How to Pick Your Perfect Engagement Ring, According to a Gemologist
When buying a wedding or engagement ring, some of us will instantly think about what it should look like — from the size and type of diamond or gemstone to the band and general aesthetic. But Taylor & Hart's creative director, Jason D'Heureux, told POPSUGAR that brides should consider how the ring fits into your lifestyle and complements the personality of you and your partner.
Taylor & Hart offers free appointments — that you can book online — where you visit the showroom, go through the entire ring-design process, and then can change your mind without spending a pence.
POPSUGAR was invited into the jeweller's London-based showroom to ask its creative director everything you'll need to know about rings and diamonds: from engagement-ring trends to the language of diamonds, the pros and cons of different gemstones and metals, and some tips on making your stone look bigger on a budget.
The Biggest Engagement Ring Trends of 2020
Taylor & Hart Dawn Halo Engagement Ring with .75 Carat Round Diamond
The Halo Design: At Taylor & Hart, the Dawn is the most popular halo design. "I think we've sold five or six this week alone," Jason said. "Everyone's loving the Dawn because it's thin, it's light, and it's dainty." The halo also makes the stone look bigger, "especially if you choose a white diamond with a white metal."
Thinner Bands: The Dawn engagement ring features a fishtail pavé diamond halo, with a 1.6 mm band. It's the company's first really thin band. "Most of our rings are 1.8 or 2 mm," he said. "It doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it actually is."
Celebrity-Inspired Rings and Non-Diamond Gemstones: "Since Meghan Markle got engaged and married, the three-stone ring became super popular," Jason said. "Also, non-diamond gemstones — sapphires, rubies, emeralds. I think it's because of Kate Middleton's blue sapphire ring, [Princess] Eugenie's pink sapphire, and Katy Perry's ruby . . . Gwyneth Paltrow also has a sapphire ring. I think with Gwyn, for a second marriage, why get a diamond?"
How to Choose Your Engagement Ring
Taylor & Hart .75 Carat Round Diamond in Solitaire, Pavé, and Halo Designs
Choose the Shape of Your Diamond: "About 65 percent of our sales are round. They're the most popular because they're the most sparkly and the most iconic," Jason said. "If you think about the Tiffany & Co. six-claw solitaire, it's famous. That's what people think about, that simple, clean style." While rounds are timeless, more couples are exploring the oval shape. "It's really flattering, and I think it feels even more modern than a round. And because it's more flat than a round, it appears bigger," he said. "Then, the next popular is the cushion cut. It's very similar to the round. It's almost as old of a shape, and it's a fantastic value."
Or Choose the Perfect Nondiamond Gemstone: A lot of gemstones — like amethyst, topaz, and quartz — aren't really meant to be worn every day because they're softer, which means they are more likely to crumble, scratch, or dent. Diamond is the hardest gemstone, then sapphires are almost as hard, then rubies, and emeralds. "We only cover those, and tourmaline," he said. "We get lots of requests for morganites, but we don't cover them. They're beautiful gemstones, but not necessarily for an engagement ring. Maybe a lovely right-hand ring, but it's going to abrade easily, and you're going to get a chip on it."
Decide Between Lab-Grown or Mined Diamonds: Cultured diamonds are growing in popularity. "I think that a lot of millennials and a lot of our customers like this idea of something that is not mined because there's less of an environmental impact," Jason said.
Pros of Lab-Grown Diamonds:
- 30-40 percent cheaper than mined diamonds.
- Less environmental impact.
- Same brilliance as a diamond, although a relatively new process.
Cons of Lab-Grown Diamonds:
- Not as good an investment as mined diamonds, which increase in price every year.
- Can't be traded for an actual value.
- Grading standards aren't as sophisticated, because they are a new product.
Pick the Colour of Your Band: The most popular bands are platinum and yellow gold, with white gold and rose gold seeing a massive dip as of 2019. "Rose gold is now less than eight percent of our sales. We're like, what happened to rose gold? But yellow gold is huge," he said. If you've ever wondered what "rose gold" and "white gold" actually are, rose gold is yellow gold mixed with copper, and white gold is yellow gold mixed with platinum and palladium, then plated with rhodium to make it appear white.
"We've made a very active effort to have our customers choose platinum by having a very small price difference," Jason shared. "Platinum is a naturally white metal, unlike white gold, which is plated. And because you sweat, use cleaning products, soaps, cosmetics — these are all wearing away at the rhodium, and it's going to revert to that slightly yellowish-white metal underneath." Platinum ages better because it's a denser metal than gold. After 50 years of polishing your platinum ring, it will look like new, but gold loses a layer every time you polish it, so your band will become very thin over time.
Understanding the Language of Diamonds
Taylor & Hart .75 Emerald Cut and Round Diamond Solitaire Engagement Rings
Pricing: The price of a diamond depends on two factors — how much waste is created during the cutting process and the popularity of the stone shape — which is why rounds are the most expensive. That's another reason the oval shape is growing in demand — it produces less waste than a round, and it's a smidge less popular. A princess cut or a cushion is the same shape as the diamond rough, so it's cheaper to produce.
Grading: Diamond grading is based on four Cs: colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight. While cut and carat speak for themselves, colour and clarity are a bit more ambiguous.
The highest colour grade is a D, which means the stone is devoid of all colour. As you go down the scale to a Z, you'll start to see slight elements of yellow and brown. Most might choose diamonds in the DEF (very white) or J range (white), but Jason said that "there are people who really love warm-tone diamonds," like an N, that's set at a great price.
Clarity is based on how clean the diamond is on the inside. Because it is a natural substance, it will have natural impurities — transparent changes in the direction of the inside of the stone. If you're getting a round, oval, princess, or cushion, then you don't have to worry too much about clarity because the shapes are so multifaceted that many impurities are hidden in the light reflection.
Taylor & Hart .75 Oval Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
Ahead, take a closer look at some of the most sought-after engagement-ring styles on the market.