5 simple ways to ensure you're buying the best quality engagement ring
Getting engaged is an unforgettable and romantic moment, and the ring is expected to stand the test of time. However, buying an engagement ring can be a stressful process, with buyers often feeling out of their depth.
Here, ethical jeweller David Rhode reveals the steps you should take to ensure you’re getting the quality and provenance worthy of the price tag.
“When it comes to engagement rings, a number of factors will impact the price of your jewellery - but a key thing to consider is the materials’ quality and provenance.
“Even reputable jewellers can be very good at skirting around the fact that their piece isn’t actually as sustainable or high quality as they’re making out, so it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for a ring.”
These are the steps fiancés-to-be should take if they’re to avoid getting ripped off when investing in an engagement ring:
- Do your research and set your priorities
There are thousands of jewellers across the UK, all vying for your custom. To avoid being drawn in by big claims and clever sales tactics, you should do plenty of research before going shopping so that you know what you’re looking for before you get there.
As you’re researching, decide on your priorities. What’s your maximum budget? Do you want to ensure the gem is ethically sourced? Do you want to make sure the band is made out of recycled metal? Would you like your ring to be bespoke?
Whatever your priorities might be, having them set out will help you decide where (and with whom) you’re going to focus your search.
- Shop around
Even if you have a fairly clear idea of where you’d like to buy your engagement ring, you should shop around to get a clearer idea of what’s out there, and at what cost.
Being well informed about various price points, and being able to compare them, will mean you’re less likely to fall into traps or be pushed into a quick sale that will leave you out of pocket.
Shopping around also means, when you finally make your selection, you can be completely confident you’ve made the best choice for you.
- Find out where the ring was made and by who
Much of the jewellery bought in the UK has been manufactured abroad. This is a cost saving approach for businesses here, but often comes at the expense of working conditions for those who create the jewellery, as well as the quality of the finished ring.
Your jeweller should be able to tell you exactly where your jewellery was made, and ideally the names of the craftsmen and women who created it. For example, Ingle & Rhode only use craftsmen and designers here in the UK so you know your ring hasn’t had to travel miles around the globe. You can spend a little more for better results.
Revisit your priorities and think about what you want. If your jeweller can’t tell you where your ring has been manufactured, evaluate the cost on this basis and make an informed choice about whether it’s worth the investment.
- Find out where the stone was produced
If your jeweller cannot trace a precious stone back to its exact source, you cannot be certain that it hasn’t been smuggled from a conflict zone.
Many jewellers will tell you that their diamonds are “Kimberley-certified” and are therefore conflict-free - but this is not enough. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was introduced in 2002 in an attempt to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds; however diamonds produced in conflict zones are still being smuggled to KPCS regions to be certified. The problem is therefore far from eradicated, and blood diamonds from places like eastern DRC and Zimbabwe are still on the market.
Diamonds that come from the Ekati and Diavik mines in Canada for example, are mined, cut and polished with due care for the environment and human rights. Many of the larger stones will even be engraved, so in order to confirm they’re conflict-free, ask to see the origin documents, which will contain a unique tracking number that matches the engraving on the diamond.
These are the kinds of guarantees you need to ask for if you’re going to be paying thousands for an engagement ring; as at this cost, a significant level of sustainability and provenance should be expected, and guaranteed.
- Find out whether the ring has been made to Fairtrade standards
Another key thing to ask your jeweller is whether they use certified Fairtrade metals. Workers in Fairtrade certified gold mines receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price for their gold, as well as a Premium to spend on improving their businesses or on community projects; such as education, clean water and healthcare.
If you’re looking for a platinum ring, there is no Fairtrade version available at the moment. However, you should ask your jeweller if they can offer recycled platinum. Recycled platinum is indistinguishable from new metal but greatly reduces demand on mines, thereby lessening the impact of unethical mining practices.