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Buying engagement ring for the UK on limited budget - what are the best options

johnjo56

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
51
I have been looking for an engagement ring to surprise my partner with but am struggling to have confidence in any of my choices as I am far from an expert in these matters. I am also limited with the amount i have to spend - MAX £800.

Having checked out the usual UK high street names I thought i would go independant as I cannot seem to get much for this amount of money... you are talking a 0.3 carat diamond max!

I know you guys value cut greatly but for a diamond of 0.3 - 0.5 is it really with going up to super Ideal standards or would an 'Excellent' be enough if the profile looks good? I am just trying to juggle a prisitine looking very small diamond with something still very good but maybe a little bigger that 0.4 carat.

Ring finger size is sketchy at best (she doesn't wear rings and i cannot find any lying around to measure or take to a shop to get measured) so would maybe need to get that altered at a later date. Do you think i should stick with a UK supplier, maybe from Hatton Gardens or would a US supplier be ok and just get the ring altered in the uk if it is needed?

Or maybe just buy the diamond abroad and get the setting completed in the UK?

I have been looking at James Allen and Blue Nile so far aand saw these as a starting point, can you let me know your thoughts? I like the look of WhiteFlash too but it seems more expensive.

It will be set in a solitaire ring 14k white gold.

If anybody wants to chip in with recomendations i would be more than happy to take a look at them.



 

Ceilimom

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 5, 2018
Messages
409
I have been looking for an engagement ring to surprise my partner with but am struggling to have confidence in any of my choices as I am far from an expert in these matters. I am also limited with the amount i have to spend - MAX £800.

Having checked out the usual UK high street names I thought i would go independant as I cannot seem to get much for this amount of money... you are talking a 0.3 carat diamond max!

I know you guys value cut greatly but for a diamond of 0.3 - 0.5 is it really with going up to super Ideal standards or would an 'Excellent' be enough if the profile looks good? I am just trying to juggle a prisitine looking very small diamond with something still very good but maybe a little bigger that 0.4 carat.

Ring finger size is sketchy at best (she doesn't wear rings and i cannot find any lying around to measure or take to a shop to get measured) so would maybe need to get that altered at a later date. Do you think i should stick with a UK supplier, maybe from Hatton Gardens or would a US supplier be ok and just get the ring altered in the uk if it is needed?

Or maybe just buy the diamond abroad and get the setting completed in the UK?

I have been looking at James Allen and Blue Nile so far aand saw these as a starting point, can you let me know your thoughts? I like the look of WhiteFlash too but it seems more expensive.

It will be set in a solitaire ring 14k white gold.

If anybody wants to chip in with recomendations i would be more than happy to take a look at them.



The .45 looks brownish to me. Have you checked out WhiteFlash jewelers, many on this forum think highly of this vendor and their diamonds. I am unfamiliar with duties/ import taxes. The pound has better buying power here in States versus the dollar in the UK. Again I have no idea what bringing an outside product into the UK.will cost.
 

Ceilimom

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 5, 2018
Messages
409
Johnjo56
So I looked at the exchange rate £ to US$ approximately US$1100 and some change. Whiteflash have some very nice diamonds, reach out to their customer service, possibly they can find some diamonds to review. Take care and Congratulations.
 

AprilBaby

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 17, 2008
Messages
11,858
Find the best ACA you can afford from WF. Even in smaller sizes it will outshine any other diamond you will see.
 

johnjo56

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
51
I suppose it’s just a size thing. With an ACA cut diamond I can not get anything bigger than about a 0.35 whereas with a GIA cut I can go to 0.45 at least. It doesn’t seem much bigger but the size of the 0.3 seems so small it barely looks noticeable.
Also are all ACA of equal worth, can you not get a good GIA grade diamond?
 

Jax172

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 11, 2002
Messages
1,149
Unfortunately this isnt a well cut stone.

It’s just an example. You can get a well cut lab diamond that will be much larger than a mined diamond. If you are so stuck on size a lab diamond is your best route.

This one is very nice
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,433
I kind of think ACAs would be overkill at that size... not that they aren’t beautiful and beautifully cut, but there is a big difference between 0.35ct and 0.45ct, and I think that maximising size with a well cut (though not top cut) stone is probably the best division of priorities.

IIRC Blue Nile has a presence in the UK, so from a tax POV might be the best vendor. I’m not so well versed with diamonds that I can evaluate them through a video (unfortunately JA does not give the GIA report) but the BN stone has 36/41 (crown/pavillion) which IIRC is not complementary.

Use this post as a guide for crown/pavillion/table measures you should be looking at. As for depth, I usually look for 60-62 (I wouldn’t go above 62.3, and I’m okay going slightly below 60 if the stone otherwise seems to check out because I like the look of a spreadier, brighter, whiter stone).

Once you have the GIA number, run the PS search - This page - and obtain the HCA score. If the stone is not listed on this list you can calculate the HCA score through the tool but just keep in mind you only get 3 free ones if you calculate yourself instead of going through PS’s inventory (though you can buy more attempts). Try and find a stone that scores <2 (or max <2.5) with a “looks like” of “big” or “bigger”.

Good luck!
 

Natylad

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
2,524
I kind of think ACAs would be overkill at that size... not that they aren’t beautiful and beautifully cut, but there is a big difference between 0.35ct and 0.45ct, and I think that maximising size with a well cut (though not top cut) stone is probably the best division of priorities.

IIRC Blue Nile has a presence in the UK, so from a tax POV might be the best vendor. I’m not so well versed with diamonds that I can evaluate them through a video (unfortunately JA does not give the GIA report) but the BN stone has 36/41 (crown/pavillion) which IIRC is not complementary.

Use this post as a guide for crown/pavillion/table measures you should be looking at. As for depth, I usually look for 60-62 (I wouldn’t go above 62.3, and I’m okay going slightly below 60 if the stone otherwise seems to check out because I like the look of a spreadier, brighter, whiter stone).

Once you have the GIA number, run the PS search - This page - and obtain the HCA score. If the stone is not listed on this list you can calculate the HCA score through the tool but just keep in mind you only get 3 free ones if you calculate yourself instead of going through PS’s inventory (though you can buy more attempts). Try and find a stone that scores <2 (or max <2.5) with a “looks like” of “big” or “bigger”.

Good luck!

Follow this advice. Blue Nile UK is your best choice. They have a huge variety of diamonds at the size that you are interested in and they post videos and GIA reports of their stones, so that you can see and check the quality of what you are buying. Stay away from American vendors because buying from the USA will cost you much more in taxes and custom fees and you won't be able to send the ring back for resizing. At your budget every pound matters, spend it wisely.
Also, in my opinion, you don't need an ACA in order to get a wonderful stone which will sparkle and impress everyone who sees it. I speak from personal experience. My sister in law has a 0.40 ct GIA tripe EX diamond in perfect measurements, which makes everyone stare at her hand when she enters a room and outsparkles much bigger diamonds!
Good luck and enjoy the exciting process!!!
 

seaurchin

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 2, 2012
Messages
2,016
A few thoughts here, for what they're worth: You could order a ring sizer to find out her ring size, on Amazon UK. (But then you'd have to actually measure her finger with it to get the correct size).

And I agree with those who say you might possibly rather get a mined diamond substitute, if you think she'd prefer a larger stone. A lab diamond, moissanite, cubic zirconia, mined or lab gemstone, etcetera. You could always trade up on a future anniversary.

Another idea is to propose without a ring, and tell her you thought she'd like to pick out the rings together. That's what my husband did years ago. I really appreciated having a say in the ring, since after all, I was the one who would be wearing it. (I got a cubic zirconia solitaire and traded up later on). Good luck!
 
Last edited:

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,433
A few thoughts here, for what they're worth: You could order a ring sizer to find out her ring size, on Amazon UK. But then you'd have to actually measure her finger with it to get the correct size.

And I agree with those who say you might possibly rather get a mined diamond substitute, if you think she'd prefer a larger stone. A lab diamond, moissanite, cubic zirconia etcetera. You could always trade up on a future anniversary.

Another idea is to propose without a ring, and tell her you thought she'd like to pick out the rings together. That's what my husband did years ago. I really appreciated having a say in the ring, since after all, I was the one who would be wearing it. (I got a cubic zirconia solitaire and traded up later on). Good luck!

A Lightbox stone might work if you’re going for a lab diamond... of course that depends on how expensive benches are in the UK. The other option would be to ship a lightbox pendant to an inexpensive bench not in the UK and have them send the finished piece to you in the UK (and scrap the pendant setting to offset ring costs) but you might still be on the hook for taxes.
 

Natylad

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 17, 2009
Messages
2,524
If you are not sure about your significant other's preferences and the opinions of her family and social circle, I would advise you to avoid a lab grown diamond. In Europe, a smaller natural diamond is always preferable over a lab grown bigger one and it is considered perfectly appropriate. A lab grown diamond might not be received well, it's a cultural thing and you need to keep this in mind. We don't have the culture of huge diamonds in Europe and this works in your favour in this case. Choose a natural diamond in your budget and don't overly worry about its size. In my European country most engagement rings are solitaires with diamonds between the 0.25 - 0.40 or 0.50 ct range.
Good luck!!!
 

Ionysis

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
769
I would definitely recommend going for a preloved ring. You will get much better bang for your buck. Something “vintage” will have character and you’ll likely get a bigger stone for your money.

Even if you spend 800 quid on a diamond setting costs in the U.K. are extortionate.

I wish I knew you in real life. I live in the UAE and Dubai is an amazing place to buy an engagement ring at very reasonable cost. I could get you something here for half the cost you’d spend in England or the US.
 

Ionysis

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
769
Do you think she would go for a three stone instead of a solitaire? Or a halo? Then you’d better good finger coverage for a reasonable price.

I wish I could walk you round the Dubai gold and diamond park and show you what you could get here. Perhaps I could zoom you and show you videos next week when I’m there LOL!
 

GliderPoss

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Sep 25, 2008
Messages
2,787
I also think you should look at gemstones instead of Diamonds and check out pre-loved/ vintage rings as a more budget friendly option! Loads available online - look at Loupe Troop or Diamond Bistro
 

737liz

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
Messages
585
Hello! A 0.4 will be plenty big for most uk social circles. I would not go for a J color unless you have seen a 0.4 carat J in person. Some people can see tint and don't like it. Blue nile has some steep discounts of unusual settings right now. It also is easier than James Allen to search for a well cut stone as they provide gia reports.

I echo the suggestion to propose with a no ring, and decide together. Even with a plastic ring or ring pop if she has a sense of humour. If she wants a completed ring for the proposal, I would stick to a natural well cut but not superideal stone.

Is a used ring or diamond out of the question? Is an antique diamond out of the question?

In any case, the safest way to get the most out of your budget is with an online vendor if you decide to get a modern new ring. Hatton garden can be difficult to navigate if you are not familiar with cut quality and price points.
 

Lisag103

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
168
I suppose it’s just a size thing. With an ACA cut diamond I can not get anything bigger than about a 0.35 whereas with a GIA cut I can go to 0.45 at least. It doesn’t seem much bigger but the size of the 0.3 seems so small it barely looks noticeable.
Also are all ACA of equal worth, can you not get a good GIA grade diamond?

Hey,

Checkout Layla Diamonds or London Diamonds official, Both on IG. They seem to have some great value and can work to any budget! They have both mined and lab. I havent used either but did reach out to Layla for a quote on a project and they were very helpful. Defo worth a look and as UK based you wont need to worry about customs. Hope this helps, keep us posted with what you end up doing!
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
8,768
I too would ask whether it has to be a mined diamond or not, as Lab/MMD would be my choice for that budget.

If 800 USD is for a mined diamond alone, then I personally would consider getting one of White Flash's ACA at about 0.3ct range, aiming to spend about 600 USD to allow for import duty and custom charges.

DK :))
 

johnjo56

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
51
Wow, firstly a very very big THANK YOU to every one of your replies it really is appreciated that you have taken the time and effort to help me out.

I do want to stick to a new ring and not go down the preloved/vintage route. I know I would get more value and if this was anything other than an engagement ring that would be a good option but I want this to be a new ring representing a new beginnings, the first page on a lifelong novel so do want the ring to represent this.

I have thought about proposing on the day with a 'Haribo" ring and then maybe buying the ring together but I just thought it would be nice if I made the effort and surprised her with a completed ring. She isn't materialistic and I know she will be more than happy whatever I get but I like to research and find the best value I feel contented in knowing she has got the best I can get.
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
8,768
Does it have to be a solitaire? Could it be a band like a half eternity?

DK :))
 

johnjo56

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
51
I want to stick with a solitaire or something similar that's not too flashy and has a nice diamond in the centre.

I am willing to pay a little more if it gets me a bigger and better quality diamond but £1000 - £1200 is my definitely max on this if anybody has seen any worthy of the price.
 

Jax172

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 11, 2002
Messages
1,149
If you are not sure about your significant other's preferences and the opinions of her family and social circle, I would advise you to avoid a lab grown diamond. In Europe, a smaller natural diamond is always preferable over a lab grown bigger one and it is considered perfectly appropriate. A lab grown diamond might not be received well, it's a cultural thing and you need to keep this in mind. We don't have the culture of huge diamonds in Europe and this works in your favour in this case. Choose a natural diamond in your budget and don't overly worry about its size. In my European country most engagement rings are solitaires with diamonds between the 0.25 - 0.40 or 0.50 ct range.
Good luck!!!

But how would anyone looking at her ring know if it came from a mine or a lab?
 

Tartansparkles

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 23, 2017
Messages
648
OP, if you buy from the US factor in an additional 25% for VAT/duty. Blue Nile are an excellent choice although returns from the UK are not free ( costs around £40). I second the idea of proposing and then choosing the ring together.
 

johnjo56

Rough_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
51
I'd rather be advised by you guys who are real world diamond buffs rather than a sales person as I never feel as though I can trust if they are just selling me a diamond because its been on the shelf for a while or it would truly be their best or a good option at the price point.
 

lovedogs

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
13,253
OP: do you think you would ever want to upgrade to a larger stone in the future? If yes, then I would recommend WF because of their $1 upgrade policy. But if you dont plan to upgrade then I would go with blue Nile because you'll get a larger stone for your $$ and we can help you find a very nice one
 
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