Girl's Best Friend
the novice, buying a diamond engagement ring is a nuclear-tipped, anthrax-laden,
engagement had been discussed, but actually going ahead and doing
it was another matter entirely. Of course, I had doubts, or, as
they're more commonly referred to these days, "issues".
Well, it's a massive decision, isn't it? The question "do I
really want to do this at all?" rumbled ominously through my
head day and night. Was I making the right choice? Would I live
to regret it? And most important of all, could I possibly get away
with a bit of cheating?
Before I have my head removed from my shoulders with a single
bite of a certain female's slavering jaws, I should point out that
I am not referring in any way to my choice of partner, which naturally
has never been in question. Purchasing a ring presented the problems.
For the novice, buying a diamond engagement ring is a nuclear-tipped,
anthrax-laden, mustard-gas-impregnated minefield. Get it wrong and
your anhilation will be instantaneous and complete. Or even worse,
you might have to take it back to the shop and choose another. But
for us old hands, us guys who have stared down steely-eyed gem merchants
in dark subterranean vaults, or at least who have spoken to the
bloke behind the counter in H. Samuel 's a few times, it's a lot
simpler. This is all you need to know.
Firstly, buy a good stone. You might think that all diamonds look exactly
the same, or that a substitute, such as Zircon, Diamondique, or even a
bit of glass would suffice. And of course you'd be absolutely correct.
A piece of perspex mounted on blu-tack would do OK if you'd told your
beloved it cost five grand or so, but you're not likely to get away with
that. So you may as well get ready to shell out for the real thing.
But how do yout ensure that you're buying The Genuine Article? It's quit
straightforward really. Take your diamond, place it in a cup of tea, and
give it a stir. Then drink the tea. If it tastes either sweet or salty,
demand your money back. If neither, be careful as you drink -- but rest
assured that you have a genuinely high quality stone -- or at least one
which will fool everybody into thinking it is.
We now have the 4C's to take into account: clarity, cut, colour, and carat.
Clarity is easy. If you can't see through it, it's probably a bit of coal,
so don't buy it. Cut is easy too. It's the shape: round, oval, rectangular,
so if you can cope with the windows on Play School you'll be OK here.
Colour is even more obvious. Diamonds do look basically the same, but
the yellowish ones aren't so desirable. So if the stone looks like it's
been soaking in a urinal for a few weeks, avoid. The last -- carat --
is easiest of all: the bigger the better (although this statement depends
very much whether you're the donor or the recipient.) Size is, as ever,
the only thing that matters. If you can eat your dinner off it, it's generally
about the right size for an engagement ring. So now you've chosen your
diamond -- now it's time for the ring.
Diamond engagement rings fall into two categories. These categories are
1) cheap and nasty or 2) expensive and tasteless. Both of these are available
on your local high street. The shrewd buyer, of course, aims for something
which looks like a definite category 2, but which is, in fact, a prime
example from category 1. The best way to do this is to have a few goes
at the Hatton Garden Walk.
The Hatton Garden Walk is a traditional dance performed by a courting
couple. It starts with the pair standing side by side, gazing into each
other's eyes as they link arms. Then they simply walk slowly, pausing
every few yards, from Ludgate Circus to Gray's Inn Road. At each stop
the woman laughs happily, claps her little hands togethers, and begins
dribbling, while the man's face becomes drawn into a ghastly rictus, particularly
if, like me, he's a dyed-in-the-wool cheapskate. The dance continues until
the man either runs away or pays somebody a lot of money to make it stop:
either a diamond merchant or, less commonly, an international hit-man.
Whether you go to Hatton Garden or not you are at some point have to decide
on what kind of ring you want: gold, platinum, or white gold. White gold
and platinum look similar and both have to be coated with rhodium every
few years to make them sparkly, which adds to the cost. So basically it'll
be white gold or platinum then.
Then there is the added decision of how many diamonds to get? The traditional
"solitaire" is still popular. This consists of a single large
diamond. Or you could go for a three-stone ring, which consists of a medium
sized diamond with two small diamonds next to it: this style is either
just coming back into or just going out of fashion, depending on who you
ask. My partner's own choice was for a three-stone affair, which in fact
consisted of three bloody enormous diamonds. I drew the line at this on
the grounds that the trolley-jack we'd need to lift her hand off the table
has not yet been built.
Finally, of course, there is price. This is the easiest of all. Remortgage
the house. Cash in those investments. Sell your shares. The more you spend,
the better. After all, you're only doing it once, right? (Of course, if
it all goes pear shaped, don't for one single solitary second think you'll
get the ring back, particularly if it's worth anything, 'cos you won't.)
But enough of this cynicism. Let's face it - diamonds are pricey. But
then again, diamond rings aren't something you buy every day. In the UK,
De Beers "recommend" spending a month's salary (in America it's
two months, so count yourself lucky, British guys.) This doesn't always
work out -- as a student I thought I'd get away with something out of
a cracker, but alas no -- even I've been persuaded to shell out. Anyway,
it'll be worth it -- at least I'll have bought some peace. Until the eternity
ring starts to raise its ugly head.
© Oliver Moor 2001
Now if you need a ring in a hurry, try below.
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