Here’s how to maximise your budget, whatever you’re planning to spend
It might not be all that romantic a thought, but just as engagement ring trends are influenced by fashion’s zeitgeist and celebrity proposals, they are also swayed by the economic climate and the price of raw materials, such as gold and diamonds. This year, therefore, it comes as no surprise that couples are focused on finances and keen to make the most out of their money. Searches for ‘engagement ring budget’ are up 21 per cent year on year, according to a survey conducted by Hatton Jewellers, and it is seemingly more important than ever to shop smart.
Read these tips on how to maximise your budget, whether you’re in the market for subtle scintillation or a serious investment piece.
CHOOSE YOUR DIAMOND SHAPE WISELY
Certain shapes are known for appearing larger than others. “A brilliant cut diamond would be the classic choice when looking for a shape that looks larger,” explains Robert Cuomo, managing director of Hatton Jewellers. “Pear shape, oval shape and emerald cuts, however, look the biggest when all other shapes are compared at the same carat weight.” Another tip – while carat weight is the conventional method of measuring the ‘size’ of diamonds, this unit actually refers to weight rather than the dimensions of its cut, which are listed in mm. Explore your preferred shape with the same carat weight but different dimensions – a round diamond that has a wider diameter (or girdle) but is less deep may appear larger at a glance than a round diamond with more traditionally ‘balanced’ proportions. Just remember that the proportions of a diamond’s cut can impact upon its sparkle and value – it’s all about finding your personal sweet spot between size, shape and scintillation.
LEARN THE 4C’S
We have all heard of the 4C’s, but which should we prioritise – cut, colour, carat or clarity? This is an entirely personal choice, and many jewellers will advise you to pick a diamond based on how it individually appeals to you, along with its ‘on paper’ credentials. Understanding the diamond grading system can, however, help you maximise your budget according to your priorities. Colour, for example, is graded by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) on a scale between D to Z, with D being the purest shade of white. Many stones graded between D-F will appear almost identical to a lay person, so it’s worth considering whether a lower colour grading would allow you to invest in a larger carat weight.
DO YOU REALLY WANT A SOLITAIRE?
One savvy way of keeping to your budget while ensuring maximum sparkle is to err away from solitaire designs. “A small cluster of stones can appear as one larger stone, which makes it a much more affordable option,” explains Cuomo. It’s important to remember that a large solitaire stone will command a higher re-sale value than an assortment of smaller diamonds, but if you’re more motivated by the look and feel of your ring than its investment potential this can be a useful approach. If you’re wed to the idea of a solitaire stone but can’t quite afford as large as you would like, consider halo designs which amp up the sparkle factor without incurring the greater cost of a larger principal stone.
LOOK FOR A SETTING THAT ALLOWS LIGHT IN
While the diamond might be the most valuable part of your ring, it is the setting that will convey its personality, so it’s important to select a design that reflects your own sense of style and allows your diamond to scintillate to the max. Many jewellers can show you the same diamond placed into a variety of settings so that you can experiment with different aesthetics. As a rule, the less metal there is around the stone, the more easily light will be able to pour in and radiate out. “A four-claw high setting is a great option for reflecting more light as this allows for enough security, but is less intrusive, letting light refract through the stone,” advises Cuomo.
CONSIDER YOUR CHOICE OF METAL
“When engagement ring shopping, you want to ensure you choose a ring that will last and look elegant,” says Cuomo. Your choice of metal can affect the longevity of a design, but it’s also important to be aware that different metals can also greatly affect the cost. It is worth considering whether you want to pay for a premium metal if a similar look and feel could be achieved with a less expensive choice. White gold, for example, offers a similar cool silver hue to platinum, but is less expensive. Just remember that with daily wear over many years white gold may need to be re-plated to maintain its silver hue.
Looking for some inspiration? Head here for our ultimate engagement ring guide.