“Hi my name is Carol Clarke and I would like to welcome you to my blog
in which I write about jewellery matters and try to reply
to any questions I am asked on a daily basis”


Antique Ring Valuations

I have numerous calls from people about to buy an engagement ring and get asked various different questions regarding the same.  However, last week I had a call from a young couple who wanted to know if the percentages of the star facet in relation to the width of the table would be a cause for concern and maybe cause excessive leakage of light through the pavilion and I had to ask the question “is this a question on a GIA exam paper?”(It brought me back to the days of my GIA exams).  After I got over the initial shock of the question and the couple told me it was not a GIA question, then I thought to myself oh where do I begin?.  I also thought that I did not have six months to explain the answer to the question and was it really that relevant?.  I suggested that maybe they should do the whole GIA course and they would then get the answers themselves.  After this call it really got me thinking about some of the questions I am asked about buying a diamond engagement ring and while I don’t mind answering the odd question to help people I do find that many of the questions are becoming over technical and to a point obscure – this is supposed to be a ring to celebrate one’s love, joy and commitment right?.  However personally I feel that this all seems to be lost and that the idea behind the buying of an engagement ring is much colder, technical, clinical and over analysed and lacks spontaneity at all costs.  Now trying not to sound too old, which I am not but when I opened my shop thirty years ago selling an engagement ring was completely different to selling an engagement ring today.  The emphasis then was on the ring like how fabulous the ring looked on the finger and if it fitted the budget then that was great and it was bought and the couple were delighted and full of the joys of spring.  Most couples could not care less if it was a D, E or a J colour or if it had one or ten inclusions not least of all worry about “light leakage”.  Although I did always provide this information nobody cared what the diamond was like once they loved the ring.  Now I am not saying that ignorance is bliss but, I do feel that the whole process has gone to the complete extreme and in my view that is such a pity.  Since the introduction of the World Wide Web and the information that is on it life has become much more complicated.  Many couples seem to know a bit of this and a bit of that and then think they know it all which in fact they don’t.  That is why there are one year long courses in order to learn it all. I find that many people have the information mixed up and are even confused with all the information that is out there now.  I think that if you are buying the engagement ring as an investment and that you are going to sell it on or if you think that you may want out in the future and the ring is say over five thousand euro then I think to know about the colour, clarity, cut, weight and what type of certificate the diamond has with it is good but, if you are not thinking of buying for investment and are buying to celebrate your love and commitment to each other then I think you should choose the ring that you love and do not dwell on all the technical stuff especially if the ring is say under five thousand euro.  The ring should “call you” and you should go with your gut feeling.  I know many couples who have ended up with boring cast rings from China that they had to wait weeks and weeks for and that they are very unhappy with.  I hear many of them say to me “oh I really don’t know why I did not go for that lovely antique ring or that lovely handmade ring that I saw in such and such a jewellers”.


Over the last five to ten years many people have set themselves up as jewellers or diamond experts.  They go and buy a few books from GIA or go on a GIA course for a few days and then they are suddenly diamond experts! (if it was that easy I would have done it myself and not wasted twenty years studying).  They all get the same box of cheap silver and cubic zirconia sample rings and set themselves up in offices proclaiming to know it all and to beat any jeweller’s price by fifty percent. There are so many of these people now there is fierce competition but, I believe that this way of selling has also taken the romance and spontaneity out of buying an engagement ring.  Many couples go around haggling with all these people to bargain down to rock bottom and then usually have to wait at least four to six weeks for the cast ring to arrive from China.  I don’t see how this haggling could add anything to the romance or joy of buying an engagement ring.  In the end many of these rings are badly made, have terrible certificates accompanying them and the rings are not even hallmarked (which is a legal requirement in Ireland).  However, as these people are not “real jewellers” they are not aware of any of these facts.  Even when couples do compare prices from one place to another unless they are comparing exactly one hundred per cent the same certificate then they are not comparing like with like.  That is where a lot of people get caught out!.  Many of these rings are micro set with only tiny pieces of metal holding in the diamonds which are constantly falling out however, as the people who sell them are not “real jewellers” they are totally oblivious to the way the rings are made.  These people and their rings never last or stand the test of time.  There are many beautiful handmade and antique diamond engagement rings that are well made all over Ireland if one looks there is no need to go anywhere else.  There are also many good established real working jewellers that make their own jewellery and that really do know all about making jewellery and their rings do last and they have stood the test of time.


I would say to anyone going to buy an engagement ring to relax, enjoy the experience, go with your heart and love the ring you buy.  Do not follow like sheep all buying the same substandard cast ring.  If you don’t want to do either then why don’t you design your own ring, make it unique, be different and base it on what you love.  Once again there are many good Goldsmiths in Ireland that could make the ring for you.  There are so many beautiful gemstones out there just waiting to be snatched up so remember that too it does not always have to be a diamond.  Many years ago we used to make a lot of unusual engagement rings using such beautiful stones such as purple sapphire, green and pink tourmaline, aquamarine, ruby and many more rare gemstones so go for it be unique!.

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