We’re bombarded with bad news daily. The rand is weakening, the fuel price is sky-rocketing, the economy is shrinking and now, we’re on the brink of a recession. As a result, in 2018 your average South African has less disposable income than before, something that can certainly pose a serious challenge when you’re shopping for an engagement ring.
As we all know, love always wins, so don’t let the current economic climate put you off a spring engagement.
Here are 7 ways to get the best engagement ring you can, without breaking the bank:
Don’t buy a round diamond engagement ring
Most retail jewellery stores will stock round diamond engagement rings. Round brilliant diamonds are the most popular cut and are thus in high demand. But, did you know that round diamonds are the most expensive cut? In the diamond trade, round diamonds have their own price list, separate to what we call the fancy cuts.
As a result, if you compare the price for a 0.50ct round diamond of H colour and SI1 clarity, the round diamond will be approximately $500 more than the identical diamond in a fancy cut – for example a princess cut, oval cut or cushion cut diamond. At the current South African exchange rate, that’s a R7,000 price difference, a significant saving.
Stay away from “prime” diamond sizes
Diamonds are priced not only according to colour and clarity, but also according to size. The larger a diamond, the more expensive it will be and the cost increase going from one size category to the next is exponential. Retail jewellery stores will traditionally focus on the prime diamond sizes, for example 0.50cts or 1.00cts. Rather look for diamonds just below these sizes; they will be markedly cheaper than the prime sizes, for a fractional size difference that isn’t discernable to the naked eye.
A perfectly cut 1.00ct diamond will have a diameter of approximately 6.5mm. A perfectly cut 0.90ct diamond will have a diameter of approximately 6.3mm. This fractional size difference is virtually indistinguishable once your diamond is in a ring, but you’ll be saving yourself tens of thousands of rands.
Look at Salt & Pepper Diamonds
There is a growing trend in the engagement ring market towards a very different style of diamonds, almost certainly thanks to social media. The most noteworthy of these trends is Salt & Pepper diamonds, whose popularity is growing daily. Salt & Pepper diamonds are natural diamonds with a significant number of visible black inclusions. Technically, they’re graded at the lowest end of the clarity scale, as I2 or I3 diamonds (where “I” stands for “Included”) and were previously considered undesirable diamonds because of the large number of inclusions.
As a result of their low clarity grading, they are very inexpensive diamonds. Consequently, you can get a much larger size Salt & Pepper diamond than you could a traditional “white” diamond, for the same budget. Due to the natural imperfections, each Salt & Pepper diamond is truly unique, with no two diamonds ever having the same visual appearance.
Consider a Black Diamond
Like Salt & Pepper diamonds, black diamonds occur naturally and are the cheapest coloured diamonds available today. A result of large quantities of minute crystals of graphite, pyrite and hematite included in the diamond crystal structure, black diamonds are completely opaque. Consequently, a black diamond does not have the sparkle or fire associated with colourless diamonds.
When cut and polished correctly, a black diamond will often have an almost metallic lustre, unlike any other form of diamond. Best set in combination with white diamonds to bring some life to the engagement ring, black diamonds are even more cost-effective than Salt & Pepper diamonds. Due to the large number of inclusions, black diamonds are very hard to cut and polish and whilst round cuts are easily available, fancy cut black diamonds are often harder to source.
Make Her Day with Morganite
Thanks to extensive advertising by traditional retail jewellery stores in South Africa, morganite is currently the most popular non-diamond alternative for engagement rings. Considered a semi-precious stone, morganite occurs naturally in a range of beautiful pastel shades of pink, peach and salmon colours. Pink is the least common colour, so expect to pay a slight premium on pink morganite when it is available. The most popular setting for morganite engagement rings is rose gold, where the beautiful warm hues of the gold complement the pastel colours of the morganite.
A 3ct morganite will cost you approximately R7,000 (depending on the exchange rate), making morganite engagement rings probably the best way to get the most bang for your buck. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the hardness of morganite; with a hardness of 7.5-8 (out of 10) it’s a fairly durable gemstone but it can chip and scratch, so do be careful with it.
Add some colour with rubies or sapphires
After diamonds, rubies and sapphires are the hardest gemstones available and are consequently perfect for engagement rings. Rubies and sapphires are the same mineral (corundum) and whilst rubies are always red, sapphires come in all colours of the rainbow, except for red. Blue is the colour that most people associate with sapphires, but orange, pink, yellow, green and purple sapphires will all add a unique, and cost-effective, twist to your planned engagement ring design.
Prince William famously proposed to Catherine Middleton with his mother Princess Diana’s sapphire enagement ring and earlier this year, Princess Eugenie got engaged with a unique Padparadscha sapphire ring.
Don’t buy retail – buy wholesale
Perhaps the most obvious suggestion, and the perfect one to wrap up our list is, of course, to stay away from retail stores. When purchasing an engagement ring from a retail store, you’re not just paying for the diamonds, gold and labour associated with the ring, you’re paying for multiple other retail expenses too. Shopping mall rent, jewellery insurance, display cabinets, staff salaries, advertising, stock loss and many other miscellaneous costs will be added into the ticket price of any jewellery you buy from a retail jewellery store.
Similarly, consider what proportion of the price tag is associated with a big-name brand. Are you paying for the prestige associated with the brand, and how important is that to you? Many shoppers are happy to forfeit the brand name, knowing that they can get better quality gemstones and engagement rings for a much lower price.
At Katannuta Diamonds, our specialty is creating incredible bespoke items of jewellery for prices significantly less than retail prices. We specifically don’t have a retail store, nor do we have big fancy offices that you’ll end up paying for. Instead, we’ve streamlined our operations to keep costs down, passing the savings on to you, the customer.
It’s a business-model that has worked for us for 11 years now and, with a decade’s worth of happy clients, we’re confident that we can offer you the best service, quality and workmanship at some of the most competitive prices in South Africa.
We’re here to help you get the best possible engagement ring for the best possible price – without sacrificing quality, workmanship, service levels or attention to detail. We hope that the 7 suggestions above will help you not only create an engagement ring as unique as the one you love, but will also help you save some money too.
Contact us today to set your own personal engagement ring consultation with our in-house expert.