Author Archives: John Cunningham

Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring

1. For any couple, buying an engagement is one of the biggest investments of your lives, so it is worth spending the time to do your research to get the ring that you want. The stone, usually a diamond, is the feature piece of any engagement ring. Familiarise yourself with the 4 C’s; these are the carat, colour, clarity and cut of the gemstone. You will need to balance the qualities of these factors to get the diamond that is right for you at an affordable price.

2. If you are working with a small budget, you should consider the 5th C; cubic zirconia. A cubic zirconia stone is indistinguishable from a real diamond except by an expert, but is a fraction of the cost. You could always plan on replacing the c.z. stone with a real diamond later in life when finances improve. Make sure that you receive your certificate with your diamond, the two go together.

3. Shop around. There are plenty of options available. High street stores are a good place to start as you will get a good idea of what styles are available and a good indication of price. If you are looking for vintage, there are plenty of shops in and around the Powerscourt Centre that stock a good range of upcycled rings. In recent years, a number of boutique diamond retailers have popped up off the high street. Certainly, they are worth meeting as they can offer value. However, don’t feel pressured to buy just because they have invested time in you.

4. Internet retailers, are very competitive on price, but just remember that the price you see is not necessarily the price you pay. Bank charges, duties and taxes, if the ring is being shipped into Ireland, can really add to the cost. Also, be aware that the image of the ring you are viewing is not necessarily the image of the ring you are buying. If you choose to buy online, remember you can always get all your money back if you decide to return the ring.

Handmade 18k Gold Irish Engagement Ring

5. Some couples choose to go to Antwerp or New York to purchase their ring. There are good deals to be got there, but just be aware that the guys you meet at the stores there are very good sales people who know that you are there for the weekend to buy and will price accordingly. Drive a hard bargain.

6. Don’t forget the most important factor for you to consider when purchasing your engagement ring is price. Decide on how much you are willing to spend and stick to your budget. Good Luck!

A to Z of Weddings

Our infographic below covers weddings from A-Z. There is so much involved in a wedding and this infographic has most of what you need to be mindful of when organising one. A wedding is a momentous occasion in a person’s life so it’s important that it runs smoothly. This infographic will help you be organised!

A-Z of Weddings

How to Clean Your Engagement Ring

Getting Engaged

The day a couple get engaged is of course a huge occasion. It is something that will live long in the memories of one’s mind and the engagement ring is a significant part of the experience. Sometimes one partner surprises the other, even choosing the ring themselves. Others choose to select a ring together once the proposal has happened, it depends on the couple – some people like less fuss than others.

Cleaning my engagement ring at home

Taking Care of the Engagement Ring

Showing off your engagement ring to family and friends is an exciting part of getting engaged and in the beginning your engagement ring is shiny, new and sparkles with the amazing diamonds that it holds. It is possible to keep this ‘sheen’ just by exercising some care with your jewellery. This will ensure that it always stands out and will help to make the piece stand the test of time.

 Tips for Taking Care of your Engagement Ring

Once  you get your engagement ring, you should immediately get into the habit of caring for it. Take it off and place it back into its cushioned box when you are cleaning it or at night, basically anytime when you are doing manual work etc. it should be removed to prevent damage and dirt build up.

Cleaning my engagement ring at home

Other Tips:

  • You should always pick up engagement rings by their band, not by the diamond. Natural oils and dirt from your fingers can move onto the diamonds.
  • Items such as cosmetics and creams, soap residue, shampoo, sunscreen, hairspray can cause a build up of residue that may result in clogging up the diamond or taking from the sparkle.
  • When cleaning or using any chemical products it is advisable to use gloves or to remove the ring altogether. Even hairspray is damaging to diamonds.
  • Soak your engagement ring in a small container of vodka to bring up its sparkle, rinse gently afterward with a mild detergent.
  • Soak the ring in a bowl that contains four parts warm water and one part household ammonia for no more than ten minutes.  Brush the ring very gently with a brush (e.g. a child’s or soft toothbrush). Move it around the solution once more, rinse well with water and leave to dry on a towel.

Mixing metals – the hottest wedding ring trend of 2014

The number one rule when choosing your wedding ring is simple – there are no rules.

When picking out a wedding ring brides traditionally sought a band that would ‘match’ the accompanying engagement ring, these days however the mixed metal look is the hottest trend.

Pairing a white gold or platinum engagement ring with a yellow or rose gold wedding band is an emerging style choice amongst trendsetters. Mixed metal sets allow brides to express their own sense of style and fashion.

Just because you and your fiancé are a perfect match, doesn’t mean your wedding set should be!

Kate Middleton

When it comes to setting trends there is nobody more prolific than the Duchess of Cambridge. While on official Royal Tour to Australia last week, Kate stepped out in a printed Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress which sold out in eight minutes after being spotted on the glamorous royal.

When William and Kate became engaged in 2010 he proposed with his mother’s stunning diamond and sapphire engagement ring set in 18ct white gold but when they tied the knot Kate went with Royal tradition choosing a simple, yellow gold wedding band fashioned from a nugget of Welsh gold.

Keira Knightley

When Keira Knightley married British rocker James Righton last summer she turned heads with her unusual choice of bridal gown and her beautiful wedding ring set. The starlet walked down in aisle in a recycled Chanel dress she had worn to an event five years previously, and the following week she stepped out in London sporting a stunning mixed metal wedding ring set.

The Pride and Prejudice star’s engagement ring features a two-carat solitaire diamond set on a platinum band, while her wedding ring is a simple yellow gold wedding band. Keira, as the face of Chanel, is no stranger to what is in-vogue, and her choice of mismatched metals for her wedding ring set is right on trend.

Kaley Cuoco

Kaley Cuoco

Photo credit: TLC Bride Day

She’s the star of the most popular comedy show on American TV, and this year Kaley Cuoco married tennis pro Ryan Sweeting after a whirlwind romance. Her athlete husband proposed with a $65,000 ring featuring a huge square-cut diamond in a reported platinum halo setting.

When the two tied the knot on New Year’s Eve the bride opted for not one, but two, yellow gold wedding rings. Not only did the Big Bang star choose the rising mixed metal trend, she also opted for the emerging ‘ring guard’ trend.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana

Photo credit: TLC Bride Day

Sci-fi star Zoe Saldana wed in secret this summer, and when the star finally announced that she and artist Marco Perego were married she wowed us with her gorgeous mismatched wedding ring set.

Zoe is following in the footsteps of other trendsetting celebrities by choosing a coloured gemstone in her engagement ring. Her stunning pear-shaped emerald and diamond ring set in platinum is contrasted by a simple yellow gold wedding band.

Two tone wedding bands

Mixing metals - the hottest wedding ring trend of 2014

A simple and elegant way to try the mixed metal look is to combine metals in your wedding ring itself. If your engagement ring is set in rose gold, why not try a wedding ring with a rose gold accent and another precious metal? Our range of two tone rings features a number of different metals and styles to help you achieve the mixed metal look.

Choosing a wedding ring is an important part of planning your wedding, but it is crucial you choose the ring that suits your style and your personality.

With so many options out there don’t let yourself be limited – be true to you and be on trend.

Checklist when choosing your wedding venue

Excitement abounds when an engagement is announced. It is traditional reaction to what is widely seen as good news. Family and friends share in the joy that occurs when two people decide to formalise their relationship.

As the dust settles on the engagement celebrations, it becomes apparent to the couple that they may have a wedding to organise. This in itself can cause some stress. There is a huge amount of organisation required in weddings and unfortunately they are not staged easily. To avoid stress, the couple needs to be well organised in advance.

The couple should enlist the help, assistance and advice of close family and friends but should still be independent enough to make their own decisions. A wedding day should be all about the couple and they should communicate thoroughly with one another to ensure that both are happy with any wedding decisions.

First and foremost the couple will need to decide on a date. That way they can call prospective wedding venues and see if they are available. Next the couple should draft a guest list; this can be a rough estimate on numbers but at least it will give them an indication of how many people they will need to cater for. Following on from this the couple can decide whether they wish to go for a hotel venue for their celebrations or choose to hire a private venue such as a restaurant and host the event there.

Other important considerations at this stage include whether or not the couple want to get married in a religious location. This will also affect their choice of venue as they may want to have the ceremony in the same location as their wedding reception and not all venues can accommodate that.

This info-graphic provides important information in order to assist couples to make the right decisions in a timely manner. In terms of a wedding venue, this info-graphic can be used as a checklist in order to ensure a well selected wedding venue.

Wedding Venue Checklist

How Do I Choose a Ring to Suit my Finger?

It is a huge and memorable occasion when you get engaged or married. People will always want to mark it with something beautiful which will highlight its significance. Jewellery is traditionally that outlet and so when people make that purchase, they should aim to make it one which suits their hand and as a result stands out for all the right reasons.buying a ring

When you want to find the most flattering ring for your hand, take a look at your finger shape as well as your hand size. You could also decide to get the help of an expert at your selected wedding ring or engagement ring specialist. Different hand shapes look best with varying shapes and sizes of stones. There are some guidelines below but they are just that; guidelines.

It is important to note that a person with large hands and short fingers is likely to look best in different ring styles in comparison to a short-fingered person with small hands. Similarly, finger width can affect the look of a ring, even nail shape and length can make a difference too. When choosing rings, think of the proportion of the fit as well as the ring style you love. You will only really find out what suits you by trying on some rings so before you decide, try on your friends, family and colleagues rings to get some idea.

Long fingers: Round rings are often the most flattering ring here. Marquise shapes often make long fingers look even longer which you may not want. The marquise is a stretched out, oblong shape with pointed ends. This is similar to pear or oval stones which may also not be very flattering. Most flattering: Round rings.

Short fingers: Round stones can make short fingers appear even shorter. Big rectangular rings can overwhelm and are probably the least flattering. Most flattering: The marquise shape can help add the illusion of length, and pear or teardrop shapes are usually flattering.

Wide fingers: The key is to pick a ring that is not thickset in style. Most flattering: Cluster-styles, round stones or wider marquise styles may flatter short, wide fingers.

Narrow fingers: Heart-shaped or round stones are not the most flattering on narrow fingers. Most flattering: Rings with small stones may help give the illusion of wider fingers.

buying a ring

Large hands: Rings with smaller stones will inevitably look a little lost on larger hands. Most flattering: Go for ornate styles, perhaps coloured stones.

Small hands: Keep the proportion of the ring small in keeping with the daintiness of the hand. Most flattering: Small heart-shaped, oval, round, or square stones. Thin bands and fine settings

Does a wedding ring have to match a bride’s engagement ring?

If a bride plans to wear both rings on the same finger, then the norm is to match the jewellery so they look like good together. If down the line you choose to add an eternity ring or band this can add to the overall look again. An experienced jeweller will be able to advise you further.

All About Weddings in Ireland

Weddings are a mainstay in Irish society and culture. Weddings in Ireland are often quite traditional in nature; with a church wedding and then onto a hotel usually close by. However, trends have changed dramatically in the last 5 to 10 years with a lot of changes being seen in couple’s choices of venues, dress, jewellery, wedding rings etc.

A wedding day is a huge day in every couple’s lives. It is the day when their family, friends and loved ones come together to celebrate their joining as a lifelong couple. It is a momentous and emotional occasion.

There is often a lot of costs involved in hosting a wedding day in Ireland with the largest cost often being the price of the venue. This cost includes feeding your guests which can rack up your bill. Traditionally Irish weddings are a large affair and sometimes people feel the need to invite all their neighbours and extended family. This needs to be avoided if budget is an issue. Sometimes a smaller wedding can end up being a more entertaining and imaginative affair.

Wedding jewellery has changed a lot also however some couple do still like to stay with the traditional and have beautiful wedding day jewellery such as Claddagh rings. These are a fantastic symbol of love and Irish culture and will remain timeless.

Europe continues to be the destination of choice when it comes to honeymoons. It is accessible easily for Irish couples and can often be very affordable.

Hope you enjoy our infographic on all things weddings!

Ireland Weddings


Traditions Associated With Irish and British Weddings

In years gone by, traditional brides in Ireland used to wear a blue wedding dress. Blue was considered pure. It wasn’t until 1499 that white wedding dresses started being worn by Irish brides because then white symbolized virginity and purity. Another unusual tradition that Irish weddings generally followed years gone by was in the locking of the church door during the ceremony. This was supposedly done to prevent the groom from running away during the wedding. Another old, unique tradition in Irish weddings was when the bride and groom tied an actual knot. The couples hands were joined together using a rope or cord. This was done to symbolize the union of the bride and groom and the bond of marriage and this is where the phrase ‘tying the knot’ comes from.

Wedding Traditions

During the ceremony, the bride and groom were meant to walk together to the church before they exchanged their vows. The onlookers would bless their union by throwing rice and other large items like pots and pans to the bride and groom. The bride was expected to have her hair braided on the wedding day. Braided hair represented luck and feminine power. Most brides wanted their wedding to fall on the St. Patrick’s Day because long ago it was considered the best day to have a wedding anniversary in Ireland.

The Irish considered the honeymoon as a special month when the couples would spend their days drinking honeyed wine in a secluded place. This is where the phrase honeymoon is coined from as it was seen as the ‘month of honey’. It was assumed that after the month was over, the bride would become pregnant and the family wouldn’t separate them especially if they had eloped. Nowadays, the traditional Claddagh Ring is often given as a wedding ring.

British wedding traditions are quite interesting. The most common one is the fact that bridesmaids were expected to wear white and look like the bride in order to confuse/ward off the evil spirits. The Church of England had its own standard vows which were not supposed to be altered. This is why traditionally the bride and the groom did not kiss after saying the vows. However, this soon changed.

The bride’s wedding bouquet had to include myrtle which was considered a herb of love. Brides from the royal family had to include a spring of myrtle in their bouquet as seen first in Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. When the bride found a spider on her dress, it was considered as a sign of good luck. However, if they met a funeral on their way to the ceremony, it was a sign of bad luck.

Wedding Traditions

In British weddings, the bouquet was not thrown to wedding guests. This tradition began in 1923 when the Queen Mother placed her bouquet on the grave of a World War 1 soldier after her wedding to the then Duke of York. She did this in honour of her late brother who was also killed at war. This tradition has been followed by royal families since then.

In British weddings, sapphire was included in the brides’ wedding rings because it symbolizes happiness in a marriage. Ideally, bridesmaids in British weddings are meant to be children and the bridal party is also smaller compared to other countries.

In traditional British weddings, the bride must enter first down the aisle. The bride is then followed by the young page boys and bridesmaids. The other common British wedding custom is when they place a penny or sixpence in the bride’s shoes.

These are some of the traditions and customs which surround British and Irish weddings. They have changed overtime so most of them are now not put into practice. However, they remind the British and Irish people of their diversity so everyone should appreciate them and it is also interesting to see how wedding traditions and themes have changed over time.

Wearing Wedding Rings

Jewellery has a history going back millennia. Ever since humanity learned to work metal jewellery has been an intrinsic part of our fashion sense, our pride and our boastfulness. Some of the only remaining artefacts from ancient civilisations are the buildings, their weapons, their pottery, their bones and their jewellery. Across civilisations ranging from the Irish Celts, to the Ancient Egyptians and numerous Eastern cultures we have learned a vast amount of our current knowledge from the jewellery that these peoples were buried with.

Wearing Wedding Rings

One of iconic pieces of modern jewellery is the wedding ring. There are few occasions in life for a celebration as large and important as a wedding. A wedding represents a commitment between two people for life and memories of that day are treasured for a life time. One of the on-going, daily reminders of a wedding and the loved one you commit to is a wedding ring. It was placed on your finger on your big day, and it sits on your ring finger showing your faith in your relationship, or at least that is how the theory goes.

For many people, mostly men, a wedding ring was something worn for one day, seen in pictures and then taken off and consigned to a drawer. This was a matter of practicality for most. A man wearing a wedding ring was a sign that they had a sedentary life; that he didn’t work for their living. If you worked on a farm or in a mine, if you spent your day building wooden roofs or worked with metal and stone then a ring was a danger. There are many people to this day who should not wear a ring for their and others safety: people working with food or with machinery. A ring poses a risk when it can get caught onto something and trapped.

Wearing Wedding Rings

While not wearing a ring was a matter of practicality for many people there were still those who just refused to wear one without any explicit reason. This could be because their own father didn’t wear one, because they want to hide their office based work life or simply because they do not see themselves as the type of person to wear a ring.

Society has changed. A simple gold band was the enduring symbol of a wedding for many decades (even if it was not worn) and many people do not buy into that tradition. Many more even see marriage as an archaic and irrelevant institution, however those opinions are suffering against a modern reality: weddings are cool again. Across the world debates are raging and parliaments and presidents are signing into law the right for any couple to marry: straight or gay. Research has shown that a new enthusiasm for marriage has sprung up. Across the world people are seeing how important marriage is as a sign of love and commitment. It is no longer something for previous generations, there is a freedom to it, an openly embraced dedication between two people. And with this new freedom wedding rings are becoming more and more significant and the traditional gold band is now a choice. Wedding rings are being personalised. Individual designs with significance to the people dedicating their life to each other are popular: whether that significance is with a traditional gold band or very personal design.

Weddings and wedding rings have been modernised, they have lost the decades old stigma, and showing that you have dedicated your life to someone is a thing to be celebrated.