Engagement and betrothal can be traced back thousands of years, and rings have also traditionally been given but the more modern “rules” of engagement rings can be traced back to the 1930′s. From the late 1930′s De Beers diamond marketing campaigns promoted diamonds to be used in engagement rings, and that 1 months salary should be spent which was latter increased to two. The adverts were so successful its estimated prior to the 1930′s only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds but its currently at least 80%. There has been some backlash against De Beers, but the adverts were not misleading or a con as it has been suggested, they were simply so successful that the simple advertising slogans used became universally accepted into popular culture.
When it comes to engagement rings there are no rules just trends and fashions and often high expectations. There is no rule about what style constitutes an engagement ring, any ring that could be purchased and worn as a dress ring could also be worn to symbolise engagement. The most iconic, popular and traditional style today is probably the diamond solitaire ring, a single diamond set on a gold or platinum band.
Budget was suggested by De Beers as 1 months salary which they increased to 2 months in 1980′s adverts but everyone’s personal circumstances are different and you should spend the most you can afford or are both comfortable with, which may be considerably more or less than 2 months salary. Times & traditions change, and in this day & age your probably better to broach the subject of engagement with with your partner first than permission from her father first.
Engagement doesn’t need to be a surprise, the image of a man on one knee presenting a ring comes from adverts & Hollywood movies. It may make your life much easier if you can ask her how she would feel about engagement, and if you did one day propose whether she would prefer to be surprised by a ring or choose one for herself, many couples shop for engagement rings together. Amazingly it has been found that woman often choose lower priced rings than men.
Our Personal opinions
We are not stylists or fashionistas, we are jewellers and our advice is purely practical based on years of making & repairing rings and considers the practicalities that unlike any other piece of jewellery you own will be worn daily for a lifetime. Engagement & wedding rings will be worn daily hopefully for much longer than this fashion season, were talking decades not just a few years. As jewellers, and having manufactured, sold & repaired many rings, we can offer our practical advice, to hopefully help keep your rings on your fingers and not at the store being remodelled or repaired and not in a draw gathering dust.
Our advice below we hope you will consider as simply part of your research when reaching & making your own decision
1. Avoid “fashionable” rings, if something is in fashion or “on trend” it will surely go out of fashion. Try to pick something with timeless style, chances are if it would look good with the style du jour of any previous decade you care to imagine, it still will in the future. Simple solitaire diamond engagement rings and plain wedding bands may seem a conservative choice but they will always look stylish regardless of fashions.
2. When it comes to gemstones and especially diamonds keep quantity to a minimum and size & quality as high as your budget allows. From a practical standing multiple small and tiny stones pave set look fabulous and offer greater value for money but the setting are generally more prone to wear and more difficult to repair simply because they are smaller. It would not be an issue for jewellery worn occasionally but it becomes an issue when you consider the piece will be worn daily for decades.
3. It is very common for people over the coarse of a lifetime to change size either through weight gain or weight loss for any number of reasons. And so it is very common for people to require their rings to be resized to fit or prevent them falling off. Simple bands without stones make this a relatively simple procedure, multiple rows of tiny pave set diamonds all round a band make it beyond difficult.
4. White gold? Our personal advice is go yellow to avoid the need for rhodium plating and also yellow is more faltering than silver / white on older skin and everyone grows old one day – Gold is yellow, to make it any other colour it is mixed with other metals in a process called alloying. The lower the carat of gold the lower the gold content and the easier it is to produce alloys of good white colour. 18ct gold is 75% gold so essentially 75% yellow so its amazing that adding just 25% of other white metals makes it as white as it does but it still has a slight yellow tint and looks a little greyish compared to 9ct which is only 37.5% gold and can be made whiter.
So white gold is routinely plated with Rhodium to make it brighter & whiter. Chances are when you look at white gold in store windows your looking at rhodium plating which is super bright and white. The issue with rhodium plating is that it is so common yet so rarely declared and it wears off and needs re-plating to maintain the look. Again this is only an issue caused by daily wear and compounded by wedding and engagement rings rubbing together.
How frequently you will require a ring to be re-plated is entirely dependant on the individual and wear but a guess would be on average every 2-3 years, however many people never bother they just presume that the often gradual and slight colour change is due to general wear.
5. Diamonds – the 4 C’s unless moneys no object will be the 4 compromises – I’m a fully qualified diamond grader (more letters after my name than years of experience though) Jewellers and professionals can argue endlessly about which is the most important C so I will simply share my own personal approach rather than a contrived professional opinion. When picking my personal diamond for a solitaire engagement ring I wanted the biggest (highest carat), with the best cut available in colour D,E or F in SI1 clarity or above I could afford with my budget. I knew my partner would want the largest diamond I could afford, cut & colour was more important to me than clarity because I know just how hard inclusions are to see with experience and remember how difficult they were to find with no experience when studying diamond grading. D,E & F are a nice bright white and so long as the inclusions are around the edge after a week’s wear there will be bigger bits of dust and dirt in the back of the ring than any visible inclusions.
I also decided on a shape other than round because I think firstly they are more interesting and unusual and secondly they are often no more expensive than the most popular shape – round. If you asked me which of the 4 C’s I thought was the most important it would be cut because its the only legitimate thing the human can add to the natural diamond, and all other things being equal in terms of the 4 C’s its all that separates them, and in many cases it has possibly the smallest impact on price yet the biggest impact on brilliance “sparkle”.