So I promised I would share my experience ring shopping, right?
Well it was all pretty exciting, at first. I looked online to get a crash course on the 4Cs and trawled forums for opinions before finally hitting the shops. I already knew what I was looking for. I’m a big fan of style understated, so the classic round-cut solitaire really appealed to me. Usually I like to stray away from convention, but there are just some things I prefer traditional.
In summary, it was down to three options. A Gabrielle from Charlotte Ehinger-Schwarz 1876, a Brilliant Rose from Soo Kee Jewellery and having it custom-made at The Jewel Box.
In the end I chose the Brilliant Rose.
But it definitely wasn’t in a day’s work, that I can tell you. Our ring quest took several outings before I shortlisted any. But here’s a lengthy account of how I came to that decision (in case anyone’s interested):
After having visited almost all the shops, I was most comfortable with the band and setting of the Cartier Solitaire 1895. We weren’t really expecting to purchase a Cartier for obvious reasons, but went in anyway for comparison’s sake. A good 0.3ct Solitaire 1895 cost nearly $6,000. Justified or ludicrous, take your pick.
From what I gathered during my crash course, a well cut diamond is a well cut diamond, no matter if it’s from TianPo or Tiffany. So the diamond itself didn’t matter much to me. What mattered to me, mostly, was the band. The Cartier Solitaire 1895 band felt really good, and so was made the benchmark. Alas, I didn’t find anything in other shops that felt right.
So the next option was to custom-make the ring. We thought of buying a loose diamond from Bluenile.com and then setting it in a band custom-made to look and fit like the Solitaire 1895. This was an alternative that could save us some money, AND get me what I wanted. So I did a bit of googling, and found The Jewel Box. We consulted them about purchasing from Bluenile and they advised that although it’s generally alright to make purchases with Bluenile, you should assess if you’re really okay with paying for something expensive without having seen it physically. Bluenile ships for free, and if you don’t like what you’ve received, you can return it within 30 days and get a refund. You’ll have to bear shipping costs for the return, though. Alternatively, The Jewel Box can get the diamond for you, and you can see it for yourself before committing to it, and this wouldn’t cost any much different than if you were to get it from Bluenile.
Even though I thought TJB was more or less the solution to my ring problems, we wanted to think it over again, so we didn’t engage them yet. THEN. While walking around Wisma Atria after we were done at TJB, we passed by a Charlotte Ehinger-Schwarz 1876. I knew they sold Gabrielle diamonds from prior research. I’d heard raves about this 105-faceted diamond which was supposed to be more brilliant and scintillated than the classic 56-faceted diamond, and that it was considerably more expensive. I wanted to see for myself what the rave was all about, so we went in to take a look.
I was BLOWN AWAY. The Gabrielle was the first diamond that I’d seen that I absolutely LOVED. Indeed, it was so much more brilliant and scintillated than the other diamonds I’d seen. It was simply BREATHTAKING. Even the boyfriend admitted to having goosebumps just looking at it. Although it was a 0.25ct Gabrielle that I tried on, it definitely looked bigger! I LOVED IT. I loved the band it was set in as well! I loved everything about it. Except that with how much it cost, I could easily get a good 0.4-0.45ct diamond.
Now this was the part my heart and my brain began to be at odds with each other. Exclusivity or size? Both tried to reason with me. I went home and researched a bit more about Sir Gabi Tolkowsky, the man who created and cuts these Gabrielle diamonds. The Tolkowsky family goes way back. They were the ones who came up with the ORIGINAL modern 56-faceted round-cut diamond. Gabi Tolkowsky has cut some of the biggest ass diamonds in history, including the world’s largest, colourless and flawless diamond — the 273.85ct Centenary Diamond.
After reading all this, I wanted this 0.25ct Gabrielle even more. The whole Tolkowsky story really drew me in. Owning a Gabrielle would be like owning a little piece of great history. Some people consider them investments. Gabi Tolkowsky and his lineage are renowned diamond-cutters who’ve received numerous awards and accolades. When Gabi Tolkowsky, now 72, dies, I imagine the pieces that were cut when he was alive are probably going to go up the roof. This, while other diamonds have no resale value. (This is assuming Gabrielle cuts are limited in quantity as per their claim.)
The other thing I forgot to mention is that with a Gabrielle, you can afford to compromise on the clarity. This is because Gabrielles are hand-cut especially to mask or hide intrusions. This way, you can cut back to an SI1 and get a bigger size diamond. Personally though, I wouldn’t feel good about any SI1 and below, even if it’s a Gabrielle. So I wasn’t ready to go ahead and do that.
Anyway, we went back the next day. My lovely boyfriend was ready to put a deposit to secure that 0.25ct Gabrielle at its current price then. Although I loved, loved, LOVED it, something in me was just nagging at me. Up till now I can’t seem to put a finger on what it was. So it was for that reason that I let my Gabrielle go. Maybe it was the price. Maybe it was the size. Maybe I just didn’t feel comfortable owning something that exclusive. Maybe it was all of the above. I don’t know.
I believe it was fate when we entered Soo Kee. We had gone into Soo Kee prior, but at the time it was to look for wedding bands because we hadn’t decided to get engaged yet. That day though, we realised we had left Soo Kee out in our search for my engagement ring.
We saw the Brilliant Rose. It was the only other diamond, besides the Gabrielle that I liked. Comfortable band? Check. No nagging feeling? Check. Everything was already in its place, so as they say, the rest was history. :)
We didn’t even bother with The Jewel Box, but we might engage them to do our wedding bands.
Ahh, the wedding bands. That’s another headache for another time….
Today we made our first wedding-related purchase — The Engagement Ring.
Yes we shopped for it together, so there won’t be any of that drop to one knee kinda proposal. Reason being: 1) well, technically I was the one who proposed and 2) we’re talking a guy who’s by nature two hundred percent more likely to walk into a Challenger than a Cartier. Go figure.
Initially before we had made any concrete plans to wed, we both agreed that there wasn’t a need to get engaged. We were already in a long and serious relationship, and our families knew we were together, so there was no need for him to make a “reservation”.
But somehow after we started planning dates, the boyfriend changed his mind and decided it’d be nice to be engaged before the wedding.
I didn’t think it’s necessary but one person doesn’t make a relationship, so I gave in. The last time I checked, we were still on the same page about not wanting a big engagement ceremony, so that’s a good thing. You know how some parents like to dictate the planning process of their children’s weddings? So far I don’t think both our families are like that. But as our married friends would advise us, it’s still too early to say. Before you know it you may even have traditional aunts and uncles meddling in the process, they say.
After much thought, I figured this engagement would be a good way to get both our families acquainted. After all, they’ve never met.
And then the other good thing, would be of course, getting a ring out of the whole engagement shebang. Now this, I certainly wouldn’t mind. Enter huge grin.
This engagement ring he’s presenting me is made even more special due to the fact that it’s the first ever ring I’ll be receiving from him. We’ve never been fans of couple rings precisely for this reason: we both want our first rings to be symbols of the most significant milestone in our relationship, our wedding.
And rightly so, I’m nothing short of exhilarated!
Looking for the perfect ring was, to put it simply, not an easy task. I learnt that there definitely IS such a thing as ‘too much bling’, as my experience returning from ring shopping with a headache would tell you.
But maybe I’ll share that experience with you in another post.
Counting down two weeks to the collection of my engagement ring. Can hardly wait!