My Dream Wedding's Blog

What should I look for when choosing an Engagement Ring

Posted on: February 21, 2011

Guest Blog Post by Michael Wall – custom & Certified Diamond Specialist from Co. Waterford

Top Tips for Choosing and Buying Your Engagement Rings


What should I look for when buying a Ring? How do I choose a Diamond?


We are all told about the four C’s when choosing a Diamond, but what does this mean?

What does Carat mean? What are Colour and Clarity, and what about Cut?


The Cut.

Of the four Cs which determine quality, diamond cut is the most important characteristic in choosing a diamond.

The cut refers to the diamond’s proportions and symmetry. The combination of these factors, together with the polish and overall finish is known as the cut of the diamond.


The cut of a diamond is often related to the final diamond shape, but not always.


If a diamond is cut too shallow, light can escape from underneath, reducing the brilliance.

If the cut is too deep, light can spread out from the sides, again affecting the sparkle.

A diamond with good proportions will allow the light to travel inside the diamond, reflecting the light through the table and crown (the area below the table, which usually tapers out to the widest point on a Diamond) for maximum sparkle.


The Carat.

The Carat is the weight of the Diamond. Not the actual dimension size.

All factors being equal, a larger diamond will cost more per carat than a smaller diamond because it is rarer. Two half carat diamonds will typically cost less together than a single one carat diamond.

A four carat diamond will cost more than four times the price of a two carat diamond of the same quality.


The Colour.

The Colour is pretty explanatory. Diamonds start on a scale from D, E, F downwards. Think D for Diamond. A D Coloured Diamond is in itself colourless to the naked eye. Unless you are a diamond expert you will probably not be able to tell the difference between diamonds which are colour graded DI unless you are comparing diamonds side by side.


The Clarity.

A diamond clarity grade is a measure of how free the diamond is from internal inclusions (imperfections), or external blemishes (marks of various kinds). Diamonds which have no inclusions or blemishes are incredibly rare in nature. Most diamonds have flaws which cannot be seen except using 10 x magnification – which is how diamonds are graded. Such flaws do not affect the beauty of the diamond.


Why do I need to know about this? Can I not just buy the biggest I can afford?

Of course if you want to. But as I said it is weight, not size that you should be looking for.

And an ideal cut if possible. This is what will make your Diamond sparkle like a star, no matter what the size. When choosing a ring, I have told clients that it is best to take your time, and try on as many different styles as they like. In fact you should go to as many Jewellers as you like, some may suit, some may not, and importantly the dream ring you always wanted, may not look as good as it did in the magazine.

Ladies your hands are all different in shape and size, so see which Ring appeals most to you.

You will have that ‘Eureka’ moment, and you can go from there.



So how much should you pay?


Again the simple answer is what ‘can’ you afford. There are myths, and notions that you should pay so much. Realistically you should set your budget, and stick to it. If you don’t find the right Ring for the right price in one Jeweller, then search further afield. We are a nation of consumers; we have so many stores and shops on our door steps. So use them. Do not be intimidated by walking into a Jewellers and asking to try on their goods. We do it with shoes, clothes etc, and this is no different. In fact it is more important. It changes your whole life. Be in charge.

Where will I get the best deal?


A lot of people are searching for alternatives, and as with my advice above, here is what you should know.

Buying Online. You’ve seen the ring of your dreams, at a considerable saving. Should you go for it?

If as I said, you have done your homework, and are happy that after customs duties and V.A.T you are indeed making a saving, then it is a possibility. It is not something I would be comfortable with, considering the decisions you have to make.

Buying Abroad. Yes there are some bargains to be had, but along with that comes the horror stories. Be wary of buying in some foreign countries. The grades of stones may or may not be as precise or exact as the controls in Europe. You may find that when you return with your Diamond Ring, it may appear to be as good as the ones on display, but may not be worth any more than you paid. Or it might be worth less. If your Diamond is accompanied by a Certificate, make sure it is one that you can rely on.EGL European Gemological Laboratory, or GIA Gemological Institute of America, adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to grading. A certificate from the store you bought it from abroad is not sufficient.


A lot of people are taking advantage of the Diamond district in Antwerp, and a lot of information about this can be found on the Internet. Again do your homework. The cost of flying over and back will contribute to the overall cost of purchase. This is something to consider. It is an approach that will save you some money, just make sure you include all costs. It is a more secure method if you wish to buy abroad.


What type of metal should I have my Ring made from?


Again, what would you like it made from. Gold, or Platinum?


Gold is Gold, there is no difference in Yellow, Rose or White Gold save the metals introduced along with the Gold to give it its colour. Traditionally it is 18K which is 75% Gold and 25% Metals, and 14K which is 58.3% Gold and 41.7% Metals. Platinum is a different Metal.


Pure yellow gold is actually very soft – too soft to be used in jewellery on its own, so it is usually combined with other metals, or alloys, to make it stronger and harder-wearing.

Typical alloys include copper, zinc and nickel.

Yellow Gold is available in different tones and the exact yellow hue depends on the type of metal alloys used and the percentage of each of them. Pure gold is a rich, shining yellow, full of lustre.

18K gold is also an intense yellow but 14K gold may be a little muted in tone compared to 18K because of the higher percentages of metal alloys which dilute the brilliant gold colour somewhat.


White Gold is actually yellow gold which has been combined with a white metal such as palladium or nickel to give it a white hue. White gold, if left uncoated, will usually lack lustre and shine because of the metal alloy. The natural colour of white gold is actually a light grey.

Generally, white gold is coated with a very thin layer of rhodium to give it greater depth of colour and shine.


Platinum is a very scarce metal, thirty-five times rarer in nature than gold.

The platinum used in jewellery is 95% pure platinum combined with 5% of other metals.

Since platinum is such a hard metal, it will not wear down and jewellery made from it will retain the same shape for a lifetime. Platinum is heavier than gold and appreciated by those who like the feel of heavier, more substantial jewellery which does not look weighty. Platinum is naturally white and will not fade or change colour. However, platinum jewellery will naturally acquire a patina – a special sheen – from daily wear. Some people prefer the patina look, but others prefer to have their platinum jewellery professionally re-polished from time to time.



So can I save money?

Again this is relative to your choice of stone, and work you want done. But if you do your homework, then yes you can. Avoid the cheap alternatives. Across the board you should be able to save 30%. I have the privilege of dealing directly with brokers, and utilising some of the best Goldsmiths in the Country. Savings of somewhere between 30% and 50% can be achieved.

Top of my priority however is advice. What to look for and how to look for it.


I have been supplying Diamonds and Coloured Stones for a number of years, and I have found that it is this approach that has worked the best. You can get as creative as you want, design what you like, and see it come to fruition. Just like a marriage it is a growing process. I take delight in developing a relationship with my clients, offering advice foremost, and guiding them through the whole process.


So, when picking your stone, pick one with a very good cut. You will be surprised with how much you will notice the difference after comparing stones.

  • Do try as many options as you like. See what shape compliments your taste and hand. This could be a single stone, Solitaire, or a 3 Stone, or Multi stone Ring. Try them all. Have fun.
  • If you are buying from a Jeweller you have their reputation to rely on.
  • If you are buying your stones from a broker, seek Certification. Any stone over 0.50cts with top colour and clarity should be accompanied by an appropriate certificate.


So the Steps in a Nutshell.


1. Figure Out Your Budget


First of all, before you do anything else, figure out what your budget is.

You can buy a diamond engagement ring costing anywhere from a few hundred euro to upwards of tens of thousands. Pick a ballpark figure to begin with. You may find that you will want to adjust it as you do your research and discover possibilities which are just beyond your budget but worth the stretch for a much better deal.


2. Decide on the Centre Stone.


A diamond is the traditional centre stone for an engagement ring, but sapphires of various colours, emeralds, and rubies are popular choices too. Once you decide on the type of stone you want, you’ll need to decide on the shape you prefer, too. If you’re interested in a Diamond, you’ll want to refer to the 4Cs.

3. Choose your Setting/Style/Metal.


There are endless engagement ring settings to choose from, including solitaire settings, three-stone and multi-stone settings. Sometimes, the setting you choose will be influenced by your lifestyle. Is it going to be set in Gold, Platinum or a combination of both?


4. Design Your Own Engagement Ring.


This isn’t compulsory, but it’s a tempting possibility. If you don’t fall in love with any of the engagement rings you have seen, then as mentioned earlier consider designing your own. It’s really very easy, and you’ll get exactly the design you’ve always dreamed of.


If you have any further questions you would like to know, feel free to mail me: or keep up to date on Twitter @DiamondsIRL



1 Response to "What should I look for when choosing an Engagement Ring"

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wedding Planner, MyDreamWedding. MyDreamWedding said: Top tips for choosing your engagemnt ring by our Guest Blogger Michael Wall – Diamond Specialist […]

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