4 Engagement ring shopping mistakes to avoid
Expert advice on the four common errors you need to be aware of.
Buying an engagement ring should be an enjoyable and celebratory purchase but for many the process is fraught with anxiety. The internet is full of horror stories of people who have bought faulty or fake products and been unable to remedy their mistake.
But we’re here to help. We’ve prepared a list of watch outs and ways to protect yourself so you can put your worries to one side and focus on the positives of buying an engagement ring.
Fake Quality Grading of Diamonds and Gemstones
Our first watch out is directed at jewellers who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, fraudulently sell pieces that have a misrepresented or incorrect quality grading to increase the price. This is far more common with diamonds than with gemstone, mainly because diamonds have a more clearly defined quality grading system. There are multiple contemporary reports of customers who, having purchased a diamond only to have it re-graded and find that it has a lower colour and clarity rating than they were told at purchase.
When it comes to coloured gemstones there is no official grading system so it can be even harder to understand what represents real value or not. Some dealers will refer to coloured gemstones as A, AA, AAA or AAAA+, however this term is not standardised across the industry and therefore can confuse, rather than clarify a conversation. It’s also key to understand which treatments have been applied to your gemstone as some can destabilise your gemstone and make it more likely to become damaged over time so make sure you only purchase gemstones which have had stable treatments applied to them.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to understanding coloured gemstone quality which you can read here. The best way to protect yourself here is to go to a reputable jeweller and read their reviews carefully before buying.
Lab grown gems substituted as the real thing
If the price of a gem you’re considering looks too good to be true then check the wording, it may be that you’re looking at a lab grown, or synthetic gemstone. Lab grown diamonds have attracted increased attention in the press in recent years, however synthetic gemstones are also available. It’s important to understand what these terms mean before entering conversations with your jeweller.
Lab grown, created or synthetic mean that the stone in question has grown in a lab, not formed by nature. Lab grown is almost always marketed as a more 'ethical' option, however their creation involves a vast amount of energy to the point that it is not always the environmentally conscious option.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a lab grown stone does not support the local communities that depend on gemstone mining for their existence. You can learn more about some such communities by watching our short film about our supply chain, Earth to Heirloom or reading our accompanying blog post.
One of the pitfalls of lab grown stones is determining their real value. Lab grown coloured gemstones are considered basically worthless versus their natural counterparts, their price point is closer to cubic zirconia or costume jewellery and they have almost no resale value. Lab grown diamonds represent an even larger peril potentially as they are only 30% cheaper than natural diamonds on average, however they also have virtually no resale value.
Unscrupulous jewellers and sellers have been known to use this inconsistency in pricing to their advantage and substitute natural gemstones with lab grown in order to make a greater profit which is why you will often hear lab grown stones referred to as ‘fakes’ . This is not a rare occurrence unfortunately and even some of the top auction houses in the UK have had to notify sellers that their product is not what they thought upon closer inspection.
How to best protect yourself? With coloured gemstones, the first test is to take a closer look. If a gem looks too perfect, it might be. Inclusions and a slightly uneven cut are a sign of authenticity as cut by hand and formed by nature. Always make sure you receive an authenticity report or certificate that guarantees you have purchased a natural gemstone so you have recourse if that turns out not to have been the case.
Another pitfall to watch out for is the poorly manufactured setting. Some unlucky customers have been known to lose their centre stone entirely, this is almost always a result of a setting that was incorrectly paired with the centre stone so they were never the perfect fit or one that is manufactured to low quality standards. The gem would have rattled in it’s setting or pushed too hard at a prong that was stretched to fit around it, eventually wearing them down until one snapped off and the centre stone fell out.
It is also worth considering the grade of metal you choose, in order to minimise the chance of losing your centre stone we would always recommend platinum or 18kt yellow gold for your setting and double claws for certain centre stones.
Bad warranty, repair and refund policies
This is a very simple one to guard yourself against! Make sure you check your jewellers policies for warranties, repairs and refunds before you check out. In case something does go wrong you have no legal recourse unless your jeweller has a clear and transparent policy that takes care of you. It can also be a red flag about other issues if your jeweller does not offer friendly policies or clear plans for each of these scenarios. A ring is for life if cared for properly so you don’t want to be stuck having invested in a faulty piece with no recourse.
Having said all of the above, don’t panic! It’s important to be well informed, so now you’ve read this, relax and proceed armed with all the facts!
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our concierge team who are always happy to help!