With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching and the highest percentage of proposals taking place on the day, there comes a dilemma – where to start on choosing and buying the perfect engagement ring? Elmwood’s auctioneers director, Samuel Hill, offers some top tips to ease the process….
“Choosing the perfect engagement ring can be a minefield, especially if you’ve decided to surprise the one you love. Quite often, couples wisely consult on the types of rings their partner might want in advance, in order to not be completely in the dark when they eventually pop the question”, says Hill.
One of the first things to consider is his or her personal style, which will determine what type of stone you choose. 76% of all engagement rings purchased are classic diamond solitaires – however, this is a ring that your partner will wear for a long time and it’s a very personal choice, so it’s vital you get it right. When looking at personal preferences, think about whether they prefer gold to silver, or a more traditional style rather than something contemporary. Bottom line – if in doubt, don’t guess!
It’s become popular recently to look at a partner’s birthstone as an option, which adds a very personal element. And if you do opt for the classic diamond ring, you should consider the 4Cs: Cut (determined by how well the tiny planes or facets have been cut on the diamond’s surface), Colour (the most exclusive diamond colour is called white, which is colourless and graded as a “D” and if the diamond has a strong colour, it is known as ‘‘fancy’’), Clarity (a good rule of thumb is to ensure that the diamond is graded as “IF,” meaning it is internally flawless) and Carat (which is the size and weight of the diamond).
“To safeguard yourself, I would recommend purchasing a certified stone,” says Hill, “which means that the diamond has an accompanying certificate that proves it has been evaluated, graded and coded by an independent gemological laboratory. The most internationally recognised are those issued by the GIA; others include HRD, IGL, EGL and AGS.”
Another very important consideration before you make your purchase is budget. While convention suggests you spend three times your monthly salary, in today’s society, where the divide between the sexes is narrower than ever, it’s about working to a sensible budget that isn’t going to cripple you as a couple, otherwise your surprise may backfire. If size is important but your budget isn’t super-sized, opt for a stone with a slightly larger surface area, but where the stone isn’t as deep. The stone is the most important aspect of the ring, and it can usually be set in whatever metal band you choose. Just remember to ascertain your budget before you buy – and stick to it!
Regarding the choice of metal for your band, the key is to assure quality and durability. Platinum is one of the most popular choices in engagement rings, as it is the most resilient and long-lasting of metals and is also hypoallergenic for those with sensitive skin. However, if gold is preferred you have the choice of white, yellow, rose and even green gold. If recycling is a big concern, a band of combined metals is also an option and has seen a significant rise in demand.
Where you buy is crucial, whether purchasing from a high street retailer, a jeweller in London’s famous Hatton Garden, or an auction house. When parting with a significant amount of money for the long-term, it makes sense to seek out an expert. Hill runs Elmwood’s auction house in West London and as a jewellery expert, offers clients peace of mind that they are buying high-quality, certified pieces complete with a condition report, which presents everything in black and white.
However, wherever you decide to buy, he offers this advice: “Always buy form an established company that has a good reputation. Check whether the staff has sound gemological knowledge – credentials are usually presented on the company’s website. Is the company a member of a trade association working to industry standards; will you receive a gemological certificate stating the source of your stone and any treatment, plus a detailed receipt, warranty and guarantee?” Specialist, knowledgeable staff should always be on hand to guide you and offer transparent advice throughout the buying process.
For further information, visit www.elmwoods.co.uk.