What to look out for when buying an engagement ring

An increasing number of couples are choosing to buy an engagement ring at auction rather than on the high street.

Yellow gold solitaire ring

This 18ct yellow gold solitaire ring has a round brilliant-cut diamond weighing approximately 1.0 carat with an assessed clarity P1. With an accompanying IGI certificate, it sold for £850 at Wessex Auction Rooms in June 2022.

In the auction room prices are typically lower and the choice can be far greater.

As a general rule, free from high street mark-ups and the depreciation that goes with buying new, ‘second-hand’ jewellery sold on the secondary market is priced around one third to a half of retail prices.

However, many brides-to-be are also drawn to antique and vintage pieces which offer a sense of history, quality and the individuality that allow the wearer to stand out from the crowd.

Many old and antique cuts of jewels, for example, are no longer readily available. 

An older ring can be a unique one.

Aquamarine and diamond set cluster ring

A 9ct yellow gold aquamarine and diamond set cluster ring, sold for £200 at Chalkwell Auctions in July 2022.

What to look for

The classic engagement ring is the diamond solitaire. As with all gemstones, prices for diamonds vary mainly according to four things – its carat weight, its colour, its clarity and the cut – these are known as the four ‘Cs’ by gemmologists.

It is a matter of personal preference and managing the budget. For some people size of diamond is the most important criterion, in which case they may accept some ‘flaws’ (often called ‘inclusions’) in order to obtain the larger stone within their given budget. Others may prefer a higher-grade stone and accordingly settle for a smaller size. 

Gold diamond solitaire ring

This 18ct gold diamond solitaire ring has a diamond weighing approximately 0.70cts. It sold for £900 at Bishop & Miller in June 2022.

The best quality gemstones offered at auction have often, prior to sale, been submitted to a professional independent laboratory testing (a service provided by a number of different grading bodies).

It helps boost confidence in their rarity, beauty and authenticity.

If diamonds are not your thing then look for rings with hard-wearing coloured gemstones – such as rubies and sapphires. Other less durable stones such as emerald or opal are good for special occasions but less so for everyday wear.

Finally, don’t forget to make sure the finger-size of the ring is correct for the person who will wear it.

Diamond engagement ring

A diamond solitaire ring with a brilliant cut stone set in an 18 carat white gold mount with five brilliant cut diamonds set into each shoulder. The carat weight of the main stone was approximately 1.00 carat. The ring sold for £900 at Gildings in May 2022.

What to do next

Decide how much you’d like to spend and use the search facility on thesaleroom.com to find engagement rings coming up for sale. You can filter your search by, among other things, price and by location of the auction house to narrow down your selection.

To research recent prices at auction so you can see how much Tiffany items have sold for before you can also try out the Price Guide.

If you are new to bidding check out our guides to buying at auction – it’s easy once you know how.

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