Copyright: rozaliya / 123RF Stock Photo
Why is a diamond engagement ring like an MBA? Because no matter how much it may cost you, you’re always better off getting one than going without. Because let’s face it – while no one technically needs a diamond ring to mark their engagement, your relationship will look pretty shabby if you make some lousy excuse about why you’re not forking out cash to “put a ring on it”, as Queen Bey sang. (See also Beyonce's involvement in helping her choreographer and dance captain get together during her Formation world tour.)
But my diamond is supposed to cost me… two months’ salary? Three months? Ugh, so expensive.
Screw “tradition”! This concept of buying a diamond ring that costs a two or three months’ salary is nothing more than a marketing gimmick – one that only began back in the 1980s, mind you. It’s little more than a way to show off just how much the man is earning, but here’s the catch – a cheap diamond can look expensive, and an expensive diamond can look cheap!
Huh? How does that work? Aren’t diamonds just priced according to their size?
Yes, that’s correct. The term for diamond weight is carat, and a carat is about 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. Now, most people think that when it comes to diamonds, the bigger the better. However, the ideal size actually depends on a couple of factors. Firstly, the size of her finger – if you’re lucky, her finger is so slender that a 0.5 carat diamond looks larger on her. Secondly, the design of the ring – if you have a really ornate ring design, a smaller diamond could get lost in the detail.
However, there is a pretty obvious price difference between carat weights. This is because diamond prices dip significantly once crossing “flat” carat values, such as 0.40, 0.50 and 0.70. For example, a 0.69 carat diamond would cost significantly less compared to a 0.70 carat diamond, even though it’s just a 0.01 carat difference. All other things being equal, you could be looking at savings of over $1,000 between a 0.6+ carat diamond and a 0.70 carat diamond.
Fortunately for you, the truth is there’s often no significant visual difference between similar carat sizes. Just by looking at the ring, she probably won’t be able to tell if the diamond is 0.6+ carat or 0.70 carat. So you’re saving money without looking cheap in the process. Just don’t marry a jeweller.
So if I just get a big diamond, I’m all set, right?
Actually, no. There’s a lot more to choosing the right diamond than just going by carat size. You see, when it comes to choosing a diamond, it’s not enough to just buy it off an online catalogue based on their GIA certificate.
Online catalogues often only give you details about the 4Cs of a diamond –cut, carat, colour and clarity. Of these four categories, cut is arguably the most important, followed by carat. Colour and clarity do affect the value of a diamond, but compromising on both these factors is not going to result in a visually obvious difference. (However, if you have the most perfectly graded diamond but it is cut poorly, then you’ve got the equivalent of a gold toilet bowl – worth a lot but still pretty shitty.)
This is because the cut of a diamond determines just how brilliant it is – that is, how well it reflects light. And you just can’t determine that from an online catalogue alone.
But aiyah… all diamonds look the same, don’t they?
This is where research comes into play. As Singaporeans, we want value for money and that means learning as much as we can about a product before we buy it. One local jeweller that has gone the extra mile and made the effort to educate their customers about the diamond they’re going to buy is JannPaul.
According to JannPaul, most diamonds are certified by GIA, the Gemological Institute of America. The highest cut grade that a diamond can get from GIA is Excellent. All other things being equal, two diamonds graded as Excellent should cost the same. But what most don’t realise is that an “Excellent” diamond is actually a pretty broad definition. It’s like a restaurant getting a Michelin star – it definitely means it’s good, but it may not be as good as you thought it would be.
JannPaul therefore uses what is known as the Holloway Cut Adviser, or HCA. The HCA is a way to further eliminate “Excellent” diamonds that don’t make the cut – pun totally intended. By running the dimensions of a diamond through a series of calculations, HCA can narrow down the quality of a diamond. The lower a HCA score, the more brilliant the diamond should be. Just to give you an idea, an “Excellent” diamond, according to GIA, would result in a HCA score of anything from 0.4 to 6.0! At JannPaul, they only deal with diamonds that have a HCA score of 1.4 or below. The best part? A lower HCA score often doesn’t affect the price at all, which means that at JannPaul you can be assured that you won’t get a poorly cut diamond.
But I read that HCA is only good for weeding out diamonds but not good at choosing them
That’s exactly right. All HCA can do is filter out diamonds that don’t make the cut. Think of it like a food poison detection kit. It’s great at telling you if the food is poisonous – the way HCA reveals a poorly cut diamond – but it cannot tell you how delicious the food is.
Or put it this way, if you could rely on the GIA certification and online calculators like the HCA to determine how good a diamond is, you wouldn’t even need a jeweller’s expert opinion, since all the information is easily available online.
But of course, no amount of online information can replace the experience of a professional. Professional jewellers, like those at JannPaul, use tools like ASET (Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool) and IdealScope to ensure that the diamonds they sell are of the highest quality. These scopes reveal the level of light leakage in a diamond, or how brilliant or dull it will appear to the naked eye.
Hmmm… so it sounds like if you approach a jeweller without some prior knowledge, it’s easy to end up paying more that you should for a diamond
At least when you’re buying in person from a jeweller, you will be able to see the diamond up close. Of course, even in those cases, you have to be careful about the lighting conditions when viewing the ring, since a diamond may appear more brilliant under a jeweller’s carefully placed halogen spotlights.
The biggest caution would be for those who think they can save money by buying diamonds online, since there is often a lack of essential information to make a proper decision. Ultimately, you’re probably stuck with the diamond for a long time – so invest the time and effort to make sure you get one that is truly value for money.
So, how much should I be paying for a diamond?
In Singapore, the typical engagement ring size is about 0.5 to 0.7 carat. According to JannPaul, this means that you can expect to pay upwards from $3,000, and definitely not as much as two or three months’ salary!
What sets JannPaul apart from other jewellers in Singapore?
Since starting out 4 years ago in Singapore, JannPaul’s commitment to educating the customer has stood out. There’s no obligation to buy, and they take the time to explain the intricacies of the diamond cut and also provide you with the tools to help you see if a diamond is right for them. By empowering the customer to make an informed decision, you will feel like you’re getting the diamond ring that best represents you. In fact, they reveal diamond buying tips (or secrets?) that most jewellers do not want consumers to know.
What’s more, JannPaul provides comprehensive ring customisation services! Your custom ring will come with hyper realistic 3D renders which will allow you to view your ring at different angles. You’re free to tweak your design according to your personality and style. In addition, JannPaul will create a wax model of your ring, allowing you visualize the physical dimensions of your final ring.
Are you in the market for a diamond ring? Do consider making an appointment with JannPaul at 67332925 or so that you can find out more about what to expect.
This post appeared first on the MoneySmart blog. MoneySmart.sg is Singapore's leading personal finance portal that helps you to maximize your money. Like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest news and articles. Compare and shop for the best deals on Loans, Insurance and Credit Cards on our site now!