Buyng an engagement ring is a bridge many of us have to cross in our lives. Picture the scene: you’ve been with your partner for several years, you’ve (so far) survived living together, you gel with the in-laws and you’ve even gone and got a dog together. You’ve decided they’re ‘the one’ and you want to spend the rest of your life with them; time to secure yourself a ring and pop the question.
Only, buying an engagement ring isn’t as simple as just ‘buy an engagement ring’. There is a whole process to it that, understandably, you might have been unaware of. Naturally, you’re going to gravitate towards diamonds, but not all diamonds are created equal. Several factors come into play to determine not only their price but potentially the effect they have on your partner.
You will also need to think about the band itself, the size of it, the setting within which the diamond you choose will sit. This is a piece that will spend its entire life on your partner’s finger after all, so it’s not only a case of buying something that they will love and cherish, but it’s also a reflection of your understanding of them, too.
Just buy an engagement ring they said… Doesn’t sound so easy all of a sudden, does it?
Fear not fellow gentlemen, for we here at DMARGE have taken the time to learn all there is to know about the engagement ring buying process (and not even for our own personal benefit). Instead, we’ve set about becoming ring buying experts so we can serve you, the soon-to-be husband with an encyclopedia of knowledge. Thank us later.
Keep reading if you want to know how to buy an engagement ring that’s perfect for your partner.
In this story…
How much to spend on an engagement ring
Before we get into discussing all there is to know about buying an engagement ring, let it be said that it won’t be a cheap process. Unless you want to invest in a ring from off the shelf of a high-street jeweller, you can expect to pay anywhere from the high four figures, easily into five figures and if you’re feeling really flush, six figures.
Gregory Jewellers, one of Australia’s most prestigious and trusted jewellers, may ask for a tad more than your run-of-the-mill high street jeweller (although, jewellery brands that are known the world over demand an even higher premium), but there’s a good reason for that. The company puts actual man-hours into sourcing the finest diamonds from around the world – predominantly India, which is the diamond cutting capital of the world right now – and each diamond the company procures is inspected by eye. Only the diamonds that meet their strict criteria are taken on. Co-CEO Edward Gregory says that on average, for every one thousand diamonds available, only around ten of them will be deemed of a high enough quality to be worthy of bearing the Gregory Jewellers name.
It’s therefore paramount you have a budget in mind when buying an engagement ring. Giving this snippet of information to a jeweller such as Gregory will make the buying process infinitely easier, as you will only be shown diamonds and rings that are affordable to you, from Australia’s largest physical live diamond inventory.
With that out the way, it’s on to the fun part.
Buying a diamond for an engagement ring
While it may be true of any other piece of diamond jewellery, when it comes to the engagement ring, guys, you’re going to want to become well acquainted with the shiny stones. There’s a lot to factor in if you want to secure the perfect one.
If you’ve already started your research before you buy an engagement ring, you would have likely come across the 4Cs. If you haven’t, then allow us to explain all.
The 4Cs of diamond quality were established by the GIA – the Gemological Institute of America – in 1953, and relate to cut; clarity; colour and carat weight of a diamond. If you want the absolute best of all these then expect to pay a high, high price. You can, however, compromise on each to reduce the price significantly, although, let it be known, unless you have a diamond with a perfect cut, the rest of 4Cs won’t matter.
That means you could have yourself a diamond that’s graded D for colouring (meaning its colourless to the naked eye) for example, but unless it’s cut so that light enters and exits evenly, then your diamond isn’t going to sparkle as much as you (and Gregory Jewellers) would like. Gregory strongly recommends you don’t compromise on the cut.
And, just to make things a little trickier, just because the 4Cs derive from the most authoritative industry figure, doesn’t always mean you should take a grading as gospel as, upon closer inspection, the diamond may actually exhibit qualities that improve upon the grading and vice versa. The grading of diamonds is something that Gregory Jewellers takes seriously, not to mention a fair amount of pride.
Gregory Jewellers will source beyond diamond certificates. Despite often having this certification document, Gregory will still inspect it by eye to give it their own grading, which may or may not match up with the GIA grading. If having a GIA certificate isn’t something of paramount importance to you, then Gregory’s is still able to offer a selection of diamonds without this documentation.
Gregory has the motto, “We want to meet the diamond before you meet the diamond.”
This is because not all VS or SI diamonds (diamonds with very small inclusions, more on that in a bit) for example, will be the same.
It’s instilling strict measures such as this that sets Gregory Jewellers apart from their competitors, as others will take the GIA gradings as gospel, but you, the customer may not be getting exactly what you want.
Engagement Ring Diamond Cuts
The cut, or shape, of a diamond, will dramatically influence how it interacts with light, and we all want to end up with something shiny, right?
There are a number of different cuts to choose from, but these 11 are the most popular:
The absolute finest cut is the round brilliant diamond. This is a perfectly round shape, with light passing into it and refracting out to produce the full rainbow of colours. The more colour you see refracted from your diamond, the better.
Round brilliant diamonds are also the most expensive because a larger piece of rough (the diamond rock mined from the earth that hasn’t yet been cut or processed) is needed to achieve the round shape.
The other cuts won’t perform as well under light due to their irregular shapes compared to a round brilliant, but, assuming they don’t have any major inclusions, and are cut to ideal proportions, will still sparkle.
Co-CEO Helen Gregory says it is important to view any diamonds in person. Your diamond will have an immediate impact on you and “a great diamond is going to perform well in any light.”
You could have a diamond whose table (the top section) looks flat or dull, or perhaps even smaller than it should be, yet the grading could imply it should fair far better.
Engagement Ring Diamond Colour
The colour of a diamond should be relatively self-explanatory. Colour is graded by letter, starting at D for the purest, colourless diamonds, all the way through to Z. Each letter will introduce some hue (usually a yellow tint). The greater the hue, the less valuable the diamond.
Again, the diamond colour will be closely inspected by Gregory’s and they’re prepared to disagree with the GIA grading and reject a stone if the hue is either not as the certificate says, or if the colouring dramatically affects the sparkle. If it doesn’t ‘dance’, it’s not stocked.
Remember, diamonds can, in fact, have an array of overtones including, but not limited to, grey, brown and green. Generally speaking, overtones other than yellow decrease the beauty and value of the diamond.
Engagement Ring Diamond Clarity
The clarity of a diamond can have a significant effect on the price and relates to naturally occurring imperfections found in the stone, as a result of being exposed to heat, movement and other forces below the earth’s surface.
The crème de la crème of diamonds with regards to clarity is referred to as ‘flawless’, and these stones are incredibly rare, although if you do manage to track one down, you’re going to have to pay a huge amount of money.
It’s because of this that diamonds with inclusions are both more likely what you’ll end up buying and will be significantly cheaper as a result.
But don’t let the word inclusion put you off. Inclusions can be graded as VVS (very, very small) VS (very small) and then by SI1, SI2 and so on. However, they will only be visible through the use of a jeweller’s loop, a magnifying glass that magnifies an object at 10 times what the naked eye can see.
However, once again it’s not quite that simple. Gregory says that while a diamond may come with a certificate that says it is an SI2, that inclusion might be on the top and in the centre, where it’s visible or has a noticeable effect on the behaviour of the light. In this instance, Gregory will either grade it themselves or reject the diamond altogether.
Top-band SI1 diamonds should be ‘eye-clean’ while SI2 can be borderline, although, in the case of Gregory, all their diamonds will be selected from the highest possible band within the clarity grade. If you do need to think about cost, the company explains that a SI2 diamond with major inclusions face-up could be 25% cheaper than an SI2 diamond where the inclusions are not visible and not impacting the behaviour of the light too much.
The Gregory Standard ensures that Gregory diamonds are examined for their lustre and transparency, by carefully examining each diamond by eye, and not relying on a diamond’s certified characteristics alone. This natural characteristic is often overlooked, but can directly affect the brilliance, dispersion and scintillation of the diamond.
Engagement Ring Diamond Carat Weight
We’ve all heard of carats and understand that the higher the number, the more expensive and valuable. However, it’s important to know how that carat weight is formed. A single diamond that has a weight of 1 carat, will be more expensive and more valuable than to buy two diamonds that have a weight of 0.5 each. Every time you go over each bracket, the price of the diamond jumps significantly.
When you view the selection of diamonds and engagement rings on the Gregory Jewellers website, you will be able to select various carat weights for the same style stone, if applicable.
However, again, just because a diamond is 2-carat in weight, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a ‘better’ diamond than a 1.5-carat stone, if it isn’t cut well. Sure, it will be bigger, and for some people, bigger will always mean better, but for value and desirability, you’ll want to go for the better cut 1.5-carat diamond.
Feel more knowledgeable? Perfect. With this newfound diamond knowledge under your belt, not only will you be able to kick it with the dealers in New York’s Diamond District, but you will now be able to start your journey of creating the perfect ring.
No matter what shape of diamond you’re after or what inclusions you’re prepared to part money for, Gregory Jewellers will be able to source you a diamond that matches your checklist.
Choosing An Engagement Ring Band
While we could easily spend even longer talking about the 4Cs, we have a word count to stick to. Ultimately, with this extra knowledge, you can go into a jeweller such as Gregory with a clearer idea of what sort of diamond you’re after. Once you have that nailed down, you can look into the actual ring upon which your diamond(s) will be featured.
While it’s likely the diamond will be subject to more consideration than the ring itself, it’s still not an area to be overlooked. Gregory Jewellers, as an example, can make all manner of ring styles to suit your, or rather, their, tastes and lifestyle. If your partner has a more hands-on job, for example, then you’re going to want the setting to be extra secure to prevent the diamond from falling out if it takes even the slightest of knocks.
Note: Don’t forget the ring size. You want to make sure you’ve got her ring size right before you jump in.
With regards to setting, there are seven options to choose from:
For the vast majority of rings, any setting can be paired with any band and any diamond, but this will usually only become an option if you choose to create a custom ring entirely from scratch.
If you design a custom ring with Gregory Jewellers, you’ll need to head into a store with your partner (unless you cut their hand or finger off) so that a scan can be taken. With a digital copy of your partner’s hand, Gregory can create rings using CAD software before printing them in 3D. This allows you and your partner to see how the dimensions appear on the hand before the actual ring is made.
Helen Gregory says around 50 per cent of Gregory ring sales are custom, but this doesn’t always have to mean starting from a blank canvas. You could alternatively select a ring from the window display and have specific elements changed to your liking.
And don’t fret if you feel you have to make the buying decision alone, as Gregory’s has seen more and more couples going into their stores to make the decision together. If, however, you do want to accept the challenge, you can buy just the diamond on its own and go back with your partner to pick out a ring.
Alternatively, Gregory staff have been in the business (and with the company) long enough to be able to help with the whole buying process simply by providing them with some information about your partner. Even explaining their personality traits can play a significant role in deciding which ring will be best for them.
Custom rings take around four weeks to produce (and an additional week to develop the design), so make sure you take this into account when deciding where and when you’re going to pop the question. Production Manager Simon Gregory adds, “With an engagement ring being for life, you don’t want to rush the process. It is the most significant gift you will ever present a partner, so be sure to take the time to consider all the elements that go into making one.”
You’ll also want to consider the wedding band when buying the engagement ring too, as eventually, the two will have to live together side by side in proverbial matrimony. Designing the engagement ring so it sits nicely with the wedding band will be a buying decision that will score you significant brownie points.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring for your loved one. Not only should you now be clued up with regards of what to look out for when diamond shopping, but you should also be aware that Gregory Jewellers is a jeweller you can most definitely trust to deliver on outright quality and exceptional customer service. When you buy a ring from Gregory, you will be able to take it back to them for a complimentary clean and polish for life: you’ll want it to be sparkling forever, after all.
How To Buy An Engagement Ring FAQs
How much should I spend on an engagement ring?
The amount of money you should spend on an engagement ring will be directly related to how much you can actually afford to spend. If money is no object, then spending a larger sum of money will secure you a more valuable diamond. If your budget is low, you can still find good diamonds, you'll just need to be prepared to make some compromises.
What hand does the engagement ring go on?
The engagement ring and subsequently, the wedding ring, is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand in many Western countries. However, women in some countries such as Germany and Russia choose to wear their engagement ring on their right hand. There is no finite 'rule' as to which finger you have to wear it on, however, and it can come down entirely to personal preference.
How much are engagement rings?
Engagement rings can vary greatly in price. You can spend well under $1,000 if you wish or alternatively, you could spend tens to potentially even hundreds of thousands of dollars if you're able to. The 4Cs as specified by the Gemological Institute of America will be used to determine the cost of the diamond that goes onto the ring, following this, the material used to make the band will also play a large part in the overall price.