Following on from the first in the series on my journey to wedded bliss where I asked for permission from my father-in-law-to-be the journey shifted focus – the ring.
Before I could really begin in earnest at looking into engagement rings I needed a couple of basic details:
- Her preferred ring style
- Her ring size
My partner isn’t really one for wearing jewellery, rings especially so I had no way of borrowing one that fit to get measured up. I wracked my brain for ages trying to come up with some super stealth methods to get her ring size but fell completely flat.
When your girlfriend doesn’t know her own ring size it’s a challenge. There was no way I could get her to casually drop it into a conversation we were having.
The next challenge I had was what sort of style. Through our chin-wags I knew that she didn’t really want a single diamond on a band, too many people she knew already had that and she wanted to be different.
She’s a woman with her own sense of style. She doesn’t have weird tastes or anything, but she knows what she likes. Consequently, I am utterly terrible at picking out suggestions “what about this” a disgusted look and a firm “No” and I know to give up straight away. It’s the same with accessories as well. I can’t pick her a bag either, I’m shocking at understanding her tastes at these to.
The failure is completely on my part. It’s not through a lack of attention, I just can’t synchronise into what she likes. This is something I take personally too. I pride myself on being able buy gifts that my partner likes, and things like clothes and accessories are a great way of showing that. But I suck.
So I had the best brainwave. Let’s get her finger sized, so I know and let’s go “window shopping” for an engagement ring.
So we rock up to The Centre: MK and I position it like a game – money no object, what sort of thing would you go for. We cruised the jewellery stores of the shopping centre, looking at rings and getting sized up.
I learnt a lot. I knew her required ring size and more importantly what style of rings she liked. It was a good job too as I was well off base – as per usual!
Winding back a little, I have always been comfortable discussing our future. I knew as a couple we were strong. I knew we would get to a point for proposals and the like. I knew all this fairly early on – pretty much after surviving our first Christmas and 6 months of living together which in total is less than 2 years as a couple. So in that time we’ve talked. We’ve discussed ring likes and dislikes. Based on those discussions I thought I knew what she wanted and I was confident as we went to the shopping centre on my intel day.
I rocked up with my girlfriend with almost a cocky swagger, thinking “I just need her to confirm that I know my shizzle as she picks out all the ones I thought she would love”. Oh how wrong I was.
I knew Sapphire was important. I know Diamonds are important. I also thought that she wanted three stones across the band – no, no, no, no!
The Four C’s
What transpired was that she actually wanted a Sapphire halo engagement ring (so I was well off).
When it comes to buying a ring it’s all about the four C’s:
Carat – Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. Diamonds are all weighed in metric carats rather than grams or ounces. This is a standard industry practice around the world.
Diamond is expressed to the hundredth of a carat. Carat weight of less than a carat is expressed in points. So, for example, a 0.75ct diamond will be 75 points. Most jewellers will refer to carat weight in this terminology.
Carat, weight of a diamond is separate to the ‘Karat’ used to determine the purity of gold.
The carat of a diamond doesn’t refer to the quality of a diamond, for that we need the other three C’s:
Cut – Cut is an important characteristic to consider when purchasing a diamond. The cut will ultimately govern how well the light is refracted; giving the diamond it’s sparkle. If you purchase a badly cut diamond, then it will not refract the light as well and will not sparkle. Poorly cut diamonds will also give you a smaller spread for your selected carat weight.
It is important to ensure you select a well cut diamond so that you get a good sparkle. You may be able to save a lot of money on poorer cut diamonds but ultimately you will pay with a diamond that does not sparkle.
The classification of cuts is:
- Very Good
When choosing a ring do not go for a diamond with anything less than a ‘Good’ cut and most worthwhile jewellers will not sell anything less than a Good cut diamond anyway.
Colour – The colour refers to how much colour is actually visible in the diamond.
Diamond colour grades start at D and continue through the alphabet. Truly colourless stones, graded D, are extremely rare and very valuable. The closer a diamond is to being colourless, the rarer and more valuable it is.
A ‘D’ colour diamond, the highest available, will be graded as colourless. As you go down the scale, the intensity of a yellow tint in the diamond will increase to the naked eye. For example, a T colour diamond would be graded as light yellow. This will be obvious from the naked eye.
As a guide, these are good principles:
- D: Absolutely colourless. Extremely rare diamonds.
- E-F: Colourless. Traces of colour can only usually be detected by a trained gemmologist. Rare diamonds.
- G-H: Near-colourless. Yellow colour is difficult to detect except in side-by-side comparisons with other diamonds.
- I-J: Near-colourless. Slight yellow hue may be detectable.
- M-Z Noticeable colour.
Depending on your budget, aim for a D to G colour.
Clarity – Clarity is the measure of the number and size of imperfections within a diamond, or as they’re more commonly known, inclusions.
Almost all diamonds contain small traces of carbon, the element from which they were born. These inclusions are nature’s finger print and make every diamond quite unique. They occur naturally within the diamond while they’re being formed. Most are not discernible to the naked eye and require 10X magnification and can only be seen using a diamond loupe.
Large inclusions interfere with the dispersion of light and therefore the diamond’s brilliance. Each diamond will have its own unique inclusions in various positions within the diamond. The major factors that determine the clarity grade is size, number, position and nature of the flaws.
Clarity is one of the major defining factors as to the value of a diamond. If you’re looking for a good value diamond with a great sparkle go for anything in SI-VS range (leaning towards VS if you can afford it). Otherwise go for a VVS for a truly outstanding diamond.
From listening to friends talk about getting rings I knew about for four C’s. They would also say that not going retail is also a good way to go. I cannot echo this sentiment enough. Don’t buy from high street retailers. You get far more “bang for your buck” if you go to non-high street jewellers, it is so worth it!
Armed with the knowledge of what my girlfriend loved and what size it needed to be I was able to go online and look at some ‘proper’ jewellers in both Hatton Gardens in London and the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and tailor the four C’s to fit in my budget.
I found what I was looking for and arranged a time to visit.
Considering how long it took me to get to the store (under the guise of present shopping for Christmas) I wasn’t in the store for very long. I knew what I wanted and my budget and after confirming I liked what I saw online in person I purchased the ring!
All I had to do was wait 4-6 weeks for delivery and I would then need to face the final obstacle – proposing!
Well fuck me if 2 weeks hadn’t passed when I got a call: “who’s calling me from Birmingham?” I answer my mobile “Hello Sir, it’s the jewellers calling. Just to let you know we’re sending out the ring today, you should receive it tomorrow and it will need signing for”. Aside from a little panic that I would get caught by my girlfriend, which I realised wouldn’t be the case my immediate reaction was “FUCK!” For two reasons. Firstly, that was a bloody quick turnaround, it caught me off-guard. Then secondly, and more importantly the plan to propose had to move into the final phase – PROPOSING!