A carefully chosen engagement ring is a powerful token of love. It carries declarations of hope and affection, promises of fidelity and respect, expectations of romance and equal partnership. Above all, it must speak to both bride and groom.
When Prince Harry designed a gold band with a trilogy of diamonds with which to propose to Meghan Markle, he created a modern, stylish ring to suit his bride. The centre stone was a conflict-free diamond from Botswana, where the couple first holidayed together. The stones either side had belonged to his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales. It was not just a ring, it told their story.
In choosing diamonds, Prince Harry followed a long-standing royal tradition. What is thought to be the first diamond engagement ring was presented by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to his future bride Mary of Burgundy in 1477.
Investing in the future
Neither man would have had to worry too much about cost, but it’s often a key consideration for those proposing. An engagement ring is an investment in every sense of the word. Traditionally, a man spends a month’s salary on an engagement ring; for those in the highest tax bracket, earning £150,000 or more, that means allowing around £12,500. Some modern couples choose to share the cost, and how much they spend might depend on other priorities – such as a house purchase.
Either way, with so much entrusted to one perfect item, it’s a choice that needs careful thought. Factors to consider include design, weight and quality of stone – and whether to centre the ring on a classic diamond, such as Bucherer Fine Jewellery’s Joy Brilliant Cut, or an alternative gem. “A diamond is generally still the most chosen and treasured stone,” confirms Tobias Lanz, the company’s chief diamond buyer. “Many, if not most, coloured-gemstone pieces also have diamonds integrated in their design.”
The stone’s popularity rests on its durability. “An engagement or wedding ring has to stand the test of time,” explains Lanz. “A diamond is the ideal choice for a ring that is worn daily. But we’re also seeing a growing demand for coloured gemstones,” he adds. “In this case we recommend stones belonging to the diamond spar family, such as rubies or sapphires, as their durability is close to that of a diamond.”
A cut above
The next consideration is what diamond experts call the “four Cs”: cut, colour, clarity and carat, with the cut being the most important for Bucherer Fine Jewellery. “When we talk about cut,” says Lanz, “we don’t mean the shape, we are rather talking about the quality of the stone. The reason this is important is because – apart from the size of the stone – the cut is the only criterion that the customer can appreciate easily for themselves. A diamond that is not perfectly cut (with the right proportions, symmetry, height and surface area) never reaches the same brilliance and light reflection as a stone that is cut perfectly.”
For modern couples, the most challenging choice may be whether to continue the tradition with a diamond solitaire, such as the Joy Brilliant Cut in white gold, which carries a 0.5ct diamond, or opt for multiple diamonds, such as a Wedding Band Brilliant Cut in white gold. Others might choose something entirely more unusual, such as a necklace that can form part of a bridal parure.
Bucherer’s Fine Jewellery Romance Collection 18ct white-gold diamond necklace, set with six pear-shaped diamonds and 154 smaller diamonds, is a striking alternative. “But even if you consider a ring to be the classic choice,” Lanz says, “the styles vary greatly. At Bucherer Fine Jewellery, our designs are versatile so you can add a wedding band or other rings at a later time and, by combining them, change the whole look.”
Which only leaves one question: how soon can you pick out an eternity ring to match?