Friday, July 26, 2013

Diamond Daze: 5 Tips to help you choose your dream ring

Image from the wedding of Keith and Vanessa - Salt Studios

As one famous woman once said, "If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it." If you and your partner are looking to "put a ring on it," you have most probably begun to think of, or have perhaps entered the wonderful world of, engagement rings. Designing or choosing your dream ring can be a very daunting task for both men and women. Whether you are on a Tiffany's budget or have tight purse strings, fret not! Ensure this is the magical moment you have always hoped for by being in the know of all things ring. After all, you are going to be wearing it every day for the rest of your married life. Here are our tips to help you make your bling decision ...

1. Shop Around
Not only is your engagement ring an investment, it will also hold an incredible amount of sentimental value for you and your future husband.To ensure your total happiness with your ring, it really does pay to shop around.This way you will know exactly what you want and ultimately feel more confident in your purchase. Follow our HowTo guide to become an instant expert.

Image from the wedding of Brenton and Rachael - Focus Films

Did you know that women wear their engagement and wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand thanks to ancient Egyptian customs?The ancient Egyptians believed that the vena amoris (vein of love) was the only vein in the human body to run directly from the heart to the tip of this finger. Très romantic!

Image from the wedding of Kieran and Ashley - Adori Studios
2. The 4 Cs
Luckily for us, jewellers the world over have a standard, yet simple, diamond grading system commonly known as the four Cs:

1. Carat
This refers to a diamond's weight, not its size.A carat is made up of 100 points, so a 75-point diamond weighs 0.75 carats, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats, a 25-pointer weighs 0.25 carats and so on.

2. Clarity
Clarity takes into account the naturally occurring imperfections, both on the surface (blemishes) and internal flaws (inclusions), of a diamond. A diamond with fewer inclusions is more valuable. Keep in mind that every diamond is unique - and very rarely do jewellers come across a flawless stone. Most importantly, don't worry too much about these slight flaws, as they cannot be detected by the naked eye and certainly don't affect a stone's beauty!

3. Colour
Think of this as the sparkle factor - colourless diamonds are the most sought after (and expensive) as they allow the most amount of light to reflect from the stone. Diamonds are scaled according to how much they vary from the whitest colour possible. While most diamonds are a shade of white (the most expensive ones are graded according to their lack of colour) they are also available in a range of different hues deemed as ‘fancy’ colours.Think blues, reds, greens, pinks, yellows and brown.

4. Cut
While environmental factors determine a diamond's carat, clarity and colour, skilled craftsmen are responsible for giving your diamond its 'brilliance', the light that shines from the heart of the diamond, thus giving your hand serious dazzle-factor. Cut refers to a diamond's proportion, polish and symmetry and is an extremely important factor in the overall look of a stone, as a diamond's cut defines its beauty, quality and worth.
Image from the wedding of Lachlan and Natalie - Todd Hunter McGaw

3. Pedal to the Metal
Gold, silver or platinum?
The most important rule when designing or buying your engagement ring is to choose a metal that best complements your skin tone and the colour of your stone. Not sure where to begin? Depending on your budget, there is an extensive range of metals to choose from.

Rapidly becoming the metal of choice for wedding and engagement rings, platinum will beautifully complement your diamond thanks to its polished satin-like finish. Exquisite and incredibly durable, platinum is the strongest precious metal, with a guarantee to last a lifetime. Composed of 95% platinum and 5% other alloys, platinum is hypo-allergenic, making it an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin and other allergies!

10 Karat Gold:
Considered as a low- end alloy at less than 42% pure old, 10 karat gold is not recommended for wedding and engagement bands, as it lacks the shine factor that any diamond deserves!

14 Karat Yellow or White Gold:
Traditionally the most popular choice of metal for wedding and engagement bands. An alloy made up of 58.5% pure gold and 41.5% other metals results in a stronger ring to support your fancy rock. Ideal for those who work with their hands, 14 karat gold is resistant to rust and tarnishing and is, quite importantly, easy to repair and polish. More affordable than 18 karat gold, it is great value for money!

18 Karat Gold:
Rich in colour, 18 karat gold consists of 75% pure gold and 25% alloys, making it a softer and more malleable metal than 14 karat gold. Keep this in mind when wearing to avoid tiny scratches occurring.

24 Karat Gold:
100% pure gold with a deep and rich colour, 24 karat gold is too soft to be used in rings.

Perfect for the budget-conscious, silver is a very soft and malleable white metal. Because of this, silver is great if you are after an intricately designed wedding or engagement band. However, silver is likely to tarnish and discolour, so consider buying a silver band initially and upgrade to a different metal in the future if you are on a tight budget now.

A lustrous silver white metal, palladium is less expensive than platinum because of its lower density. Perfect for those with sensitive skin, palladium won't tarnish and is scratch resistant. Plus, because of its naturally-white hue, palladium doesn't require ongoing maintenance to ensure it remains fabulous for life!

Image from the wedding of Aiden and Carleen - Emma Naylor Photography

Trending around the globe at the moment is the movement to put a stop to the dangerous, and sometimes deadly diamond trade. By taking precautions to ensure your engagement ring is sourced from a conflict-free zone, ask your jeweller or retailer where their diamonds originate from. Purchasing an engagement or wedding ring diamond should not support child and unpaid labour, violence, unsafe working conditions, cause harm to the environment, and most importantly, should not have financed a civil war. Keep these things in mind when searching for your future finger bling!

Wedding of Sam and Jessica - Nick Murray Photography

4. Kaleidoscopic HuesIf diamonds are not really your thing, or aren't within your budget, why not look to include fun and fashionable coloured jewels or gemstones. Not only are they popping with colour, some also believe gemstones contain healing qualities.

Image from the wedding of Liam and Stacey - Sterling Studios
Engrave an extra meaningful phrase onto the inside of your ring or get your husband-to-be to surprise you with one he has thought of himself.

Image from the wedding of Linda and Jeremy - Emma Attard Photography
5. Set the Scene
More and more women are choosing to have their engagement rings set in unique ways to really make their, and their husband-to-be's, mark on this special ring.The list of options for having your ring set really is as long as your imagination, so be as creative as you want! Still stuck? A great way to begin is to consider your most treasured photograph. How would you choose to frame this in your home? Choosing a setting for your engagement ring requires the same process, so make sure you have the right set to suit your style and taste.

Wedding of Natasha and Roman - Photography by Kieron
Before you buy ‘the ring’ make sure you:
1. Know the ins and outs of the ‘four cs’ before purchasing.
2. Research, research, research! Know the market price and set a budget prior to buying.
3. Diamonds last forever so buy the best-quality diamond you can afford.
4. Ask your friends and family for a referral and of course, only deal with reputable jewellers.
5. Always obtain a written guarantee or certificate detailing the value of the stone.
6. Keep your insurance up to date, especially as soon as you buy your ring.

Words: Rachel Wood

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