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Finding the perfect fit

Certified London gemologist & jeweller, Emma Clarkson Webb, specialises in sourcing diamonds and semi-precious gemstones as well as the design of engagement rings.

Here, Emma shares a few tips to take into consideration when looking for the perfect ring, whether you’re doing the hinting or proposal.

What are the most popular engagement ring trends?

Colour! My clients love colour and I consistently get a lot of requests for engagement rings with green stones, be it emeralds, tsavorites or tourmalines. Black diamonds are also having a serious moment. I recently designed the most stunning engagement ring with a single statement Black Diamond set in matte Yellow Gold - it’s really exciting to see my clients moving away from very traditional styles and opting for something more unusual.

The Art Deco trend continues to grow in popularity: so many of my clients are opting for contemporary rings incorporating Art Deco design motifs such as clean bold lines and geometric patterns. I am also seeing a real demand from clients who want to reimagine an existing ring, repurpose a particular stone into a new ring or upcycle a number of pieces of jewellery into a new engagement ring. There seems to be an increasing awareness amongst my clients of the environmental and ethical impact of having an engagement ring made ‘new’ and I want to encourage my clients to upcycle their unworn, unloved jewellery into something that can be worn every day and loved forever. I predict that this may well become one of fine jewellery’s biggest trends and I think that we will see more and more couples opting to use existing stones rather than new ones over the next few years.

What are the four c's?

Carat weight, colour, cut, and clarity are all very important characteristics to a diamond that affect price and beauty. The 4 Cs are really important to consider when buying a diamond ring as it’s essential to understand why a certain stone might differ in value to another stone. It’s important to think about what your budget will allow – if you want a larger diamond for example you may need to compromise on clarity – as the higher the clarity the more expensive the stone will be. The clarity grade has the biggest impact on price, but the least impact on physical beauty. It’s important that the stone is clean to the naked eye meaning that it will appear flawless on your hand. You don’t have to opt for a D Flawless to achieve this: a diamond with an F or G colour and SI1 or SI2 clarity will look equally beautiful, and be infinitely less expensive!

Picture: Design by Emma Clarkson Webb

What are the most popular cuts and stones?

Three stone rings have never been more in fashion thanks to Meghan Markle and the demand for cushion cut designs flanked by two round cuts is showing no sign of slowing down - this style is said to represent the past, the present and the future. In terms of cuts of diamonds, I find that brilliant, cushion and emerald cuts are increasingly popular and for good reason: they are timeless and beautiful. The vintage trend is everywhere and I’m seeing a growing number of requests for old-fashioned settings and stones – old mine and rose-cut diamonds in particular seem to be having a serious revival. I predict that we will see more of the oval cut in the next year – thanks to the likes of Hailey Bieber. I love single stone rings: they are so elegant in their simplicity and are a great way to let your stone take centre stage.

How much should an average engagement ring cost?

There are so many clichés around spending three many months’ salary, but these are just gimmicks created by the big brands. I tell my clients they should spend enough that they feel proud of what they’re buying but don’t spend too much that they can’t go on a fabulous honeymoon! Remember that size doesn’t always matter and having a D Flawless diamond ring isn’t the be all and end all: it’s the design and sentiment that counts.

What should I consider before approaching a jewellery brand?

Time, budget and design. What sort of a proposal timeline are you working towards? We allow four to size weeks for crafting dependent on design so it’s worth considering if this will fit with your proposal plans. Budget is also crucial – most designers will have a starting price for their designs which should give you a better feel for whether your budget will fit with theirs. Finally, design is essential: have a think about whether the brand has a specific style that fits with yours and your partner’s personal taste.

Picture: Design by Emma Clarkson Webb

Can you design and buy an engagement ring online?

Absolutely, we work with clients from all over the world who we have never met in real life but are able to communicate with via videos, images and video calls. Due to the current pandemic people don’t necessarily want to go to a physical store as the mask and hand-sanitizer aspect can really take the romance out of the process of buying an engagement ring! We can do everything virtually – from the initial phone conversation to the stone selection process to the design process meaning that you no longer need to leave the house to find your dream engagement ring.

How do I find out my partner’s ring size?

In an ideal world, the client will bring us a ring his or her future fiancé wears to indicate finger size. But it’s surprisingly easy to make an educated guess on finger size once you ask a few questions and see some photos. On the rare occasions we get the size wrong, a resize after the proposal is very quick and easy. If you’re trying to work out a ring size at home, we recommend using a pen and paper to trace the inside of an existing ring onto a piece of paper which you can then give to your jeweller.

What should I consider when designing a ring for my partner?

Have a think about the kind of jewellery your wife or husband to-be normally wears: do they prefer a certain colour gold? Do they have a minimal style or do they take a more-is-more approach to the way they wear their jewellery? Do they gravitate towards vintage, or is their aesthetic more contemporary? It’s also worth having a look at the way they dress: is there a lot of colour in their wardrobe or are they more minimalist? An engagement ring is something that you will wear (hopefully!) for the rest of your life and it really is a reflection of your personal style, so it needs to work on quite a few levels.

Picture: Design by Minka Jewels

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