The givingof diamonds to 'seal the deal' on an engagement and the associated 'three months' salary rule' of spend were conceived as part of a now timeless marketingcampaign in 1947 by DeBeers Diamonds in the post-Depression era.
Sales hadfallen dramatically during the Depression, and the public were once again ready to buy into a tangible, everlasting purchase aftera decade of financially challenging times. Over half a century later, anddiamonds are still the most common engagement choice for couples in love.
Show me the money
In 2017, the average UKsalary is £27,600. Using the 3 months' rule would give you a figure of around £4,500. That would easily get you a 2carat diamond but it’s also a third of a deposit on the average home in the North East.
Another‘rule’ which has been fashionable is that an engagement ring should be no lessthan the cost of your first car. But with the cost of getting on the road as ayoung driver as high as £6,800 - of which up to two-thirds could be insurance- this is a less-observed rule of thumb.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
WhileMarilyn Monroe's hit song from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes might have rung true atthe time with the bridal industry booming, brides are now looking forways to differentiate themselves.
You couldlook at getting your ring made, which can be cheaper than buying on the highstreet as wholesalers can buy gemstones in bulk for multiple commissions. Inplace of diamonds, think about tanzanites which, with only oneremaining mine in the world, are sure to increase in desirability. Rubies,emeralds or sapphires are classic alternatives to diamonds and while they’reharder to find in modern jewellery stores you could always...
Whilediamonds are technically a depreciating asset, one place you won’t always findsmall prices is in the world of vintage engagement rings. That said, it doesdepend on what you’re looking for. You can sniff out a bargain on the highstreet or online. London’sHatton Gardens, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade all feature a range of modern and antiquejewellery stores. Online, Etsy has many vintage jewellery sellers. Youshould also check out antique stores and fairs. If you’re not sure if adealer is reputable, ask for papers of origin to justify any inflated prices.The market is very competitive, so you should expect fair prices from a respectable seller.
Stand out in the crowd
If you know your fiancée is set on a diamond above all else when you pop thequestion, consider bucking the current trends - even future heirloomsare influenced by style. Fashion has dictated setting throughout the history of the engagement ring: solitaire, trilogy, square cut, cushion cut, princesscut, Deco-style baguettes, pavé diamond accents, a halo. Trends come andgo, but remember that this ring has to represent a lifetime of commitment to oneanother. If these are all new terms, don’t worry.
Know your diamond alphabet: the 4 Cs
Decided ondiamonds? Knowing 'the 4 Cs' is as integral as knowing your budget and what style you’re looking for. This will help you understand thevalue of the ring you’re purchasing.
CARAT: The unit of weight for gemstones - 0.2g equals 1 carat.
CLARITY: Clarity is the scale of adiamond’s inner and outer flaws: fewer flaws equal greater value. However,after a certain point, flaws are not visible to the naked eye. Considering adiamond with flaws only detectable with a jeweller’s loupe could save you a pretty penny!
COLOUR: Most diamonds have some elementof yellow within them, so here 'colour' refers to the sliding scale of strong yellowtones to least yellow, closest to white. The purer the colour white, thegreater the value.
CUT: This isn’t actually in referenceto the style of cut as mentioned above, but rather to the depth and dimensionsof the cut which basically determines how sparkly your diamond is. The betterthe cut, the more sparkle and greater value.
So how much should you spend?
It’s a question that really has no answer other than what you think is right for you, yourpartner and your finances. So if you're thinking of popping the question, ask afew more subtle questions beforehand. The only thing you reallyneed to understand is their expectations.