While it’s not necessarily the first (or most romantic) thought when starting the search for your engagement ring, it's worthwhile to understand how to select a ring that will maintain as much of its value over time as possible. It is true that jewelry does lose some of its value even upon exiting the store, especially if it’s a custom design that was made exactly to the specifications you desired.
That said, there are various strategies you can apply when purchasing a ring, which will allow you to choose a piece of jewelry that holds some of its financial value for generations. It will of course maintain its sentimental value in a strong and healthy marriage, and when passed down to children and grandchildren.
1. Jeweler Selection
When searching for a jeweler, it’s best to do a fair amount of research, including visiting their website and in-person store (if that’s an option), reading testimonials and Yelp reviews, and talking to people who've had good experiences shopping for important pieces of jewelry. Choosing a jeweler with a good reputation and someone who has been in business for many years should provide you with a comfort level for this important purchase. Make sure the jeweler provides you with an appraisal upon completion of your ring, which will list the value for insurance purposes.
2. Metal Selection
When choosing your metal, there are many things to think about. If you prefer a white metal, the ideal choice is platinum. Platinum is not only a more durable metal, but is also heavier–the heavier the weight of the ring, the more value you have in metal. Platinum does not reduce weight when it is polished (whereas gold does), so the ring will maintain its heft over time.
If you prefer a yellow metal, you have the option of 14 karat or 18 karat. While 18 karat is more expensive, it is also a softer metal and therefore will be more susceptible over time to dents, scratches, or breaking, depending upon how hard you are on your ring.
14 karat gold is a great option for everyday wear and is more durable, which could allow it to last longer, and therefore hold its value better than its 18 karat counterpart.
Certification: When selecting your center stone, the options are almost endless. That’s why it’s important to do your research ahead of time and have an idea of what you like and what type of stone will maintain value.
Regardless of the center stone you choose, it’s important to select a stone that is certified, ideally from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which is the most reputable grading institute for diamonds in the jewelry industry.
This certificate will outline all of the details of your diamond, including any inclusions, all percentages and dimensions, and the color and clarity grading, all of which together essentially determine the value of the diamond. This also assures that your stone is not graded by any other jeweler to be less valuable than it is.
Shape: When you start searching for the perfect stone, first you should think about the shape. Traditional shaped stones (round, oval, princess) never truly go out of style. They will likely be as popular in 30 years as they are today.
Alternative shaped stones (marquise, pear, cushion) tend to go in and out of style. Marquise, for example, was very popular in the 70s and then went out of style for quite some time. It’s slowly finding its way back into many jewelry designs, but during the lull, a ring with a marquise stone would not have fetched as high of a price tag as a ring with a round stone.
Four C’s: When it comes to diamond quality, there are four simple things to remember. Commonly referred to as the “Four Cs,” cut, color, clarity, and carat weight are the bread and butter of engagement ring language.
- Cut: Cut refers to the angles and proportions of a stone, and is considered to be the most important aspect when selecting a diamond. Determined by a cutter, or expert who cuts diamonds, a well-cut diamond will reflect light and project that light through the top of the stone without losing any of it. The cut of a diamond determines how much the stone sparkles.
- Color: Diamonds come in a variety of colors. Ranked on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (yellow), the stones that are considered to have the best color grade are D, E and F. However, even slightly lower grade diamonds will appear colorless to the untrained eye, especially depending upon what color metal they are set into. G to J are nearly colorless and K to M are a slight yellow. N to Z are barely-there yellow.
- Clarity: The clearer a diamond is, the fewer imperfections it has. Inclusions and clarity are often discussed together. “Inclusions” are other minerals that grew in the diamond, and are seen as small imperfections. Typically, fewer inclusions are best. Extraordinarily slight imperfections are classified as VVS1 and VVS2. These inclusions are almost impossible to see, even when under ten-fold magnification. VS1 and VS2 are the next grade down and are also nearly impossible to see under magnification. Next are SI1 and SI2, or slight inclusions.
- Carat Weight: Carat refers to the weight of a diamond, with 1.00 carat being the typical “ideal” side for an engagement ring for many consumers. Although carat weight is important because it refers to size, a talented jeweler can make a smaller diamond appear large with proper mounting and shaping.
Purchasing a diamond with a nice balance of all of these elements increases the likelihood that your diamond will maintain its value.
One key point: It is better to have a smaller but higher quality diamond, than to select a very large diamond with low quality, as it not only is less expensive, but would be more difficult to re-sell to someone else should the need arise. The same goes for your side stones; should you choose to incorporate any, make sure they are of decent color, clarity, and cut.
If you take into consideration these few aspects when shopping for an engagement ring, you’ll be well prepared to purchase an engagement ring that won’t lose value.