Johan Poggenpoel, Co-Founder.
This is a fantastic budget-range to optimise, and your extra effort will pay off surprisingly well.
Engagement rings simply look nicer when setting with a larger center diamond. That’s why most designs you’ll cross paths with on Instagram or Google Images will be set with diamonds up to 3,00ct in weight.
You’re in a range where most rings you see online can be stunningly well executed.
If you had R30 000 to work with, there would be limits and constraints in what we can do for you. For instance; intricate metal work needs space for a designer to work his magic. As you can imagine a larger diamond creates a much roomier area to incorporate elements you love.
Sneak Peak; It’s not overly ambitious to set your sights on a 1,00ct diamond in a platinum setting. You have a good shot at proposing with the perfect custom engagement ring.
Let’s get that to 100%.
The “Perfect” Engagement Ring.
Unfortunately quite a significant portion of gents thinks that any well-made diamond engagement ring would do.
Sure, it will probably get you to the “yes” part, but you could be starting this new chapter with a diamond ring that symbolises the bottomless effort you would undertake to make your future bride feel loved, unique and cherished.
That doesn’t by default mean you have to go full out custom and brainstorm the creation from start to finish. Even the tiniest personal touches we’ll help you incorporate would send the right message.
To get an engagement ring to the “perfect” level, its two components should be harmoniously balanced;
The main diamond should have optimal visual appeal which includes being white in color (unless you want a colored diamond) and 100% eye-clean to the naked eye (free of visible imperfections).
The engagement ring setting should be designed with her preferences as the #1 issue and should complement the main diamond by stylishly taking the back seat. If you spend R70 000 on an engagement ring your main diamond should be the star of the show.
Separating these two elements is the first step to optimising your engagement ring purchase.
The #1 Goal Of Optimisation.
Before we set out, I want to emphasise that optimisation should improve the appearance of a ring without increasing your budget. My goal in writing this is to get the best possible rendition of the engagement ring you have in mind.
We’re not cutting costs or trying to play how low can you go with diamond specifications.
Ok, we can play that at the end of the post. It’s fun.
Some diamond specifications have a greater effect on a diamond’s appearance than others, and there’s a systematic approach to engagement ring buying that will trump any deal you can do in a traditional jewellery store.
*And even if you do choose to buy your engagement ring from a mall-based jewellery store this guide will also benefit you tremendously. I know we’ll see you sometime in the future.
Let’s start with finding your perfect diamond.
What’s important to YOU?
This isn’t a fluffy question. Bear with me…
The basic 4C model (cut, clarity, color, and carat), is a great start to get a handle on what affects the price and appearance of a diamond.
Here’s why color is actually the only diamond decision you have to make;
The basic 4C model doesn’t include shape. Diamond characteristics change from one shape to another and trying to get a single 4C model for all shapes would be worthless. For instance; a cushion cut concentrates color. If you view a J color cushion next to a round brilliant of the same color, the round stone will appear more white.
We work with hundreds of couples per month and although we often sway someone’s opinion on color or clarity, the diamond shape a couple like is usually cast in stone. Non-Negotiable.
Cut; Cut – Refers to how well a diamond has been cut and polish, not the shape. This is the most important “C” and regardless of the carat, color and clarity of a diamond, if it’s been poorly made you’re stuck with a dull piece of diamond that looks like glass. Stick to Excellent and Very Good cuts to ensure your diamond has optimal life, brilliance, and the X-factor (the sparkle issue everyone has a hard time verbalising). Cut refers to how well a diamond has been cut and polished. This affects the life, fire, and brilliance of a diamond. There are loads of diamond on the market that aren’t masterfully cut. A poor cut grade will guarantee that your diamond looks like a dull piece of glass. Stick to cut grades “Excellent” and “Very Good”. This is the most important C and to understand why it’s right up there, hop over for more information here. Non-Negotiable.
Clarity refers to the amount, type, location, and severity of any impurities/imperfections in a diamond. After our extensive surveys, and thousands of consultations it’s clear that close to everyone wants a diamond that’s eye-clean and free from inclusions visible to the naked eye. Keep your clarity grade at VS2 and better. Some SI1 diamond won’t be eye-clean. Non-Negotiable.
Colour; Diamond colors start at Z (yellow) and work their way to D (the highest/whitest color) in tiny increments. If you’re looking for a diamond that shows a little color, no problem. But for the other 95% that want a diamond that appears white; take your pick between G – H – I – J – K – L. We’ll show these colors right next to each other and I recommend you pick the “lowest colour” that’s completely white to you. That’s usually H – I – J.
Carat; set your budget and maximise size while sticking to my recommended parameters. As mentioned, engagement rings look great with larger diamonds, and in this price range, you’re not at an obnoxious size. Get to at least 0,90ct in size.
Diamond pricing isn’t linear. This chart shows you what size diamond you can expect at differnet colour grades, with all other details and characteristics at my recommended specifications;
Did you notice the massive hike in size at the “K” colour?
Don’t break your head on buying anything under a 1,00ct. The difference between diamond sizes are less pronounced than you would imagine;
Although these are the main characteristics you’ll meet, there’s quite a bit more someone needs to look into before picking a diamond. We go well beyond the 4C’s to ensure every small, technical detail is perfect. To view our sourcing process click here xxx and see what over the top means.
There are poor, nonsensical diamond options, and they’re best avoided;
By just using three characteristics in the basic 4C diamond model you saw above you have around 13 000 possible combinations of color, clarity, shape, and cut. I’ve deliberately excluded weight (carat) since that bumps the number into infinity.
If you’re not familiar with the 4C model, I’ll give you a quick rundown, but I do recommend you hop over to our ‘1 Page Diamond Guide (2017 Edition)‘. It covers the most important areas and is a very quick read.
A top color (D-E-F) paired with poor clarity (SI2) is a typical mismatch. There are combinations that offer much better value.
I’ve drawn up a chart to bracket these specifications and help you spot odd combinations. Ideally, I would recommend combinations that all fall within the same bracket below. If needed your combination can comprise of specifications in 2 adjacent cells. Not more.
When only the best will do. If you’re working with an uncapped budget or optimising diamond size isn’t your #1 goal, the thrill of owning one of the highest quality diamonds on the planet can be appealing. With a budget of around R70 000, I think these are an overkill, and you’ll be well below the 1,00ct mark.
Premium Diamonds *Recommended*
These diamonds are still very white and all round well beyond average. In a controlled, clinical environment where you can view one of these right next to a “D” or “E” colour, you might see a slight difference in colour, but once you’re out and about these are pretty much indistinguishable from the High-End spectrum unless you have a very, very well trained eye. This range is worth considering.
Value Diamonds *Recommended*
This bracket is our best seller, with a small lead over Premium. If you’re out to maximise size without having an obviously non-white diamond with visible inclusions this is a great range to consider. My run of the mill recommendation is always the H-I-J color range, and you will probably hit the 1,00ct mark.
How Low Can You Go?
These are our lowest recommended specifications before a diamond just loses its appeal. These specifications are on the edge, and ensuring that you have a properly certified diamond is of paramount importance. If the diamond is over-graded you might be venturing into the No-Go-Zone.
No, Go, Zone
The rich color of these diamonds appeals to a minority of diamond shoppers, including my very own wife.
If you like the color, awesome, but keep the clarity and cut grades in the higher brackets to avoid an obviously compromised diamond.
Let’s talk about the setting/ring design.
Pre-set Engagement Rings Seem Convenient, But They’re Never First Prize.
Buying an engagement ring with a pre-set diamond is like buying a house that comes with a car that in itself is worth more than the house. You can’t exclude the car from the deal. You can’t test drive it. It’s just there and part of the house purchase price.
You wouldn’t buy a house like that…
The chances of you finding the perfect ring in a mall-based jeweller set with a diamond of your chosen specifications is slim to none.
Preset rings also drop the ball when it comes to making a unique, custom piece for a cherished lover.
Choosing/Creating the Right Engagement Ring Design
More than 80% of the work we do is custom. Regardless of how current we keep our “standard” designs, everyone has their own version in mind. First prize is to sit down with a designer, run through images and samples of what you like and dislike, and have those ideas distilled into a custom design.
The importance of working with an experienced and brilliant designer cannot be overstated.
Whenever we hire designers we ask for a 3D design, based on 8 or so images we send over. This is a very real world example where a couple would visit our studio with a Pinterest board of her favorite designs.
A bad designer will copy and paste elements from the supplied images onto the basic frame of a ring. It might even look OK… until you see what an artist can create.
A brilliant designer will understand the essence of elements and create a harmonious piece by fusing the main themes into one.
Think of them as those kiddie rails at the tenpin bowling rink. They’re there to ensure you don’t go off track. You can bowl however you want – you’ll hit some pins. A great designer will never let you completely miss the mark.
Some Good Tips From Christo, Our Head of Design;
It is always my job to showcase the main stone as much as possible, no matter the budget. (and darn it, am I good at it!) but I experience a strong focus on this when we get to bigger stones. Let me be the first to say, this is totally justified, you are buying an impressive stone and you get to be proud of it. I am here to make sure your chosen design and setting complement the main diamond.
The proportions of the design are worth discussing. Few people consider this, but as a diamond gets bigger it also gets higher. The minimum height of a ring is the diamond’s depth plus 1 mm from the finger. We do not want that sharp tip touching your lady’s tender flesh, now do we? In a time when 70% of my clients tell me to go “as low as possible,” I can think that this is disheartening news for some, but I would like to convince you of the contrary.
The artist in me loves these diamonds, just adding that touch of height to a design makes it proud and rich. I am using abstract concepts to describe a ring, I know, but your curves can be made fuller, your angles crisper and your motifs stronger.
I would also like to add a point on small diamonds. They look more delicate in relation to the center stone.
We are also in a space where most motifs and designs can be executed properly without overpowering the stone. If your lady is into vintage, floral or any high detail styles you are at the right place. The advancement of 3D design and printing technology makes these styles highly accessible without making them comparatively more expensive.
Pinterest boards or that file titles “Rings” on her phone is your best friend. She will most likely have a wide collection of images, but I will help you decipher them. A design should have a central, well-executed theme and it is usually easier to pick it up than you would think.
The internet is not always your friend. I have been presented with some viciously unpractical design concepts and it always sucks to tell someone that a given picture will just not work. This ring needs to spend a lifetime on a finger and will go through everything that finger goes through. You need a certain level of durability. The thickness of your claws, amount of contact points on the diamond and metal thickness needs to be right. Firstly, I got your back and will not draw you a ring that I am not confident will last. But I also understand that you want something unique and some ladies want the ring as delicate as possible. Here is where I would like to invite a conversation. We are an expert team and we excel at sorting out a plan to accommodate your ideas. Our workshop manager sits in the room next to me when I propose a plan you can know it was checked with the guys who are responsible for making it work.
Should you raise your budget?
It’s a valid issue that surfaces often;
“I’m not dead set on my budget. If you would recommend that I up it to ensure that the ring is perfect and uncompromised, tell me.”
Most couples don’t have an idea what a certain budget would translate into. If you’re just starting your engagement ring search it’s a great idea to visit us and see just where R50 000, R70 000, R100 000 etc. will take you.
I’m not a fan of pushing anyone to spend more than feel comfortable with. If you’ve visited us you know we don’t hard sell or upsell. We’re out to ensure you get a personalised engagement ring set with the best diamond for your budget, whatever that amount is.
Hopping over to the R100 000 Optimisation Guide (link), is a good idea if you’re not maxed out at R70 000. You’ll find similar advice to this guide’s, but you’ll see that the R100 000 mark can take you way over the 1,00ct size. Which is a good thing. Or easily up your colour shade by 2 grades.
You’re not approaching the point of diminishing returns, but we’ll work your R70 000 way better than any other jeweller. I guarantee you that.
This easy approach works and it’s a great tool to use when considering diamond options and complementary designs.
Size is your friend and I recommend you aim for that 1,00ct mark.
I invite you to visit our studio to see the diamond colors for yourself. Start at the lower colors (K and L) and work your way up. I’m sure you’ll find your perfect color before we hit D and E colors. And even if the perfect color is the top of the line, you made an informed decision.
Ensure the clarity is eye-clean by viewing the diamond under magnification and then trying to find that spot with the naked eye. There’s no reason to buy the highest clarities unless you’re out to get nothing but the best. Our 1,00ct diamonds are all free from visible inclusions – so don’t lose sleep on this. We’ve got your back.
Thank you for reading, and feel free to reach out to me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ll gladly answer any questions and get quotes over to you if you’re interested.