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Engagement Ring Shopping 101: How To Buy The Engagement Ring Of Your Dreams!

Engagement Ring Shopping 101: How To Buy The Engagement Ring Of Your Dreams!

This story was updated in January 2019.


So, you are in the market with your fiance looking to buy an engagement ring, and there are a ton of things running through your mind. You are worried about the shape, the cut, the size, and you need to think about the type of diamond and the colour. Before all of this, you need to plan a budget and decide on a financing strategy. Feeling dizzy already?


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Image source: Pexels


An engagement ring is a big investment and therefore needs an equally big investment in terms of planning and research… quite the same way you go about buying a car, or a big loan. So, before you go all giddy with excitement or worry, we would like to reduce some of the doubts you may have about buying an engagement ring. These tips will help maximize your investment as well as help you land the perfect engagement ring you’ve always been wanting to show off. This is the engagement ring guide you've been waiting for. Here you go!


Diamonds  
Budget Needs  
Shape Of Ring  
Picking The Right Stone  
4 Cs Of Diamond  
Shape Of Gemstone  
Material Of Ring  
Certification And Warranty  
Places To Buy 


Why Diamonds?


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Image source: Pexels


The first and foremost question a lot of us ask is why do almost all engagement rings need a diamond. Well, actually you don’t. You can easily opt for simple gold bands. The diamond engagement ring is a masterstroke in terms of marketing by companies and consortiums that are in the business of diamonds and a little bit of medieval European history. A legend goes that the Archduke Maximillian of Austria ordered the very first diamond engagement ring on record for his fiance, Mary of Burgundy. This sparked a trend for diamond rings among European royalty, which then got ‘trending’ among the masses.


Today, diamond engagement rings are marketed as the ultimate symbol of love and commitment and big diamonds definitely make a statement.


First And Foremost, You Need A Budget


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Image source: Pexels


Before you dive into the catalogs and the countless engagement ring websites, you need to think about how much you want to spend on your ring. It is really easy to go overboard with diamonds. Establishing a budget will allow you to decide on the shape, size and cut of the engagement ring from early on. That way you will be able to arrive on a ring you both like and justifies the cost.


POPxo Protip: If a diamond is a little over your budget, there are various other options with different gemstones that are equally beautiful. Plus, you will always win points when showing off a ring that is a little hatke!


Sorting Your Financing Needs


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Image source: Pexels


Once you have a budget in mind, organise the money to spend on the engagement ring. If you have saved up for it, there’s nothing like it. If not, then don’t sweat. It’s way easier to get the financing required for a ring than you may think.


There are two ways to get the money required:


  1. Personal Loan: Depending on your credit rating, you can avail a short- or long-term loan from most banks in India. You can select from different interest and repayment plans to suit your convenience. Read more about it here.

  2. EMI schemes: A lot of companies are offering convenient EMI schemes to help ease the cost of paying for a diamond engagement ring at one go.


POPxo Protip: An EMI is a good option if you have a credit card, and helps save time and the paperwork required for a loan. You can weigh the overall costs of a loan vs an EMI and take your final decision.


Deciding The Type Or Shape Of The Ring


They say the first step is always the hardest. That holds true for most things in life, and more so for engagement rings. A lot of factors can influence your decision - the dresses to be worn alongside it, the kind of fashion style the person wearing it has or even the different trends of the season. To help you better decide, we have narrowed down a few popular shapes of engagement rings to help usher you in the right direction.


The Classic Diamond Ring


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Image source: Pexels


There is nothing better to prove that less is indeed more. A thin strip of metal holds the diamond or the gemstone in place, giving the illusion that it is floating. It’s simple, elegant and a personal favourite of celebrities like Amal Clooney and Natalie Portman.


The Twisted Vine Diamond Ring


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Image source: Pexels


If you want something a little different, then this shape of engagement rings really stand out. Pieces of precious metal are tied into a ribbon at the top and capped off with a gemstone. Designed like a grapevine, the strands are often encrusted with smaller diamonds.


The Pavé Diamond Ring


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Image source: Pexels


Pronounced as ‘pa-vay,’ this literally means ‘to pave’ in French. In classic Parisian style, this ring does not hold back on the glamour quotient. The ring of metal is paved with gemstones or diamonds holding them in place. A large stone sits atop the ring, giving the effect of a neverending sparkle.


POPxo Protip: Confused about the type of ring you prefer? Ask the seller if they have an exchange policy. Generally, all ring sellers have a 30-day exchange option.


Picking The Right Stone To Go On The Top


Now that you have the type of ring out of the way (or are still deciding!), it’s time to choose what type of stone you want at the top. Nearly everyone we asked answered that they could only see a diamond on top of an engagement ring. However, it’s not entirely rare to see a different gemstone - particularly sapphire.


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Image source: Pexels


Since it is only second to diamonds on the Mohs scale of hardness, sapphires make a worthy substitute. Diamonds are a 10 on the scale (among the hardest objects known to man), while sapphires are a nine. Both stones are hard enough to survive the regular wear and tear of everyday life.


The Four Cs of Diamonds


All diamonds are judged upon four important characteristics - cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. The four Cs determine the most important factor in a diamond purchase - its price. Finding the right balance between these four Cs is critical in getting the perfect engagement ring.


Cut


A diamond’s greatest trait is the sparkle it produces, which makes the cut of the stone the most important of the four Cs. A cut can influence the way the diamond interacts with light and the amount of glimmer it generates. Professional diamond cutters in Surat or Antwerp know the precise angles and proportions to cut the diamond so as to get the most out of the stone. A part of the price is also determined by the cut of the diamond, some cuts are more expensive than others. For example, an Emerald cut diamond would be more expensive than a Marquis cut diamond. Heart shaped diamonds are the most expensive.


Colour


The colour of the diamond, or rather the lack of it, is the second-most important factor when deciding for your engagement ring. The more translucent the diamond, the higher the grade. When diamonds form, they usually trap a little nitrogen in their molecules, which gives it different colours, like red, pink and even orange. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) grades colours from D (being the whitest/brightest) down to Z (almost yellow in colour).


Clarity


Even though its importance falls after cut and colour, the clarity of a diamond should not be ignored. Often as a diamond is processed and cut, the work done can leave a few marks and bruises. Additionally, the colour, location and age can also affect clarity. A truly clear diamond without those microscopic blemishes is rare.


POPxo Protip: It’s better to compromise on the size of a diamond than clarity. A tiny IF (internally flawless) diamond will be more expensive than a 2 carat diamond of SI2 (that means the diamond has slight inclusions or small imperfections).


Carat


Carat actually refers to the weight of a diamond and not its size or quality. The larger the diamond, the larger the carat. Most naturally occurring diamonds are small in size, usually lesser than 2 or 2.5 carats. They can be further cut into smaller sizes.


POPxo Protip: Since whole carats (like 1.0 or 2.0) and half carats (2.5 or 3.5) are expensive, it recommended to ‘buy shy’ while selecting a diamond. This means going for a carat weight slightly below the whole weight (like asking for 1.9 or 2.4 carats). You will save a lot of money and no one will even notice the difference in size!


Selecting The Shape Of Your Gemstone


If you walk into a diamond or gemstone seller’s shop or look online, you’ll notice that most of the stones are cut to a round shape. That might give you the impression that most diamonds are round. In fact, there are ten different shapes to a diamond or any other precious stone for the matter.


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Image source: Wixon Jewelers


For diamonds, round is the most popular shape and this again dates back to the European royals in the 17th century. The other popular shapes include a princess cut, a cushion cut and an emerald cut. Round is the most expensive shape since it is the most popular and only the best diamond cutters are handed the responsibility of shaping those stones.


POPxo Protip: If your gemstone is exceeding your budget and the round shape may be out of your hand, you can always select a different one. The square-shaped cuts like a princess cut or cushion cut require less finesse and can sometimes be about 20-30% cheaper than a round cut. However, that does not make the stone any less beautiful on an engagement ring.


Insisting For Conflict-Free Diamonds


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Image source: James Allen


To understand the meaning of conflict-free diamonds (or even sapphires, rubies or emeralds), you need to know where these gemstones originate. Apart from Russia and Australia, the other top diamond and precious stone producing countries are located in Africa. According to the research website Statista, these include countries like The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the largest producer in 2017, Botswana and Zimbabwe.


Both the DRC and Zimbabwe have borne the brunt of civil war and political chaos over the last two decades. The precious stones industry is among those being thrust right into the middle of all this, due to the value of the commodity. According to intelligence gathered by the World Bank, the local diamond mines and processing centers have been known to be controlled and operated by warlords and rebels.


The United Nations and many European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands had banned diamonds being exported out of conflict countries in the early 2000s. The ban was lifted after the nations agreed to end these ‘blood diamond’ camps and export only the ones mined ethically.


India is the second-largest importer of diamonds and the largest of rough-cut diamonds in the world. Most diamonds are sent to diamond cutters in Surat and Baroda for final work on them, before being exported again. A lot of these stones may be being sold as antiques or for a lower price. It is always better to insist on conflict-free diamonds and asking the seller to show a certificate of the stone’s origin during purchase.


POPxo Protip: Keep an eye out for existing conflicts around the diamond-producing regions in the world. Alternatively, a lot of sellers now proudly sport a ‘conflict-free’ diamond as one of their hallmarks.


Deciding The Metal For Your Ring


Selecting the metal for the engagement ring always happens after you have selected the diamond. This way you know how much is remaining and can decide how much more you can spend.


Usually, the two popular choices for metals are always platinum and gold. There are other variations of gold that are also popular among sellers, particularly white gold, rose gold and yellow gold.


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Image source: Pexels


The colour of a diamond heavily influences the colour and choice of the metal. A clear diamond or a blue sapphire or emerald would sit perfectly atop platinum or a white gold band. A pink diamond would be complemented by a pink gold/rose gold ring. Keeping in mind that although platinum and white gold look similar, the former is more expensive due to its durability, and stature (again through a lot of marketing over the years).


Other metals like titanium, silver or a mix of different metals (an alloy) have also been known to be used to make engagement rings.


POPxo protip: A platinum band is more durable and stronger than a gold one. However, platinum is a rarer metal which spikes its cost tremendously. At the same time, the higher cost makes platinum a headache for ring makers to sell. They often club platinum with less expensive costs of gemstones. This means it can be picked up a far lower price than buying the metal separately.


Which Finger To Wear The Ring And How To Measure Its Size


Traditionally, most engagement and wedding rings are worn on the left ringer finger or the second finger from the left on your left hand. Although many say that we do this because the blood veins on the finger directly connect to the heart, that is not completely true. Modern science tells us that all our fingers are connected in one vein or another to the heart.


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Image source: Pexels


The next step is to measure the size of the finger you or your partner wants to wear the engagement ring on. For women, the standard ring size is somewhere between a 5 and a 7, while for men it ranges between 8-14.


Measuring a finger is a tricky process if you are looking to surprise your partner with an engagement ring. You could go by guesswork if you know your to-be fiance well enough. If not, then using a tape of a string is a reliable way to know their size. However, the best way to measure a finger is to actually try a few mock rings, but that would definitely ruin your surprise.


POPxo Protip: If you are planning to surprise your partner with a proposal, it is recommended that you get their family or friends involved. You could ask them to quickly sneak a ring from their stash (on the pretext of ‘borrowing’ it) and quickly measure it before your partner gets suspicious.


Insist On Certification And Warranty


The last and one of the most vital things to complete from your engagement ring checklist is the certification of the gemstone. Every registered precious stone seller in India is verified with an ISI certification. Ask for the dealer’s registration and the purchase certificate when you are making the payment. Insist on a cash receipt, although every seller should provide you with one.


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Image source: Pexels


A lot of sellers also sell warranty and insurance for the rings at their stores. It is recommended that you secure your investment before you leave. Ask your seller to provide for third-party insurers, in case they do not provide you with one. You can take a look at some of the companies offering insurance on jewellery here.
POPxo Protip: A lot of sellers club the prices of the insurance along with the engagement ring along with a premium for their services. These can sometimes drive up the prices significantly. It is always recommended that you take a look at current market rates for insurance covers before the purchase.


What To Do When You Don’t Want A Brand New Engagement Ring?


For whatever reasons, you may not want to buy a brand new engagement ring. You could say that it doesn’t justify the investment or you and your partner cannot decide upon the gemstone. If you are looking for other options, here’s what you can do.


Go Vintage!


Here’s an insider tip not many people would think of. A lot of us have rings that are passed down from our parents or grandparents. There is an element of history and tradition associated with those rings which would appeal to many of us who are sentimental or history buffs.


If you are keen on the history of a ring or have a flair for arts and history, your jeweller will be happy to let you on a few of his exclusive pieces. In India, jewellers also source antique jewellery from erstwhile royal families or old landed families. These have a lot of charm and usually, the quality of gold and stones is very superior.


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Image source: Pexels


Just know that diamond rings are also weighed by their lineage and the people who wore them. Gemstones worn by royals are likely to fetch a higher price than a brand new engagement ring.


POPxo Protip: Generally a lot of ring makers may show some initial hesitation when working (or reworking) with an antique engagement ring. However, if you have a unique design or pattern in mind, many local jewellers are always looking for opportunities to shine with their craftsmanship as well. Look for one in your locality and weigh the cost of buying a new ring for your gemstone compared with working with a vintage one.


Consider Collaborating With A Designer


If you are one of those people who cannot stand the standard engagement ring designs on the hundredth brochure you have taken look at, here’s another idea. You could look to tie-up with a jewellery designer. We are sure that the one name that would have crept into your mind by now is Sabyasachi Mukherjee.


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Image source: Pexels


Possibly, every bride in India wants to wear a Sabyasachi lehenga or jewellery designed by him. If you have the bucks, you could pick up the phone and give his office a call. If not, then you could look to tie up with a lot of young and talented metal designers that do not charge as much. One scroll through Google will throw up many designers in your city, each with something unique to offer.


POPxo Protip: The best place to look for upcoming jewellery designers are at diamond and jewellery expos. The Jaipur Jewellery Show is among India’s most revered and is definitely worth checking out.


Go For Pre-Owned Jewellery


The value of diamonds depreciates extremely quickly. They say that once bought, a diamond’s resale value directly reduces by a fifth. That makes a gemstone an investment worth holding on or passing down in the family. However, the same reason makes buying pre-owned diamonds and sapphires a cost-effective strategy for an engagement ring.


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Image source: Pexels


There are a lot of online websites selling pre-owned jewellery where you can find beautiful engagement rings that cost half as much as a new one. You just need to be aware that the seller is disclosing all the small details about the diamond and the reason it is being resold. You can also ask for the original selling price and weigh it against the current market prices to know the depreciation value.


POPxo Protip: Often sellers are left scratching their heads when a gemstone they sold is returned due to the smallest of blemishes. You could ask them to show those stones in case you do not want to shell out a fortune on a brand new one.


Top Places To Buy Engagement Rings In India


CaratLane


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Image source: CaratLane


CaratLane’s association with Tanishq gives its an aura of assurance and quality. The brand prides itself in making contemporary jewellery for everyday wear as well as stylish fine jewellery for those special occasions. CaratLane has a heavy online presence as well. Check them out here.


Tanishq By Tata


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Image source: Tanishq


If you are looking for those uber luxurious engagement ring, head over to India’s largest jewellery brand. They offer jewellery that is meticulously made and as is exclusive as it is exquisite. Take a look at some of their collections here.


P.N. Gadgil & Sons (PNG Jewellers)


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Image source: PNG Jewellery


PNG Jewellery have been in business for over 180 years now. They have evolved through time, but still maintain their classic craftsmanship in their products. Whether is a modern ring you are looking for or a vintage cut (or a mix of both), PNG has some of the best options. You can take a look at their collections here.


 


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Published on Jan 14, 2019
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