It's one of those age old questions really and something I come up against every day of the week. With a diamond engagement ring being perhaps the third largest purchase a guy will make, behind a car and a house, how can one not spend as much as one would like to, yet still get the same look and reaction from their engagement ring? Well it's not an easy question to answer, however I have come up with a few tips and pointers to assist you when deciding what to buy from your jeweller.
To begin with, the most obvious thing I can tell you is to not buy from a retailer. I can honestly say I am not a retailer as I don't have a shop, either on the high street or online. All my pieces are bespoke and made to order. A retail shop commands huge overheads and when you consider that a jeweller isn't selling many rings a week, he needs to make a good profit to cover all his costs and these are factored in to the advertised price of the ring.
So let's take a look at the four C's and see how we can start to make a saving. The first C is "carat" and this is the term related to the actual weight of the diamond. The way diamonds are priced is a very interesting way indeed as there isn't a straight diagonal line from zero to infinity which we follow. Diamonds are priced on a concave upwards curved line starting from zero to infinity, and at certain carat weight breaks, the price increases. This is because the larger the diamond the rarer the stone and the more money per carat that stone commands. So perhaps you want a diamond that's a one carat. This would have a millimetre spread of 6.5mm, now if you went for a 0.90ct diamond with a spread of 6.3mm then the price of the diamond will be considerably cheaper. Yet to the naked eye it will look like a one carat diamond.
The next C is for "cut" and this is referring to the shape of the diamond. Another inside fact is that round diamonds are the most expensive cut of diamond on the market. The reason being that they are the most popular and so command a premium. Perhaps you would be better of going for an oval or pear shape over a round brilliant cut diamond. They would be better value for money and can be as much as twenty percent cheaper too. If you do decide to go for an elongated shape such as an oval, marquise or emerald cut, then it will look larger on your hand too.
Now we come to the "colour" and this is a very funny one indeed. The colour grade starts at the letter D and goes down to Z. Now the difference to the untrained naked eye between a D, E and F is nothing. The difference between an F and H is nothing too. So why pay all the extra money for a top colour diamond when the naked eye can't tell the difference between the two? I mean it's not like she will be wearing both diamonds at the same time and see a comparable difference, is it? I would advise to get an H colour. Once you go lower you will visually start to see a tinge of yellow coming through.
Which leaves us with the last of the four C's that being "clarity" as in how transparent is the diamond and are there any inclusions which the naked eye can see? Well this is an interesting one and one I encourage you to check when you do buy your diamond. I always pass over my loop (eye glass) to my clients and help them to see and understand about the inclusions. With a VVS clarity diamond you will not see the inclusions with a loop. With a VS clarity diamond you still may not see the inclusions with a loop, this is dependant on where the inclusion is too, but generally to the untrained eye I would think you couldn't see it. Now with an SI clarity I would suggest that you should be able to see the inclusions. They aren't necessarily black either, they could be white or even grey. So instead of going for a high clarity I suggest going for a lower grade and perhaps try to get one with the inclusion to the side, that way it may be hidden by the claw.
These really are the considerations you need to think about when picking a diamond and trying to get value for money. The largest saving you will make will be dependant on understanding the four C's and putting the knowledge into practice. You could save thousands of pounds on these points alone. Don't be afraid to ask questions either. I always encourage questions from my clients and I teach them how to hold a loop so they can see the inclusions, or not, for themselves.
Let me give you a few other quick pointers which can help you save a bit more money.
- Stick to your budget. It's easy to get carried away, don't! Mention your budget to the jeweller and stick to it.
- Instead of platinum choose 18 carat white gold. Both metals are just as strong as each other.
- Try to go to someone like me, by that I mean someone who can show you a selection of loose diamonds then pick the design. This will help as you don't have to take the limited selection they have in the shop and instead you can mix and match.
- When designing or choosing your ring, make sure the band pinches in as it reaches the diamond. This gives the illusion the stone is larger than it actually is.
- Opt for a smaller centre stone, and have diamonds set on the shoulders. The small pave diamonds are very cheap compared to the difference between a 1.00ct and a 0.80ct diamond. So you still have a nice spread of sparkle to show off.
- Perhaps have a rub over setting for your solitaire ring. This will give the illusion that your diamond is larger than it actually is.
- Better still, reduce the centre stone slightly and opt for a popular halo design. This gives your ring a different dimension and increases the wow factor.
I suppose the best advice I can give you really though is to not pay retail!! Come and see me, we will have a chat, it won't cost you anything and then you can make an educated decision on the ring. As always, I'm happy to help. I hope you picked up a few pointers and I look forward to meeting you soon.
If you would like an appointment, then please do call for a free consultation in our central London Hatton Garden office and we would be glad to try and help you. Our details are on the main page of the Lewis Malka London website.
Lewis Malka is a recognised expert in making diamond rings as well as being a famous jeweller to the stars. All his blogs are his own opinions. He is a member of the London Diamond Bourse (LDB) and is currently the Chairman of the Young Persons Committee within the Diamond Bourse. You can follow him daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you would like any bespoke jewellery made, then please visit his website.