“My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.”
– Elizabeth Taylor
Recently, I chanced upon an article chastising diamonds and likening them to ‘bullshit’. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rohin-dhar/diamonds-are-bullshit_b_3708562.html)
Whether you agree with that, its entirely up to you. In any case, I’m not here to convince anyone to buy a diamond ring for a proposal. That’s still each individual’s choice.
I’m just here to share with you all, my own personal experience on searching and purchasing an engagement ring. Here are some tips how you could stretch your dollar.
1. Carat is King
Yes, there’s the 4 ‘C’s that people talk to you about. The Carat, Cut, Clarity and Colour. All these 4 factors are there to assess the overall look of the diamond, and of course the price tag as well. You can read more here: ((http://www.adiamondbuyingguide.com/))
But not all 4 aspects are of equal importance. Here’s my take on it:
Scenario A: You select a diamond that has excellent cut, colourless and with no flaws. But compromise on the size of the carat. Perhaps 0.3 carat. For all the excellent qualities or specifications that your diamond has, it’s just too small to be really appreciated or seen. Your woman has to squint her eyes to see the diamond itself. What’s the point? (a minor exaggeration here)
Scenario B: You have the same budget as the situation above. But you choose a diamond of a larger carat size, and compromise (a little) instead on some of the other specifications. Your fiancee has something sizable to look at..
Always remember, when girls look at their diamonds (or comparing with their friends’), the size is always the most conspicuous. Size matters.
Other aspects of the diamond may not be that noticeable to the untrained eye.
2. Cut is Queen
After the size of the diamond, people talk about how shiny or brilliant they are.
That’s where the cut of the diamond is of extreme importance. If the diamond is well-cut, it will reflect light really well.
I once walked into a high-end jeweler in Ion Orchard, where the salesperson had a real stuck-up attitude. I held two similar-sized diamonds using the tongs, one costing around $15,000 and the other $12,000. Though they were of different colour grades (F compared to G), the cut of the diamonds were stated to be on par.
And both diamonds thus reflected light extremely well. I could tell no damn difference between them (I’m untrained in the world of gemology, like many others)
3. The Diamond is the Hero, not the Ring itself
The one on the left – Brilliance in simplicity
For an engagement ring, the diamond itself should always be the hero. Don’t let anything steal attention away from it.
- Get a white gold or platinum ring. Forget yellow gold or even rose gold even though it is rather trendy these days. These coloured rings will affect how well the diamond will reflect light in general.
- Keep the ring thin and simple. Don’t add any jewels on its side, as a friend recently thought of getting for his girlfriend. Again, its excessive. Let the diamond have the attention it deserves.
Yes, a standard solitaire and white gold ring is cliché and common. But dude… don’t fix a formula that is not broken.
4. You may need to Re-size the Ring
Another advantage in not having other jewels on it or a mixed gold ring (combining rose gold and maybe white gold together), is that re-sizing the ring is a distinct possibility.
The jeweller told me that 9 out of 10 guys get the ring size wrong when they surprise their girlfriends with the proposal. I’m one of them. So don’t do those things above as you may need to change the size of your fiancee’s ring. A highly customized ring with other jewels on its side may incur additional costs when you want to change its size.
PS: When you purchase the ring and have no clue what her ring size is, go BIG. Its better that she finds the ring loose rather than not able to put it on. Its gonna be an epic spoiler if she says ‘yes’ on the day itself and starts tearing, only to have the moment ruined when she is unable to fit the ring on her finger at all.
5. Round Brilliant Diamonds are the Standard
If you are the kind of guy who tends to be unable to buy great surprise gifts for your woman throughout your relationship like myself, this point is for you.
Round brilliant diamonds will hardly go wrong. Once again, don’t fix a formula that isn’t broken.
I knew a guy from University who proposed to his girlfriend with a gold bar. Yes, you heard that right. No doubt, the price of gold will continue to appreciate. He’s one practical dude.
The girl accepted the gold bar, and then rejected his proposal. He had to propose a second time, with a standard diamond ring.
6. Consider Custom-made Rings For Maximum Value
Many high-end jewellers charge massive amounts of premium to justify their top-of-the-pyramid pricing. Remember, branding plays a part in consumer perception.
While your woman may totally appreciate something from the likes of Tiffany & Co, it could burn a huge and unnecessary hole in your pocket. And if you decide to get an engagement ring from a low-range jeweller, it may not be that impressive as well in her opinion.
Thus, I believe one of the ways to beat the curve is to get a custom-made ring. And here’s why:
- Since its ‘brand-less’, many women won’t possess any pre-existing connotations towards it. (Some low-end jewellery brands may invoke negative perceptions from the ladies. You can avoid this therefore)
- You pay more on the actual specifications of the stone rather than the brand name. More value-for-money.
- Your woman might appreciate your sincerity and efforts, in specifically handpicking a diamond as well as the ring. (this is arguable)
By the way, a diamond ring is unlike a handbag where the brand name Prada is shown conspicuously on the bag. You can’t see that on a ring. So why bother?
PS: For readers residing In Singapore, go take a walk in Ion Orchard Jewellery Street. You will notice that the prices for similar specifications of diamond rings being priced differently in different shops. Branding 101.
7. Don’t Kill Your Finances
Don’t empty your finances for just a ring. Its an obvious point but often overlooked.
Yeah. You still have to think about:
- Wedding expenses: Photography? Dinner banquet? Wedding gown expenses?
- Accomodation costs: Rental? Or purchasing an apartment? Hefty down-payment fees? Renovation fees?
- Honeymoon trip: Europe? Maldives?
Although all of these things won’t hit you at the same time, you still have to consider that the wedding ain’t gonna be just about the engagement ring.
If you empty your savings for each item along the way, chances are its gonna be more difficult to build your net worth.
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