Sapphires, glorious sapphires – the perfect Engagement stone

I think that we have an obsession with diamonds. I love diamonds… who’s kidding who…but I also know that diamonds aren’t always in my price range for the size that I want. Enter coloured gemstones. Sapphires are an amazing alternative for engagement or wedding rings, and (usually) don’t cost nearly as much for lovely, big coloured stones.

We can thank Kate Middleton for the latest spark in sapphire fever. Her multi-carat stunner is a great example of a classic sapphire engagement ring design, surrounded by a diamond halo on a platinum band. What most people don’t know is that sapphires come in a huge rainbow of colours, from clear white to the deepest purple.

Colour range of sapphires

In terms of colour, there are “desired” colours — like cornflower blue for Ceylon sapphires — that are the most highly valued and priced, but other, less popular colours are forgotten. Gorgeous greens, soft yellows and hot pinks fall by the wayside in a lot of commercial jewellery in favour of the ever popular blue sapphire. My rule of thumb for coloured gems is that if you like the colour and the shape, don’t worry about whether it is “rare” or not. Pink sapphires grew in popularity when someone realized that those off-colour, pinkish rubies were actually kind of lovely. (Sapphires & Rubies share basically the same chemical make up. Rubies are red, and sapphires are all other colours)

The thing that makes sapphires great for day to day rings, like engagement rings, is that they are the closest gemstone in hardness to diamond. They will take all of the knocks, scratches and scrapes that any hardworking ring will, and stay looking pretty good over time. Also, because they come in so many great colours, you can choose the perfect colour for you.

So there you have it: a fabulous alternative to diamond for your engagement ring or wedding ring. Happy Monday!

White Gold Wave Ring with pink sapphires


Engagement ring budgets

A post today about something that has been on my mind: Engagement ring budgets…a question that is asked of me constantly: What should I spend? Can I afford it? How many months’ salary???

White gold & Diamond engagement ringThe emotional stress of purchasing an engagement ring is enough to cope with, let alone the financial stress of purchasing something so valuable. Someone, somewhere came up with the concept that you should spend three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Three months’ salary….seriously??? I know that you should have three months’ salary saved up for eventualities like the loss of a job, illness, etc, but it seems a little silly to put so arbitrary a number on the purchase of what is essentially a bauble. An emotionally charged and prized bauble, but a bauble all the same.

So, what should you spend if you are looking to get engaged? My answer is simple: Whatever you are comfortable with. I always tell my clients that you shouldn’t be going into debt to buy an engagement ring. You should be as happy to give the ring, as your partner is to receive it, and to me, that means not looking down the barrel of three months’ of eating beans & Kraft Dinner. This being said, set a budget and stick to it. Having a clear idea of what you can and want to spend will allow you to enjoy the process.

It’s easy for me to say, from the lofty position of jeweller, but the good news is that there are a few options that you can look at if you don’t have the cash to splash out on an enormous diamond:

  • Consider a diamond alternative for your ring. Sapphires come in a huge range of colours, wear beautifully and are considerably less expensive than diamond per carat, allowing your dollar to stretch further.
  • Use a number of small gemstones or diamonds to create the illusion of a larger ring, if you want to go for size. My ring by the fabulous Brenda Radford is a beautiful creation of seven round brilliant diamonds that pack a huge punch…and cost considerably less than one large diamond.Custom made ring in white gold with seven diamonds
  • Propose with a band, and buy the engagement ring later. Again, using smaller diamonds now will be less expensive, and will allow you to discuss what you both want for an engagement ring. I recently made a beautiful pave set diamond band that my client used to propose with, having no idea what his partner wanted. We’ll make an engagement ring for their wedding.
  • Be creative! Many jewellers (I won’t say all, but  many of us are!) are fantastic at helping you work to your budget. A jewellery maker and designer can help you create something really beautiful for the money that you want to spend. Custom Jewellery is not more expensive than something off the shelf. In many cases, working with an independent jeweller will allow you to work to a budget you are comfortable with, create something truly unique and can help make the process easy and enjoyable.
  • Reuse old diamonds. Sometimes Mum or Grandma has a ring that can be reset. Diamonds can be set and reset, so if you have an inherited ring that is not being worn, consider reusing those diamonds in a new ring.
  • Ask your jeweller if they have a lay-by option.
I’ll write more about these options later, but if you have any questions, let me know! But don’t stress…You can have a beautiful engagement ring for any budget, I promise.