Romancing the Stone/Fine Jewellery
A timeless symbol of love and romance, diamonds are forever. Selecting the perfect piece of fine jewellery to celebrate your union is an important decision. Here’s some advice for choosing quality engagement and wedding jewellery.
How to select a diamond
When choosing a diamond, always consider the four ‘Cs’. Carat
A carat is the unit of measurement to weigh diamonds – one carat is equal to 0.2 grams. Cut
Cut is a crucial consideration when selecting a diamond. The quality of the cut has a significant impact on a diamond’s overall appearance. Not only does the cut determine the shape of a stone, it also affects how the light reflects through it and how much it will sparkle.
Some classic diamond cuts include brilliant round, oval, pear, princess (square), emerald (rectangle) and marquise (an oval with pointed ends).
Diamonds can range from being completely colourless to having tints of brown or yellow. Colour is graded on a scale from D to Z – diamonds D through to F are generally the most valuable as they are colourless, but even diamonds with a grade of G to I show virtually no colour to the untrained eye. Diamonds from J to Z bear varying degrees of colour.
Diamonds can also come in shades of pink, yellow and blue – providing a beautiful and valuable alternative to the usual white shade.
Most diamonds acquire flaws during their formation from the earth’s pressure. Too many blemishes (surface flaws) and inclusions (flaws within the stone), can affect the diamond’s brilliance. This means stones with fewer, or no, flaws, are naturally more valuable.
While it’s important to consider the four Cs, jeweller Greg Holland says there’s much more to choosing the right diamond for you.
‘To just base your decision on four basic factors is like buying a new car because of its colour, the tyres and whether it has a tow bar,’ he says. ‘Other factors need to be considered also and I’m able to advise my customers on how to make the right choice.’
The traditional rule of thumb is to spend the equivalent of three months’ salary on an engagement ring. These days, however, anything goes. Many couples purchase their rings together or separately – the key is to have a figure in mind and stick to it.
Round brilliant diamonds tend to command a premium price because of their popularity and the wastage in cutting this shape – couples on a budget may like to consider a different cut, such as a princess. Alternatively, a cluster of smaller diamonds, which give the illusion of a larger stone, can be a less expensive option, or you may opt to forgo a colourless diamond for a slight tint, or scale back the carat.
Jeweller Julie Pijfers says remodelling or using the stones from inherited jewellery is a great way to create a unique piece with special meaning.
‘Another option is to choose a smaller, higher-grade stone, which will be brighter and “pop” more than a larger, lowergrade stone.’
Remember to consider practicality and durability, she advises. ‘Choose something that will stand the test of time, that won’t date, and can be handed down to future generations.’
Commissioning a bespoke ring can be highly cost-effective. Choose a jeweller who will guide you through the process right from the initial consultation to selecting the right diamond and designing the ring. Ask for detailed written quotes to ensure you stick to your budget.
Jeweller Debra Fallowfield makes all her pieces by hand, each slightly different with its own nuances and personality.
‘Remember, at the end of the day you get what you pay for. So do your research. Do not be afraid to ask before you purchase: “Is it really handmade, and if so, where?”’
Some couples have a specific ring design in mind, while others like to try on different styles to see what is most suitable. Magazines and websites such as Pinterest also offer a wealth of ideas, or you may find inspiration in your family history or culture.
‘My advice is to trust your instincts,’ says Greg. ‘Take advice from experienced craftspeople and don’t be persuaded by sales people or special offers.’
Choosing a metal
The metal colour you choose really comes down to personal preference, but as a guide: platinum and white gold suit most people, rose gold looks great against fair skin and yellow gold suits olive tones. Platinum is the rarest and most precious of these metals and is approximately twice the price of white gold. If you opt for gold, ensure it is 18ct, which is harder and wears better than 14ct.
Sparkling halos, bursts of colour and vintage or Art Deco-style rings are currently in vogue.
‘Diamonds are forever in style, and vintage looks such as Art Deco and rose gold are very popular at the moment,’ says Julie.
‘For me, it’s colour,’ says Greg. ‘Whether that is metal choice or diamonds or coloured gems, colour is a factor in most pieces we are crafting and it’s a great way to individualise a piece.’
Men’s wedding bands
Men now have a variety of options when it comes to wedding bands – the classic golds of yellow, white and rose remain traditional choices, but metals such as titanium, tungsten, cobalt and platinum are popular with modern grooms, says Tony Collins of Man Up Jewellery.
‘The sky is the limit for style, colour and fit with titanium rings, while tungsten rings are practically indestructible and will hold their shine for years,’ he says.
When selecting the most appropriate metal for your wedding ring it’s important to consider your day job, your lifestyle and whether you are prepared to remove it for certain tasks.
‘The titanium ring is strong and fairly resilient but not indestructible; tungsten will work through anything and still come out shining; while gold, depending on the carat, will suffer,’ he says.
Diamond & gemstone shapes…