Boy’s Guide to Engagement Rings: Its All About Priorities

 

Few boys (I will forever call men “boys”, even when I’m 80.  It’s a term of endearment in the “boy crazy” sense of the word) have good girlfriends who are willing to talk sense into them and help them select a diamond that is intended for someone else.  For those boys out there who do have that, appreciate the friendship!  Boys who don’t, allow me to assist. . .

A DMD girl, lets call her T, wrote to me over the weekend seeking some diamonds pearls of wisdom for her friend, a boy who is planning on proposing to his girlfriend:

Hi JZP,

I was hoping your brother would have inherited some of the Poh Dynasty diamond knowledge, but he let me know that you are much more qualified to answer my questions!  I would be grateful for any advice you have – I love reading your DMD posts and am a bit of an addict.
My friend is looking to buy an engagement ring and I was trying to figure out the marginal costs associated with each increment of colour, clarity and size.  He was looking for a one piece brilliant cut diamond of 1 carat or more, but that is all he knows.  He has a maximum budget of £20,000 (because I said so), so at today’s rate that would be circa $31,000.  However, he is also keen to find out what he can get for £10,000 ($15,000) because that is what most of his friends have spent (sheep).
I have three questions:
1.  What is the minimum colour and clarity he should go for for a 1 carat diamond and how much roughly would that cost?
 There is a 31K answer for that and a 15k answer my dear.  Your budget will dictate your prospects.  Wholesale prices on a 1 carat round brilliant cut as of June 8th range from $1,100 to $28,900 PER carat.  So I’m going to answer your questions based on the budgets below.
2.  (Cheeky question) If you had $15,000, what diamond would you get?
For $15k I would go for G or F color (G is considered near colorless and F is in the colorless range) and VS1 or VS2 clarity (Very Slightly Included).  A one carat in this color/clarity range should fall nicely in this budget if you are not planning on doing side stones.  Within this range I think color is more important so I would go with F color, VS1-VS2 clarity, and choose the best and biggest you can find.
The process would be like this: decide on F color, is there money left?  Then go up in clarity VS1 rather than VS2.  More money left? Then go bigger.  Always use budget as a benchmark, then set your color range and then max out size or clarity (which one you choose depends on the wearer, is she a “size matters” girl or does she care more about quality?).
Note: Cut will also factor into the pricing. A round brilliant with excellent cut will always be more expensive than the same diamond with a good cut.  There will be three cut factors: proportion, symmetry and polish and they will be assigned “excellent”, “very good”, “good”, “fair” and “poor”.  In this price/color/clarity range don’t go below ONE GOOD (the others should be VG or Ex).  AND MAKE SURE THE DIAMOND COMES WITH A GIA CERTIFICATE!
3.  In your expert opinion, if you had $31,000, what size, colour and clarity of diamond would you get?
With $31k you can play a bit.  Here the considerations are different.  You can either go bigger to 1.5 carats or stick to the 1 carat but get a better color/clarity.  Personally, I would go up to a 1.5 carat E or F color (VVS1 (Very Very Slightly Included) or VS1) and within that range I would prefer a 1.5 carat E VS1 and the reason for that is in the future if you upgrade your engagement ring to a bigger size you can find a mate for your 1.5 carat E color VS1 and make a pair of stellar studs (with studs the considerations should be (in my humble opinion) color, then size, then cut then clarity).  Always know your end game my dear.  In this situation you see the considerations are different from those in the 15k budget.  In this price range, once you determine your budget, then set a color range of E-F, then max out size, followed by cut then clarity.  For this diamond the cut should be ALL excellent with no more than ONE VERY GOOD (but try for triple Ex).  Again, GIA cert!
4.  If he takes that diamond as a base level of quality, what can he improve in terms of size, colour and clarity for each additional £2,000 ($3000) he spends? It is always difficult to know which of the three to spend your extra money on, size, colour or clarity and that is what I was hoping you could provide some guidance on.
I agree this is difficult, the considerations vary for each price-range and the individual.  A pretty safe rule is budget>color>cut>size/clarity (order of the last one depends on the priority of the wearer).  If he is spending $20-31k he would have the most options if he went bespoke as the pret-a-porter shops tend to have massive mark-ups and have much less flexibility.
I wish there was a nice little matrix for diamond geeks like me to figure out all the combinations of what we can get for our buck.
T
Adorable!  Thank you T for your lovely email.  I am a big fan of “because I said so” and its a line I drop like a ton of bricks.  However, if your friend decides to go with his original budget rather than the DMD tyrant budget your suggestion don’t despair my darling, just keep in mind two things: 1) even a sheep turns into prince charming if you love him enough and 2) when the time comes she can always upgrade!  Always feel free to email me directly with questions about engagement rings and jewelry (or better yet, leave them as comments directly on my blog, I’m very responsive).  As always. . .
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,
JZP