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Guide to Buying Diamond Engagement Rings

The basics

If you are at this page then you are probably planning on joining the 75% of British men who buy their loved one a diamond engagement. If so you will want to pay close attention to the following advice as this is not something you want to take for granted. Not only will you be making a substantial monetary purchase (the old wives myth is the fiancé spending one months of his salary) but you will also be placing an objective on your future wife’s finger that she will be wearing everyday. Add to this that this engagement ring is a permanent symbol of the most important relationship of your life.

A quick geology lesson

In case you did not know, diamonds are 99.95% pure crystallised carbon and can be extremely old - one to three billion years old, in fact. They are the hardest naturally occurring substance known and are formed beneath the Earth's surface when crystals of diamond occur in volcano feed-pipes. When volcanoes erode down, they release diamonds from their feed-pipes into layers of gravel which are later mined. However, due to the relative rarity of this natural process, diamond mines are found in just a handful of sites around the world. In rough form, diamonds are shipped to the world's cutting centres to be shaped and polished before being set as jewellery. It is the hardness, brilliance and sparkle that emerges during this process that transforms them into a girl's best friend.

Probably the single most important piece of advice is to buy the ring together. While some men like to surprise their girlfriend with a traditional, romantic proposal before whipping out a ring box, other couples wait until they can go shopping for the ring together. Diamond engagement rings are far too important to get wrong, and you have to be sure the woman who will be wearing it adores it.

Tips to buying a diamond engagement ring

Probably the single most important piece of advice is to buy the ring together. While some like to surprise their girlfriend with a traditional, romantic proposal before whipping out a ring box, other couples wait until they can go shopping for the ring together. Diamond engagement rings are far too important to get wrong, and you have to be sure the woman who will be wearing it adores it.

The 4 C’s

So now that you know why you are buying an engagement ring made with a diamond, it is important to familiarise yourself with the "Four Cs" - cut, colour, clarity and carat. All must be considered equally when comparing diamonds, but more than any other factor is how the diamond is cut and whether it is a certified stone.

Any reputable jeweller will know about the 4C's and be prepared to talk you through them all without prompt when displaying diamonds. But if you don't wish to place your trust entirely in a jeweller, you should request a "cert stone" - a diamond that has been assessed, graded and coded with a laser by an independent gemmological laboratory. The type of certificate is important, as not all are universally recognised. The most internationally recognised are issued by GIA (the Gemmological Institute of America). Other popular certificates include HRD, IGL, EGL and AGS.

Another good reason for buying a diamond engagement ring with a certified diamond stone is to guard against buying "diamonds" made with substitutes. Zircon, white sapphire, topaz and quartz are natural minerals that can be nearly colourless and used as natural diamond substitutes. Synthetic substitutes include cubic zirconia and moissanite. All these are sold as legitimately cheap alternatives, but be aware that they are sometimes, albeit rarely, passed off as real diamonds. When shopping with RPS Jewellers these are worries that can be quite safely left at home as every diamond and diamond engagement ring that we sell use certified stones only.