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We often receive emails from readers located outside the United States asking for help buying an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry. Many of these come from readers in the United Kingdom.
Recently, a reader contacted us asking for help buying an engagement ring featuring a round brilliant cut diamond and a Tiffany-style setting. Their ideal budget was £1,250, but they were willing to extend it by a few hundred pounds if necessary.
Here’s their original email:
“Hi – I am looking for a ring – total cost ideally under £1250 but I can stretch to £1750 for the right one (that’s total cost – taxes and all). I need to have it within 3 weeks from today.
I want a decent round diamond that is eye clean, it will be set in a white gold or platinum ring – either on its own or with some small diamonds running down the side of the band.
I do like the tiffany prong setting if possible.
It is my understanding that my best bets are James Allen or Blue Nile – in that order. Given my time constraints, and the tax implications of James Allen – I wonder if I would be better trying Blue Nile UK even though James Allen is your preferred service.
Let me know your thoughts. Great site by the way.”
This reader’s budget and expectations are realistic — in fact, we even have a guide to buying an engagement ring for $2,500 or less (approximately £1,990 at the current exchange rate).
With a budget in this range, it’s possible to find a modestly sized but attractive diamond, as well as an elegant solitaire setting. The key is to make intelligent compromises, such as choosing an eye-clean, well cut diamond in the 0.50 carat range, with a thin band to emphasize its size.
In the end, this reader selected this gorgeous 0.50 carat, I color, VS2 clarity round diamond from Blue Nile’s UK store and paired it with this micropavé setting. The entire ring cost less than £2,000 and looks absolutely stunning.
Below, we’ve discussed how you can get a similar deal if you live in the UK, as well as what you should know when shopping for a diamond engagement ring in this price range.
Before we get into the specifics of buying an engagement ring for around £1,750, let’s quickly address the general topic of shopping for a diamond ring in the UK.
If you’ve read our reviews of UK diamond jewelry stores such as 77 Diamonds, H. Samuel and Ernest Jones, you’re probably aware that we’re not big fans. Many of these stores charge high prices for diamonds that, while not always subpar, can vary drastically in quality.
The good news is that Blue Nile, one of our recommended vendors, has offices in Dublin and is able to sell diamonds directly to UK-based customers via its UK website. This site has diamond prices listed in pounds, inclusive of VAT.
This means that there’s no need to convert prices from US-based vendors, or worry about being charged taxes and duties in order to collect your order once it arrives in the UK. It also simplifies the return process in the event that you ever have an issue with an ordered product.
If you’re based in the UK and want to get the best-priced high-quality diamond ring, we highly recommend making use of Blue Nile’s UK store. Both the prices and the quality of diamonds on offer are far better than those found in UK jewelry chains or from Hatton Garden vendors.
This reader clearly knew about this ahead of time — a factor that helped them avoid some of the poor deals on offer from many UK diamond jewelry retailers.
Contrary to popular belief (and widespread advertising campaigns), you don’t need to spend a small fortune to buy an attractive engagement ring. In fact, it’s very possible to buy a gorgeous diamond and an equally impressive setting ring for £1,750 or less.
The key is to have realistic expectations regarding diamond carat weight and the setting types that are available to you. It’s also essential to shop carefully by putting as much of your budget as possible towards the things you will see in a diamond, not the features you won’t notice.
As we’ve explained in our guide to the diamond 4 Cs, this means picking a diamond with an Excellent or Ideal cut grade, then looking for eye-clean clarity and a color grade that makes the diamond appear colorless in relation to its setting.
The round brilliant cut — the shape of diamond this reader selected — offers several advantages that make it easy to purchase in this situation.
The first is that it has exceptional brilliance and fire, making it stand out and look stunning even at a relatively modest carat weight. The second is that the diamond grading systems employed by the GIA and AGS make it easy to identify a well-cut round diamond.
The third is that because of its brilliance, the round cut is excellent at concealing inclusions and color. This means that you can often purchase a diamond with relatively “poor” clarity and color (at least on paper) and still end up with an exceptionally beautiful engagement ring.
A fourth advantage is that the round brilliant cut is incredibly popular, meaning there are lots of examples to choose from. In fact, according to the GIA, experts estimate that the round brilliant cut “accounts for more than 70% of all diamonds sold today.”
For example, this 0.60 carat, J color, SI1 clarity round diamond is very well cut and will look bright, brilliant and virtually colorless on the wearer’s finger, even though its clarity and color grades are far from perfect.
By maintaining optimal cut quality and compromising on clarity and color — two things that won’t ever be noticed outside of a diamond grading lab — you can end up with a stunning diamond at a very reasonable price.
Paired with a solitaire setting, this diamond can create a timeless and elegant engagement ring that will never go out of style. For example, with this classic solitaire ring in 14K white gold, you have a beautiful engagement ring for just over £1,300 in total.
When choosing a solitaire setting for a diamond in the 0.50 carat range, there are a few things to consider.
The first is that the thinner the ring, the larger the center stone will look. A well cut 0.50 to 0.60 carat round diamond paired with a band in the 1.50 to 2.50mm range will appear larger than it really is, giving it a more dramatic appearance.
The second is that your choice of metal affects the optimal color range for the diamond. White metals, such as white gold or platinum, are more likely to show a diamond’s internal color than yellow or rose gold.
This means that if you’d like a yellow or rose gold setting (something that isn’t the case for this reader), you can often drop down into the K to L color range without the diamond showing any obvious color once it’s mounted in its setting. This is because the yellow or pinkish tone of the metal will “tint” the diamond, meaning even a totally colorless diamond will take on at least some of the color of the setting.
Since diamond color plays a large part in pricing, you can use this trick to free up more of your budget to put towards a diamond with a greater carat weight — a characteristic that actually will be visible.
In the end, this reader selected this stunning petite micropavé setting. It was slightly above their original budget, but its 1.9mm width and beautiful pavé set diamonds draw extra attention to the center stone and make it a great alternative to a more conventional solitaire ring.
If you’re located in the UK, we highly recommend buying from its UK website instead of from a local jeweler. Not only will you save money on your engagement ring, but you’ll also have access to a far larger selection of diamonds and settings.
When it comes to buying a beautiful diamond in the £1,250 to £1,750 range, the key is to focus on cut quality first, then select a diamond that’s eye-clean with a color grade that causes it to appear colorless in relation to its setting.
This approach allows you to maximize the amount of your budget that you’ll spend on visible features, all while reducing the amount you spend on things that neither you nor others will ever see.
Within this price range, this approach can often free up several hundred pounds compared to the “conventional” diamond buying approach, letting you select a diamond with a larger carat weight or a more eye-catching and elegant setting.
If you need help finding a diamond, comparing several diamonds or checking that a diamond has eye-clean clarity or acceptable color, feel free to contact us. We can help you with every step of the process to make sure you get the best possible engagement ring.
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