1. Settle on a budget: unfortunately most of us can’t afford the $750,000 George (Clooney) gave Amal (Aladdin), so this should be where you start in order to be realistic about the ring you will be able to afford. Most people spend around 3 months salary on their ring.

2. Choose a jeweller you can trust: for the ring of a lifetime you want to know that you are in good hands, so using someone who has come recommended and who is qualified is best.

3. Decide on the colour and carat of gold: 18 and 9 carat gold are available in three colours - rose, yellow or white (which will need to be rhodium plated from time to time); 9 carat gold has half the pure gold content and is therefore less expensive and less valuable than 18 carat, I would stick to the more precious 18 carat for an engagement ring; platinum is a white metal also available for engagement rings and has an excellent tensile strength - especially when setting a gemstone in a four claw setting.

4. What gem stone will you use: there’s plenty of choice:-

  • rubies and sapphires: second hardest on the Moh’s scale
  • aquamarines: about 7.5 on the Moh’s scale, which means they are harder then glass
  • emeralds (also around 7.5 in hardness on the Moh’s scale, however due to naturally occurring inclusions, they can be more delicate and so if you are hard on your jewellery, I would not recommend an emerald
  • diamonds - are 10 on the Moh’s scale and are the hardest mineral on earth(!!!), thus why a diamond is forever. 

Consider price, hardness and what colour you prefer.

The Moh’s scale characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer one and is between 1 (Talc) and 10 (Diamond). It is a purely ordinal scale. For example sapphire and ruby (9) are twice as hard as topaz, but diamond (10) is four times as hard as sapphire and ruby.

5. Type of setting: you may prefer an antique to a contemporary look for instance, or prefer claws to bezel settings (when the gemstone is encased in metal). Browsing through magazines can give you an idea of different styles.

6. Reinventing tired old pieces: gemstones and gold from unused jewellery you have can make the ring more affordable and sentimental. This is a speciality of mine!

7. What will be best for you in the future: many people don't bear in mind when they get engaged that they will be wearing this ring for a long time, so make sure it is a classic piece that you will grow into rather than out of. “I have never been asked to downsize an engagement ring, but have been asked to make them larger down the track!”