Ready To Propose? Here's How To Choose A Diamond Ring
STORY: Mandy Wong
14 September 2021
Actually making the decision that you’re ready to settle down with your lady is tough enough, but wait till you actually step into the jewellery stores to shop for that finger bling.
Reinforcements have arrived – this guide is here to give you a head start before you plunge into the deep end.
1. Is diamond really the one?
Just because diamond is the norm doesn’t mean you have to conform. Many girls nowadays are veering towards non-conventional choices like sapphire, ruby, emerald, and even gemstones like opal, topaz, and amethyst.
Keep your eyes peeled for any hints as to your future fiancee’s preferences. The rest of this guide, however, will be dealing with diamonds as it’s still the most popular choice for engagement rings.
2. Natural vs synthetic vs simulants
Natural diamonds are grown, well, naturally underground. We’re sure you know that diamonds are just carbon atoms (what you may know as charcoal) that have been subjected to humongous pressures far below the Earth’s surface. They’re also known to be the hardest material on Earth.
Synthetic diamonds undergo the exact same process as natural diamonds, except in a lab. Imagine them as the IVF twin sibling of the natural diamond – exactly the same in every way, but conceived in a different place. They usually cost a bit less than natural diamonds too.
Diamond simulants are essentially other gemstones that look and feel like diamonds, but have different chemical structures. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Diamond simulants can be a lot more affordable while still looking almost indistinguishable from natural diamonds.
Pro-tip: Sound your girlfriend out on this beforehand. Believe it or not, not all girls need to have natural diamonds.
3. Where to get them
The conventional and most convenient way is to get your diamond together with your setting (the band that will be housing your diamond) at jewellery stores.
However, there are now reliable sites online that sell loose diamonds (you’ll need to do a bit of research here).
Depending on what grade of diamonds you’re looking for, it might be more affordable for you to buy your diamond separately from the setting.
4. Carat weight: there is no rule of thumb
Carats are the measuring unit for the weight of gemstones, like diamonds, which means the higher the carat, the bigger the stone is. We recommend actually going down to a jewellery store to get a better idea of how big carat sizes are.
Consider your girlfriend’s overall lifestyle and aesthetic. There’s a better chance that your girlfriend may appreciate a larger diamond if she is already a fan of jewellery and wears them regularly. If jewellery isn’t quite her thing and only put on for special occasions, then it’s likely that a smaller-carat ring might look better to her and on her.
5. Diamond characteristics
A majority of diamonds in jewellery store hers are certified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The GIA will grade each stone’s characteristics: its colour, cut, clarity, and carat weight (which we’ve already talked about).
Diamonds can vary naturally in colour. For the best shine, you’ll need as colourless a stone as possible. The alphabet grade for colour extends from D to Z, with D, E, and F being on top of the list as “colourless”.
The cut of a diamond is actually one of the most important factors affecting how sparkly it looks. A small, well-cut diamond could look a lot more eye-catching than a larger, duller one. It’s not all about size, guys!
A diamond’s clarity grading is about how many innate blemishes the stone has. A flawless diamond is, in fact, so rare that some jewellers never get to see one in their whole careers!
You’ll find the most common clarity grade is VVS (very, very slightly included) and VS (very slightly included), with the former being better. Don’t worry though, most of these blemishes are almost invisible even under a magnifying glass.
6. The setting
Now that you’ve picked your diamond, you need to figure out how to show it off as much as possible. Pay attention to what kind of metal your girlfriend likes on her jewellery– yellow gold, rose gold, or silver (white gold)? This preference is unlikely to change for her engagement ring.
A diamond on yellow gold is a timeless combination, but the diamond may look less white because light is reflecting off the gold and through the diamond.
That is why white gold (which looks like silver) has now become the mainstream option for engagement rings, because of how much more brilliantly diamonds shine on top. Jewellers can also do combination settings (a mixture of white and yellow gold).
Pro-tip: If you’re going for a smaller carat size, you can ask for a setting that tapers to a narrower band on either side of the diamond. This will create the illusion that the diamond looks bigger!