Buying an engagement ring can be a daunting prospect but here at Lanes Fine Jewellery we hope to guide you with a bit of inside knowledge.
If you are planning to join the 75% of Brits who buy their loved one a diamond engagement ring, you may want to consider the following. Not only are you about to part with a fairly substantial amount of money (all women know the engagement ring mantra about the fiancé waving goodbye to at least a month's salary), but you are also about to purchase a ring that will be a permanent symbol of the most important relationship of your life.
Diamonds - The Geology
Diamonds are 99.95% pure crystallised carbon and are one - three billion years old. They are the hardest naturally occurring substance known and are formed beneath the Earth's surface when crystals of diamond occur in volcano feed-pipes. When volcanoes erode down, they release diamonds from their feed-pipes into layers of gravel which are later mined. However, due to the relative rarity of this natural process, diamond mines are found in just a handful of sites around the world. In rough form, diamonds are sent to the world's cutting centres to be shaped and polished before being set as jewellery. It is the hardness, brilliance and sparkle that emerge during this process that transforms them into the desired diamond as we know it!
Where did it all start?
Apparently in 1477, a romantic Austrian, Archduke Maximilian, gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring to celebrate their coming engagement. He placed it on the third finger of her left hand - the finger believed by ancient Egyptians to have a vein that led straight to the heart. This is believed to be how the tradition of the diamond engagement ring all began!
The Four Cs
You've probably heard about the four ‘C’s - cut, colour, clarity and carat.
Generally the budget dictates what diamond you buy and apart from carat (the weight or 'size') the colour and clarity can have a big effect on the price of a diamond – if you can tell the difference between stones then it may be worth paying extra but if you can’t then perhaps you shouldn’t worry about it too much!
Cut: the cut is the only man-made part and a badly cut diamond can negatively affect the sparkle. It is how the 57 or 58 facets (the tiny planes cut on the diamond's surface) are angled and sized that dictate how light reflects and exits the diamond. Make the cuts too deep or too shallow and the diamond will be less brilliant. The cut will also determine the shape of the diamond. The most common shape is the round brilliant cut, but others include the emerald, the pear, the marquise, the princess, the oval and the heart shape. Lanes Fine Jewellery can offer you all of these shapes and more and we do not even offer badly cut diamonds.
Colour: The most valuable and rare colour is exceptional white, or, colourless. Gemmologists grade absolutely colourless diamonds with a "D". The scale moves all the way down to "Z" and, between these two extremes, diamonds will display subtle coloured tones. We only offer diamonds with the ‘white’ scale (typically D-H colour) unlike the majority of high street jewellers where diamonds are bought in large batches.
Clarity: Many people become unnecessarily concerned over the clarity of a diamond. Look into most diamonds with a jeweller's loupe (magnifying eyeglass) and you will see small "inclusions", also known as "nature's fingerprints". They look like small clouds or feathers but are usually invisible to the naked eye. Inclusions can affect the diamond's fire, but they also make your diamond unique and shouldn't always be seen as a fault. Why worry too much about something you can't see, anyway? As long as the stone is graded SI2 (Slightly Included 2) or better, you can be sure it will be a beautiful diamond.
Carat: The weight, and the size, of a diamond is measured by carat. A carat is divided into 100 smaller units called points. For example, three-quarters of a carat is 75 points. The average size of most engagement ring diamonds is somewhere between half a carat and a carat.
Note: All the diamonds we have available have already been through our own in-house stringent buying policies and we only offer the most beautiful diamonds available within any price range. We will of course guide you through all of these details to help you make the best choice in a relaxed and pressure-free environment.
How much should I pay?
You’ve probably already heard that one to three months' salary is the norm but this is a matter of personal choice and finances. Spend what you are comfortable with and remember it’s the sentiment that is paramount.
We can offer finance options up to £25,000 subject to status and T&C’s – please ask us about spreading the cost.
What style and design?
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to try and work out her taste, and not to buy something according to your own taste.
One way to find out what she likes is to take a look at the style of jewellery that she already owns. Does she prefer modern or traditional? Does she favour white or yellow metal - platinum is currently the most popular metal for engagement rings and is relatively good value in relation to gold as the gold price is currently so high. Also, how does she react to other women's engagement rings? Does she ever express an interest in a particular style when flicking through fashion magazines? The chances are, however, after a quick consultation with her girlfriends and female relatives - if you can trust them with your secret - that you will glean a fairly accurate picture of her likes and dislikes.
The safe option would be a diamond solitaire - these account for 76% of all sales of engagement rings - but there are many ways to present a quality stone on a ring. Would she like a Tiffany-style solitaire in which prongs hold the diamond high? A halo ring has a central diamond surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds? or a trilogy ring has three diamonds in a row, sometimes graduated in size from the centre or all the same size?
You could always consider involving her in the decision. It may run counter to your romantic instincts, but she will thank you – especially if she likes to be involved in big decisions! We have a variety of settings for you to look at together. If this isn’t your style then we also have some clever ways to help you propose and then choose the ring together afterwards when she’s said ‘Yes’!
Sadly, the locations of some of the planet's key diamond mines coincide with the locations of some of the world's most bitter conflicts, and those in control of the diamonds don't always invest their profits ethically. Rest assured that ‘Lanes Fine Jewellery’ do not sell ‘conflict diamonds’ and only buy diamonds from countries following ‘The Kimberley Process’
Lanes Fine Jewellery is also fully recognised member of the NAJ