Whether you’re planning a surprise proposal or choosing your forever ring together, buying an engagement ring can be a nerve-wracking process. Cost aside, it’s probably the only time you’ll choose something designed to be worn until death do you part. So, the pressure is on to get it right. But on the flip side, buying a sparkling symbol of your love and commitment is a special, once-in-a-lifetime experience. With a little help from the TWE editors who have been there and done that, we bring you our guide to picking the perfect engagement ring.
Do your research
If your heart is set on a diamond, you’ll need to get acquainted with the Four Cs which determine a stone’s rarity and value. Google is your friend, but in brief, these stand for Carat: the weight of the stone, Cut: how well it has been cut and polished (which affects symmetry and sparkle), Clarity: the number of inclusions and blemishes, and Colour: measured from D to Z, with D being colourless (the rarest and most expensive). Together, these factors determine how big, bright and sparkly the diamond appears.
Whatever your budget, understanding the Four Cs will help you decide what to focus on, and where to compromise to make your money stretch further. Does size matter most to you, or is small and perfectly formed the way to go? SkyDiamond’s online bespoke engagement ring tool allows you to select a diamond based on carat, colour, clarity or cut, and filter by price to see the options available within your budget.
Establish the basics
Knowing the non-negotiables will help narrow down your search from the off. Consider which colour of gold best suits their skin tone: yellow, white or rose. Choosing the same colour as the majority of their jewellery is a safe bet – although there are no rules, and it’s ok to mix and match. “I love the simplicity of my platinum solitaire ring – it will always be a classic. It goes with everything and I love the way it looks with gold jewellery,” says The Wedding Edition’s Contributing Style Editor, Patricia O’Dwyer. Every SkyDiamond engagement ring is available in platinum or recycled 18kt white, rose and yellow gold.
Consider also the shape of the diamond: long, slender fingers look elegant with an elongated cut such as an oval or emerald-cut, while those with shorter fingers might want a wider stone, such as a round-brilliant, cushion or radiant cut. Take into account lifestyle factors: if they’re particularly active, a keen gardener, or have a job that requires latex gloves, a high ‘cathedral’ style setting is unlikely to suit. A more secure bezel setting, in which a ring of gold holds the diamond firmly in place, might be a better bet.
When The Wedding Edition’s Lifestyle Editor Alexandra Dudley got engaged, her fiancé was sure to think through the practicalities. “I cook a lot so something with a single, big diamond would have been rather impractical,” she says. “The ring is made up of five smaller diamonds encased with tiny diamonds. It is a typical Victorian style and suits me perfectly.”
Consider their style
Think about the way they dress, their favourite designers and their taste in interiors, art and design. Are they drawn to classic, traditional design or do they like something more modern? If they’re a fan of Art Deco, a geometric Asscher-cut or emerald-cut diamond will go down a storm; if they’re into Victorian style, a cluster ring might do the trick. Seemingly small details, such as whether a diamond has four claws or six, and whether the band is tapered or straight, can make a huge difference to the overall look. “I love the setting of my engagement ring, it’s raised and really enhances how the light refracts off its angles,” says Contributing Editor Francesca Newman-Young.
Check the provenance
Although the natural diamond industry has made a big effort to improve its supply chains, the fact remains that unless you can trace your diamond back to a responsibly run mine, you have no idea the conditions under which it was mined. Now, there exists an alternative provenance: diamonds created using technology which recreates extremes of pressure and temperature to ‘grow’ rough diamonds from tiny seeds of carbon.
Laboratory-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds: it’s impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye. While other lab-grown diamonds have received criticism for the amount of energy and water used to create them, SkyDiamond is unique in that its stones are created entirely using natural and renewable resources. Its sky-mined diamonds are grown from excess carbon which is harnessed from the atmosphere and stored permanently in gemstone form, making the company carbon-negative by design (rather than via offsetting, as is the case for other lab-grown diamond producers).
Founded by climate-change activist and eco-energy entrepreneur Dale Vince, the SkyDiamond plant in Gloucestershire is powered by renewable energy, harnessing the wind, sun and rainwater to create its sustainable diamonds. You can read more about the SkyDiamond plant here.
Trust your gut
Finding somebody you want to spend the rest of your life with is the difficult part: choosing the ring should be cause for celebration. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, listen to your gut instinct. Whether you’re choosing a ring for yourself or your other half, you know the wearer better than anybody, and the meaning behind it matters more than any design detail. As Patricia O’Dwyer said of her dream engagement ring: “I genuinely think he could have given me anything and it would have been right, because it represents our relationship and the magical moment that he proposed.”
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