A customer of mine wanted to invest in a beautiful diamond eternity ring. She had been looking at pictures online and was confused about the large variance in pricing for what seemed to be the same product.
Her budget was set, she knew what shape diamond she liked best for her eternity band, and she liked the continuous diamond look. But she wasn’t sure about the rest of the details.
Many women want to own a diamond eternity band at some point, whether for their wedding ring to pair with their engagement ring or as a right hand piece. With the unlimited choices out there, it can be extremely confusing. Many are left putting off their decision to invest in a piece, or they have no choice but to go to a high-end jewelry store and pay 5-10x mark-up to get the advice they need.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am a 3rd generation jeweler who started an online jewelry and concierge shop to make investing in fine jewelry easier for the consumer. I believe everyone should be able to own a gorgeous heirloom piece without paying up to 10x mark-up.
My goal in the fine jewelry industry is to shift the market to empower customers to shop for fine jewelry with ease, education and transparency.
Must Knows about a Diamond Eternity Ring
Once you pick the shape of diamond you like best and the budget you have in mind, there are important things to consider before investing in a diamond eternity ring. I will use my most recent order as an example: An emerald cut diamond eternity ring.
Ring Setting Matters
With an emerald cut diamond eternity ring, most pictures look alike, but there are many differences in the types settings. These questions needed to be answered for an emerald cut diamond eternity band.
- Vertical position or East-West?
- Prong Set, Channel, Pave or Bezel?
- If Prong set, U-prong, Basket, or Shared prong?
- What size prongs?
- Prongs can be thick where you will feel them between your fingers. They can be pointed or round on the diamond, large or small.
- Do you want to maximize sparkle by using the least amount of metal possible, or space out as much as possible to save money on the number of diamonds needed to go all the way around?
My customer wanted to wear this ring every day on her right hand, 4th finger. She wanted to be able to do most daily activities without having to take her ring on and off. This meant she needed a very comfortable band that sits smoothly around her finger without a lot of metal.
She preferred the classic vertical position of the emerald diamonds and wanted to maximize the sparkle of the band. Given these preferences, we chose a vertical, U-prong set band, with the size of the prongs and basket just large enough to hold the diamonds securely in place.
Size of Diamonds
- Will you wear the ring on its own or pair with others?
- Do you want the largest sized diamonds you can buy based on your budget that meets minimum “sparkle” requirements or would you like the best quality available?
The stone’s shape will dictate what the minimum “sparkle” requirements are. For instance, for emerald cut diamonds, they have much fewer facets in the stone, therefore inclusions will show easier than on a round brilliant cut diamond.
My recommendation on emerald cut stones larger than .20 carats would be to use VS (Very Slightly included) stones which is close to the top quality of diamond grading. This means that your budget may allow an eternity band that has only .25 carat VS clarity emerald cut diamonds vs a larger eternity band with .35 carat SI (slightly included) round brilliant cut diamonds for the same price.
Diamonds less than 1 carat are likely uncertified by official diamond certifications like GIA or EGL, which means you need to trust your jeweler and what they say about the quality of the diamonds you’re buying.
The unfortunate truth about many jewelers – they advertise and sell diamonds that say they are higher quality than they really are. Without a trained eye and a loupe, it is hard to tell the difference, especially on stones less than 1/2 carat. If you see a price that seems too good to be true at a jewelry store or even at the jewelry district where the vendors claim they are offering “wholesale pricing,” the product is likely not what is being advertised.
Type of Metal
- Platinum, 18k, or 14k gold?
- White, Rose or Yellow?
The metal color you should choose is based on preference. If you like yellow gold eternity bands, I recommend 14k gold as it is stronger than 18k. For white eternity bands, I prefer platinum due to it’s strength above gold. In the past, people would try to save money by using 14k vs platinum. But with the price of gold being at its record highs today, the difference in price between platinum and gold has narrowed. Note though, labor on platinum is higher due to it being a harder metal to work with. So pricing will still be higher for platinum rings.
Many people make the mistake of getting their eternity bands too small (size of ring around). It is an issue that comes up more often for thicker bands than the daintier, pave (continuous diamonds around) bands.
An eternity band with diamonds cannot be resized. If it is a bit too large, you can place comfortable metal balls inside to make it fit better. But if it’s too small, you will need to make a new ring.
I made an eternity band with .3 carat diamonds to wear on my right hand about 10 years ago. It fit perfectly for about 7 years, but then my fingers grew! Now the ring is tight and I am kicking myself for not getting it 1/4 size larger back in the day.
Quality of the Jeweler’s Setting Work
This is a factor most people don’t realize. The spectrum of skill in jewelry setters is huge! It’s much larger than I expected, even knowing as much as I knew about jewelry before designing my own pieces. A quality jewelry setter’s prices can be 3x the price of a low-end setter.
There are so many steps in crafting a piece of fine jewelry to make it a true high quality product. Many jewelers cut corners in the setting process to save time and money. After all, it’s rare that the customer will be able to tell the difference.
Much like fine watches, the compilation of the piece is just as important as the composition.
Likely, if you are getting a piece of jewelry custom made by a small, first floor desk at the jewelry district (you know how they are all together in one large space separated by cabinets?), you are getting the cheaper setters working on your piece. This has been my experience. The desks on the floor in the jewelry district depend on walk through customers who are highly price sensitive. In order to compete, they must offer the lowest pricing they can. It makes sense, right?
It may appear the piece looks just as good for a lower price when you first buy it, but over time, it will most definitely not hold up as well as a piece made with quality in mind. Stones will fall out, prongs will become loose, the metal may even break.
I notice most articles online don’t talk about these “insider secrets” about fine jewelry. The truth is, they don’t want you to know!
These are all important points to consider when investing in a piece of fine jewelry, especially when it’s a piece you’ll want to wear for the rest of your life and pass on for generations!
I can’t believe how long this post is! 3rd generation jeweler skills coming out! I’d love to read your comments, and if you’re thinking of investing in a special piece of fine jewelry- custom, ready made from my online shop, or a remake of an existing piece, visit my site and contact me. Let’s help you sparkle on the outside, like you do on the inside!
And for more fine jewelry posts like these, visit the Jewelry section of my blog. An especially popular jewelry post lately: An Insider’s Guide to Purchasing the Perfect Diamonds. Enjoy!