How Expensive Was Jennifer Lopez's Engagement Ring? A Jewelry Expert Weighs In
Tom Heyman gives his assessment of the emerald-cut sparkler that heated up Instagram over the weekend.
In "Jenny From The Block," Jennifer Lopez famously sings, "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got," a lyric that jewelry experts are currently trying to live by as they determine the worth of the singer-actress-entertainment mogul's new engagement ring.
In an Instagram post that’s currently topping 5.1 million likes, Lopez and Alex Rodriguez confirmed their engagement over the weekend with an image of her hand wearing a stunning emerald-cut diamond. While details about the ring’s design remain unconfirmed, jewelers are weighing in with opinions, with some advising caution to avoid inflated figures.
That starts with the stone’s size, which likely measures between 10 and 15 carats, says Tom Heyman, principal of Oscar Heyman, the New York-based jeweler that has provided Rihanna and Tina Fey with red carpet diamonds. “Estimating carat size based on one photo is a little like looking at the curb view of a house and saying you know how many square feet the house is,” Heyman says, noting that the image doesn’t allow for a view of the stone’s depth. “That said, I’m sure it’s a very fine stone — how could it not be, given its owners?”
Heyman uses industry parlance in describing how the stone’s emerald cut is perfect for Lopez’s hand. “There’s something we call tennis-court proportion — a really good emerald cut is rectangular, not too short, not too long, but kind of like a tennis court in proportion,” he explains. “That is very apparent from seeing it on her hand. It’s not difficult to make the assumption that it’s a well-proportioned stone, that the length, width and depth are optimal, and that it’s a high-quality stone — perhaps a VVS1 or Flawless — and it’s cut for maximum brilliance.”
With those factors in mind, what value would Heyman put on the stone? “Admittedly it’s a gigantic range,” he says. “A 10-carat perfect diamond could be $2 million, while a 15-carat diamond could be $3 million. A lot of little differences equate to huge differences in value and rarity. If you want to buy a stone that looks like J.Lo’s, expect to spend somewhere between $1.5 and $3 million.”
Oscar Heyman was founded in 1912 by Heyman’s great-uncle Oscar, his grandfather Harry, and their siblings, and the firm knows more than a little something about sizable stones. Oscar was commissioned by Tiffany & Co. and Cartier to design custom pieces, and his work for the latter included the famed Taylor-Burton diamond: In 1969 Richard Burton spent $1.1 million on a 69.42-carat diamond for Elizabeth Taylor and asked Cartier to custom-craft a necklace to perfectly frame the stone. Oscar’s design ultimately suspended the Taylor-Burton diamond as a pendant surrounded by 62 flawlessly matched pear-shaped diamonds. “We love big diamonds,” Tom Heyman adds with a laugh. (Taylor famously married and divorced Burton twice, the second time splitting in 1976; she sold the necklace in 1978 for $5 million.)
While J.Lo’s ring may not aspire to the same stratosphere as the Taylor-Burton diamond, it’s undeniably a rare stone, Heyman says. “You don’t just walk into a store and it’s there,” he notes. “If it was from Cartier, for example, they might have a stone like that somewhere in the world, and they would get it to New York, or wherever Alex Rodriguez was doing the legwork to acquire this ring. That also could have happened with Graff or Harry Winston. But there’s no question that a ring like this starts with the stone, and probably with no budget in mind. It’s just about what is the most beautiful stone that is going to look best on her hand.”
A diamond the size of Lopez's is unquestionably set in platinum versus white gold, Heyman adds, with good reason. “The only option is platinum, because it’s a pure white metal,” he explains, and recommends that, regardless of the size of the diamond, platinum should be preferred over 18-karat white gold. “An 18-karat white gold is three-quarters yellow gold mixed with a white metal, and you’d only discern the color difference if you held it next to platinum, but white gold behind a diamond would affect the true color of the stone, while the pure white of platinum wouldn’t. We always argue that platinum is the way to go, for that reason alone, and the cost difference is minimal,” he says.
The simplicity of the ring’s design and the diamond’s emerald cut likely won’t create an increased demand for the style, Heyman says, unlike a previous engagement ring owned by Lopez. “The pink Harry Winston diamond that Ben Affleck gave her [in 2002] caused a much bigger bump in engagement ring trends, because pink diamonds are much more rare and weren’t immediately considered as a choice,” Heyman says (Affleck and Lopez broke their engagement just days before their wedding in 2004). “But an emerald cut has been a popular choice for a long time, so I don’t see this ring impacting the market that much.”
Ultimately, what’s the primary statement Heyman sees in the J-Rod ring? “The design is minimalized because it’s all about that diamond, and I don’t think it’s too big, because it’s beautifully proportioned for her hand,” he says. “It’s gorgeous, classic and timeless and, beyond the ring’s look, hopefully you can apply those same words to the union it represents.”