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Buying an engagement ring noob


kevindd992002
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1 minute ago, davidelevi said:

Pretty much anything you can get off the list price.

They're actually asking me how much I would like to move forward so they need an actual value. Since I'm not too experienced with this, I don't want to come off as a lowballer. The 0.903 BDG is a good price, IMO, but I know that 1ct+ stones are a different price range.

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A quick check on the Diamond finder tells you that the price they have on the website is pretty aligned with 'top of the market'. The issue is that finer details of cut and visibility of inclusions both play a major role in determining a price for an SI1 - and we have very little easily accessible information on either. The median for 'nicely proportioned stones' is somewhere around $4600, so that's your 'playing space'.

Below that is not a serious proposition, but I think even at that, given that something from Brian or Whiteflash is going to be at the top of the quality scale in many respects (including the amount of info that they provide), you will not find them a willing taker. I'd propose ~10% off, and I wouldn't count it much of a winner's curse if they accept.

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The BGD seems to be cut a tiny tiny bit more precisely. You'd never see it without a highly magnified reflector image. It's also likely to be 'cleaner' in the sense that inclusions will be harder to find with a loupe. I trust both WF an Brian that if they say it's eye clean it will be (within their sensible definition of 'eye-clean').

It's also smaller and quite a bit cheaper. I think this is where the actual, everyday-visible difference is!

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On 4/20/2021 at 5:16 AM, davidelevi said:

The BGD seems to be cut a tiny tiny bit more precisely. You'd never see it without a highly magnified reflector image. It's also likely to be 'cleaner' in the sense that inclusions will be harder to find with a loupe. I trust both WF an Brian that if they say it's eye clean it will be (within their sensible definition of 'eye-clean').

It's also smaller and quite a bit cheaper. I think this is where the actual, everyday-visible difference is!

After a bit of back and forth, I was able to convince WF to give the 1.058ct stone at $4600! So that's $361 off their list wire price. The difference from the 0.903 BGD is still significant at $1017. For such a small increase in size, logic tells me that the 0.903 is the good buy but my brain keeps pushing to go with my original target of "at least 1 ct" as that's what all girls want.

I still have to consider the cost of setting/band so the 0.903 is really what attracts me in terms of price. But then again, we also know that the upgrade policy of WF is better than BGD. Decisions decisions. Do you have any more insights to share to help me come up with a final decision?

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2 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

the upgrade policy of WF is better than BGD

That's only relevant if you intend to upgrade... (and I'm not sure it actually is 'better', but that's a completely different story).

That aside, you know your budget and how much it can be stretched - and how important the 'round 1 carat' is to you, your girlfriend and your social circle - better than anyone else. On 'looks' grounds you've taken it as far as it can go, and both are very nice stones. My money would be on the 0.903, but that of thousands of others would be on the 1.06

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1.00ct generally sells for a significant premium over an otherwise similar 0.99ct. Why? It's exactly as you describe... some people want AT LEAST 1.00.  It's a rock and the supply is whatever the miners can find so the prices go up as they get bigger. Whether this applies to your partner or you is an entirely different question.  I'd be with Davide on the 0.90ct. but that's fashion and there is no 'right' answer.

I'm told that only about 5% of customers actually take advantage of the various trade-up programs. Are you one of them? Maybe.  What's better about it? People selling diamonds are almost always annoyed by it so if your plan involves the upgrade options, it's a valid consideration. For most people, it's not. 

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Posted (edited)

Ok, so I finally went and bought the 0.903 BGD stone and they're now waiting for me to decide on the setting. Researching about the diamond stone is one task but I'm told that choosing the right setting for your partner is even harder! I know, just recently, she seemed to like a simple ring like a Solitaire compared to super flashy rings like this one (gone viral in our country just recently): https://www.msn.com/en-ph/entertainment/other/photo-of-closer-look-at-jessy-mendiola-s-engagement-ring-goes-viral/ar-BB1bTWlj#image=1

I know I'll go for a 14K white gold and I'm not a 100% sure of the size but she told me that she was a 6.5 although that's a measurement from a ring sizer that she bought. When she went to a jewelry store a few months ago, they told her she was a 6. Mind you, this is a stealth operation so she really doesn't know anything and I can't ask her directly of course. She also doesn't wear rings so she's not a 100% sure with her size too.

I seem to like a Pave style engagement ring. If I go with that style and end up needing to have the size modified locally, is that something that can be done easily? I'm reading that it's kinda harder with a Pave style compared to a simple Solitaire style. 4 prongs vs 6 prongs?

Thoughts?

Edited by kevindd992002
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Size - depending on how easy it is going to be for you to get someone to do a quick sizing job if needed, I'd rather go for a slightly larger ring (that can be worn), than too small a ring that is going to be impossible or very uncomfortable to wear.

"Pavé" where? I really would not recommend going for a pavé shank for an engagement ring. They are definitely more difficult and expensive to resize than plain shanks (in same cases bordering on the 'impossible to do economically' and requiring a lot skill to do in any case), cost quite a lot more if well done (there is a lot of work in them), and are not as robust/tolerant of everyday's little accidents. For a cocktail ring to be worn occasionally - not an issue; for an item worn 24/7... I'd think twice.

Personally I would go for a 4 prongs unless you have something larger than 2 carats.

One last piece of unrequested advice: with rings - probably even more than with diamonds - one generally gets what one pays for (though sometimes one pays for the marketing one got). There are plenty of ways to cut costs in a setting, and most involve saving on labour to fabricate and finish properly the item. Don't underspend, and (personal preference) I'd recommend a plainer but well executed design every time.

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Ok. I guess a 6.5 is my best bet. She event told me she "might" be a 7 but that's without a good basis as she probably thinks that a 6.5 is too tight, not sure. I can probably even shoot for 7 but something tells me that that is already too big.

Pave in the band, so melee stones in the band. BGD just told me that any 3/4 or less Pave can be resized up to one full size up or down, so there's that.

There are a ton of elegant solitaire designs in their website so I'm not discounting those. Is the solitaire the simplest style among all styles?

What is your reasoning behind choosing a 4 prong design? My only concer with 4 prong is that it tends to make the round stone a bit squarish. The 6 prong makes the contour more round.

What are your thoughts on the 14K white gold vs. Platinum question? I initially want 14K white gold but reading up on the benefits of platinum I'm kind of consider going with it.

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12 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

Pave in the band, so melee stones in the band. BGD just told me that any 3/4 or less Pave can be resized up to one full size up or down, so there's that.

I'd be less 'absolute' in my statement than that (plenty of designs with less than 3/4 paved shanks that cannot be resized economically), but the problem typically isn't "can the shank be resized?"; it is "can the jeweller resize the ring correctly"? It's an issue of skill and - to an extent - of cost.

12 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

Is the solitaire the simplest style among all styles?

In general, yes.

12 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

What is your reasoning behind choosing a 4 prong design?

Personal taste: I find that 6 prongs hide too much of the stone surface - unless the stone is very large, then 6 or even more are fine.

12 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

What are your thoughts on the 14K white gold vs. Platinum question?

Pluses of gold (assuming rhodium-plated): harder, so more resistant to scratches; whiter/shinier when just finished; cheaper to manufacture - though metal costs have gone both ways, platinum rings tend to cost more in any case; easier and cheaper to alter/repair.

Minuses of gold: requires regular re-plating to stay 'white and shiny'; more brittle, so chips and scrapes away - less durable overall; does not patinate well and surface scratches don't blend in (more replating); feels less 'nice' (heft); more likely to cause allergic reactions because of alloy components.

Personally, given the choice I'd always go for platinum, but again that is personal preference.

Edited by davidelevi
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I think BGD's statement about resizing 3/4 or less paved shanks covers only their own skilled jewelers, so it's up to me to find a reputable jeweler here that can resize if necessary. I'm still not 100% sure on a paved shank anyway. Don't those melee stones "feel" weird on the neighboring fingers when the ring is worn?

As I'm reading about platinum, the more I'm inclined towards it. I know it scratches more easily than white gold but it patinates well and just needs re-polishing to restore the shine. Generally, does the re-polishing interval of platinum tend to be longer than the re-plating of 14K white gold given the same everyday usage rate? I don't want to have to go re-plating white gold every few months.

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4 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

Don't those melee stones "feel" weird on the neighboring fingers when the ring is worn?

Not as far as my wife tells me... if they are well set and the setting is smooth! I find wearing any ring 'feels weird', and I wore my wedding ring (perfectly smooth and round metal band) for all of 3 hours before taking it off and never wearing it again.

4 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

does the re-polishing interval of platinum tend to be longer than the re-plating of 14K white gold given the same everyday usage rate?

How long is a piece of string? The wear on rhodium plating depends on a lot of factors - not just the usage pattern, but the thickness of the plating, the preparation of the underlying surface and the skin chemistry of the wearer. Similarly, the interval between two 'platinum polishes' depends on the platinum alloy and how it has been worked, and both depend on how 'new' you (your fiancée) like the ring to look.

"On average", I would say that people polish platinum far less frequently than I have seen them wanting to replate gold, but YMMV. One of the reasons why I prefer platinum is that even if scratched and not shiny it looks good.

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Is the ring coming from BGD? Surely they're prepared to make it any size you like. As mentioned above, sizing pave can be tricky (or not) and by far the easiest way is to just make it the right size in the first place. FWI, it may have an effect on your warranty to have it sized by someone else. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Yes, the ring will be coming from BGD. I really don't have any choice as this is a stealth operation. Like I mentioned earlier, my best bet is 6.5. And since the ring will be further shipped to the Philippines, I don't have a choice but to have it resized here if I needed to. BGD told me that as long as the jeweler has the skills to do the resizing, then I'd have no problems but I haven't specifically asked about the warranty yet.

I'm also trying to convince myself that a solitaire is the better choice since my partner did express just recently that she wants the simplicity of a solitaire but she is also "ok" with the pave. This topic came up when we were discussing the engagement ring of a local celebrity.

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4 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

I'm also trying to convince myself that a solitaire is the better choice

A few points to consider:

1) Re-sizing an all metal-shank is easy and does not require special skills beyond basic goldsmithing (though be aware that not everyone will size platinum)
2) A solitaire is usually cheaper
3) A solitaire is significantly more robust - that ring will be worn 24/7 
4) If this is a stealth operation and you find that either of you is hankering for a more elaborate/different setting afterwards, nothing stands in the way of choosing something locally together and having the centre stone re-set in the new ring - particularly if you haven't got a lot of money 'vested' in the old setting.

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Posted (edited)

I've narrowed my choices down to these (listed from least to most expensive):

https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/tapered-classic-style-half-round-5540

$1250

- very plain and simple, my least favorite

- top width is 1.85mm

 

https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/engagement-rings/brain-gavin-signature/Tapered-Cathedral-Solitaire

$1400

- nice design

- top width is only 0.90mm, not sure if that's too slim or OK?

- BGD tells me that I shouldn't worry about the height of the stone because they set it to mid-height. Hopefully, no problems with the stone snagging clothes easily

 

https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/crown-solitaire-7437

$1450

- I like the knife edge design but I'm reading that it could be uncomfortable for some especially those that are not used to wearing rings?

- top width is 2.60mm, not sure if that's too thick already or still OK for a girl?

 

https://www.briangavindiamonds.com/freya-5985

$1700

- I like the 2 triangular gaps on this cathedral but not too much to justify the price difference

- top width is 2.50mm, so same concern if too thick or OK?

Edited by kevindd992002
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Aesthetic preferences are personal... FWIW, the first one is the one I like least, and the second one is the one I like most of the four, but what matters here is what you (both) like!

0.90 mm might be too thin... but there are 4 pieces of metal holding the stone basket, not 2, and you can see that even though the width may be only 0.90, the thickness of the top 2 is a lot more! So no worries there.

The last two are definitely more robust - 2.5 mm or so is not too thick for a solitaire (in my opinion - and FWIW my wife's ring size is 6.75, so I have a good reference point), but as I mentioned I think 6 prongs and a thicker shank overwhelm a stone this size - the 6 prongs are less noticeable in the other 2 designs. I wouldn't go with a knife edge shank unless the recipient could try it in person and see if they are comfortable - better safe than sorry.

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3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Aesthetic preferences are personal... FWIW, the first one is the one I like least, and the second one is the one I like most of the four, but what matters here is what you (both) like!

0.90 mm might be too thin... but there are 4 pieces of metal holding the stone basket, not 2, and you can see that even though the width may be only 0.90, the thickness of the top 2 is a lot more! So no worries there.

The last two are definitely more robust - 2.5 mm or so is not too thick for a solitaire (in my opinion - and FWIW my wife's ring size is 6.75, so I have a good reference point), but as I mentioned I think 6 prongs and a thicker shank overwhelm a stone this size - the 6 prongs are less noticeable in the other 2 designs. I wouldn't go with a knife edge shank unless the recipient could try it in person and see if they are comfortable - better safe than sorry.

I'm leaning towards the second one myself. I'm sure she'll like whichever Solitaire setting I pick but I don't want her feeling uncomfortable, of course.

It does look like 0.90mm is thin but it's only at the very top where the band meets the diamond stone. Most of the band is still wide. Which "top 2" thickness are you referring to here?

Good point on thicker shank overwhelming the stone this size. I do want to go with a 6 prong though so the tapered cathedral is perfect. Are knife edge bands generally not for all and are known to provide discomfort to some wearers?

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2 minutes ago, kevindd992002 said:

It does look like 0.90mm is thin but it's only at the very top where the band meets the diamond stone. Most of the band is still wide. Which "top 2" thickness are you referring to here?

If you look at the photo below, there are 4 points in which the shank connects to the basket:

Picture2.png.c3546793c5d2c00697395230186c3778.png 

the two in the red ovals are those with a width (seen from the top of the ring) of 0.90 mm - but if the rendering/photo is to scale, then they are thicker than 0.90. And then you have the two in the blue oval, which are thinner, but are presumably the same width as the rest of the shank at 2.30 - 2.40 mm.

15 minutes ago, kevindd992002 said:

Are knife edge bands generally not for all and are known to provide discomfort to some wearers?

Like with many other things, it's largely a matter of habit, but hand shape/structure varies, and what feels comfortable to many isn't necessarily comfortable to all. I've had people returning/not buying rings with square shanks because they didn't like the way they felt... would I call that 'providing discomfort'?  Not sure I'd go that far, but I'm quibbling about semantics.

Let's put it this way: if you really liked the knife-edge design and you lived in the US, I'd say give it a go - worst that happens is you are stuck with shipping costs to send it back. From the Philippines, apart from the shipping costs being much higher, there is also much greater risk of things going awry - from loss (many more transit points) to bureaucracy (no refund of excise taxes etc.) to time wasted in getting the thing right. It's a level of risk that definitely provides discomfort to me... 😁

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  • 2 weeks later...

I decided to go with the Tapered Cathedral Solitaire since two weeks ago when we were discussing this. I know have the CAD drawings from BGD and I'm not sure if it matters but I'll still show them to you in case you have comments before I approve the design and proceed with the casting process.

Note from BGD: The CAD appears heavier than the finished setting as we allow for a 15% overage of material for the casting process. This excess is shaved down after the setting has been cast.

It looks great to me but as you know I have an untrained eye, so to speak image.gif.97206f3643e2650c7a62b3388d733952.gif

Also, is text engraving on the ring recommended? What are its pro and cons? I'm thinking the the first letter of the my name and my partner's is as simple as it gets. Any suggested fonts if I go through with it?

 

Screenshot 2021-05-19 224828.png

Screenshot 2021-05-19 224847.png

Screenshot 2021-05-19 224902.png

Screenshot 2021-05-19 224917.png

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2 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

It looks great to me but as you know I have an untrained eye, so to speak

Well, it's a nice rendering... which means nothing. CAD processing is cheap; the cost is in the finishing, but the CAD itself tells you nothing about that. 😁

2 hours ago, kevindd992002 said:

Also, is text engraving on the ring recommended? What are its pro and cons? I'm thinking the the first letter of the my name and my partner's is as simple as it gets. Any suggested fonts if I go through with it?

Pros: it's a way of making the ring more unique and "yours". And a puzzle for future generations: "Who was this mysterious X K? Nobody in the family with these initials!"

Cons: no returns if you don't like it, and if it ever came to selling, it is a bit more difficult. A bit more cost.

Fonts: whatever takes your fancy. Nowadays with laser engraving it's no longer a matter of relying on the skill of the local engraver who is really good at block letters, but bad at cursive script (or vice-versa). 

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Ok, then I'll just accept the CAD drawing as it is :)

As for the engraving, can it be easily erased in a Platinum ring if we passed it down to the next generation or if we sell it? BGD told me that the laser engraving is not deep and can be easily erased but I'm not sure if they use a special tool or what.

I'm thinking of going without the engraving and if she really wants to engrave it that'll probably come after I propose to her and after we make sure that the size is correct. Would that make more sense?

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1 hour ago, kevindd992002 said:

As for the engraving, can it be easily erased in a Platinum ring if we passed it down to the next generation or if we sell it?

It can - but there are two issues: 1) the shallower the engraving is, the more easily it will fade in normal use, and 2) no matter how shallow, erasing it will result in the metal getting thinner. It doesn't require a "special" tool, just a small grinder (like a Dremel).

The sizing issue for me is the "killer" - having an engraving will make the sizing job more difficult, and/or can result in the engraving being partly or totally erased during polishing.

Your idea of waiting and doing the engraving locally sounds like a better solution.

Edited by davidelevi
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