Making a commitment to propose is huge! You’ve decided that your partner is the one that you want to spend the rest of your life with and shockingly that level of commitment may seem the easiest decision of all. Then you’ve got to think about the practicalities of proposing; would they want an intimate, private proposal? A fancy romantic dinner out in public? Or a celebration with friends and family? Once you’ve got that decision down you’ve got to consider the big one…. The engagement ring itself!
There are so many different designs and a wealth of information out there to consider, so understandably it can become a tad overwhelming. Old rumours such as ‘an engagement ring should be worth at least 2 months of your salary’ don’t help either. You’re just about to embark upon one of the most, if not THE most expensive event of your life and you’re expected to spend that much straight away? It’s no wonder more and more couples are waiting and getting married older these days. Thankfully though, this phrase coined by the jewellery industry to drum up prices is nowadays considered old hat. There are so many bargains out there waiting for you and a lot of them are (not surprisingly) in the auction rooms.
The second unfounded rumour that you may come across is; ‘that buying a second-hand ring is bad luck.’ But why is it? Firstly, you must ask yourself; do you believe in the concept of inanimate objects influencing ‘luck.’ If the answer if a yes, or even a maybe, then consider why it would be bad luck and not good. Just because it’s in the auction house, doesn’t necessarily mean it belonged to a failed marriage or a rejected proposal. It may have belonged to a happy couple who are selling to upgrade, a jeweller liquidating their assets, or perhaps it was inherited, and the new owner simply doesn’t wear it enough. Ultimately there are multiple reasons once-loved jewellery makes its way into the auctions and very rarely is it plagued by a malicious or negative back story, so the concept that its automatically bad luck is unfathomable.
So here we have it; 5 reasons why you should forego the ‘bad luck’ superstition in your search for the dream ring…
5 reasons to forego superstition
- Reduce your budget
It shouldn’t be new news that high street shops but a huge mark up on almost everything. After all, they do have to pay for expensive building rental and almost constant staffing, whilst still achieving a respectable profit. This doesn’t mean you have to take the hit for this though. Auction houses in general, have much lower operational costs and achieve their profits majoritively through sellers’ fees.
Mark up aside, it’s also important to remember that jewellery is a commodity with a high devaluation rate and therefore a low resale value too. Ultimately, if you buy second hand, you can make a great saving; giving you a head start on wedding day costs.
Take this piece for example;
This stunning piece above, is an 18ct white gold band, 1ct emerald-cut diamond stone ring, with a current estimated price of £1,800 – £2,000. A similar ring such as the one to the left, at 18ct white gold, 1ct emerald-cut diamond, can be found at jeweller Samara James. Where it would cost you between £5,800 – £13,400 depending on the colour and clarity you selected.
- Get more for the same budget
Due to the devaluation of jewellery, you can get much better value for money in the auctions too. You may have originally been looking for a 1-carat diamond, but then you’ll find you can get a more impressive 1.5-carat for the same budget. If you’re not necessarily looking to reduce your budget, then why not get more for your money?
- Beautiful Designs
Now, we may be biased on this one, but at UKauctioneers, we believe you simply can’t beat the elegance of a vintage design. Whilst it’s certainly true that fashions and tastes change, some designs are simply classic and timeless, such as this beautiful emerald cut diamond ring in platinum:
Or this two-stone diamond ring with baguette diamond shoulders from the 1930’s:
Despite increasing in popularity after a trend in celebrity purchases, the traditional diamond stone is still more common in stores than a coloured central stone. So, if you’re after a sapphire like Kate Middleton, a ruby, like Victoria Beckham, or an emerald, like Halle Berry; you may find more choice in the second-hand market than in the high street.
How about this for a show-stopping bargain? An 18ct white gold emerald and diamond cluster ring, with an estimated price of £2,000 – £2,500 in the upcoming British Bespoke sale.
- Diamonds last a lifetime
Just because you’re buying second-hand at an auction, doesn’t mean you’re getting second-hand quality; especially when it comes to precious stones like diamonds. Diamonds are the hardest known naturally occurring material and as such, are notoriously hard to damage. This means there is no way that anyone would even know that you had bought in the auction; unless of course, you can’t help telling them about your bargain!
- Reduce the need for more mining
Unfortunately, mining for precious metals and stones is continually putting a strain on local populations and the surrounding environment. Mining has the potential to have severe adverse effects on the environment including; loss of biodiversity, erosion, contamination of surface water, groundwater, and soil. The cultural impact can be huge too. Local communities can feel forced from their homes and their land. They often have little to no say about a planned mine and can in some instances be given no advance warning either.
Of course, deciding to buy second-hand, isn’t going to reduce the demand overnight. This doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t a small step in the right direction at least. As previously mentioned, diamonds last a lifetime, so recycling jewellery in either its current form or at least in part is easily done.
Just think about this; perhaps you can find a ring with a gorgeous stone in an auction for a great estimate price, but you’re not keen on the surround. What’s stopping you from getting a bargain on the piece and then re-fitting it to a personalised custom surround? Your partner will love the fact that it’s unique and in part designed by you. If the vintage look isn’t their cup of tea, maybe this is the way forward for you.
Things to consider when buying a ring
If you happen to know your partners’ ring size then great! But if not, don’t worry not many people do. Thankfully rings can easily be re-sized by most jewellers for a small fee; sometimes as low as just £20.
The 5 C’s
- Cut – Cut refers to both the shape of a ring and the precision used. The way a stone is cut can affect a stones reflectiveness, so if you’re looking for a ring with extra sparkle make sure you do your research.
- Colour – Diamonds range from D (colourless) to Z (a strong yellow colour). D-F are considered the highest grades (colourless), followed by G-J (near colourless), K-M (faint yellow), N-R (very light yellow) and then S-Z (light yellow.)
- Clarity – Clarity refers to the visual appearance of a diamond in regards to its inclusions, and surface defects. *Tip for the auction rooms: Take a magnifying glass. Stones with a bad clarity rating are noticeable when magnified. A small dot or pathway on the surface is nothing to be concerned about, but excessive marks indicate a lesser quality stone.
- Carat – Carat is the measurement of the size, calculated via weight. Generally speaking, the higher the carat, the more expensive. A good thing to remember though is that a smaller carat can sometimes look bigger than a higher carat stone, depending on its dimensions.
- Certificates – You will always pay more for a diamond that comes with a certificate. They prove that the diamonds have been professionally graded and you know upfront what Colour, Cut, Carat and Clarity that you’re receiving. Not all certificates are equal though. Some certificates are not provided by independent 3rd parties meaning that their accuracy is questionable and they may be graded higher to increase the probability of a sale. A certificate from a highly reputable laboratory can mean you pay more, however, this price difference is reflective in the accuracy of their grading. GIA & AGS certificates are highly regarded as the best independent ones, followed by IGI, EGL, GSI and HRD. Unfortunately, not all auction pieces don’t come with certificates. Although this can be frustrating for an amateur who’s keen to know exactly what they’re getting. It doesn’t mean you should let that perfect lot go. After all, you can always get the diamond re-certified yourself at a later date.
Most people have heard about the 4C’s, but it’s also important to consider Luminescence too. If you come across a stone with a good certificate (always more valuable,) then look for whether or not it contains a strong luminescence. A high rating of luminescence can indicate that a stone will dull easily and need cleaning more often to keep its shine.
*Tip for the auction rooms: Take a UV penlight with you. Shining the light at the stone, you can spot luminescence by an obvious purple flair back.
Hallmarking is the “stamp” if you will, marked on precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum and more recently palladium. Hallmarks certify the material and list the weight/purity. Hallmarking first started in the UK 700 years ago and is today mandatory for all of the above metals. We, therefore, recommend that you look into the different hallmarks before rushing into a purchase. You don’t want to be mis-sold a ring that turns the finger green!
Be aware that not all jewellery is hallmarked; particularly if it is an old platinum item, or originated abroad. Unfortunately, not all countries practice the same hallmarking laws and some simply don’t bother at all.
*Tip for the auction rooms: Thankfully it is illegal to sell or even describe an item without a hallmark as a precious metal, so make sure you read the lot descriptions carefully.
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is
Of course, it almost goes without saying, if you see a ring that looks like it should be worth tens of thousands, but is listed with an estimate of a few hundred…. be wary! Take a look around a few sales before you jump in, you’ll soon get a feel for a genuine bargain.