What to consider when buying an Engagement Ring

Posted by Christopher on 8th Mar 2015

What to consider when you purchase an Engagement Ring

Not something you decide to do every day, buying an engagement ring is an obviously important, considerable and considered purchase.  Let me guide you along with a few simple pointers.  It’s definitely worth spending more than a little time and effort on research before committing to buy to ensure you get it right.

Many couples shop for their engagement rings together but if you’re a brave one and are planning a surprise proposal here is our simple guide.


First, set your budget.  You have probably heard the oft-repeated mantra “twice (or even three times!) your monthly salary” repeated as if it were a law of physics. It isn’t!

The “correct” budget is the one you feel comfortable with, what's affordable.  Of course, you don’t want to be a cheapskate but over spending has caused many a headache in relationships and you're planning to be saving for a wedding soon!

Learn on how to get the most value for your money and get her a brilliant ring that she will love and you can comfortably afford.

The Stone

Next, the stone.  As with all trades there is a certain amount of jargon and ambiguity, which may be off-putting to the layman but anyone can grasp the basics quite quickly.  The most important points are the 4 Cs: Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity.


One carat is 0.2 grams and the more your stone weighs the more it will cost.  So, more carat, more money.  That’s obvious but what is not quite so obvious that larger stones are disproportionately more expensive than smaller ones.

A 1 carat stone costs much more than twice a ½ carat stone.  Choosing a stone is a balancing act between the 4 Cs with a little less here meaning you can have a little more there.  Most people nowadays go for brilliance over sheer size so a well-cut smaller stone may make a bigger impact than a less well cut larger one.  


The cut determines the amount of light reflected back to the viewer.  A well-cut stone throws light back at you giving the sparkle and brilliance we all value so much.  Conversely, a less well-cut stone will allow light to escape through the sides and back of the gem, giving a duller appearance.  Not really what you buy a diamond for!

The most popular shape and cut is the Round Brilliant, for which by the way you will pay a premium because it is so popular, but there are many, many other cuts and shapes.  We will help with information and advice but ultimately it depends upon what you think looks good, or rather, what you think she thinks looks good.


Clarity denotes the number of flaws in the stone both internal (inclusions) and external (blemishes).  It is true that a completely flawless stone will reflect more light than a flawed one, but at the higher end of the market we are talking of differences indistinguishable to the untrained eye - but very distinguishable to even the most untrained wallet! ;-)


The same is true of color.  Diamonds range from colorless, grade D, to brown or yellow at the lower end.  We always recommend a stone from color grade D to color grade J.   This range will give you a diamond that faces up white and will look great in almost any ring style!

By making small trade-offs between the 4 Cs you should be in a position to get the best impact from the stone that suits your budget.

Which metal?

The ring itself must in a way play second fiddle to the stone if you are choosing a solitaire, but give a thought to color and style.  Yellow gold is classic, and making a small comeback into bridal and engagement rings.  Most women still prefer white metals now.  A quick glance at what she normally wears might be a good idea.  If silver, white gold and platinum are preference.  There is no visible difference between white gold and platinum when they rings are new, however they do wear different overtime.  White gold will need to be rhodium plated from time to time to keep the "whiteness" of the metal.  We find most people tend to opt for white gold rather then platinum due to the cost.  Often the same ring style could be half the cost in white gold versus platinum.

The setting

Finally, stone meets ring in the setting.  Vintage style halo rings are incredibly popular at the moment.  This is good news if you don't have the budget for a larger stone.  The numerous smaller diamonds encircling the center stone or along the shoulders add amazing sparkle and look very expensive, often costing less than a larger solitaire. 

Hopefully, you will be able to combine these tips with a good knowledge of your loved one to purchase the very ring she would have chosen herself!  A useful double check might be to ask her friends, mom, or sister what they think she would like, chances are, she has some idea of what her dream engagement ring will look like and now it's up to you to find it.

Our engagement ring and diamond experts will be delighted to provide you with tips and tricks on how to purchase the engagement ring of your girlfriend’s dreams, and they are available in store  and appointments are available from Monday to Friday anytime between 10am and 5pm, or 7 days a week via email at sales@auguststephenson.com. We look forward to helping you in your journey to pick the best possible option at the best price!

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