What to Consider When Upgrading a Diamond Ring
Upgrade engagement ring guide

What to Consider When Upgrading a Diamond Ring

Complete guide to upgrading a diamond engagement ring
Complete guide to upgrading a diamond engagement ring

"A diamond is forever" made famous by a 1947 De Beers advertising campaign forever linked diamonds as a symbol of love and drives over $30B in diamond engagement rings sales in the US and Canada annually. Another increasingly common trend is the diamond engagement ring upgrade that often comes after an anniversary band or eternity band. If you're ready to upgrade a diamond engagement ring, Sotheby's has created a guide to the perfect diamond ring upgrade.

Harry Winston Oval Diamond Ring 10.36 carats

Why Upgrade?

A diamond ring upgrade is a perfect way to celebrate an anniversary, important milestone or vow renewal. David Beckham has gifted Victoria 15 different engagement rings during their 20-year marriage. Justin Bieber upgraded his wife Haily's engagement ring concurrent with her pregnancy announcement and their vow renewal. Her While most couples don't upgrade that frequently, celebrities aren't the only ones upgrading their diamond engagement rings. While upgrading the diamond size is usually a given when it comes to upgrading a diamond ring, there are other factors to consider including stone shape, colored diamonds, setting and budget.

Upgrade Diamond Size

Upgrading the diamond size is often a given when clients decide to upgrade. The next question is how much bigger is an appropriate upgrade? While the answer varies widely, in general Sotheby's clients are looking for a new center diamond that is at least 2 carats bigger or they are looking for a center diamond that is between 5 - 10 carats. We recommend only considering a new center diamond that is VS clarity or better, G color or better and Very Good to Excellent cut. As the diamond size increases all of the diamond quality grades become more important since the flaws become more visible with larger diamonds. When deciding on a 5-carat or bigger diamond, the next consideration is the shape of the diamond.

Bulgari Emerald Cut Ring 20.03 carats

Upgrade Diamond Shape 

When considering a diamond that is 5 carats or larger, fancy diamond shapes are more popular versus the classic round brilliant cut diamond. If you have decided on a 5-carat or larger center diamond, we recommend the following cuts: emerald, pear, oval or cushion cut diamond. Most buyers are interested in upgrading to a larger size and also switching to a different diamond shape.

For a sleek and modern look, an emerald cut is a great option for an engagement ring upgrade. The emerald cut diamond is one of the oldest shapes dating back to the 1500s and was originally used for cutting emeralds. The emerald cut diamond was first popular during the Art-Deco era and remains a favorite for buyers looking for a diamond that is 5-carats and larger. The rectangular shape also has the positive benefit of elongating the finger. Emerald cut diamonds have straight, linear facets that are clean and streamlined, giving an almost ‘watery’ look that is classic and sophisticated. The emerald cut is typically used for only high-color grade and high-clarity grade diamonds because its minimal facets show any imperfection and inclusion to the naked eye. A classic style for an emerald engagement ring is a three-stone setting: a single emerald diamond in the center flanked by smaller trapezoid-shaped or emerald-cut diamonds. The emerald shape diamond is a perfect for an upgrade ring because the stones tend to look better as carat size increases and the bold facets are even more apparent to the eye. An Asscher cut diamond is similar to emerald but is square with deeply trimmed corners.

The Asscher cut was developed by the Royal Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam in 1902 and first gained popularity during the Art Deco era and then experienced a resurgence in the early 2000s. While the square Asscher cut is less popular than an emerald cut diamond in larger carat weights, it is a shape to consider as an upgrade.

7.11-Carat Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Modern day cushion cut diamond owes its faceting to old mine cut. The cushion cut diamond has rounded corners and is often referred to as the "old new classic" based on its origins. The cushion cut diamond's origins are based on the Old Mine cut, which dates back to the 1700s. The Old Mine cut was the most common diamond shape until the early 1900s. The modern cushion cut diamond typically has 64 facets versus only 58 facets for the Old Mine cut. A 5-carat or larger cushion cut diamond is a top choice for many buyers of larger diamonds.

Oval is an elegant diamond ring that has many of the properties of a round brilliant cut diamond but in a more sophisticated shape for a 5-carat or larger diamond. The modern oval cut diamond was invented by Lazare Kaplan in 1957. Since an oval diamond is elongated and the cut is more shallow the weight of the stone is more distributed making the stone look bigger. An oval cut diamond has 58 facets and has a similar brilliance as a round brilliant cut diamond. Oval diamonds can exhibit shadows called the "bow tie effect" based on the cut and something to consider before deciding on the stone.

The pear shaped diamond is also referred to as the teardrop and was invented in 1475 by Lodewyk van Bercken. The pear shaped diamond has 58 facets and has the appearance of combining and round and marquise diamond into one stone.While the best proportions for a pear shaped diamond is in part personal, some cuts can result in light leakage or a bow tie effect in the center of the stone. This unique shape can be set in multiple ways and stands out as a unique choice in a 5-carat or larger diamond.

Blugari Rare Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring, 'Laguna Blu', 11.16-carat

Upgrade To A Fancy Colored Diamond  

Another way to make a statement is upgrading to a fancy-colored diamond. Colored diamonds are far rarer than white diamonds with only 1 out of 10,000 carats displaying a fancy color and only 1 in 25,000 being fnacy intense colored. Fancy pink, yellow, and blue diamonds are gaining in popularity with luxury jewelry buyers, especially with celebrities and Asian buyers. The five most expensive diamond rings sold at Sotheby's in 2023 were either fancy intense pink or fancy vivid blue diamonds. Pink diamonds are known to symbolize femininity and romance. Yellow diamonds are known to convey happiness and optimism and blue diamonds symbolize loyalty and trust. Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez the second time in 2022 with a rare natural fancy green diamond. Ryan Reynolds proposed to Black Lively with a pink oval diamond engagement ring. Victoria Beckham has several colored diamond rings including two oval pink diamond rings and two yellow diamond rings.

Mixed Cut Fancy Yellow Diamond Ring 21.35 Carats

Upgrade the Diamond Setting

While the three stone ring's history dates back to the 1800s, the De Beers 2001 Trilogy campaign transformed the three stone ring into another symbol of love. De Beers marketed the three stone ring to symbolize a couple's "past, present and future". Today the three stone ring is both a popular engagement ring and upgrade ring option. As an upgrade, it is popular to reset the original center diamond as one of the side diamonds to represent the past. When considering this option as an upgrade, the center stone can be closer in size to the original since this upgrade generally requires the investment in two additional diamonds. For this upgrade, it is important to ensure the diamonds are all a similar color, clarity and cut.

Another popular and unique diamond setting is a Toi et Moi ring. The direct translation of Toi et Moi is “you and me”. This ring was famously gifted by Napoleon Bonaparte to his wife Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796. In recent years, this ring has gained in popularity in the luxury space as women are moving towards more unique settings when they choose to upgrade their engagement ring. The Toi et Moi ring is almost always set with different shape diamonds and can also be set with white and colored diamonds. This setting is another upgrade option where the original center diamond could be used with a new diamond.

Fancy Light Pink Diamond Ring Set with a pear-shaped fancy light pink diamond weighing 3.74 carats

Upgrade Engagement Ring at Sotheby's

The final factor to consider when upgrading a diamond ring is the budget. A 5-carat G color VS fancy cut diamond starts at about $165,000. Fancy cut white diamonds are less expensive than fancy colored diamonds in the same carat and quality grade. Fancy pink and fancy blue diamonds are the most desirable fancy colored diamonds compared to fancy yellow diamonds. Fancy Vivid or Fancy Intense colored diamonds are the most expensive.

When you are ready to upgrade an engagement ring, Sotheby's offers several ways to purchase an upgrade. We have jewelry auctions in New York, Geneva, Paris and Honk Kong every year with a curated selection of diamond rings. Sotheby's also has a curated selection of high quality diamond engagement rings available for immediate purchase. You can also contact a Salon Associate in New York or Bucherer in Zurich to learn more about upgrading an engagement ring at Sotheby's.

Jewelry Buy Now The Luxury Sales

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