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Bridal Club Magazine

Buying an engagement ring

Which metal for your engagement ring?

Brides-to-be often have strong preferences when it comes to the metal used in their engagement ring. Here are the most popular options:

A yellow gold engagement ring is the traditional choice. 24k is the purest but also the softest variety, so is not generally recommended for engagement rings. 14k and 18k gold are less pure but harder and therefore more likely to make a durable engagement ring.

A white gold engagement ring will complement any silver or platinum jewellery you may have already. However, a white gold engagement ring is often plated with rhodium to enhance its appearance, and this plating is likely to wear off with time.

A platinum engagement ring is another popular choice. This silvery metal is highly resistant to damage. It's much rarer than gold and is therefore more expensive, but a platinum engagement ring will last a lifetime.

A titanium engagement ring is a more modern choice since it is only relatively recently that this striking greyish metal has been used for jewellery. It is extremely durable and can be carved without losing its strength. A titanium engagement ring is a real talking point.

The stone: a non-diamond engagement ring

Not every woman has her heart set on a diamond engagement ring. It might be worth considering the huge range of other stones that can be used in a beautiful - and highly individual - ring.

One of the most popular choices today is a tanzanite engagement ring. A gorgeous purplish-blue gem, tanzanite is far rarer than diamonds as it has only ever been found in one location - Tanzania.

Other people love emeralds, sapphires, or rubies. If a stone has a particular significance for you, go for it. A word of caution, however: many stones - tanzanite included - are much less hard than diamonds, and are likely to need more care.

If your budget will not stretch to diamonds but you love their classic look, go for a cubic zirconia engagement ring. When the cut of the stone is good it can be difficult for anyone but an expert to distinguish a cubic zirconia from a diamond, yet a cubic zirconia engagement ring can be bought for a fraction of the price.

Diamonds - the four Cs

A diamond is an investment, and you want to be certain you're not being ripped off when you head out to buy a diamond engagement ring. Above all, look out for the so-called 'Four Cs' - clarity, colour, cut and carat.

The clarity of a diamond refers to how pure it is. Most diamonds contain tiny marks, or 'inclusions' . These are usually not visible to the naked eye, but will significantly affect the price of the diamond. The scale used to measure a diamond's clarity ranges from FL, which denotes a flawless and extremely precious diamond, to I3, at the other end of the scale.

The colour of a diamond is measured by a scale of letters, from colourless D - the most valuable type - to Z, which has a very noticeable tint, and should be much cheaper.

The carat of the diamond is its weight, with one carat weighing 0.2 grams. This is often thought of as the most important way to judge a diamond, but it should be pointed out that it is by no means the only important gauge of quality.

The cut of the diamond is the only one of the four Cs that can be influenced by the craftsman, and even the largest diamond needs to be well cut to be shown to best advantage. A well cut diamond will shine brilliantly.

When choosing a diamond, seek out a retailer that is able to provide a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certificate to guarantee the stone's quality.

Conflict-free diamonds

Many diamonds are mined in war zones, with the proceeds of their sale being used to finance war. These are known as 'conflict diamonds' or 'blood diamonds'. If this thought disturbs you, opt for a conflict-free diamond instead.

Conflict-free stones are guaranteed not to have been obtained through the use of violence, human-rights abuses, or environmental destruction. These diamonds are tracked from the mine to the cutting and polishing, to ensure that ethical practices are used throughout. It might take a little research to find a conflict-free engagement ring, but many people feel this is time well spent.

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