Engagement Ring buying advice and recommendations

This is my advice for someone looking to buy an engagement ring. I've done a lot of research into it, and listed what I thought are the most helpful links. This is an actual email that I sent to a friend who asked for some information.

Hi ----

I was thinking about your engagement ring for ----, so I wanted to send
you some helpful information.

The best forum that we have found for diamond and engagement ring
information is www.pricescope.com
People are really knowledgable there, and willing to help. So if you
wanted to, you could make an account and post your budget, desired
ring style, etc and people will help you get a good ring that fits in
your budget.

There is also a lot of good information there. This link is to the
Diamond Guide

They also have an engagement ring tutorial so you can get familiar
with the different styles of rings, important terminology, etc

I would recommend doing a little research on those forums. I think
that a 10k budget is a lot, you can get a really great ring in that
range. You may even end up spending less. Jeremy originally set a 10k
budget as well, but since we decided to go with sapphires, we are
anticipating spending about 5k for the engagement ring (stone &
setting). Diamond are more expensive, but I think you can get a really
nice diamond and setting in that budget.

I would recommend starting with a 1ct diamond, round brilliant cut.
You can go up in carat size if you feel comfortable, cut I think a 1
ct is a nice place to start. Do not look at colored diamonds or "fancy
diamonds". You cannot afford it. You should also stay above I think
the G color grade, b/c below that the diamonds start looking a little
yellow. I would check this though, bc I'm not completely sure, and the
cutoff may be different based on personal preference.

I would recommend you get the setting in platinum instead of white
gold. Platinum is more durable, and will not wear as much as white
gold. Platinum will need to be occasionally polished, but what I dont
like about white gold is that it is actually a yellow gold core that
is rhodium plated so it looks white. I don't like the idea of plated
things, and people on the forums say that the rhodium plate will wear
off as early as 6 months for some people, and the ring will show
yellowish color underneath. The rhodium plating may last for a few
years for some people with less wear on their rings. Platinum will
cost more than white gold. I would budget about 2k for a nice platinum
solitaire setting, so that leaves about 8k for the stone, which is
definitely reasonable. I do not recommend yellow gold unless you know
that is what she wants. Yellow gold has fallen out of favor, and is
not "trendy".

For ideas of ring styles, I would look at bluenile.com ,
whiteflash.com , goodoldgold.com
They have a large selection of rings, so you can look and see if there
are certain styles that would be best. I would focus on the solitaire
settings, because it is a really classic style. I'm not sure what -----
means by "vintage," if she actually wants an antique ring or something
1920s style or whatever. I would go with a solitaire if you are not

Do not buy from Tiffany & Co. Do not buy from Etsy. Tiffany is way
overpriced, and Etsy quality is questionable and often overpriced. Do
not buy from Zales or Jareds or any other mall store. Overpriced and
poor quality.

I'm not sure if there are any custom diamond cutters like there are
for colored stones. I was just thinking that the supply chain is so
tightly regulated, and diamonds are so expensive, that I doubt there
are any cutters that buy diamonds to recut. You might find a diamond
cutter if you look around, but I doubt it. However, all diamonds come
with a certification that describes how well it is cut. Cut is
actually pretty important of the 4C's, bc a lot of the brilliance and
scintillation of a diamond depends on the cut.

There are some really good custom ring makers, if you want to go the
custom route. Brian Gavin (www.briangavindiamonds.com) was one that I
was looking at for a while. Another good ring maker is Leon Mege
(www.leonmege.com). Mark Morrell (http://www.mwmjewelry.com) also does
really great custom rings and has a really great style.

If you want to order a custom ring, it will be a little more
expensive, and you will have to wait around 6 weeks for the product.
Usually the process goes like this - you contact the ring maker with a
specific idea of what you want made. They will clarify with you the
details of the ring, then make a CAD rendering of the ring and email
it to you. You can indicate changes that you want from the initial CAD
rendering, and it can go back and forth like this for a few drafts
until you are satisfied. The ring maker will then create a custom ring
mold to cast the ring in, then set the diamond in it, and you are

If you want to go the custom ring route, I would make sure you know
exactly what you want. I would save some pictures of ring styles
online that you want to incorporate elements of, or draw some
preliminary sketches to show the ring maker.

I hope this is helpful. I would do a little research on pricescope.com
first, then look at some engagement ring prices and styles on the
different websites I suggested. If you feel that there is no ring
style currently in production that you think ----- would like, or you
really want to give her a one of a kind unique ring, then I would
contact some of the custom ring makers. But make sure you have an idea
of what you want before you contact them, which is why I suggest
looking at sites with a nice wide selection of rings as a preliminary

When you buy the ring, make sure you get it appraised and insured. You can get insurance through an additional rider on your homeowner's insurance. Or you can get a separate jewelry insurance, which may offer more coverage. Either way you will need an independent appraisal. This is important in case of theft or loss, since it is such a big purchase.

Ok, I hope that information is helpful and not too overwhelming. If I
think of anything else, I'll send it to you later.