An engagement ring stays with a woman for the rest of her life, so it comes as no surprise that many women opt to take charge when it comes to choosing their own ring. An engagement ring is not only a special item of jewellery that a woman should love, but it’s also a substantial financial purchase for a couple; so while some men decide to do this alone, others are relieved to have the assistance of their partners.


It’s important for couples who choose this route to be prepared, because choosing an engagement ring can be a daunting task. It’s a journey which, more often than not, requires an in-depth exploration of diamonds and other gems that you may know next to nothing about.  Critical decisions need to be made in the form of ring designs ranging from classic to contemporary, gems of all shapes and sizes and decisions about precious metals you may not be familiar with.


South Africa’s diamond specialist, Yair Shimansky, CEO of Shimansky Jewellers, shares his advice. “Forget about trends – they come and go.  Think about the long term and choose an engagement ring that you will love forever, something that’s allure stands the test of time,” he advises.  “The more you learn about the level of skill and patience that goes into creating a beautiful ring, the more you understand that an unforgettable design masterly crafted with precision and a beautiful diamond expertly set by jewellers you trust are signs of an engagement ring that is remarkable today and will be loved and appreciated for many years to come.  You cannot go wrong when you select a ring that is designed to live and be loved throughout your lifetime and beyond.”


Shimansky emphasises that the design of the engagement ring is the most important factor, followed by a beautiful diamond to complement it.  You should choose a ring that suits your style.


Below Shimansky shares more advice on what to look for when buying an engagement ring:


Something Old or Something New?

A family heirloom can hold immense sentimental value; however, things to consider include who the ring belonged to and your relationship with them, the love stories behind it and whether you genuinely love the design. When you are buying a ring from a trusted jeweller you can rest assured that you will be sold a conflict-free diamond that has been certified by an independent authority. This is not always the case with inherited jewellery and you should find out if the original certification documents have been kept.


What to look for in a diamond?

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has established the Four C’s, a universally accepted system of rating diamonds by cut, colour, clarity and carat.  Any reputable jeweller will discuss the purchase of a diamond engagement ring within this framework. Here’s what to look out for:


Cut – this is the only aspect of a diamond that is not influenced by nature, and is therefore vulnerable to error and poor practices.  A diamond must be cut at certain angles to specific proportions to correctly optimise its sparkle and to deliver a magnificent reflection of light.   The ‘fire’ of a diamond is achieved by the tiny sides made on its surface, known as its facets.  A skilled cutter knows how deep or how shallow each facet must be made for the diamond to be truly brilliant.  The cut also determines the shape of the diamond, which is important for your ring style. Diamond shapes include the most traditional round diamond and oval, emerald, pear, heart, marquise and princess shapes too.  Ask to see them all before settling on a shape that you believe you will not only cherish now, but forever.


Colour – In terms of colourless diamonds, the whiter the diamond the more valuable. However, many diamonds present an array of subtle warmer hues which can be more affordable and compliment certain ring styles.  You will be shown where a diamond you are looking at falls in the colour scale, and more often than not, these colourations are so subtle that only a jeweller would be able to identify them.  Diamonds with very distinct, dense colours are rare and they are known as ‘fancy diamonds’. They are much rarer and thus more expensive than colourless diamonds.


Clarity –Many diamonds display microscopic ‘inclusions’ that are only visible through a jeweller’s magnifying glass. Inclusions are natural and may take the form of delicate, cloud or feather patterns.  While they might affect a diamond’s clarity under close scrutiny, they are what makes every diamond unique and are not to be considered as ‘faults’.  Sometimes considered the least important of the 4’Cs in the decision making factor, ask for a clarity grading, but ultimately make your choice based on how brilliant the diamond looks to your naked eye.


Carat – The weight and size of a diamond is measured by a carat, which is equal to 0.2gm.  If you believe that size matters most to you, you may set carat size as the most important assessment criteria. The average size of most diamonds used in engagement rings is between a half and one carat, but you shouldn’t sacrifice cut, colour and clarity, or ring design for a bigger diamond ring of lower quality. Rather balance all these criteria to get the best diamond that you can afford that suits a style of ring that you will love.


Remember that any reputable diamond-seller or jewellery designer will talk you through the Four C’s before you make a purchasing decision and for further peace of mind, request to see the independent verification certificate. It’s important to purchase from a jeweller you trust completely as a diamond ring is not just a substantial investment in your immediate future, it is an investment for generations to come– after all, the beauty and brilliance of a quality diamond will be preserved forever.


Metal Choice – When it comes to engagement rings, you’re ultimately choosing between two precious metals – Platinum and gold. Both have their benefits and ultimately the decision should be made based on your own lifestyle, personal tastes and the ring design. Platinum that is used in jewellery is a 95% pure hypoallergenic white metal that’s growing in popularity due to its durability. Although it is more expensive than gold, Platinum jewellery requires less maintenance throughout the years as it doesn’t wear down over time and is an ideal strong setting for holding diamonds securely in place.


Gold on the other hand is a more budget-friendly option that allows for greater personalisation with a choice between yellow, rose or white gold. Although it is a softer metal than Platinum, 18K gold is fortified with other alloys while still maintaining a high level of purity, and it scratches less easily than Platinum. Bear in mind when choosing your metals that white gold requires rhodium plating every six months at a small cost, whereas Platinum, rose gold and yellow gold do not.


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