be yellow gold, white gold, platinum or something else entirely!

When choosing ring metal, you should check to see whether your partner already has a preference. You should also check to see if your partner has any allergies that mean you need to choose a hypoallergenic metal.

If you are stuck between platinum and white gold, we suggest having a look at our article, Platinum vs White Gold – Which is Best for Jewellery?

 

What About Designing Your Own Engagement Ring?

Some people like to have bespoke engagement rings because jewellers can tailor these unique pieces to the wearer. If you want to design your engagement ring, then going bespoke may be the right option for you.

Likewise, if you already have a stone that you would like to incorporate into an engagement ring, then a bespoke ring is a good choice. A famous example of this is Meghan Markle’s engagement ring, which includes some of Princess Diana’s diamonds.

 

Where Should I Buy my Engagement Ring?

So you’ve now decided on a style of ring, and you have an idea about pricing. But where exactly should you buy your ring?

When deciding on a store to buy your engagement ring, consider:

  • The store’s reputation - does this store have good reviews?
  • The services on offer - for example, if you want a bespoke ring, you need to find a store that creates bespoke pieces.
  • Stock - having a good look in different stores will give you an idea of what each has to offer. Proof that shopping around can give you more than just money off!

 

Engagement Ring Guarantees

Warranties matter. Checking whether your ring comes with a guarantee is vital because this will protect your ring (and your wallet). You should find out whether you have a warranty, and if it covers things such as:

  • The damage or loss of a gemstone.
  • Any general wear and tear.
  • Jewellery cleaning and polishing.
  • Jewellery resizing.

 

Choosing your Wedding Ring

Since you’re currently looking at engagement rings, your actual wedding may seem to be a distant event. Despite this, it is worth thinking about your wedding rings while choosing an engagement ring.

In fact, some people even choose their wedding rings at the same time as the engagement ring or at least try to get some ideas. Here’s why:

Once you’re married, your partner will probably wear their wedding ring on the same finger as their engagement ring. Therefore, you need to think about how the rings will sit together, and how they will look. engagement-ring-wedding-band.jpg

Specific styles of engagement ring could mean that your partner will need a ‘shape to fit’ wedding ring. A shape to fit ring has a curved ring band, which allows the two rings to fit snugly together.

On the other hand, some ring settings are designed to accommodate a wedding ring naturally. Either way, if you know this in advance, then you can make sure you obtain rings that are the perfect match.

 

Let the Search Begin!

Now that you have finished reading this engagement ring guide, it’s time to begin your search. The perfect ring is out there!

From all of us here at Burrells, congratulations and good luck!

Looking to buy an engagement ring? We have a beautiful collection of engagement rings in-store and online, and a team of experts who can help you in your search. You can book an appointment here.

 

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Filed Under:

Engagement and Wedding

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