Find out all you need to know about Diamonds & Engagement Rings in this episode of Ellwed Talks – the first podcast about destination weddings in Greece, where we talk with Payal & Kajal, Co-Founders of Sonu Company.
Payal and Kajal Vitha are 3rd generation jewelers following in the footsteps of their father who leads the market in the jewelry space in Southern California.
Both majoring in Business with an emphasis in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kajal works at her family’s store, while Payal recently went full-time running Sonu Company.
Through their own personal experiences and the struggles their friends faced when wanting to start the process of buying an engagement ring, they realized that they were not getting transparent and honest answers. They weren’t given the right information to make an informed decision when it came to buying an engagement ring, so they started their own brand, Sonu Company.
In the past year, they’ve expanded their business to include everyday jewelry, but still find that the main interests lie within the custom Diamonds & Engagement Rings space.
Listen to the episode here:
Today you’re going to learn all you need to know about Diamonds & Engagement Rings.
- All Things Diamonds – 4C’s & How that Affects Cost, the Design Process, Lab vs Natural
- How to Start Engagement Ring Shopping & Things to Know When Buying an Engagement Ring
- Trending Engagement Ring Styles
- How to Care for Your Ring and When to Wear It?
- Personalized Ring Design
I would love to hear your story and how did you become the co-founders of Sonu Company?
Yeah, of course. I’m Payal and my sister Kajal is my co-founder we started Sonu Company really through personal experiences as more of our friends and our family started looking into proposing and starting their engagement ring-buying journey. We realized there was a gap in the market and not a lot of education or transparency when it comes to buying an engagement ring, as it’s a large purchase. And for most people, it’s kind of their first large purchase. So we really started Sonu Company to help and guide our friends and family to design something that’s unique to them and their story.
And of course, we grew up in the jewelry industry, so it’s something that we were always very passionate about. We’re actually third-generation jewelers, following in our dad’s footsteps here and kind of building something of our own. Something a little bit more niche and something a little bit more on the wedding side, like you mentioned.
That’s an amazing story. And I think it’s so necessary that in the jewelry business that there is also a woman’s touch, you know?
Right. If you’re going to wear it forever, you better love it, right?
All Things Diamonds – 4C’s & How that Affects Cost, the Design Process, Lab vs Natural
Yeah! So, give us a crash course on diamonds! Tell us about these four Cs and how this affects the cost and the process. And what is the difference between the lab versus natural?
Sure! So for the four Cs, you have four Core Factors. You have Cut, you have Color, you have Clarity, and you have Carat! All of these definitely determine the value of the diamond with each C consisting of its own grading scale and how it affects the price.
For cut, that’s usually what we say is the most important out of the four C’s. That’s what gives your diamond exclusive sparkle and overall beauty. So one of our tips is, don’t forget about cut! Where most people feel that’s the least important, however, we always say that’s the most important!
Carat refers to the weight of the diamond. A lot of misconceptions about carat is that it refers to the size rather than the weight, but measurements do play a very big role in that.
In terms of clarity, it just refers to how imperfect or perfect your diamond is. What you will see under a 10X magnification. And a lot of times we tell people clarity is not as important. There is a diamond for everyone out there. So you can go lower in terms of clarity.
And then your last one is color, which just refers to how white or how yellow tint your diamond has.
When going into lab versus mined, a lot of people don’t know which way to go. But a lot of times what we tell people is that the four C’s refers to both. Whether you’re buying a lab diamond or a mined diamond, both are chemically, optically, and physically the same. They’re graded the same way, the same laboratories that grade your lab diamonds grade your mined diamonds too. So overall, the four C’s is a very important factor to just kind of quick research before starting your engagement ring buying process. It really will help you determine where you fall in and how you want to proceed with buying your Diamonds & Engagement Rings.
And are usually lab diamonds more affordable than natural ones? Is that the case?
Yeah. So lab diamonds are actually, I would say 30 to 40% more affordable than a mined diamond. Being that we are just speeding up the process when we grow a lab diamond. You know, a mined diamond takes a very long time to grow and it’s, also not as eco-friendly as a lab diamond. So, lab diamonds are definitely more sustainable. They also have fewer inclusions and blemishes, because we are growing them in a very controlled environment. Thus, we’re able to create a more pure and more beautiful stone with fewer imperfections in the lab.
And how does the color affect the price? Nowadays we are seeing a lot of black diamonds or yellow diamonds, as they call them on social media. Does that affect the price or is that more of a personal choice?
Honestly, nowadays I have to say it is a personal choice. Some people don’t want that super white diamond, they prefer that slight yellow tint.
There are colored diamonds like yellow lab-grown diamonds or black diamonds. But when it comes to color, I would say it’s definitely more of a personal preference. Obviously, the higher you go on the color scale, if you’re reaching that colorless D-E-F color spectrum, they do get rarer and more expensive. And then the next range, which is what we recommend, will be like the G-H, which is near colorless. So you’ll still get that white diamond, but you’re not paying for the premium.
As we know, the size of the diamond also affects the price, right? The bigger it is, the more it costs. Or is that a misconception?
It’s not a misconception. Definitely! When you move up in the carat bracket range, you are moving into a next higher price range. This is something that we like to call also magic sizes. We talk about this a lot when you are shopping for an engagement ring.
A trick would be to kind of hit right below your half-marker number or your whole marker number. So if your significant other wants a two-carat, maybe opt for a 1.8 or a 1.85. That kind of helps you not jump into that next price bracket. But you’re still getting a big enough rock to satisfy the wishes, and it’s also not costing you too much.
That’s an amazing trick! And in case you do want a bigger rock, but you are ok to sacrifice the quality or purity, does that affect the price? Is the price also lower in that case?
Absolutely! Actually, a lot of times when we start working with clients who are starting their Diamonds & Engagement Rings shopping, that’s something that we always ask them!
For instance, from the four C’s, what is most important to them? Is it the carat weight, or is it the color or the clarity? And so, after we’ve narrowed down the most important things for the couple, then we can start making suggestions accordingly.
If carat weight is important (if she wants a bigger stone) then, we’ll opt for maybe a little bit lower clarity and a little bit lower color grade. So we are still kind of working within the budget that they have in place, but we’re making sure they are getting a heavier stone, a larger carat weight.
That’s great to know that if the price is an important factor, you can still get a bigger rock, but not so pure for instance, and maybe opt for a more sustainable, lab-made one.
How to Start Engagement Ring Shopping & Things to Know When Buying an Engagement Ring
So do you usually see couples shopping together or is there a surprise element? What are some of the things that we need to know when buying an engagement ring? Can you share with us some tips and tricks?
Sure. Let’s start with engagement ring shopping. I want to say more often than not, couples are now coming in together. Or they’re taking that initial discovery call together.
So she’s got her Pinterest board, she’s got her idea of what she likes. For instance the shape of the central diamond or a specific design of the ring. And once we kind of get a feel for what it is that we’re working with, then I think only one side, only one of the partners takes over and finishes up that process with us.
So that element of surprise is still there for that final ring and that proposal. However, they usually know that they’re getting something that they love and something they had envisioned before they get to that big day.
Nonetheless, when couples come into the store, or before they get a chance to meet with us virtually, we always ask them to determine a timeline and a budget. That helps us guide them through the process. If they’re looking for something a little bit more custom or something a little bit more ready-made.
And from there, we asked our couples to try on all the different shapes in a range of carat weights. You never know what’s going to look best and feel best on you until you try it on.
For instance, when I was first in the market for Diamonds & Engagement Rings, I thought I wanted an oval-shaped diamond. I was so sure of it until I actually went and tried on rings. After I realized that maybe this isn’t the best fit for me. Really, going through and exploring all your options is worth it! It’s worth taking the time to go and just look.
Trending Engagement Ring Styles
So, we know that trends are changing a lot, from modern, traditional looks to stacking rings. But tell us some ring styles which are trending right now.
Yeah, I feel like the trends for Diamonds & Engagement Rings change quite often. Right now we see a huge trend for yellow-gold bands. White gold is still an option, but people are definitely leaning more toward yellow gold. In terms of the shapes of the stone, rounds are classic. We like to say rounds never go out of style! But some other shapes that are definitely more trending right now are ovals, pears, and radians. Some of the shapes are not as classic and a little bit different.
And then when it comes to wedding bands, we’ve definitely seen chunkier wedding bands. So whether that be with diamonds or without, we’ve seen a trend of people mixing and matching, where they have one delicate piece and one chunky piece. To create a little bit more character in their wedding band sets.
There are so many different styles out there. It’s really just preference. And some people go very different, very unique, and others go traditional. There’s no set wedding band that you have to go with. It’s really just what you like and what you’re going to wear forever. That is why I think it’s worth considering when you’re looking at your wedding band styles, is that something you’ll wear with your engagement ring? Or do you plan to wear your wedding band on its own a lot of the time and then sometimes wear them together? So that can also affect the way you design it or how you want it to look on your hand.
How to Care for Your Diamonds & Engagement Rings and When to Wear It?
So, what is the proper way to take care of our rings and stones? How do we clean them and when we travel, how can we protect our precious rings?
Let’s start with the cleaning. We definitely recommend that you clean your ring once a month, a little warm water and a little dish soap, and a small toothbrush will do the trick. You definitely don’t want to get any chemicals like bleach or cleaning supplies and things like that on your ring. That’ll definitely make it seem a little less shiny. It’ll start to look a little cloudy and you want your diamond to stay sparkly.
So definitely clean your ring! But at the end of the day, I do feel like sometimes we forget that your ring is still jewelry, right? Therefore, if you’re working out or you’re swimming or you’re sleeping, showering, or cleaning, we recommend that you do not wear your ring during those activities. If you want to protect it, you don’t want to accidentally swing your arm when you’re sleeping and hit your side table, for instance.
You can find our list of do’s and don’ts with your ring and how to clean it on our website here.
So, as we are in Greece, a lot of weddings and surprise engagements happen during the summer months. So what is your advice for everyone going to the beach during their vacations, destination wedding week, or even their honeymoons?
You can definitely take your wedding ring on your trip. However, wearing it depends on the activities that you do. No swimming, for instance as the water will definitely affect your finger and make the ring a little bit loose. So the chances of it slipping off are definitely a lot higher.
If you wear your ring 24/7, there are some things you can do to protect it.
One is you can buy a fake engagement ring. So when you are at the beach, you can wear that one and your real one is safe in your hotel room. There are many companies out there that make inexpensive ring replicas that are not diamond or gold specifically. And there are so many designs out there that you could probably find something very close to your design.
Secondly, you can look into insuring your ring. You can go through your homeowner’s insurance or you can find specifically a jeweler’s insurance. It is something that we do advise our couples to do. It’s just better safe than sorry at the end of the day. It is one of the biggest purchases a lot of us make for the first time in our life, even before buying a house for instance. So it is something that you do want to make sure you’re on the safe side.
The next thing you can do to protect your ring if you are wearing and feeling insecure is to just kind of turn it inside your hand. It will show a plain band or just a diamond band on top. I know when I and Pile are walking around some unknown areas, she definitely does that.
Personalized Diamonds & Engagement Rings Design
If someone has a specific vision for their ring look or design, how should they approach this process?
When you come in and we’re talking about ring design or we’re on a call and you’ve got your Pinterest board, from there, we’ll ask you to show us your top five designs.
To see the commonalities between the five of those. Or if there are five completely different designs, we’ll try to find the details that are most important to you or which you like the most.
After the consultation, we will create a CAD rendering of that ring so you can see what your design is going to look like before we hop into production. However, many times people have some specific things in mind and they might not have an image. So having that CAD rendering really helps us, communicate your vision without us creating a ring. So we are very collaborative in that space and we want to make sure that before we actually start creating it, it looks and it’s going to feel exactly like you’re hoping for it to feel.
Want do you suggest for someone whose ring might not fit properly anymore? As our bodies are changing, they might become too large or too small after some time.
That’s actually one of our biggest tips!
When people are starting the engagement ring process and the design process, a lot of times they want that full diamond-studded band. And while it looks very beautiful, for long-term purposes, we actually don’t suggest you go for that. We recommend people go three-fourths of the way, always keeping a little gap at the bottom of your band without diamonds. This allows you to resize your ring in the future.
Being fully studded in a full eternity, you actually cannot resize it because we can’t cut through the diamonds. And it just ruins the integrity of the ring when we are playing with it too much. So if you give that small gap at the bottom, it gives us the flexibility in the future to resize it.
Because our hands fluctuate, even due to the weather, there will be times when your ring might not fit perfectly. If your hands are slightly swollen, the ring could get a little tight. So always keep that in mind and having that little area for resizing gives you the flexibility if needed.
Another tip would be going maybe one or half size bigger when trying on your rings before the wedding. It’s always better than going slightly smaller because it’s easier for us to size down versus sizing up.
And our last tip or trick that we want to share is about guessing your partner’s ring size! A lot of folks come in and they’re not sure of their partner’s ring size. So how do you find that ring size without ruining the surprise?
If your partner wears rings, you can simply grab one of those for the day! If you’re not able to bring it to your jewelers, the common trick is to imprint it onto soap! Or ask their friends if they know. We want to get relatively close to their ring size, especially if you’re going to surprise them and you’re not coming in and having that conversation together.
We also have printable ring sizers, there’s plenty online, we’ve got little plastic ring sizers, so there are different avenues, but you know, we want to make sure that we’re getting close to that ring size without completely giving away that a proposal is coming soon.