For the sake of simplicity we’ll stick to the traditional model in order to get a perception of a perfect engagement ring. If you don’t already feel confident that you know her style, ask her friends, her mother, her sister – but only if you trust their discretion. The last thing you want is for her to catch wind of your plan.
Take tips from her wardrobe and the jewellery she wears. Does she favour classic fashions, minimalists jewellry, label-heavy handbags or avant-garde jewels? Chances are she won’t want to discard all of her existing gems when she slips on this ring, so make sure it complements her tried-and-tested favourites.
As much as she’ll want to wear the ring straight away and never take it off, it’s not the end of the world if you need to get it resized. Usually the jeweller you buy it from will do this for you, unless it’s a complicated antique piece or a very unusual ring, which may require more specialist attention. The easiest way to find out her size is to slip away with a ring she already wears on her ring finger, take it to any jeweller and get them to tell you the size.
If you can spend a little more on the design and manufacture. It’s best to be fairly certain of her tastes if doing this though, as if the end result goes down badly, you’ve just thrown money down the drain. Also, get the stones properly certified before handing them over to a jeweller if this hasn’t already been done.
Jewellers make their money largely from selling stones and precious metal, so don’t expect Harry Winston to knock you something up to your specifications with Grandma’s sapphires although it will work with you on something bespoke, but in its style, with its own stones. If you really want to design your own piece and use your own stones, you need a manufacturing jeweller, not a designer.
You’d be surprised at how many jewellers – from big name houses to small independent jewellers – will help you design your own ring and get it made, but usually you’ll also need to buy the stones from them as well.
It totally depends on the girl. Either she’ll say nothing, in which case it’s not an issue and you can go on being blissfully oblivious to her wants and needs, or she’ll tell you. Or the look of utter disdain on her face will. It’s not a total disaster. Like most things, there’s always the chance of an exchange, or less likely, a refund – but find out what the deal is before putting cold cash down. And don’t take it too personally. Chances are she has been thinking about what her dream engagement ring looks like forever.
Not only are coloured gemstones having a serious revival, but they’re gaining in value to make them a worthwhile investment. Most women wear their engagement rings everyday, so stick to the harder stones. Diamonds are the hardest, but emeralds, for example, are relatively soft, and not ideal for everyday banging about.
Don’t forget that diamonds come in other colours, as does gold. Maison Dauphin, one of the newer fine jewellery houses, does a really gorgeous line in black diamonds set in blue gold (white gold finished with blue rhodium) which would make for an unbelievably contemporary engagement ring.
Glenn Spiro has a range of engagement rings in classic styles but set in beautiful coloured titanium– a pop of vivid colour in a traditional setting. Similarly, jeweller Raphaele Canot has mastered the use of enamel in rings and her OMG series of diamond, gold, and enamel rings in the shape of an open mouth would suit a bride with a sense of humour. Or, sticking to white diamonds and yellow gold, British jeweller Alex Monroe’s new line of Wild Rose diamond rings are a sweetly sylvan option for lovers of whimsy.
Vintage isn’t for everyone. If she can’t walk past Oxfam without gagging, stick to brand spanking new. Gray’s Antiques in W1 is an incredible treasure trove of jewellery dealers under one roof, with thousands upon thousands of vintage and antique pieces on display all the time – a casual stroll through there with one’s beloved and a beady eye out to see which styles light up her face might be wise.
There are all sorts of myths about having to spend a certain multiple of your monthly salary on a ring, but you know your financial situation better than some random calculation would. The comfort rule is a good one. If you can comfortably afford it, you’re not spending enough. You want to wince just slightly when making that transaction.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they’re also a commodity with a market value. Subscribers to the Rapport Diamond Price Listcan follow their value or work out the wholesale value of a particular stone based mainly on the four Cs – Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Colour. There are plenty of online calculators that will do the same thing, but your best bet is to compare and contrast in the real world. Shop around, and don’t be afraid to barter.
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