Did you know that before the 1940s-ad campaign “A Diamond is Forever” for De Beers diamonds, proposing marriage with a precious stone wasn’t much of a thing? Especially not with a diamond engagement ring.
The interesting thing about value is, what we deem precious is often arbitrary. Nonetheless and over the years, it’s common practice to propose marriage with an engagement ring and their value has become both monetary and sentimental.
Before presenting the perfect ring to your perfect mate, here are some things to consider before buying an engagement ring.
When you think of engagement rings, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the shape of the diamond. Generally, this is where you’ll want to start and it’s a good idea to understand what a jeweler means by shape.
The most popular shape for engagement rings is round, but other shapes you might choose are marquise, pear, oval, rectangle, square, or heart.
Once you choose the shape, you’ll want to consider the setting to go with it. Engagement ring settings are the framework that holds the diamond.
Different kinds of ring settings include:
- Prong: Holding the diamond with four or six small metal supports or prongs
- Bezel: A thin metal strip is pushed around the stone for ultimate support
- Halo: Tiny stones circling the middle stone
It’s a stylized decision to make and an important one. With a modern shape, you may go for a modern bezel setting. Or perhaps a more traditional four-prong setting for a rectangle-shaped rock.
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You might also get side stones in the setting itself which add an extra flair to the main event. There are truly so many options and you can have a lot of fun with choosing the settings.
With the perfect shape and setting in mind, you’ll also need to consider the metal used for the setting.
Platinum bands have become more popular in recent years since it’s such a durable choice with hypoallergenic properties.
Gold is arguably the most classic option and it comes in various colors, too. Yellow gold gives the style a more vintage feel while rose gold adds modern flair. Or, you can go crazy and get a green gold band or one made of recycled metal.
Depending on the clarity and color of the diamond you choose (more on that below), the type of metal in the setting will affect how it appears. So, keep that in mind when making the final decision.
The Four Cs
Engagement ring sellers often refer to what’s known at the 4Cs when describing the properties of the stone itself: color, cut, clarity, and carat.
Diamonds have color grades from D to Z and in general, diamonds with less color are rarer, and therefore, more valuable. The cut refers to how well it reflects light while the clarity refers to its absence of blemishes. Carat is a unit of weight that measures the size of a diamond.
So, put them all together and you’ve got yourself an engagement ring and understanding the four Cs is an imperative consideration.
One important distinction to make is the difference between shape and cut. The shape of the diamond is more of the overall, birds-eye view of the stone. While the cut refers to the tinier facets within the shape.
For example, you might choose an oval shape with an emerald cut or a round shape with a brilliant cut. Don’t confuse the two or you might end up with a ring you weren’t expecting!
Put everything together – the 4Cs, the shape, setting, and metal choices – and it’ll determine the overall style of the ring. Whether it feels vintage and from the future, the style affects its value as well.
But, don’t go for a style just because it’s popular or the most expensive jewelry. Pay attention to what your future fiancée already wears and keep in mind a few key factors:
- What color metals do they wear most often?
- What style of jewelry have they mentioned before?
- Do they like statement jewelry or something subdued and appropriate for everyday life?
- Is their style comfortable and relaxed, refined and elegant, or understated and chic?
Answering all these questions will help.
Pro Tip: Figure out their ring size as well.
It’s no surprise that engagement rings aren’t cheap. How does that old saying go? You should save up the equivalent of three months’ salary and that’s what you should spend?
Well, that came from advertising (again), but from the 1950s this time and we live in a very different world these days. The truth is, it’s not about how much you spend. It’s up to you to set your budget for an engagement ring. Not considering the cost will lead to a slap in the face once you reach the jewelry counter.
Pick a number (that’s realistic), do your research, and you’ll be able to find the perfect engagement ring to profess your undying love that won’t break the bank.
In case you weren’t aware, jewelers aren’t all created equal and you should verify the safety of your purchase.
You can start with recommendations from family members, friends, or coworkers but you might also want to check out shops accredited by the Jewelers of America or Gemological Institute of America, for example.
Then, when you make a purchase, insist on a diamond grading report. These reports outline the characteristics of your diamond and assure you that you’ve purchased from a reputable source.
Pro Tip: Get insurance.
It’s not the best idea to buy a last-minute engagement ring. Usually, it takes a minimum of six weeks for rings to be ready and even more if you’re getting a custom design or inscriptions.
Regardless of wait times, it’s a big decision to make anyway. So, there’s no need to rush. Take your time and when the ring’s ready, you’ll be ready.
As art collectors, we tend to have a keen interest in the value of beautiful things. But what makes paintings, coins, and diamond rings valuable isn’t a simple answer. For engagement rings, most of its value rests in its cultural significance and its sentimentality between the couple.
Getting engaged is a huge milestone and can be one of the most exciting times in your life. The ring that goes along with it makes that piece of jewelry all the more meaningful and therefore, valuable, special, and irreplaceable to the person who gives and wears it.