When it comes to meaningful life purchases, engagement rings hold a special place near the very top of the list, and they represent a significant investment. Yet, delving into this world, filled with a plethora of different gemstones, metals and intricate details, can be a daunting task- especially if you’re already nervous about the prospect of popping that all-important question!
If you find yourself in need of expert guidance, rest assured, you've come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we've curated valuable insights from our top master jewellers to assist you in your quest for the perfect ring. From exploring various styles to understanding the ideal timing for your purchase, read on below before you even think about getting down on one knee!
The Symbolism & History of Engagement Rings
Before delving into the finer details of choosing an engagement ring, let's take a step back and appreciate the rich symbolism and history behind these stunning pieces of jewellery.
Engagement rings have been used as symbols of commitment and love for centuries. The circle, with no beginning or end, represents eternal love and the unbroken bond between two people.
Historians have found evidence that engagement rings date as far back as Roman times, over 2,000 years ago. Initially gifted as a symbol of ‘ownership’, in modern times their purpose has shifted, and today they are seen as an integral component of a marriage proposal.
Modern engagement rings typically consist of several types of gemstones, with diamonds ranking as the classic choice, owing to their brilliance and durability. Sapphires, emeralds, and rubies also are also popular choices thanks to their unique beauty, symbolism, and royal connotations.
Engagement Ring Metals
Choosing the right metal for your engagement ring is a crucial decision, as it serves as the foundation for the entire design. Each metal offers distinct features, style, and characteristics that can greatly influence the overall appearance and aesthetics of the ring. Here are some of the most popular choices:
Yellow Gold Engagement Rings: Radiating a timeless and warm allure, yellow gold has been a classic choice for generations. Its rich, buttery hue beautifully complements a wide range of gemstones, making it the perfect symbol of enduring love.
White Gold Engagement Rings: With its contemporary and elegant appearance, white gold has gained immense popularity in recent decades. Crafted by alloying yellow gold with other white metals and then plated with rhodium, white gold achieves a stunning, bright appearance that pairs well with diamonds and coloured gemstones.
Rose Gold Engagement Rings: Capturing hearts with its tender and unique charm, rose gold is also commonly seen adorning the fingers of many soon-to-be brides. The warm, pink hue echoes love and compassion, making it an ideal choice for sentimental romantics.
Platinum Engagement Rings: Renowned for its durability and purity, platinum is the epitome of elegance and strength. A symbol of timeless love, platinum boasts a dazzling, white lustre that perfectly complements the brilliance of diamonds, particularly those found in certain wedding rings.
Engagement Ring Styles
Another integral part of the perfect engagement ring, the style or setting you select should not only capture the essence of your love but also reflect your partner's unique personality and taste. It's a symbol of your commitment, and finding the right style is as important as choosing the right metal.
Whether your future bride is drawn to glamour, timelessness, or sophistication, there's a myriad of options to ensure her ring resonates with her heart’s desire. Amongst the most popular styles include:
Halo Engagement Rings: Halo rings feature a central gemstone encircled by a halo of smaller diamonds. They symbolise eternal love and are known for their dazzling brilliance.
Solitaire Engagement Rings: A solitaire setting showcases a single, stunning gemstone. It represents the simplicity and purity of your commitment.
Three Stone Engagement Rings: Three stone rings symbolise the past, present, and future of a relationship. The three stones can represent various aspects of your partnership.
Cluster Engagement Rings: Cluster rings feature multiple smaller diamonds, creating a captivating cluster effect. They symbolise the multitude of moments and memories shared.
Pave Engagement Rings: Pave settings feature tiny diamonds set closely together, creating a glittering, paved appearance. They represent a path of endless possibilities together.
The 4 Cs of Diamonds: A Guide to Quality
Selecting the ideal diamond for your engagement ring involves a careful consideration of the 4 Cs – cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. These four criteria collectively determine the overall quality and appearance of your chosen diamond, ensuring that it meets both your aesthetic preferences and budgetary expectations.
At Meaden Master Jewellers we can help you find the perfect diamond that satisfies your requirements in terms of the 4Cs. However, as a general guide the below information should aid your search for the perfect diamond engagement ring:
Cut: The cut of a diamond is often considered the most critical of the 4 Cs. It refers to how precisely the diamond has been shaped and faceted. A well-cut diamond exhibits an exceptional play of light, maximising its brilliance and sparkle. A diamond's cut grade is categorised on a scale from Excellent to Poor, with the best-cut diamonds revealing a mesmerising and fiery brilliance that grabs your attention.
Colour: Diamonds come in an array of colours, ranging from colourless to light shades of yellow or brown. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond colour on a scale from D (colourless) to Z (light colour). Generally, the less colour a diamond exhibits, the higher its quality. Colourless diamonds, graded D to F, are highly prized for their purity and ability to refract light, resulting in a dazzling display of brilliance.
Clarity: Clarity measures the presence of internal or external imperfections, known as inclusions or blemishes, within the diamond. The GIA's clarity grades range from Flawless (no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification) to Included (inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye). A higher clarity grade indicates fewer flaws, which can significantly impact a diamond's overall beauty and value. However, many diamonds with slightly lower clarity grades remain stunning to the naked eye while offering a more budget-friendly option.
Carat: Carat weight is perhaps the most visually apparent of the 4 Cs, as it directly correlates with the size of the diamond. While carat weight affects the overall cost, it's crucial to balance it with the other Cs to ensure you get the most value for your investment. Smaller diamonds with exceptional cut, colour, and clarity can often appear more dazzling than larger stones with lower grades in these categories.
Beauty in Bespoke: Custom Engagement Rings
In an era where personalisation and individuality reign supreme, bespoke engagement rings have emerged as an extremely popular choice amongst soon-to-be brides. These custom-crafted masterpieces are designed to tell a unique love story and encapsulate the true essence of your relationship.
If you’re searching for a bespoke engagement ring, consider specialists like Meaden Master Jewellers who take immense pride in offering the highest quality bespoke pieces, meticulously crafted with unparalleled skill. From selecting the precious metal, choosing the perfect gemstone, to adding unique, meaningful engravings or accents, we can design an engagement ring tailored to your vision.
Top Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring New Zealand1. Do Your Research
Before making this significant purchase, do plenty of research. Browse online and explore town centres in search of reputable jewellers like Meaden, who have a long and established history, excellent customer service, and scores of trusted reviews.2. Ensure You Know How to Take Care of the Ring
Taking care of your engagement ring is essential to maintaining its beauty and retaining its value. Ask your jeweller for advice on cleaning and maintenance and follow their instructions diligently.3. Purchase Engagement Ring Insurance
Consider getting insurance for your engagement ring as soon as you make the purchase. This will provide peace of mind in case of loss, damage, or theft. Some home insurance policies may include engagement ring cover as part of the content coverage but it’s best to double check with your provider.4. Check the Guarantee
Some metals, like white gold, can fade over time. Ensure that your chosen jeweller offers care or repair services after purchase. Also, check the warranty and certification to guarantee the authenticity and quality of your bridal jewellery.
How Do I Know My Partner's Ring Size?
This can be a bit tricky to ascertain without giving the surprise away. You might consider asking friends or family for help, borrowing a ring your partner wears on the same finger, or using an online sizing guide.
How Do I Know What Style My Partner Would Like?
Take cues from their existing jewellery collection and observe their fashion preferences. Consulting with close friends or family members can also provide valuable insights. Lastly, listen closely for any hints!
How Do I Find an Ethical Engagement Ring?
In today's conscientious world, many are seeking ethically sourced products, particularly for significant investments like engagement rings. Jewellers like Meaden are dedicated to responsible sourcing, offering both natural diamonds from conflict-free zones and lab-grown diamonds as commendable choices. Lab-grown diamonds, cultivated in controlled environments, are identical in beauty and brilliance to their natural counterparts and come with the added peace of mind of being sustainably produced. Whether you're drawn to the tradition of natural diamonds or the innovative sustainability of lab-grown ones, it's crucial to engage with jewellers who can transparently share the origins of their gemstones and their commitment to ethical practices.
How Much Money Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?
The old "three months' salary" rule is generally considered an outdated cliché now. In truth, it all depends on your budget and current financial situation. Reputable jewellers like Meaden Master Jewellers will work with you to find a suitable engagement ring that falls within your means. Be sure to reach out to us to discuss payment options if you require more information.
How Far in Advance Should I Buy an Engagement Ring?
Plan well in advance to ensure you have enough time for the selection, customisation (if applicable), and any resizing. It's wise to start shopping at least a few months before your planned proposal date. Remember, if you require a unique or highly personalised engagement ring it could take even longer to arrive.