The rule of thumb in days gone by dictated two month’s salary as the appropriate spend. Based on the “Our customers spend an average of $10,000,” says Andrew Pascoe of Gregory Jewellers, which, based on the 2010 average gross wage of $64,641 (ABS) holds more or less true to the two month rule. Just over a quarter of respondents in a recent Essential Groom poll said they would spend over $15K on a ring.
Three key features make up the aesthetic—and price tag—of an engagement ring:
Style Whether classic, art deco or glam in design, the weight and type of metal are factors here. A finer design, hence less metal, will cost less than a chunkier style, while platinum finish costs more than gold.
Setting The labour intensity of the setting is not always significant. A standard charge is often applied irrespective of whether it is a bevel, claw or channel setting. As with style, weight is more reflective of cost, so mounts that require less metal are more affordable.
Stone: Cost is determined by the cut, grade and weight of the diamond. According to Pascoe, “the round brilliant cut is the more expensive because it’s considered commodity”. An alternative cut will save between ten and twenty per cent.
No matter the budget, the most important thing, says Pascoe, is “paying for a diamond that looks the way a diamond should. There isn’t much difference in price between a 90 point and 1.0 carat diamond, but a huge difference for a cut reflecting the quality and proportions of the stone.” That means size isn’t necessarily everything—a smaller stone with a sophisticated cut can have higher value.
Pascoe notes that “there is no bargain to be had when purchasing a diamond”. If choosing to buy a wholesale gem, know what to look for and don't go by price alone. "People often think they have got a great deal, when really the stone is of inferior quality and proportion.” If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Prepare to pay at least part up front. “Twenty per cent of the value is required as a deposit to allow us to secure the stone and remove it from the international market,” says Pascoe. If liquidity is an issue, payment by instalment or lay-by is an option, usually over three months, although some jewellers are flexible. Factor a little extra in the saving plan for insurance and possible resizing.
Story by Katie Ivey