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What's a good size diamond for an engagement ring?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Dating<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (13 May 2011) 9 Answers - (Newest, 14 May 2011)
A male United States age 36-40, anonymous writes:

What is a nice size solitaire diamond for an engagement ring to a tall, slender lady who has a ring size of 5.5? I am looking at just over 1 carat. The quality is impeccable, so I'm not looking for comments on clarity and color...just size.

I know they say one month's salary, and get the biggest you can afford, but that just isn't true because there is a set size that just looks best on a finger. 1 carat on a very small finger will look gaudy to most, and 1 carat on a large finger (over size 7) would look tiny.

So, cost and all other "c"'s aside, what is a good size on a 5.5 finger that will make a statement but won't be gaudy? Some examples of women out there with solitaires and your ring size and what you think of it would be perfect. Thanks!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 May 2011):

My engagement ring is a flawless 1 carat solitaire on a very thin platinum band, same ring size as you're fiancee-to-be. It was purchased in Dubai and valued at home at $24,000 (bought for slightly less).

I'm aware that for that amount of money most people would want something larger and 'blingy' but that's just not my style. I tried on a range of different sizes and I have to say that I found it was the size of the band that really made the difference, mine is very thin. I'm not the sort of person that wears jewellery nor have I ever worn rings before but I adore my engagement ring - it's perfect.

It all comes down to personal preference I'm afraid so it's very hard to say what your girlfriend will like. If you don't want to take her ring shopping then you can really only go on what you know (and you seem to know an awful lot about her preferences so I'm sure you'll do fine.)

The only other thing to keep in mind is that you have to consider what sort of wedding band would match the engagement ring. Ideally they should be of a similar design and size. You may well find that if you opt for a 'larger' engagement ring then together with the wedding band it looks too chunky.

My wedding band is the same size as the band on my engagement ring (very thin) and has 24 grain-set diamonds going around the entire band. It makes for a 'sparkly' look without overpowering the engagement ring.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (13 May 2011):

CindyCares agony aunt No, you don't sound pompous , OP; but just for the record, carats do not say particularly anything about a ring price, and viceversa. Since what makes the price of a diamond is not only the carats but also the other "3 Cs", so a big 3 carats diamond can cost anywhere from about 1200 USD ( lowest quality ) to way over 100.000 USD ( best quality ) .

Since you are not a tight budget ,anyway, and your fiancee' likes simple, classic stuff, I'd suggest to stick with a classic round cut ,57 facets , which looks great in size 1 carat to 1.50 on and no, it won't look too big, unless she has really super tiny fingers . Best wishes for the wedding, btw !

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A female reader, FloridaCatGirl United States +, writes (13 May 2011):

FloridaCatGirl agony auntI love this post! You sound like a great man! It’s nice that you are putting so much thought into this. Your girlfriend is so lucky! Before I comment on the size of the ring, I would like to emphasize that you should go with a classic cut. Do not get something “trendy” that may look dated in 10 to 20 years. Personally, I prefer a very simple, clean, timeless ring, with a round cut.

I just did a little research on ring sizes. Your girlfriend is tall, but her ring size is smaller than average. I would base the size of the diamond on her ring size and possibly finger length. I’m almost 5’7”, trim, with medium sized bones, and long fingers. Personally, .70 to .75 carats is perfect for me.

I am very interested in hearing what type of ring you end up choosing! Best wishes!

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (13 May 2011):

Well, not to sound pompous, but 2 months salary would buy me a HUGE solitaire...maybe 2 or 3 carats...much too big for her small finger and lifestyle. So that's why I said I don't really want to go by the "rule" and was looking more for a real "how it looks" perspective. If she liked bands with stones on them, I would go that route, but she likes a simple band and a single stone.

She specifically told me months ago she doesn't even care about a ring, adn wanrned me about buying anything super expensive.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (13 May 2011):

CindyCares agony aunt Just my personal opinion- 1 carat is far from gaudy !- in fact, if you choose a solitaire cut there's no point in going under 1 carat. If a good sized stone is too expensive, then choose a diamond "riviera" - or a less expensive coloured stone,with diamond shards around, like aquamarine, or peridote or topaz, it's a modern, very fashionable solution.

Btw: the rule would be AT LEAST 2 months salary, not one - obviously there is NO rule, you go by your wallet and tastes , and if you want save money on the ring and put it , for instance, toward a down payment for a house,surely nobody is going to criticize you.

But the "rule " is perhaps less stupid than it sounds , 2 months salary is an amount that won't totally break most people's back, financially speaking, yet it says : This is a very big deal and I am being deadly serious about it.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (13 May 2011):

I like jewelry and I buy a lot of it for my wife. I think your questions should not be "How big?" but "What?" and "How much can I afford?"

I will tell you right now that there are 1 carat diamonds of the highest grade which will set you back tens of thousands of dollars. You can also buy a pretty good 1 carat stone for two thousand dollars. How do you know which one to buy?

Obviously, budget is the main issue, but there are others. For one thing, the setting is important. So is your lady's finger (not just size, but length), as you mentioned. Her own sense of style plays into it. Does she usually wear really big jewelry? Does she usually gravitate to bigger over higher quality? Does she know the difference?

Since my wife gets a lot of fine jewelry from me, she knows the difference in quality and appreciates that the 1 carat emerald I bought her cost $4K (for the stone alone, ring was twice that) but I know some other women would be thinking that for $4K they would have wanted something bigger. Other women would be thinking that $4K is a ridiculous amount of money to spend while others might think that's being cheap.

I will tell you this much, err on the side of a larger stone if you have to. This is because most people can't tell between a D/VS2 diamond and an I/SI2 diamond, especially from 4 feet away. My wife has a size 5.5 also, but her fingers are very short. 1 carat looks good on her. The salesgirl had very long, bony fingers and a bigger ring would have looked good on her even though she was only a size 6.

Like others have said, I would check out the jewelry she wears now for hints. Also, take her ring shopping! Don't necessarily go shopping for diamonds, but buy her a nice $500 ring and while there have her try on all kinds of rings of different styles (platinum, gold, modern, antique), sizes, prices, and cuts of stones. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't like to go shopping for jewelry. See what she gets excited over and also what looks good on her. She will practically tell you what sort of ring she likes.

Hope this helps!

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (13 May 2011):

OP here. thanks for the feedback.

She is not a high maintenance girl, but she likes a few nice items and she wears jewelry well, although she does not have much. She is somewhat active, but not in a "hands in the mud" kinda way. She is stylish and model-like. She regularly wears a fairly large green amethyst on one hand, a smaller (about 7mm) topaz on the other. Both princess cut with white gold rings.

As for the ring/stone, it is a round cut and I'm having it mounted on a white gold band with a small cathedral mount and a 6-prong tiffany post. exact stone measurements are 6.34x6.31x3.91. I like the cathedral mount, as it protects the stone and post and gives the band a bit of character and height. Band witdt is about 2.5mm at the top.

We looked at rings/bands a while ago, and I think she'll like this. I don't like solitaires and plain bands but she does...and she will be wearing it, not me. So I want to get what she likes, of course.

I feel a carat is big enough to make a statement without being too bling or impractical. The quality of the stone is more impaortant to me...specifically the color and cut.

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A female reader, celtic_tiger United Kingdom +, writes (13 May 2011):

celtic_tiger agony auntI think this is not so much down to the size of the finger, but also the style of the fingers owner. Some women like smaller, less gaudy jewellery, others like big, showy, glitzy stuff.

Is your GF the type who would want to flash it to everyone she met? Or is she a little more restrained? What type of jewellery is she normally in to?

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (13 May 2011):

Honeypie agony aunt1 carat is "big" (since we are just talking 1 stone) but not gaudy IMHO. it's around 6-6,5 mm I believe.

It all comes down to the ring's design. Is the ring simple of elaborate. Gold/white gold/platinum..

What kind of cut? round stone? princess cut? oval?

And last but not least.... do you know her taste in jewelery?

Good luck.

PS I don't believe in the 2 months salary or whatever "rules" people use out there to determine how much to spend. I think finding a ring that uniquely suit the woman who is going to wear it is way more important. I always thought it is rather silly to go broke or go into debts so that the woman can have a big expensive shiny ring. But then again, I'm not big on jewelery :)

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