The essential guide to engagement rings – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Essential Guide to Engagement Rings! So now you have a good idea of the style and type of ring you want. All that is left is for  you to find the right stones and the right jeweller to turn your dream of the perfect engagement ring into reality. Sorry to  bring you back to earth but there are also some practical points to consider to make sure that this gorgeous ring will stay beautiful for years to come.

Choosing a jeweller

When shopping around for an engagement ring, please look at the full picture when it comes to choosing a jeweller. You must not only be comfortable with the quality of the stone(s), design, and making but also be confident that the information given is trustworthy. Also of paramount importance is the after-sales service, i.e. will the jeweller look after the maintenance of your ring, will they supply you with a complimentary valuation certificate if you need to insure your pieces … Don’t just look at the price when deciding on an engagement ring and who will  make it for you. This ring should be made to last you a lifetime and the right jeweller will help you to look after it for a lifetime.

Choosing a diamond

A diamond engagement ring has been treasured since in 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria first popped the question with diamonds. Here are a few points to remember when choosing the best diamond for you.

The cut, (or make), of a diamond reveals the natural radiant beauty of a precious diamond. Therefore, a perfectly proportioned diamond will outshine a diamond with an average, or less than average cut and finish, EVEN if that diamond is a little further down the grading scale of colour and clarity. This means you could end up spending more for a diamond not displaying the natural radiance and beauty of a perfectly cut diamond.

Perfectly proportioned diamonds may also appear considerably larger than a more expensive rival. Why?

  • The weight of a diamond does not represent the size of a diamond.

If you have two diamonds each weighing 1.00ct, this simply means that they are the same weight. A perfectly proportioned 1.00ct diamond will measure 6.5mm in diameter. A 1.00ct diamond cut to get the best return out of the rough, or cut in a mass produced environment, may be very deep and therefore present much smaller. On the other hand, it may be cut very shallow and will actually look larger than 6.5mm, but it will not display the brilliance of a beautifully cut 1.00ct diamond. It will seem lifeless, with “window” type characteristics.

  • How can I be sure the diamond I would like to purchase is graded accurately? Am I paying for what I get?

Independent diamond grading certificates from laboratories such as the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) and HRD (the equivalent European Laboratory based in Antwerp, Belgium)  are internationally recognised for their professional assessment of diamonds. Many of these diamonds are laser inscribed with a unique identifying number on the girdle of the diamond. This unique number links your diamond to its certificate.

Choosing a coloured gemstone

Engagement rings with a coloured centre gemstone are a very popular option. They give you a ‘big show’ for less money than a diamond and also help you to ‘stand out of the crowd’ and reflect your unique personality and tastes. But how do you choose the perfect coloured gemstone for your engagement ring?

  • First and foremost make sure that you are happy with the colour of the stone— regardless of whether the colour you like is a popular colour. Colour is very much a matter of personal taste.
  • The ideal coloured gemstone must also perform well in every day wear … this means it must not be too brittle or scratch easily
  • Above all, a coloured gemstone should look bright, lively and well cut. Look for an intense and consistent colour. The stone should not have any banding or patching, unless it is a characteristic of the stone, e.g.  watermelon tourmalines or parti-coloured sapphires. Clarity is also a most important criteria … there should be no flaws or only insignificant ones in the stone. Strong flaws would not only be visually unsightly, they would also jeopardise the strength and stability of the stone.
  • Think also of cabochon gemstones – that is coloured gemstones with a buffed top. Cabochon engagement rings have been popular for years in Europe and are now available in Australia in a variety of styles. They can be either set in very sober and contemporary rings or in a vintage cluster ring. You might be surprised!

Engagement and wedding ring sets

When I first discuss an engagement ring with a customer, I will always make a point to discuss wedding rings at the same time. This allows for my customer to see how both rings will sit next to each other and to be happy with the ‘finished look’ of both rings (even if the wedding ring is only purchased later on). But the wedding ring is often the unsung hero which is worn day in and day out so here are a few tips:

  • You must like the wedding ring on its own as you are likely over the years to want to wear this ring alone, i.e. when going overseas, after having children, at work (if manual job)
  • Put the right amount of money in the budget for the wedding ring. This ring is just as important as the engagement ring and deserves the same care in the choosing and making. The same metal is also advised so that both rings wear the same way.
  • Combinations are:
    • One ring only – some women decide to only wear one ring and not the traditional engagement and wedding ring combination
    • Two rings that look like one when the shape of the stone(s) in the engagement ring is replicated in the wedding ring
    • Two rings that fit well together but appear clearly as separate. Generally the wedding band is meant to be ‘the supporting act’, i.e. it highlights the beauty of the engagement ring without taking over.
    • Three rings consisting of the engagement ring and split wedding bands. The split bands will most likely compliment the engagement ring and are very popular for anyone who likes a more symmetrical look.

Looking after your engagement ring

Your engagement ring will probably be the most important jewellery purchase you will make. Looking after it needs not be time consuming or expensive. It will make sure that you continue to enjoy your ring for years to come.

  • Useful tips

Diamond might be the strongest gemstone but if it is subjected to a strong blow or drop in the wrong place, it can cleave and fracture. The same applies to the metal … if it is hit repeatedly over a period of time, it will show some pits and marks and will wear out quicker than it should. So what’s the answer to safeguard the beauty of your engagement ring?

Don’t wear your ring when doing any strenuous activity where the metal and/or stones are likely to be under stress, i.e. gardening, cooking. Avoid metal pans and door handles, wear gloves at the gym. Diamonds will need regular cleaning to remain bright and sparkling,

The same tips apply to engagement rings set with coloured gemstones. A little bit of care will go a long way in keeping this special ring looking its best.

  •  Home cleaning

Diamond rings can be cleaned at home very easily. To keep your diamonds sparkling clean, first put the plug in the sink. Find a toothbrush and dab it in a few drops of washing up liquid.  Gently brush away any built up grime from all around the diamonds and gemstones. Rinse your jewellery in clean running water and dry with a soft cloth. Remember, settings wear over time, please check the sink for any dislodged stones.

  • Regular checkups

It should be checked regularly for security of settings and general wear and tear. Jewellers normally offer regular check-up on a complimentary basis.  The after-sales service should also include complimentary cleaning of your ring – please note that some metals can be cleaned by your jeweller on site – these include yellow, rose gold and platinum. White Gold rings will need to be polished and plated every 12 to 18 months to keep looking sparkling and bright.

  • Valuations

If your jeweller does not offer insurance on the stop with a jewellery specific insurance company (Natalie Barney does!) then you might need to update a registered valuation every two years. This will ensure that should the worst happen, you will get adequate compensation for your ring. Valuations are updated depending on current prices for metal and stones. Metals and diamonds are normally purchased in US dollars and are therefore subject to both a price per gram (valid for metals) as well as the current exchange rate. Jewellery insurance specialists like Jewelsure (which Natalie Barney offers) update monthly the value of your pieces through their online systems so that you don’t need to update your insurance valuation.

I hope that this Essential Guide to Engagement Rings answered some if not all of your questions. Should it not, then please feel free to get in touch with us here at Natalie Barney … we love a challenge!

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