We bought an Engagement Ring!

*Disclaimer: This is a very lengthy post! XD

Yesterday, on 15th of February 2016, Sunshine surprised me by bringing me to JannPaul (JP) to buy an engagement/proposal ring! Previously, he told me he took leave to go on a date with me (I happened to be off yesterday) and that he made an appointment with JP on 5th March. I was pleasantly surprised, happy and excited after he showed me his email with JP for the appointment today. Hehe.

Apparently, when you make an appointment with JP, they would ask you for your preference of the diamond you would like to have a look at based on 1) your budget, 2) the diamond size or carat, 3) colour and clarity range of the diamond and lastly, (if I remember correctly) the cut of the diamond. In Sunshine’s email, I saw that his budget is about $2000-$4000k and he is looking at a 0.5 carat stone. It is then no wonder why he previously asked me how much a 0.5 carat diamond would cost. I was slightly amused at this combination as Sunshine does not believe in spending so much on a useless rock, yet he stated that his preference is a 0.5 carat. I guess he does not know how much to expect for his budget as well (shows how much homework he has done ever since reading about proposal rings two years ago). For myself, I was already prepared to get a 0.3 or 0.4 carat diamond (smallest carat size provided by JP is 0.3 carat if I remember correctly) based on Sunshine’s budget.

We were just on time for our appointment because we took some time to find our way to Far East Shopping Centre from Orchard MRT Station. XD Both of us do not go to Orchard often. JannPaul is located on the first level in the front of the shopping centre, inside House of Hung (HOH) so we spotted it easily while walking towards Far East Shopping Centre. Once inside, we were told to wait for the sales assistant (SA) assigned to us. We had to wait for about five minutes though there were less than five customers in the shop at that time. I thought “Shouldn’t they already be expecting us when we made an appointment already and that we were just on time and not early for our appointment?” Do not get me wrong. I am not offended by this but this was just something which struck me. To be very honest, when Jullie, the SA who would be attending to us, was introduced to us, I was slightly disappointed. This is because all along, I have been reading good reviews about Jann, Jerome, Casey, Samuel and other guys from JP and I was hoping that I would be attended to by them as well. Moreover, I did not know if Jullie is from HOH or JP and though I think it does not make a difference, I wanted someone from JP to sell me a diamond ring from JP, get it?

Chart showing a diamond's characteristics
Chart showing a diamond’s characteristics

Anyway, Jullie then started by showing us a “Diamond Characteristics” chart and asking our (Sunshine’s =p) budget, preferred cut, carat, colour and clarity, the 4Cs we are looking for in a diamond. I thought this was a bit straight to the point. Had I not read about this 4Cs beforehand, I would be at a total loss for what to say. Sunshine told her that his budget is $2000-$4000 and he is looking at a round diamond, minimum F colour and VS2 clarity. He then turned to look at me and I supplemented, a diamond of about 0.4 carat. Jullie then went to get two diamonds she thought we could consider and a diamond of a lower quality for comparison.

With that, she started educating us about what to look out for in choosing a diamond: cut, clarity and colour. She explained using the Holloway Cut Adviser (HCA) score to eliminate diamonds of a lower quality. HCA is used to determine if the proportions of a diamond are good or not. Diamonds with a HCA score of 6-10 are usually not seen in the market as they are simply too undesirable. In retail stores, diamonds with a Triple Excellent grade on paper may have HCA scores from 0.4 to 6. For JP, their Ideal cut range diamonds have a HCA score of between 1.4 (or 1.8. cannot remember) and 2.3 and their Super Ideal cut range diamonds have a HCA score of less than 1.4. You would not want a diamond that is cut too shallow because although the diamond would look bigger from the top, there is too little depth for light entering the diamond to be reflected back out, resulting in less “bling bling” whereas a diamond cut too deeply would mean that the bottom part is “wasted” as the diamond would look smaller as compare to another diamond with the same carat/ weight. We also used an online programme to calculate the HCA for one of the diamonds. However, as the HCA uses an estimation of the diamond’s proportions, its reliability is limited. Additionally, HCA scoring is only applicable for round diamonds with 57 facets. This is where the various scopes come in handy.

Engagement ring - the scribbles
Our “crash course” about diamonds

Using scopes to assess a loose diamond before one buys a diamond ring is non-existent in retail shops. I personally have not been to any of those shops to look for a diamond ring but according to those who did, their diamonds were of a lower quality, some of the salespersons did not even know HCA scoring or were limited in their knowledge about what they were selling and the prices were more expensive etc. Jullie first used an Ideal scope to show us a diamond’s light return, light leakages and contrast. She then used an Aset scope to further analyse the light performance and a Hearts and Arrows scope to show us the symmetry of the diamond. Using these scopes to look for any inclusions which would negatively affect the clarity of a diamond was done as well. I saw some black marks in one of the scopes and asked Jullie if those were what she meant by inclusions. Initially, Jullie thought those were dirt on the diamond and she tried to clean it off with a damp cloth but eventually concurred that those marks are probably inclusions in the diamond after failing to clean it off. She said I was very sharp. Lol.

For colour of a diamond, Jullie told us the best way to check it would be from its side, against a white background. She then did a blind test with us placing two diamonds of E and F colour together and asking us to determine which one is which. Sunshine said he could not tell the difference but I could see a slight tinge of yellow in the one of the diamonds! I guessed that must be the F coloured diamond and it turned out, I was correct! Hehe. So smart, right? =p

The diamonds were also shown to us under different lightings: LED and fluorescent lights. The “control” diamond really pale in comparison to the shiny Super Ideal diamond Jullie brought! She also showed and explained to us the GIA certificate for one of the diamond (somehow one of the two diamonds Jullie brought to us was eliminated halfway but I forgot why). After making sure that we understood what she was explaining to us for the past one to two hours, she gave us a quote for the diamond she brought out. It was a Super Ideal cut, 0.41 carat, F colour, VS1 diamond if I remembered correctly and she said this costed $2k+. I was a little bit surprised as I thought usually salesperson would try to push for a more expensive diamond by showing more diamonds to their customers. Additionally, I did not just want to buy that diamond as I feel that I have not done enough comparison. Therefore, I told Jullie that I would want to consider a Solasfera (a type of premium, signature cut by JP) and would also like to view an Octagon (another type of premium, signature cut) too. My impression is an Octagon diamond is only available in larger carats and hence, they are even more expensive than they already are. Sunshine does not have a budget for that and I do not want him to spend so much on a diamond too. With that, she scooted off in search of diamonds we might like.

Jullie came back with only two diamonds, one Solasfera and Octagon each. I was slightly disappointed as I would like to have more diamonds to choose from when making my choice. However, she explained that both these two cuts are rare cuts and they usually do not carry that many of them at a time. On hindsight, I wondered why she did not bring some >0.45 carat diamonds for our considerations as well. Are those way above Sunshine’s budget? All the four diamonds she brought for our consideration were between 0.4 to 0.43 carats only. With two new diamonds, she patiently went through with us the scope pictures, performance of the diamonds under different lighting conditions again and kindly helped me take pictures of all the three diamonds under the different scopes. Paiseh sia. When she finished, it was time for me to choose my diamond. I had a

1) Super Ideal cut, 0.41 carat, F colour, VS1,
2) Solasfera, 0.423 carat, E colour, VS2 and
3) Octagon, 0.42 carat, E colour, VS1

to choose from. I really cannot make up my mind. However, when Jullie told me the price for the Solasfera and Octagon, I immediately eliminated the Super Ideal! I told Sunshine, “Since the difference is only $xxx, we might as well take the Solasfera/ Octagon right???” Haha. I was expecting a greater hike in price between the Super Ideal and their premium, signature cuts and was therefore pleasantly surprised when Julie told me the difference! I must definitely grab this opportunity! Haha. With that, I am left with two choices and Sunshine is NOT helping me at all! So bad!

The final two diamonds I was supposed to decide between
The final two diamonds I was supposed to decide between

Jullie commented quite a number of times that Sunshine is very lucky that I went to choose this with him. She saw a lot of guys being stressed over which diamond (and ring) to buy, guessing what their significant other MIGHT like, the ring sizes etc.  However, Jullie also noticed that Sunshine was very quiet throughout the session and commented that Sunshine was very patient, never rushing me at all. She even asked whether I usually bully him or not! Hahahahaha! Of course not! Haha. The truth was, Sunshine had an ulcer in his mouth and was thus unusually quiet. While we were in the train earlier, Sunshine even jokingly suggested that we communicate via what’s app during the session as he does not want to speak. Lol.

Anyway, back to choosing my diamond. I like the Octagon for its unique shape (8 sides) and the lucky 8 it has: 8 sides, 8 hearts, 8 arrows and 88 facets. It is definitely a shape less people would have. However, I also like the Solasfera for its zero light leakages and therefore, more bling bling. Honestly, I really cannot tell the difference in the bling bling (correctly known as fire and scintillation of a diamond) in ALL three Super Ideal, Solasfera and Octagon diamonds but I thought I saw more bling bling in the Solasfera than in the Octagon. I want a diamond that blings. Who doesn’t want, right? If not, just buy glass or something and save the few thousand dollars. Therefore, I sort of decided that I would take the Solasfera.

The Octagon under an Ideal Scope
The Octagon under an Ideal Scope

Jullie did not rush me but suggested that I take a look at the ring settings first then. She asked me for the type of settings I prefer. I told her I wanted a twisted, tapered ring with preferably no side diamonds (because they are more expensive and would take away the attention from my not-very-big main diamond) ring and showed her some pictures of JP rings which I like. She cleverly and happily nodded after understanding my preferences. However, I also told her that I do not want to choose the ring setting as I still wanted an element of surprise at the end (Sunshine was silently protesting by frowning and shaking his head beside me. Haha). She understood but still took out some samples of their settings to have a feel of what I like and whether those she thought were suitable for me, looked good on my finger.

Jullie skillfully mounted the diamond I chose onto various ring settings and let me wear on my finger to determine if that particular ring setting was suitable for me and whether I liked it or not. I think this is so that she can better advise Sunshine on which setting to choose later on since I do not want to be a part of that process. Hehe. She also demonstrated how different settings would bring out/ obscure the diamond, make it appear bigger or smaller than it actually is etc. I actually found the 0.423 Solasfera look bigger than expected on my finger when Jullie mounted on one of the setting for me, that I thought maybe a diamond in the 0.3 carat range might suffice. Apparently, Sunshine thought so too when I asked him later if we should ask to see a 0.3x carat diamond. However, he said he liked the number 0.423 and it was ok. Haha. I told him, it was not even 0.432 but he shrugged and said he still liked the number. Haha. One thing I noticed was all the settings she took out were of a combination of white and rose gold. I do not know why she did that but up till that time, I never once imagined my ring to be of a mixture of white and rose gold. I always just expected it to be white gold as that is the most commonly used metal. Thinking back, I think she must have saw my white and rose gold earrings. If that was her reason for bringing all white and rose gold ring settings, she was really very thoughtful and meticulous! Now, I can better match my earrings and ring! Hehe. Then, she mounted the Octagon on one of the settings for me to see. I felt that the setting did not really bring out its beautiful shape and at that moment, I felt that one could only see the shape of this small Octagon up close. There is no point for me to choose it as compared to one that would bling more. Sunshine agreed with me and ta da! We settled on the Solasfera! Hehe. She then wanted to conclude the session when Sunshine told her he wanted to choose the setting and settle everything today. She looked to me for approval and suggested that I take a walk around the shop after I agreed. After a very short while, Jullie came to me and told me that the settings have been chosen and she would like to explain our diamond’s certification to us.

My Solasfera under an Ideal Scope
My Solasfera under an Ideal Scope

Jullie brought out our Solasfera diamond’s certification and explained how to interpret the cert to us. The previous certification she explained for the Super Ideal was by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) while this Solasfera’s certification was done by the American Gem Society (AGS). I do not know what is the difference between the two (they are both independent, international certifications) but I do not think one certification is better than the other. She tried to find and show us the diamond’s inclusions when I asked about the cloud and feathers this diamond has but after trying to see it with a magnifying glass and under the scopes, she happily declared that the inclusions were so small that they cannot even be seen with 10x magnification! I tried to find the inclusions using the scopes but I could not as well! She said that this is a very clean VS2 and that I am very lucky to get it! *very happy!* (Though I wonder what makes it a VS2 then instead of a diamond of better clarity, like a VS1 or VVS2, if the inclusions cannot be seen under a 10x scope). I tried to ask Jullie if the feather was too near to the edge of the diamond for it to be brittle and break off if I accidentally knock my ring against something hard several times but she did not understand my question. =/ After explaining the certificate to us, she told us that the certificate number on the certificate must match that on the diamond. If not, the certificate is not for that diamond’s. The paper qualifications for a diamond might look good but what use is there if the actual diamond you have is of a poor quality? Jullie then brought out a “magnifying machine”, deftly placed the diamond on it and showed us our Solasfera number and the AGS number. This ACS number tallies with the one on the certificate.

Engagement ring - AGS number

After informing us that JP provides two times free polishing and resizing and one time engraving services for all their customers and, in Jullie’s own words, “borrowing” Sunshine once from me to settle the settings, Sunshine paid a $500 deposit and we left as satisfied customers! Sunshine also felt heart pain that a big hole is burnt in his pocket! XD After all, the ring costs one month of Sunshine’s salary! *guilty* As for me, I am now a proud owner of a Solasfera diamond ring. I cannot wait to see, receive and finally, wear my diamond ring! I jokingly suggested that we buy 4D for the last four digits of my diamond’s AGS cert when Sunshine added to buy 0432 as well. I also wanted to buy the number for the price of my ring. I told Sunshine maybe if we strike 4D, the ring could then be paid with the winnings! Haha.

Engagement ring - my solasfera (actual)

Edit: That night, I had a restless night. I dreamt of people buying/selling diamonds, me almost dying when a bear-sized quokka committed suicide by plunging its nails into a wall behind me (I barely escaped before it crashed). I think my subconscious was more guilty than my conscious for spending so much money on a rock. I did tell Sunshine he can email them to say he wants a diamond of a smaller carat but he brushed me off and *kok* me for thinking too much. However, I am still very happy whenever I think of my ring!

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