I’d venture that this is true:
There’s never been a girl in the world that steamed up the window of a jeweler’s and excitedly breathed “show me the small ones.. I want a teeny tiny diamond”.
What do you think?
But if you’re looking for an affordable engagement ring but your budget isn’t exactly sumo-sized, how can you make your ring look as big and impressive as possible?
Read on to find out how to make the absolute most of your budget to get a diamond that faces up big and sparkles brilliantly.
Already have your ring?
This article is about how to buy an engagement ring that makes a diamond look as large as possible.
If you already have your engagement ring and are looking for a way to alter it to improve its visible size, I recommend that you search ‘jewelry remodelling‘ to find a local jeweler who can help you create a new setting for your diamond.
1. Consider diamond shapes other than round
Round diamonds are the most common shape, but they’re also the most expensive. They’re the most difficult to cut from the rough stone and they result in the most wastage.
By looking at other, less popular shapes you can increase the size of your stone for the same budget.
The oval shape, for example, will give you much more stone for your money.
Check out the two examples below – both diamonds are the same clarity (VS2) and the same colour (G), but the oval on the right is a full 0.2 carats, or 40%, larger in weight for pretty much the same price.
You should hopefully be able to see that the oval is a full 0.21 carats larger than the round diamond. As carat is a measure of weight, rather than size, we need to put the two shapes next to each other to see just how much of a difference it makes:
It looks significantly larger, right?
That’s because it is! Both in carat weight and in physical size.
If you want to see how much big an oval diamond your budget can deliver, click the button below to view oval diamonds that I’ve selected in line with my recommended proportions to maximise their brilliance.
2. Choose a slim band for your engagement ring setting
Something to be mindful of is that the wider the band of a ring is, the smaller the stone will look. Equally, a slim band will make a stone look larger, relatively. Go for a slim band, especially one that tapers as it approaches the stone (a ‘pinched shank’) can do wonders to make it look more impressive.
Click here to see this setting in 14k white gold
Chunkier solitaire setting overwhelms the diamond
3. Use slim prongs
Choosing four prongs, rather than six, also gives more focus to the stone and allows more light to enter it, allowing it to sparkle more brilliantly.
As you can see with the ring on the right, the six chunky prongs add bulk to the setting and overpower the diamond.
4. Choose a Bright White Metal Band
Just like adding lots of mirrors to a small room will make it look larger, so too will using a bright white metal bands make a stone look bigger.
The brightest and shiniest precious metal for an engagement ring is 18k white gold. 18k white gold jewelry is covered in a thin layer of a very hard element called ‘rhodium’, which not only protects the soft gold from getting scratched, it is also extremely white and extremely shiny.
Another advantage is that 18k white gold is considerably less expensive that platinum, leaving more of your budget to put towards increasing the carat size of your stone – ensuring that it looks as large as possible.
Click here to view 243 white gold engagement rings from my recommended retailer that delivers the best bang for the buck.
5. Choose a halo setting
Choosing a halo diamond engagement ring is a great way to make an engagement ring look larger than it really is without the costs involved in actually splashing out on a larger stone.
The price of diamonds doesn’t increase linearly – a two carat stone isn’t twice as expensive as a one carat stone, it’s more like 8 times the price. Conversely, the small stones used in halo settings might only weight about 1/50th of a carat, but actually cost 1/1000th of the price of a 1 carat stone.
So, a halo setting can be a great way of adding extra size bling to a ring without the need to splash the big bucks on a rare and pricy center stone.
Halo vs. Solitaire:
0.6 carat VS1 Excellent cut G diamond:
1 carat VS1 Excellent cut G diamond:
The halo setting has 71 small diamonds in the halo setting and pave band, which add up to 0.5 carats. With the addition of the 0.6 carat center stone, that’s a total carat weight of 1.1 carats and with the double-halo surrounding the center stone, the ring will look extremely substantial.
The one carat solitaire ring will cost over twice as much and will look much smaller on the finger.
Check out the selection of halo settings below and click through to find out more.
6. Choose your retailer carefully
Knowing where to buy can make a huge difference to how much engagement ring you get for your money. Surprisingly, some of the most well known and trusted brands of jewelers deliver the worst value.
Check out the difference between Kays and one of my recommended retailers:
1.01 carat diamond being sold for over $9,000 at Kay Jewelers. Note the circled specs.
A diamond with the identical specs is $3,609 less at my recommended retailer. This is a reduction of nearly 40%.
For the same $9,299 that Kays is asking for the 1 carat diamond, you could have a 1.3 carat diamond from one of my recommended retailers.
Cross-comparison is key to getting a good deal when making any significant purchase, but especially so with engagement ring and diamond buying. You can check out today’s prices here.
7. Don’t scrimp on ‘Cut’
As you read about diamonds, you may notice that two stones that have the same carat weight have different measurements. Some stones are cut to be wider, which gives makes them look larger from the top.
So, if you’re looking to make your stone look as large as possible, you should go for one that is cut to be as wide as possible, right?
Choosing a stone to maximise the visible size will almost certainly mean that you are compromising on cut, which is the most important of the 4Cs. Cut is important because it’s the factor which most decides how much a diamond sparkles.
A wider diamond, like the one on the left, will not reflect the light off the internal facets and back to your eyes. While a well cut diamond, like the one on the right, will reflect the light off the internal surfaces and back to your eyes.
So, if you prioritise size over cut you will end up with a larger, but dull, diamond which isn’t going to impress anyone. Always go for the best cut grade that you can.
8. Keep it clean!
Remember to have the stone cleaned before you pop the question so that it’s as impressive as possible, and to keep it clean to ensure that it continues to sparkle brilliantly and look its largest.
Dirty diamonds look dull and small
Clean diamonds sparkle more and look larger
So how do you get the biggest diamond possible?
Size shouldn’t be your only concern when buying an engagement ring, but everyone wants their ring to look impressive and size is definitely a big factor in that.
To maximise the impressiveness of your ring, you can layer these tips on top of each other – for example by choosing an oval diamond in a halo setting with a narrow band.
Once you know your budget, have a play with the diamond selection tools on one of my recommended retailers. Using a combination of these tips, see how you can maximise the impressiveness of your ring.