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Jens Hansen's 2020 Engagement Ring Buyers Guide

As one of New Zealand's premier jewellers, our clients (both in our showroom and online) frequently ask us questions about how to choose the perfect ring. Your engagement is a special time in your life and you want the ring to signify your love and commitment. You also want to be confident you are buying a ring that holds value commensurate with its cost, and that you are making an educated purchase. 

At Jens Hansen, we celebrate the love you share with your partner and want you to have a meaningful symbol to share on your special day (and for the rest of your lives.) We also know there are many resources available to help you choose your engagement ring on the internet. This buyer's guide aims to simplify your research by focusing on the most important aspects of a ring you should understand including choosing the right metal, choosing the right stone, choosing the right setting, and choosing the right band. 

Finally, as you learn about choosing the perfect engagement ring for your partner, look for our PRO TIP notations, which address common buyer concerns or provide expert insight to help be a more informed consumer.

Ready to learn about how to buy an engagement ring? Great! Here we go!


Choosing the Right Metal for Your Engagement Ring

Your ring can come in any precious metal, and your choice primarily rests on personal tastes. Some buyers simply like the look of one particular metal more than another. Keep reading to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of each of the most popular precious metals most commonly used in engagement rings. 

Gold

Generations of couples in love have chosen gold for their engagement rings because of its value and durability. Plus, gold is timeless and never goes out of fashion. Gold's natural state is too soft to create jewellery, so it's commonly combined with a variety of alloy metals. These metals, which reduce gold's purity, are responsible for different colour variations. Higher karats (kt) signify more pure gold. For example, 24kt gold is pure gold and 18kt gold is 75 percent pure gold mixed with other metals. The most common colours of gold include:

Yellow Gold

Yellow Gold contains zinc and copper and compliments warm skin tones. It is also the colour we used to make the famous ring for The Lord of the Rings and remains the most traditional choice for many engagement rings.

18 Carat Yellow Gold

14 Carat Yellow Gold

White Gold

White Gold contains a mixture of white metals which can include palladium and silver and it looks good on most skin tones. The exact mixture can determine the price of white gold, sometimes making it more expensive. Additionally, some white gold rings are plated with rhodium, requiring regular upkeep when the plating wears off.

18 Carat White Gold

14 Carat White Gold

Red (or Rose) Gold

Red Gold, sometimes referred to as pink gold or rose gold, also compliments warm skin tones. Its colour comes from mixing copper with gold, and depending on the mixture, the shade can range from light pink to a deeper red tone.

18 Carat Red Gold

14 Carat Red Gold

PRO TIP: 18-karat gold provides the best balance between durability and purity for engagement rings, making them suitable for everyday wear.

Silver

Silver is the least expensive option of all precious metals used for engagement rings. Its colour can range from white to light grey and can have a shiny or matte finish. Like gold, pure silver is too soft to create jewellery, so it is typically mixed with alloy metals. Sterling silver refers to silver that is at least 92.5 percent pure and is your best silver option for an engagement ring. Low-grade silvers can cause allergic reactions and damage easily, making them a poor choice for daily wear.

PRO TIP: Ensure you have sterling silver by looking for a "925" stamp on the inside of the ring. Also, beware of retailers who try to pass off inexpensive silver as titanium, white gold, and other more expensive white metals.

Platinum

It's durability and beauty make platinum the leading choice for the metal used in an engagement ring. Although the market can vary, platinum is often the most expensive metal option. Yet, it is at least 90 percent pure and its bright white colour complement's the brilliance of a diamond. Platinum is dense, so it will feel heavier on the hand than other alternatives, but it requires little maintenance.

Palladium

Palladium is one of the earth's rarest metals and has become increasingly popular as a metal choice for rings. Palladium is hypoallergenic and scratch-resistant, making it durable for everyday wear. Its natural whiteness doesn't tarnish, making it low maintenance, and it's lighter and more affordable than platinum.

Titanium

Those who want a more distinctive and modern look often opt for titanium engagement rings. Titanium is lighter than most other metals, making it a great choice for those who aren't used to wearing jewellery, and it's also hypoallergenic. Plus, you can choose a variety of colour finishes including black, grey, and silver. Like many other metals, titanium can have a polished or satin finish. It is also strong and scratch-resistant like palladium and platinum; however, beware that a titanium ring cannot be resized and need to be professionally removed should it become stuck on a person's finger.

Tungsten

Stronger than titanium, tungsten is a silvery metal that has a hard-looking shine to it. Hypoallergenic and rarely requiring maintenance, this hard metal is a popular choice.

At Jens Hansen, we do not recommend tungsten as the rings cannot be re-sized.


Choosing the Right Diamond for Your Engagement Ring

When you are choosing a diamond, cost and budget will factor into the stone you pick for an engagement ring. Diamonds can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Jewellers price diamonds based on the 4 Cs: cut, carat, clarity, and colour. In 1953, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the 4 Cs and their International Diamond Grading System to evaluate the quality of stones. Today these are the accepted standards for jewellers to evaluate diamonds.  Stones that rate the highest in all four areas are the most expensive. As price decreases, you lose quality in at least one of these areas; however, keep in mind perfect diamonds do not exist. Keep reading to learn more about the 4 Cs, so you can make the best choice for your engagement ring.

Cut

When you think of diamonds, you think of sparkle. It's the cut of a diamond that provides a diamond with the majority of its brilliance. You might think of a specific cut as the shape of a diamond, such as princess cut, round, emerald, or marquis. Yet, the cut grade of a diamond is more concerned with how a diamond's facets interact with light. A facet refers to a surface on the diamond that reflects light. Many of today's diamonds have a 58-facet cut maximizing their brightness, fire, and sparkle. However, a newer method to cut diamonds results in 74-facets. These Riente DiamondsTM are visibly superior to other diamonds because of their maximum sparkle.

PRO TIP: Only buy diamonds that have been cut by a highly-skilled jeweller. Poorly cut diamonds aren't as valuable, nor do they have the same sparkle.

Diamonds can be cut in a variety of styles, here are some of the most common:

Carat

The carat of a diamond is the most straightforward of all aspects used to evaluate a stone. Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. All other aspects of a diamond being equal, stones that weigh more are worth more. Yet, the largest diamonds are not always the most valuable when their cut, clarity, or colour isn't of a high standard.

PRO TIP: Online jewellers sometimes list the total carat weight of a ring, not the largest stone. You want to ensure you get the carat weight you are paying for and the description lists a separate carat weight for smaller diamonds on the ring.

Clarity

A diamond's clarity refers to how many blemishes and inclusions it has. Diamonds without any blemishes or inclusions are flawless and as common as unicorns, so you can expect that the diamond you choose has at least some small flaws. The GIA has six broad categories of grades of clarity. They include:

  • Flawless (FL) diamonds have no blemishes or inclusions visible when magnified 10x.
  • Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds might have a blemish but have no inclusions when magnified 10x.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) diamonds have slight inclusions difficult for a diamond expert to see when magnified.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) diamonds have slight inclusions which take considerable effort to pick out when magnified 10x.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) diamonds have noticeable inclusions when magnified.
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) diamonds have obvious inclusions when magnified, which often impacts transparency and brilliance.

PRO TIP: Jens Hansen recommends that the stone for your engagement ring is rated at least VS1.

Colour

Diamonds can be colourless or come in a wide range of colours. Some disagreement and confusion exists over the value of colour as it relates to a diamond. In most cases, brown, grey, yellow, and orange hues are less valuable, and blue, pink, and red hues are more expensive and rare. When choosing the colour of the diamond for an engagement ring, you should pick a stone you love, or you know your partner will love, regardless of the colour.   

D-E-F

G-H-I

J-K-L-M

N-O-P-Q-R

S-T-U-V

W-X-Y-Z


Choosing the Right Setting for Your Engagement Ring

You can choose from a wide array of settings for your engagement ring. No one setting is better than another in terms of value. Ultimately your choice will depend on the lifestyle of the person wearing the ring and how the setting looks. For example, those with active lifestyles should consider a simpler setting that won't catch on things. Others might be more inclined to choose elaborate statement settings with higher profiles. Below are some popular settings you can choose for your engagement ring:

Prong, Basket, and Decorative Settings

These settings are popular because they elevate the diamond so more light reflects and creates more sparkle; but, be careful not to catch these settings on clothing or other items.

Halo Setting

If you want to make the centre stone look larger, you might consider a halo setting, which is a centre stone surrounded by a ring of channel-set or pavé diamonds.

Channel Setting

A channel setting is a small line of diamonds set into the band of the engagement ring. This type of setting is especially popular for engagement rings that will also serve as a wedding band.

Bezel Setting

These clean and contemporary settings hide a portion of the diamond but are a popular choice for those who use their hands a lot. In a bezel setting, the diamond is level with the band, removing opportunities to catch the diamond on anything.

Pavé Setting

These settings include small stones put together without exposing prongs that help the centre stone stand out in an engagement ring. Pavé settings are a popular choice for those who want to create a vintage look.

Invisible Setting

Jewellers set diamonds from underneath the band and level the metal around the stone to create an invisible setting. This is another popular choice for those with active lifestyles who want a modern ring.

Tension Setting

This type of setting includes a stone being placed in an open area of the ring and held together with pressure or clamps. A tension setting serves as a good option for those who want a low profile ring, but still want to show off the brilliance of their diamond.


Choosing the Right Band for Your Engagement Ring

Like the colour of a diamond and settings for your engagement ring, the type of band you choose depends heavily on your personal taste. You can find bands in many different styles. The most popular styles are traditional, Euro-style, and Cathedral bands, but you can also find more non-traditional styles such as straight bands, tapered bands, reverse-tapered bands, and more.

These are just some of the many band types you can choose from:

Traditional

Euro-Style

Cathedral

Straight

Tapered

Reverse Tapered

Split

Bypass

Criss-Cross

Part of choosing the band, also means finding the right size. Keep in mind that wide bands fit tighter than thin bands. You can use our ring-size guide to help you find the right size for your engagement ring. If you don't have the size, you will need to take some measurements. If you are buying an engagement ring for a partner, this might be challenging, but you can do it! Try wrapping a piece of string around their finger while sleeping and mark it. You can also talk to friends or family members to find out the right ring size or find a ring your loved one already owns that you know fits.


Jens Hansen Is Here to Help You

After reading this Engagement Ring Buyers Guide, you should have a better idea of how to choose the perfect engagement ring. We sincerely hope new knowledge about how to evaluate a diamond and considerations surrounding different aspects of the ring remove any doubts you had about making your purchase. 

An engagement ring is an investment, so you shouldn't rush the process. Take the time to look for the ring you love that fits in your budget, and consult with a reputable jeweller. We hope you find this engagement ring buyer's guide helpful and share it with your friends. If you have questions that go beyond this guide, please contact us during New Zealand business hours at +64 3 548 0640 or online. If you visit Nelson, New Zealand, be sure to stop by our studio workshop and say "Hello."

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