Want a Bigger Diamond Ring for Less? Just Follow These 7 Secrets...

10 Jun 2015

The average price of a UK wedding is now said to be £24,000... so it's no wonder couples are looking to cut the cost of the bigger expenditures, including the extravagent expense of the engagement ring. Bride spoke to the experts to bring grooms a guide to staying within budget when choosing wedding rings. 

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Image gallery

The mere thought of the financial cost of the average wedding is usually enough to trigger spikes of sweat across the furrowed brows of the budding bride and groom. There’s so much to pay for that the expense can overshadow what should be one of the happiest and most memorable days of a couple’s time together; 

Therefore, any savings made can make a real difference to the overall cost. It’s all well and good shaving a few pounds off here and there, making DIY invitations and sweet-talking the wedding reception management to waive the corkage fee for the wine on the table… but it also pays to be savvy when it comes to the bigger stuff. And that includes headline items such as buying the rings, particularly the all-important diamond engagement ring.

The First Rule: Budget
The first rule when buying the ring is to set a budget. That budget, incidentally, depends on how much you can afford not whatever you are told you should be digging deep to spend. Don’t pay too much heed to the so-called tradition that a month’s salary should be spent on an engagement ring – as this article from the BBC reveals, that saying was born out of an advertising campaign. It’s not a rule!

engagement-diamond-ring
Medici Princess Cut

Where to Buy
So you have your budget in place, now it’s time to select the ring itself. The first option is to march straight to the nearest high street store, or local store, tell the shop assistant that you want the best ring they have for the amount of money you can pay and it’s pretty much job done. The trouble with that is that you may well end up with a ring of lesser quality than you might have done had you just spent a little time doing some homework and understanding how diamonds are valued and priced.

Understand the Lingo
Diamonds are rated across a number of criteria, typically called the 4 Cs – cut, colour, clarity and carat. Understanding the importance of each of these means that, even if the ring you really want seems out of your price range initially, you might still be able to have it with a few tweaks here and there.

For example, carat is the weight of a diamond and the larger the carat, the heavier the diamond. As the carat weight increases, so does the diamond, but this relationship is not linear, it’s a curve. So a 2.0ct diamond won’t look twice as big as a 1.0ct diamond. This is one way to make a saving on the price. The diameter of a 1.0ct diamond is 6.5mm, whereas a 0.5ct diamond – half the weight – is 5.2mm. To the naked eye there’s really not much difference, but to the bill there really is.

Where to Compromise on Cut
Cut is all-important – it’s the grading that determines how well the diamond sparkles. The grades range from Excellent to Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. A compromise, which will barely be noticed, is to choose a Very Good or Good cut instead of an Excellent one. Below that, you’ll be getting an inferior quality diamond.

medici-engagement-ring
Contour Vintage Marquise Cut

Where to Compromise on Clarity
Clarity rates the impurities of a diamond, which are caused due to the extreme pressure and heat when they are formed, deep underground. Most diamonds have them; very few are rated Flawless. Clearly, those that are will command premium value but there are several gradings below that – WS1, WS2, VS1 and VS2, all of which are considered ‘eye clean’.

Where to Compromise on Colour
Colour concerns not the metal of the band but the whiteness of the diamond, which is graded from D to Z. D is highest and completely colourless, and therefore rare and  very expensive. H grades are nearly colourless; K grades are slightly tinted. Beyond that they develop a yellow or brown tint. As it is difficult to see much difference between a D and a G, selecting a lower graded diamond can be a sensible financial decision that doesn’t impinge on the style.

Extra Advice
So, making changes to the carat, cut, colour and clarity of a diamond can make a significant difference to the final price. If it all sounds overwhelming – and it probably does – visiting the website www.77diamonds.com can help. Included in it is a Find and Select Your Diamond tool that allows a prospective buyer to play around with all types of size, shape and style, and also put in a budget range. Once you know what is possible within your price range, you can begin to have direct conversations with confidence. The same applies to wedding bands, though the options are usually more straightforward.

How to Save Hundreds
In short, if you see the perfect ring but it’s £1,000 over budget, don’t resign yourself to buying it. By going for a smaller carat, a grade or two below on the cut, clarity and colour, you may well end up with a beautiful engagement ring which looks almost exactly the same but for the price you wanted to pay.

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