Buying an engagement ring is no easy task.

Not only do you have to keep your love's personal tastes in mind, but you've also got to consider the cut, the colour, the size, the setting, not to mention the price.

Prospective grooms, we empathise!

Which is why we were more than a little delighted to get a chance to sit down with renowned jeweller Brian Gavin and his team at Brian Gavin Diamonds, to grill them in the diamond department with every question we could possibly think of.

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Just a few of our favourites from Brian Gavin Diamonds.

Brian Gavin is famed for his developments in diamond cutting over the past 30 years. A 5th generation diamond cutter from South Africa, it's safe to say he knows his stuff about all things sparkly!

He now creates both custom engagement rings and beautiful signature pieces, which are available to purchase online. And he's just the person to fill the blanks in shopping for that all-important ring.

What should somebody look for from a good jewellers?

Some people would say, “Don’t buy diamonds on the internet.” We disagree with that statement. You are better off buying on the internet from a company that has a great reputation and is known for its cut.

You must do your research. If you do your research online, chances are you will find more than enough information about the jewelers you are thinking about purchasing from.   

Of the “Four Cs” which should be the most, and least important when you’re diamond shopping?

Cut, cut, cut, cut. (we mean angles and measurements, not the shape per se) Those are my 4 Cs.

Because ultimately cut will govern the way that stone performs – the way it will reflect light and the way it will camouflage inclusions. Do not sacrifice on cut.

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Have you any tips on spotting a “bad diamond”.

Do as much research as possible. Information is so readily available today.

Look for who produces a well-cut diamond. Where are they sold? Who are you buying from and do they know what they are doing? Are they supplying you with all of the information about the diamond? These are all questions to ask yourself.

Are there “good deals” on diamonds, or should you expect to pay a fixed price with most jewellers?

The great appeal of the internet is that we actually help eliminate the middle man. You can expect to pay 35-75% less online than you would in a local jewelry store.

Deals are certainly to be had especially if you find yourself being flexible on the cut characteristics of the stone you're considering.

What carat gold should an engagement ring setting be?

Our recommendation for metal type on a setting is always platinum.  We base this on structural integrity and less upkeep compared to other metals.  

Our second recommendation is 18kt as we hand-make most of our settings and find that this combination is more malleable and less brittle for durability of the ring over time.

Do most brides expect a diamond? Why is a diamond so synonymous with engagement rings?

99% of the brides we deal with do expect a diamond for their engagement ring.  

However, not everyone is out for a new diamond. Many use family diamonds that have been passed down over generations that add to the sentimental factor. Others, do prefer a new shiny diamond to call their very own.

Often, the classic solitaire diamond ring is what brides picture when they imagine their husband-to-be to propose.

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What are the biggest ring trends you’ve been noticing lately?

Halos are a huge trend at this time. Due to surge in diamond prices over the past few years most couples are having to go with small carat sizes to maximize their budget.

The halo offers an excellent benefit because it creates a very large look without actually breaking the bank. The halo doesn't exactly add more sparkle to a smaller diamond it actually creates a larger appearance.  

This is a great trend for people looking to maximize size without splurging on the super large single stone.

Is the old adage of “three month’s salary” still a typical spend on an engagement ring?

We hear lots of clients use that term and then we come across clients who have been saving for years. The great thing about our company is that we have something for every type of budget.  

If you have the luxury of a well paying job, we can help you maximize the size. If you're on a rather restricted budget, we can still find a diamond ring within your range, that will far exceed anything else that you may come across, that will set her ring apart from everything else in a jewelry store case.

Do you find more brides are choosing their own rings, or are grooms tending to go it alone?

Yes, we deal with quite a few brides picking out their own engagement rings.  After all, they are the ones that will be wearing the ring for a lifetime, why not involve her in the process?  

It's all part of the journey together to build this beautiful ring together so that you know both parties are going to be thrilled.

If a groom-to-be doesn’t know his partner’s ring size, how should he go about finding it out?

We come across this situation quite frequently. We understand wanting to make this a surprise for most, but the worst thing you want to do is have this beautiful ring made and it be either too small or too large. 

If she currently has rings, you could mention that you wanted to get them cleaned for her and take them to have them sized.  Or, if you frequent stores together you can sneak a card to the rep behind the counter to size her when she's not looking.  

Both will ensure that you get as accurate of a measurement as possible.

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What other stones are popular?

Gemstones are also a hot trend. Due to the surge in diamond prices, some of our customers are going the color route to keep the large size. Blue and Pink Sapphires, Tsavorite, Rubies and Amethysts are the stones we see most frequently.

Which cuts offer the most sparkle?

The traditional, 58 facet round brilliant, offers the most brilliance of all the cuts. When cut to super ideal standards, these diamonds are the most optimal performing diamonds available.

The modified cushion shape is a new line of diamonds that also offer maximum light return and performance and come in a close second to the super ideal round brilliants.

Is it wiser to get three small stones well cut, or one larger stone, not so well cut?

We focus on cut and have found that you should also go with a slightly smaller well cut diamond rather than a large not so well cut diamond.

While her diamond may not be the largest in the room the cut and performance will make hers stand out.

Those with the large not so well cut diamond will wonder why their diamond does not perform the same.

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Tell me a little about Hearts and Arrows diamonds and Blue Diamonds?

Our Hearts and Arrows diamond are cut to very exact and precise proportions and angles that guarantee perfect alignment of all 8 hearts and all 8 arrows that can be found within the diamond.

Less than 1% of all diamonds in the world meet these proportions so they are a true rarity and something that will exceed your expectations when having the pleasure of viewing them as compared to standard stones that you can find in a jewelry store, where they do not focus on the exacting cut of their diamonds.

Not to be confused with blue colored diamonds, our “Blue” line of diamonds are also super ideal cut diamonds, but with the presence of blue fluorescence, only seen under UV-light.

Although fluorescence in diamonds is often given a bad rap, Brian personally guarantees that the fluorescence in the diamonds has no negative or milky effect that can sometimes be associated with stones that are poorly cut and have fluorescence.

What questions should everyone buying a ring, ask their jeweller?

Purchasing a diamond becomes an actual journey as you start your research.

Your jeweler should be able to answer technical questions regarding cut parameters and help decipher Idealscope and ASET images to determine which diamond is the best fit for you.  

Many people tend to rely on their jeweler and sometimes they aren't the most knowledgeable and end up getting an inferior diamond by not asking technical questions that will ensure the best diamond.

Brian Gavin Custom Jewlery with Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamonds


What should somebody know before having a ring custom made?

A custom ring is literally a handmade piece of art. You can add what you like and change the design to what fits your desires.

I encourage you to embark on a custom design with an open mind and take the recommendations of your designers on what works the best but is still structurally safe and secure, to ensure she can wear her ring and enjoy it!

How long should somebody expect it to take for a ring to be ready, once they’ve selected the stone and setting?

For catalog items, production time will run approximately 12-14 business days depending on the style. For a custom design, the process with generally run a full four business weeks for completion.

What certificates should come with a diamond purchase?

With every Signature diamond purchase from BGD, you will receive the original AGS certificate with your purchase.

If you select a virtual selection, you will receive the original certificate for that particular diamond.

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What tips do you have for someone purchasing a ring online?

Do your research! Find out everything possiblethere is to know about diamonds and then select the company that fits to your needs.

Sometimes, the best price isn't always the clear winner. Find a company that offers extensive programs, like Upgrades and Buy Backs, and one that will warranty its work for your peace of mind.

What advice would you give somebody who is having their ring shipped from overseas?

One thing to keep in mind when purchasing from BGD, is that all international orders must be purchased through bank wire.

After the purchase is made we ship via FedEx just like orders placed in the US. All packages shipped from BGD are fully insured, even for international orders.

Any last pieces of advice for buying an engagement ring?

Find a website that focuses on diamond education, much like BGD.

You'll be able to learn more about a diamond than you ever expected and ensure that you have a truly one of a kind piece that you and your future wife will enjoy for a lifetime!

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Wow – that's pretty thorough, don't you think? But if you need any more advice on buying an engagement ring, leave your questions in the comments below, and we'll do our best to get find you an answer.

For more information on Brian Gavin Diamonds, their custom and signature engagement rings, and unique diamond cutting methods, (or simply to swoon over sparklers!) check out their website.