With extended family around to admire her ring and celebrate your engagement, it's no secret that the holiday season is prime time for popping the question. Now is the time to have your custom engagement ring handcrafted.
If you're one of the thousands in Torontonians planning (or hoping for) a proposal in the near future, don't start shopping without reading these top 10 engagement ring buying tips.
1. Consider Accent Diamonds
There's more than one way to wear a carat of diamonds on your finger. A carat of small accent diamonds cost a fraction of the price of a one carat stone. Halo designs are hot on the market. By surrounding your center diamond with a halo of accent stones, it will appear larger and make the most of your budget.
2. Compare Settings
The way a diamond is framed can have a major impact on how big it looks. For example, a bezel -- a thin band of metal that wraps around a gem -- gives the illusion of a larger stone.
3. Not All Certifications Are Equal
A diamond of a carat or more should come with a gem report -- a gemologist's evaluation of the stone's color by letter grade (good stones are ranked no lower than I) and clarity, ranging from "flawless" (FL) to "very slight inclusions" (either VS1 or VS2) for an acceptable diamond. The cut, carat weight and measurements are also listed. Ask the jeweler questions about the diamond certification, as a GIA certificate is not equal to an EGL certificate.
4. Know Your Metals
Platinum and gold are the top choices for engagement rings. The former will cost you -- a simple platinum band can cost nearly $600 more than a comparable one in gold -- but many brides feel the price is worth it. Platinum is a far more durable metal. It will show fewer nicks and scratches, and platinum prongs will hold a stone more securely.
As for color, some people believe that yellow gold casts an unflattering light on the diamond, while others prefer the hue's warmth and traditional look.
5. Invest In Insurance
The cost of protecting yourself against loss or theft depends on several factors -- including the value of your ring, of course, as well as where you live (major city dwellers will pay more). According to Donna Syverson, a spokeswoman for the national insurance firm Jewelers Mutual, your annual premium will be about 1 to 2.7 percent of the jewelry's appraised value, even for rings that cost six figures.
6. Have Your Diamond Laser Numbered
Your diamond's certificate number (or jeweler's designation) can be laser-inscribed on the side of the stone, allowing it to be positively identified in case of theft or after cleaning or repair.
Such inscriptions, which are visible under magnification (shown at right for the ring below) don't affect the gem's value. They cost from $40 to $200 and offer more than mere peace of mind: Some insurance carriers will give policy discounts on inscribed diamonds.
7. Save Big With a Slightly Smaller Diamond
Most couples look for diamonds in whole carat weights, but what you may not realize is that jewelers charge a premium for such stones. If you opt instead for a gem just under a carat (or under 2 or 3 carats, for that matter), the savings can add up to 30 percent. And the difference in size is so insignificant, you won't be able to tell.
8. Buy With An Eye To Trading Up
For a big anniversary, couples often replace their engagement ring with a grander model. When shopping now, ask jewelers if they'll accept this purchase as partial payment on a later ring.
9. Dream up a custom piece
Believe it or not, many reputable jewelers offer one-of-a-kind rings without charging exorbitant fees. Some companies require a minimum purchase or bill clients a small amount for preliminary work, such as drawings.
10. Check out your local private jeweler
Without the cost of overhead or inventory, a private jeweler can create a high quality ring (they often also carry diamonds) at a fraction of the cost of a big name store.