The Man speaks: Getting the ring

11:30 AM

This is a guest post by the fiance...since guys in general would be clueless what, where, how to get the's his version of the effort that went into getting my ring. :)
Truth be told, I had my criteria and mentioned to him quite playfully - a dream one carat, princess cut (many yonks ago Andrea De Cruz was proposed to with a princess cut Tiffany's so then, it stuck on and on until my turn! Fact is, I never was a Andrea De Cruz fan.) and well, I was open to something more complicated than a solitaire...something that would be an heirloom for my mini mes to have. 

Funnily or not, my Mom's proposal ring was by no means a simple solitaire either - I suppose that's how it runs in the blood - but her setting was definitely a blast from the past dated.

Read on about our lil tale and if patience isn't your virtue, scroll all the way down for the ring!
So yes, since I decided that this is the drop dead gorgeous girl I wanna spend the rest of my life with, I need a ring to pop the question and seal the deal. Now, I'm rather fortunate in the sense that my dad's a jeweller and therefore I have some knowledge in going about choosing jewellery. The main thing that stumps guys when picking rings out is: what does she like? As much as you want it to be a surprise, you still need to know what she likes and all that. My advice? Ask. Really. Just ask her what kind of ring and rock she likes. Hemming and hawing won't do anyone any good. There are actually quite a bit of nuances in selecting a ring and you want your girl to say yes to you happily (because she loves the ring, well she loved you anyway so she'd say yes. If you aren't even sure she will say yes, then you guys are not ready to be married). Heck, it'd be better if she squealed in joy when she saw the ring.

Here's a pre-checklist before you embark on the hunt for a ring:
  • Branded or not branded? Some girls subscribe to the marketing appeal of a robin blue box and other 'diamond is forever' type of marketing spiels. So make sure you check this through.
  • Whats your budget? A ring with diamond(s) can set you back from $2,500 onwards, and the sky's the limit.
  • Yellow gold? Rose gold? White gold? Purple Gold? Black gold? Ceramic? Platinum? Rhodium? Again, it's knowing her preferences. I strongly suggest observing her jewellery and decide a material that best matches her taste. Or ask her, but you might just give too much info away. If she doesn't wear jewellery often, white gold is often a good material to buy. If she has a tanned skin tone she can look better in yellow gold.
  • Size. Now it's not easy to find out, but at this moment at least know if she has very slim or small fingers or she has fingers the size of sausages. Because chances are, you will have to pay quite a premium for both, unless you go with a custom jeweller.
  • Store bought or custom made? Store bought designs are mostly branded and therefore have a premium. But they are usually more fanciful or exquisite. Custom made ones are usually cheaper and can even replicate store bought designs, but may not deliver 100% in terms of workmanship. Do seek out different custom jewellers and opinions to see who has the best craftsmanship to get more bang for your buck. 
And off you go! Do some ring window shopping, it's actually fun if you get the hang of it. As you go shopping, you will be bombarded with these questions about your stone (I'm assuming your girl wants diamonds)
  • Shape. First thing you should know. Most girls actually have no clue and would just say 'I want a round one'. Which is easy for you cos rounds are plentiful in supply. But she may be looking for something fancier, like a princess cut, or marquis, or emerald, or cushion, or teardrop, etc etc. As such, it is hard to say which cut is more ex. The round cut is expensive due to demand for it. Some rarer cuts are also very expensive due to, of course, the rarity of them.
  • Carat. Well the size of that rock. Or rocks, if you are going for something fancier. Although most materialistic girls would shout out that she wants something 1 carat and above, do bear in mind that it is often much better to get a diamond closer to 1 carat, say 0.97 carat, then a 1 carat diamond. The price of a 1 carat diamond versus one that is just shy of 1 carat differs by an astounding up to 50% in some cases. Smaller diamonds will be priced accordingly. However, take this into consideration: is she a tall/big girl? Small/skinny girl? How big are her fingers? Most SG girls here will look they have a fake rock if they wear something like 1 carat, because they are rather petite and would not look good with a large rock. So if that's your girl, phew! But good luck convincing her. But if she's the size of a wrestler, well, let's hope you have good credit lines.
  • Clarity. Well, most jewellers out there will make you think that only FL or IF rocks are worth buying. But really, those cost a bomb. By a bomb I mean a mid 5 digits and above for a carat. You don't even necessarily have to go for a VVS1 or VVS2, which are also very expensive. As I do not have a huge budget, I would typically go for a VS1 or VS2, which are still good, the imperfections are invisible to the naked eye. If your budget is small then consider SI1 or SI2, their imperfections are only visible under magnification but somehow I think they're not that good. Why so? It's rare that an expert gem cutter would spend much effort cutting a stone that isn't very high on the clarify grade chart with much precision. Lower grade stones are usually cut by less skilled craftsman. I would not really advise going for I1, I2, or I3 grade diamonds, they aren't worth much and they look like glass. 
  • Certification. Most people come to me asking whether a diamond is certified smugly, thinking that they know they are making sure they themselves do not get cheated. Well I have to break it out to you. Certificates can be FAKED, and faking is rampant in SG. Although the respectable labs such as GIA or AGSL churn out good reports, there are many labs out there faking their certs. Worse, there are printers who can doctor a cert and print it out for you. You do pay a premium for a cert since the jeweller needs to pay quite a sum to have the diamond certified. So decide for yourself whether its worth paying that premium.
  • Cut. Often underestimated, the cut of a diamond actually is what makes the diamond shine. This to me is the most important aspect of a diamond. However, it is tough for you to know what exactly is the cut. Usually, this is found in the certificate, which you might need the help of a jeweller to interpret. But it actually isn't so tough. You don't really need the cert. Ask for a jeweller's loupe (the foldable small magnifying glass) and look through it. First point the diamond at a light source, then at a dark area. Observe if there are any light refraction changes. A well cut diamond should still sparkle in the dark, but a badly cut diamond will appear glassy and have dark patches in it. 
  • Colour. Now this gets interesting. The 'whiter' the diamond, the more expensive it is. It starts from grade D – Z. D – F colour diamonds are very very expensive, and are the crème de la crème. If you are going for a solitaire setting (meaning a ring with a singular diamond, usually a round one, held up by a four-prong or six-prong claw), then a whiter diamond is recommended. If you are going for white gold, then D – F is a safe bet. If its yellow gold, you can go further down the scale up to J, or K to L if you want some yellow colour in the diamond. Diamonds with colour N onwards are 'fancy yellow' diamonds. These are usually cheaper diamonds, but funnily enough, they can be very rare to come by (due to lack of demand. They are usually turned into cutting stones instead). So decide on your diamond stone setting, how you want it to look. Then choose a colour. Diamonds with other fancy colors such as blue, pink, or purple, are extremely rare and therefore priced at a premium. Black diamonds are man-made and therefore are usually cheap.
So now that I have your attention about the diamonds, let me tell you about my ring. I started sourcing for the ring about 4 months before the proposal. I knew that one day I will propose to the girl, and therefore wanted to be ready. So I asked my dad's contacts for ready made ring designs to get inspirations (you can do that too, looking around ring websites for designs you'd like). 

I contacted a few suppliers who also gave me some samples to look at (I really think you should actually go and touch and feel them cos a pic on the internet isn't really enough). There was this craftsman whom we used really often because he was quite skilled and he was from HK (HK being a very fashionable jewellery market. If you have ever been there you would have noticed that there are so many jewellery stores around and the jewellery trade is very matured compared to here in SG). 

He gave me several designs he had been working on and showed me this design that looked like the old Tiffany Legacy ring design, which I really liked. His version was more complicated, which was fine by me. I didn't want the normal solitaire setting, which to me was quite boring. And besides, my wife-to-be likes hers complicated (yes I asked). 

Then came the sourcing for diamonds. I came across a few batches, but one batch caught my eye when there were a bunch of yellow diamonds in them. They were canary yellow, and tough to come by. Relatively inexpensive too, given that they were quite good stones. So I picked out a batch of yellow diamonds of grades Q – T, and also white diamonds of about grades H – K, and made 2 layers of them. 

Then the main attraction: the carat sized diamond. I narrowed it down to 2 stones after looking through quite a few; one was 1 carat exactly, the other 1.01 carat. At my budget, the 1 carat was visibly better and shined brighter, so I chose it. (the other stone ended up being bought by someone else the next day so oh well). Now this stone is excellent in most aspects, except the colour, which was about I or J. Well usually diamonds of this grade won't shine very brightly because its yellowish, but because I choose to surround it with yellow diamonds, it then shined like a very high quality diamond. More bang for the buck. =)

When I got the ring back from the craftsman I was rather satisfied with it. Well, she'd say yes to me, but I hope she'd like the ring!

There you go! This is how I went about selecting my diamonds for the ring!

Now and forever. :)

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