From the heart: an honest guide to buying a diamond engagement ring

Throw some of the rules out of the window when buying a diamond engagement ring, suggests Charlie Byrne, and focus on the qualities that matter to you.

Bespoke Hattie Rickards rose-cut diamond engagement ring in Fairtrade gold (£POA).

By Charlie Byrne in London

A few years ago I bought a vintage diamond engagement ring for myself after a long term boyfriend had just dumped me. You can imagine the shop assistant's surprise when I told her the back story. But the truth about buying diamonds, despite how prescribed the process is perceived to be, is that each purchase should be based on personal preferences, motives and priorities.

While many jewellery writers will immediately suggest that anyone buying a diamond ring should adhere to the strict rules of achieving the "best" cut, colour, carat and clarity possible within their budget, my advice would be to learn to identify these elements, and then choose which of them really matter to you, and your bride-to-be. Spend time looking at diamonds with different quality levels across these categories and you will soon realise which of them are the most important, and which of them you should best accommodate within your budget.

Personally, I prefer the look of warmer-toned diamond so there was little point in me paying for a stone that had pure white brilliance. Similarly, as I wasn't buying the ring for investment purposes, minute inclusions imperceptible to the naked eye (which would affect its clarity rating) also weren't a concern for me.

I find it ironic that the romance of a diamond engagement ring is often overlooked during the buying process, with sterile scientific rules dictating what should ultimately be an emotionally charged purchase. You didn't pick your bride based on her vital statistics - hopefully it was her overall character and an intense attraction that drew you to her - and this should surely be the same for the jewellery which symbolises that love.

Where cut and carat weight are concerned, the contrasts between stones will be much more obvious to an untrained eye. There are constantly fluctuating trends for particular cuts of diamond, often depending on fashion and celebrity, so it's best to glean whether your bride has a particular shape in mind, and remember that certain cuts will look visibly larger than others that carry the same carat weight. I chose a cushion-cut diamond that stands tall and proud and it looks considerably smaller than my mother's brilliant-cut diamond, which is broad and flat and holds the same carat. You live and learn.

For me, the key to buying a diamond engagement ring is learning. Educate yourself as best as possible, teach your eye to identify the positive qualities of each stone, and then unless you're purely concerned with re-sale value, throw some of the rules out of the window. This is love, after all.

Editor's Pick

The Jewellery Editor is for sale

Help us make the future bright

Since founding The Jewellery Editor in 2010, we have grown our digital magazine to be the number one global source of information and inspiration for fine jewellery and luxury watches.

3,500 articles, 150 videos with over 5 million views and a reach of over 2 million per month on social media later, we have offered unparalleled and highly respected coverage of our sector. However, despite our editorial success, we are financially struggling as an independent publisher.

Entirely funded, owned and run by Christine and Maria in London, we are now looking to sell The Jewellery Editor so that it can continue to grow. As e-commerce becomes a priority in our industry, we believe there is huge potential for engaging editorial content and are seeking a buyer who shares our values and passion so that under their guidance we can give a bright future to the platform and help us grow our business to the next stage.

If you are interested to discuss the above, please contact [email protected]

Alternatively, if you are willing to help, you can donate so that in the meantime, we can continue to publish more interesting content.

Terms and conditions




We use our own and third party cookies to improve your experience and our services. If you continue, we consider that you accept their use. You can get more information on your website at cookies policy.