7 Tips for Buying the Perfect Engagement Ring
You've found that "special someone." Maybe you've been an item for a while or just for a short while. Whenever you think about the future, you find yourself always including them in your outlook. For many reasons, you've decided it's time to propose marriage.
Most likely, as soon as you began thinking about popping the question you started thinking about buying an engagement ring. It is your token of commitment and a physical symbol of your willingness to take your relationship to the next level. You'll only have one chance to get this once-in-a-lifetime purchase right.
For many men planning to purchase their life partner an engagement ring, it might be the first time they've taken a look at jewelry. Most jewelers don't use terms commonly understood by people new to the market. And though most jewelers are good people, there are some in the industry who are not scrupulous.
You'll hear things such as "inclusions," "eternity bands," "Tiffany settings," "the four Cs," among many others. In most cases, the buyer has no idea what these terms mean or the message you're sending the person receiving the ring. And if you're asked about the meaning behind the ring, you'll want to be able to give the right answer. So it's important to know a little about engagement rings before you walk into a jewelry store.
If buying an engagement ring sound complicated, don't worry. This article has been written especially for you. Follow this simple, concise guide, and you won't go wrong.
1. Establish Your Budget
Before you even think of stepping foot in a jewelry store, establish your budget. Not only will it show the jeweler you have done your homework but it'll also help them show you the types of rings that fall in your price range. If you find a ring that is a few hundred dollars above your budget, don't worry. Similar to buying a vehicle, most jewelers are willing to negotiate the price.
You might have heard the wise old tale claiming you should buy an engagement ring with a value equal to two months salary. To put it bluntly, this is hogwash.
This engagement buying "rule" was introduced by DeBeers during the 1980s with an advertising slogan that stated, "You can't look at Jane and tell me she's not worth 2 months' salary.” The ad further hinted at the fact that the ring shows other men she’s “yours.”
Being that we live in a time where women hate to be viewed as objects or someone’s “property,” it goes without saying that suggesting your girlfriend can be valued by any dollar amount, let alone only two weeks worth of income, is a very bad thing to do.
Additionally, there is nothing romantic about entering your marriage owing thousands of dollars for a ring - a debt you assumed based on a misogynistic ad campaign from the 1980s. That is not a good way to start a marriage either.
If you keep it simple and affordable, focusing on the special meaning of the ring, your partner and future spouse will be more than pleased. Believe me.
Anyone who has gotten engaged before will tell you that it isn't about how much you spent on the ring, but rather the thought you put into choosing and purchasing it. In addition to that, most people would like to start their new life with you debt-free.
And imagine how much of that money you could put towards a great honeymoon, which is another significant life event for you and that special person of yours.
2. Stay Traditional and Keep It a Surprise
Before I sat down and wrote this article, I visited a jewelry store not far from where I live. I asked the owner several questions about this topic.
One of the questions I asked included: "What important consumer trends have you as a jeweler noticed when it comes to purchasing an engagement ring?"
Among some of the most popular trends she mentioned is that more and more men are bringing their girlfriends with them to shop for engagement rings. The apparent motive is so that the bride-to-be can get precisely the kind of ring they want. The other reason is in order to size her ring finger.
Though these seem like logical reasons for bringing her along, you're cheating her and yourself out of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show them how thoughtful, romantic, and, get this, clever you are. Other than that, you’ll just have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
It takes ingenuity to get her wedding ring finger size without her immediately figuring out why. Plus, whatever ring you present her with will be exactly what she wanted because it's from you.
In the rare event that your girlfriend is like me, and she already has the ring she wants in her possession, it still doesn't hurt to buy her a ring. What I mean by this is that the ring I had planned using for my wedding was an heirloom passed down from generation to generation.
All I had to do is ask my mother if I had her blessing to wear it and, if she gave it, have it resized to fit my finger.
So unless your girlfriend has already mentioned this to you, you most likely won't know about its existence. If you're bent on keeping it a surprise, you can ask the jeweler what their return policy is in the event the above mentioned is the case.
However, just because she had initially planned to wear the family heirloom doesn't mean she won't change her mind once she sees the ring you got for her. A marriage proposal is one of those things you have to play by ear and see where it goes.
3. Finding Out Her Ring Size
The next topic the jeweler touched on is ring sizing. According to them, a lot of men pick the perfect ring, the girlfriend loves it, but when it's all said and done, the ring doesn't fit.
How embarrassing would that be to get down on one knee, possibly in front of a bunch of people, not to mention the suspense, and after she says "Yes," you go to slip the ring on only to find out it doesn't fit. Talk about a mild mood killer.
Of course, you'll be able to recover from it by getting it sized but why go through all of that?
Some people suggest the best way to get your girlfriend's ring size is to obtain one of her rings she's not wearing and take it to the jeweler to be measured. But there is one problem with that idea: most women don't wear just any ring on their ring finger. Even if she ever had done so, what's the likelihood you'd also know which one it was or if she still has it for all that matter?
When I asked the jeweler what ideas they thought were the best, they advised the man to tell her he wants to buy her a promise ring. In this way, he can achieve two things: 1) He can get her ring finger measured, and 2) he can ask her in a roundabout way what engagement rings she likes.
Furthermore, it's a good idea to buy the promise ring that day as to fend off suspicion. But don't worry. You don't have to buy an expensive promise ring. You'll make it up to her in a few days or so when you surprise her with that proposal.
4. Pick the Type of Metal for the Engagement Ring Band
When it comes to engagement and wedding ring bands, there is a variety of metals you can choose depending on the look you want. Most engagement rings are produced from yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, silver, and platinum.
New market trends show that consumers like to mix different kinds of metals. When comparing platinum versus gold, there are some things to consider.
But each metal has advantages and disadvantages. One example is platinum which is very durable and doesn't scratch as easily as gold and silver. Nevertheless, the surface dulls quicker than gold and harder to bring the initial luster it once had.
Unlike platinum, gold is much shinier platinum because it is inherently softer. This softness is easier to buff and polish, returning the ring to its luster. However, gold wears down a lot faster. It's not uncommon for gold rings to wear down so thin within 15 to 20 years it has to be re-shanked.
While it's good to invest in durability, your future wife will more than likely be interested in the way it looks. But, again, every individual is different. You know better what she would prefer.
Surprisingly, silver and silver-looking engagement rings are trendy in 2018 going on into 2019. It doesn't look like this trend will change any time soon. If your girlfriend is someone who likes to stay on top of the hottest fashion trends, it's an excellent choice to buy a white gold or a platinum band.
For a gal who is more into the classical look, getting her a nice yellow gold band might just be a winner.
5. Understanding the Four Cs: Diamond Quality
Once you have selected the band that suits your girlfriend, it's time to move on to the focal point of all engagement rings: the diamond.
For many people, picking a diamond can be daunting. With a bit of knowledge, you can confidently walk into any jewelry store and pick a stone she'll love.
The selection process involves the "4 Cs:" cut, color, clarity, and carat. These four characteristics determine a diamond's quality and cost. To pick a high-quality diamond, you must understand the 4 Cs.
Despite the photo showing you various types of diamond shapes, the word "cut" doesn't refer to the shape but rather the stone's angles and proportions.
Though nature is responsible for the other Cs, the diamond cutter determines its aspects and dimensions.
If the cutter cuts the diamond well, it will reflect light from one facet to another, projecting the refracted light through to the top of the stone, giving it that nice sparkle everyone loves so much.
When a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep, the light doesn't reflect light from one facet to another, but rather the light leaks through the bottom or side of the diamond. This leakage results in a lackluster appearance.
The Second C: Color
If you never stepped foot in a jewelry store, you should know that diamonds come in many colors.
A diamond's color grade can range from "D" (colorless) to "Z" (light yellow.) Believe it or not, diamonds that are genuinely colorless are the rarest and priciest stones on the market.
However, you'll soon find out that color diamonds are the most popular among the majority of consumers. This is a good thing for you since it'll save you money. But that's if your gal knows her diamonds because the color of the diamond will entirely depend on her preference.
Remember that ring reconnaissance you're supposed to do? This is a perfect time to see what her favorite stone colors are.
The Third C: Clarity
The number of imperfections in a diamond determines its clarity. The more defects, the lower its clarity grade, as well as its value; the fewer flaws it has, the higher its clarity grade, which increases its value.
The technical word you should use when asking a jeweler about a diamond's clarity is "inclusions." Inclusions are nearly microscopic minerals or fractures that occurred during its formation.
So, rather than asking something like, "How many imperfections are in this diamond," it's better to ask them, "What if any inclusions are in this diamond?" It goes without saying that fewer inclusions are better.
Similar to color, diamond graders measure clarity based on a scale.
In order to find a diamond that is reasonably priced, you might want to go for a stone measured at S11 or S12, which are only slightly included. You shouldn't be able to see these imperfections with the naked eye.
Avoid stones that have inclusions at the top and in the center of it, because this will have a significant impact on how the light is dispersed, making it less gleaming.
The Fourth C: Carat (Weight)
A diamond's carat is just another way of describing its weight. Obviously, the heavier the stone, the more expensive its price tag. But of course, that's general knowledge.
However, depending on your budget, you don't need to sweat the carat weight too much. A master jeweler can make a diamond appear more substantial than it is through proper shaping and mounting. Plus, if it glimmers nicely, that's a huge bonus.
6. Selecting a Diamond Shape
While the Four Cs are essential, the shape of your diamond means all the world to your future fiance. It also speaks volumes when it comes to the ring's meaning. Below are only a few of the various shapes you can choose:
7. Now Its Time to Choose the Setting
The setting is the way in which a stone of any kind is placed on the ring.
Just like every other aspect of an engagement ring, which configuration you choose will depend on what you're trying to communicate through the ring and a lot on her preferences.
A popular trend sweeping the engagement ring world is creating different combinations of settings. This means you don't have to stick with a manufactured ring; you can create it all from scratch if you want to. Some setting examples are below.
Alternatives to the Classical Diamond Ring
For the most part, women prefer a traditional diamond engagement ring. However, some women don't want to follow tradition. After all, the whole idea that an engagement ring must include a diamond is not that old.
De Beers pushed the overall trend starting in the early 1930s during the great depression when diamond sales were hurting.
Diamonds are expensive solely because De Beers and others in the larger diamond cartel have succeeded in controlling supply, demand, and public opinion.
Since these diamond-Barrons didn't want diamonds to lose their value due to overselling, and needing consumers to keep buying them, they created this romantic meaning behind them, along with high social status.
De Beers invented the slogan "A diamond is forever" in the hopes of sealing the diamond's place in every matrimonial union for as far into the future as possible.
The De Beers' ad agency noted in 1951:
The millions of brides and brides-to-be are subjected to at least two important pressures that work against the diamond engagement ring. Among the more prosperous, there is the sophisticated urge to be different as a means of being smart…. the lower-income groups would like to show more for the money than they can find in the diamond they can afford… It is essential that these pressures be met by the constant publicity to show that only the diamond is everywhere accepted and recognized..."
So, if you and your partner have already agreed that you'd rather not spend the money on a diamond, that's perfectly fine. There is no need to feel pressured to follow social trends in order to compete with other couples.
What matters at the end of the day is that the engagement ring you present her has deep meaning behind it and makes her happy. I personally love diamonds but it doesn't mean I will support the diamond industry's propaganda simply to make my article likable by the general audience.
Whatever choice you make in a ring, above all else, be sure to cherish and love one another no matter what.
© 2018 Alexis Wainwright