The diamond that sits on your fiancés hand is one of the few investments that you make which will outlive the wedding festivities. You have to make to it count.
So let us do away with the jargon and explain what you need to know before commencing your quest for the perfect engagement ring accessory.
To start with you may want some indication as to how much you should spend on an engagement ring as a whole, particularly if you intend on buying the diamond and ring separately. Tradition suggests that it has to be one months' salary but as there's no clarity on whether that's before or after tax we'll leave that decision to you. Bear in mind that the average UK spend on an engagement ring is £1,329, whereas the average monthly salary in the UK is £2,500 before tax.
Now unless you have been given exact specifications on what to buy, we suggest you follow our practical advice and recommendations and avoid the generic information available elsewhere.
How to get the best diamond in order importance:
The way a diamond is cut affects the amount of light it reflects back so the brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on this. Jewellers grade the cut of a diamond as Ideal, Premium, Very good, Good and Fair/Poor.
In our opinion, there is no greater factor to the beauty of a diamond than the cut so aspire to aim for no less than Very Good.
The 'Brilliant' cut popularised by Tiffany & Co. has arguably the ideal depth and dimensions to truly showcase the beauty of a diamond. This is best presented on a round diamond shape.
On the subject of shapes, you have a choice of at least nine common types, the princess (square) shape is increasingly popular but in our opinion the round diamond shape is classic and for that reason it will stand the test of time better than current trends (not to mention that it is the ideal shape for the 'brilliant' cut).
Most diamonds have tiny inner flaws or inclusions as your jeweller may refer to them. The extent of these flaws will determine the clarity of a diamond. Clear diamonds emit more brilliance and so are valued and priced higher. Clarity is graded as follows:
FL - Flawless
IF - Internally Flawless, but some surface flaws
VVS1-VVS2 - Very Very Slightly Included
VS1-VS2 - Very Slightly Included
SI1-SI2 - Slightly Included
I1-I2-I3 - Included. These will have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye and it is advisable to avoid these.
Once a FL diamond is set on a ring, it is no longer flawless and it will undoubtedly incur some inclusions on the exterior. Although the value of a diamond increases as its flaws decrease, these flaws in all but some cases, are not visible to the naked eye. Our recommendation would be to aim for the VS1/VS2 standard and not below that.
Clear diamonds without colour refract more light and therefore give more sparkle. So the 'whiteness' of the diamond directly correlates with how highly it is valued. Most jewellers grade the colour of diamonds using this scale:
Very light yellow
Our recommendation would be to opt for colourless or near colourless and therefore no lower than a diamond that is 'J' in colour.
The weight of diamonds is measured in carats. Larger diamonds are of course more rare and this is reflected in a higher asking price.
Does size matter?
Contrary to popular belief, size is actually the least important feature when it comes to the visible beauty of a diamond. Don't be tempted to compromise too heavily on the cut and clarity in favour of an oversized rock. Do however, try and aim for at least 0.2 carat for a single solitaire diamond. It is common practice to substitute the importance of colour for a higher carat diamond and you will notice this when you see a large diamond which is slightly yellow in colour.
Speaking of which, many girls do tend to have a specific preference when it comes to choosing the diamond ring. It is something she will wear for the rest of her life so it's only fair that you get something tailored to her likes. Try to find out what kind of shape she would like on what type of band e.g. platinum, white gold, yellow gold.