Thursday, 10 February 2011

{blp} Buying an Engagement Ring

I thought I would showcase on my blog, not only my love of photography, and the clients that I photograph, not only suppliers who’s work I love. But because its almost Valentines Day, I thought I would part a little bit of wisdom from when I worked in High Street Jewellers back before I became a Full -Time Photographer.

Now do not get me wrong, having worked for two different companies over several different shops, being part-time, full time and in management, I loved my job. I loved people coming in to purchase Wedding Rings, and even more so, the excited men, coming in to buy Engagement rings, whatever the time of year, in a nervous wreck, and they didn’t have a clue where to start.

So..let me see if I can dust off the cobwebs of purchasing a special diamond, for your special lady.

Now, most men (but not all) choose Diamonds for the Engagement ring. It is a standard choice, with a solitaire diamond being the most popular. But that’s not all there is about, but I’ll cover that later.

There are a few questions to ask before you go and purchase a ring for her:

Do you know her ring size? If not, can you find it out? Does she have another ring she wears on her other hand? Could you ask a friend to find out? Does her mum know? I know you may want to keep it a complete secret, but sometimes its best to ask. If you can’t find it out then don’t worry, find a ring that you like, that’s within your budget, and buy the one they have in stock. You can always get it re-ordered afterwards, resized (or even exchange for something else!)

Do you have a budget? If so, have a quick look online (if you can) to know what you may or may not get for this budget. If your wanting a nice size diamond, remember that to get bigger isn’t always to get better. But go for what you can afford. Alternatively, a lot of High-Street Jewellers do Interest Free Credit, so remember to take some forms of ID with you, sometimes this is better than putting it on a Credit Card.

The Rule of thumb is, that an Engagement Ring is approximately 1-months salary. But that isn’t always necessarily the case.

Do you know what kind of gold she likes? Does she wear other jewellery? Is It yellow gold or white gold? Or are you going to splash out and go for Platinum? Be prepared, to look at similar size diamonds, in different golds, for different amounts of money.

Any Jeweller will talk about the “Four C’s” when buying a Diamond Engagement ring, and these stand for Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat.

Solitares are currently most popular in either Square (Princess Cut) or Round (Brilliant Cut)

Cut: Is the only characteristic of a diamond that is not influenced by nature. Diamonds can be cut into several different shapes. But how it is cut reflects how the diamond sparkles and shines, this is normally referred to as “fire” and “brilliance”

The most common Cut, is Round or Brilliant cut, but you can also have Emerald, Pear, Marquise, Princess, Oval and Heart, look in the window and ask if they have any of the other shapes, just to make sure you have covered all our options in choosing the right one.

Heart and Pear Shaped Diamonds

Marquise and Oval shaped Diamonds

Emerald Cut Diamonds

Colour: Colours in a Jewellers start from “D” which is colourless to “Z”. No diamonds are classified as A, B, C and a lot of this was to avoid A* etc, and people trying to be too clever.
Colours vary by subtle colours along the top end of the scale. As it gets further down the scale colours tend to have a yellow tint.

Clarity: this is how “flawed” the diamond is, most jewellers do not really stock really badly flawed diamonds, however, the clarity is about these “inclusions” which can be known as Natures Fingerprints. Sometimes these can only be seen by using a Jewellers Loupe, sometimes they can be seen by the naked eye.

Normally you will get them in shops that are SI1 (slightly included), VS1 (very slightly included), VVS1 (very very slightly included) very rarely will you get an IF (internally flawless) diamond. If you know that you want the very best that your money can buy, then why not look at buying a certificated diamond (a diamond that has been assessed, graded and coded with a laser by an independent gemmological laboratory)

Carat: This is the size of the diamond and is normally measured in points. For example, three-quarters of a carat is 75 points. The Average size of most engagement rings is somewhere between 50 points (half a carat) or 100points (one carat).

And the 5th C:

Cost: Spend whatever you like and can realistically afford. I know we say that the average is about one months wage, but can you afford this? Remember its something that she will wear forever, so don’t go for the “cheapest option” so you have more money to spend on beer! (we’ve heard it all)

How does she react to other people’s engagement rings? Are any of her friends engaged, and has she expressed how much she likes them? If you go to a friend, or family member about her size, many will tell you which she will most likely to go for “or has dreamed about”.
Another alternative is, and I know this ruins the romantic setting of an Engagement, but take her with you. Go shopping and then surprise her by going into a jewellers, or even in the jewellers window, and discuss, engagement rings. Be on the spot, even say, lets try it on, surprise her whilst she’s there!

Whatever you do, just remember, this is special, don’t make a last minute decision before the shop closes on a Saturday Evening.

Don’t decide to do it on Valentines day because you haven’t gotten her anything else.

Just remember that it is something that she will spend the rest of her life wearing, you need to get the right one.

So even if you have to propose with a haribo ring, remember these things when choosing an Engagement ring for her.

Some options from the High Street

From H Samuel, in the Sale
Brillaint Cut
50 points at £599.00

Ernest Jones "Leo Diamond" Certificated
Emerald Cut
£2799 40points

Go for "Vintage Style" from Ernest Jones at £799

Warren James Sale at £169
Illusion set to make the stone appear bigger.

Go for Cluster to give illusion of a bigger stone if on a budget
H Samuel £129.00

And remember to book your Engagement Photoshoot with


*all rings and prices were correct at the time of blog post writing at 15:40pm at 01.02.2011*


  1. My first engagement ring was a white gold band with a 1 carat briliant cut solitaire. It was gorgeous and I still have it.

  2. Top one is my exact engagement ring, I received Christmas Day 2010, from my (now) Husband!


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