So you’ve decided to have an engagement ring handmade. Now you need to know what to look for when purchasing a diamond
Possibly the first thing to decide is your budget. When you start your search you will be overwhelmed with choice and it is much easier to have an idea of the style of ring you would like, which will likely dictate an appropriate size of diamond. You will obviously want the higest quality stone you can get for your budget and I will tell you below what aspects are worth compromising on and where you should never cut corners
Diamonds are graded according to their overall quality which takes into account the Four Cs below, but within those grades there can be a world of difference. This is why it is so important that you view your diamond personally and compare it to a few others preferably, rather than rely on a photograph or image online. In my experience people always gravitate towards one particular stone as they one they love so having this choice, I think, is most important
When I supply diamonds for engagement rings, I provide a selection for you to choose from within your budget. All of similar high quality and ethically sourced. I use various diamond dealers in Hatton Garden who can supply me with white and coloured diamonds and any other type of precious stone you can think of for you to choose from. This will be an unhurried process so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the process without pressure to make an instant decision
The four Cs
There are four main considerations when buying a diamond. Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat. I will explain each element here
This refers to the diamonds sparkle not the shape. You will want the most brilliant sparkle possible. This is achieved with a ‘brilliant cut’ and is available in most shapes. The round brilliant cut has the most spectacular sparkle of them all, with princess cut diamonds (squares) being the second most popular choice.
A brilliant cut diamond has been cut to reflect as much light as possible within and out of the stone, so quality of cut is possibly the most important of all the 4 cs as the most visible and should never be a compromise
White diamonds vary wildly in colour – even within their grades. I personally recommend colours E-H for a diamond solitaire engagement ring. This will be a very clean white colour with no tinge of yellow and suits white gold and platinum perfectly.
Something worth noting is that if you are planning on having a yellow gold or rose gold setting you will definitely get away with a slightly yellower diamond as the gold surrounding the stone throws a cast of colour on it anyway. With white gold and platinum don’t compromise on colour as it will show.
This represents the clearness of the stone. If you choose a lower grade diamond with internal flaws then these may be visible to the human eye. In order to buy a diamond that looks perfect to the human eye do not buy a grade lower than an SI1 (meaning slightly included, or slight flaws)
My preferred choice of diamond whilst keeping the price very reasonable would be a VS1 grade (which means very slightly included, meaning very slight flaws)
The higher the grade diamond the less internal flaws there will be visible under magnification. When you’re choosing your diamond look at it through a jewellers loop (small magnifying glass) and you will be able to see various marks within the diamond. Once you have viewed a few in this way you will get a feel for the diamonds and which flaws are acceptable to you and which you feel are too large
With diamonds you will get exactly what you pay for so be comfortable in your choice and try not to go wildly over your budget!
This refers to diamond weight, not size. A great tip is to buy slightly under the full carat size that you are after. For example if you want a 1 carat diamond, look at 0.8 and 0.9 carat diamonds too as a well cut smaller diamond can look just as large as a poorly cut larger diamond. If a diamond is poorly cut you may be paying a lot for the underside of the diamond that won’t really be seen once the ring is set
What you want to aim for is a good ‘spread’ – so look down on the diamond from above – this is the aspect that you are really paying for so make sure you are getting the most for your money
Any diamond that has a particularly large underside (or belly) is not cut well. Also, you don’t really want a shallow underside either. You need to aim for a happy medium and a well-balanced diamond
Different diamond shapes
Brilliant cut diamonds come in all shapes and are a totally personal choice. As I mentioned earlier the round will have the highest sparkle
If you are buying a surprise engagement ring for your partner it’s good to be aware of her personal style. Some of these diamond shapes have more of a vintage feel than others. So if your partner favours modern designers maybe consider princess, marquis, emerald and brilliant round cuts
Vintage shapes in my opinion include cushion cut, oval cut, heart cut and emerald cut which has an art deco feel. It will of course depend on the style of ring setting you have in mind too
Custom made engagement rings
I will happily talk to you about the process of designing and making your engagement ring based on either your design ideas or one of my designs. I can either handmake a carved ring, working the design around the stone. Or if you prefer, can use Computer Aided Design software to design a more traditional solitaire diamond ring. Either way you will be in control of the design every step of the way and able to make changes until we reach the perfect ring for you
If you are buying a diamond of a carat or over I would strongly suggest having it certified. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) created the 4 Cs standard and will issue a certificate specifically for your diamond. You can read more about this on the GIA website. This will cost you more than an uncertified diamond but will bring you peace of mind when spending a lot of money on your stone and can be useful for insurance purposes. The GIA will produce a certificate listing all the attributes of your diamond, like this example below
If you are working with a lower budget or are unconcerned about having a report, then an uncertified diamond will be less expensive and a good option, as long as you’re buying your diamond from a reputable source. I really would recommend only dealing with a diamond dealer you feel you can trust, will give you a wide choice of stones and does not pressure you to increase your budget.