Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring
Men-Put on Your Britches, It's Time to Shop
For a man, buying an engagement ring for his hopefully soon to be fiance can be a nerve racking experience. Most men like to go into a store with a goal and quickly emerge with the necessary item in twenty minutes or less. Unfortunately, buying an engagement ring is a much more lengthy and onerous process than picking out a shirt. In order to save a little bit of your sanity fellows, I have gathered together a few tips for buying an engagement ring. Hoepfully your ring-buying escapades will be painless, and who knows, maybe even fun. Relax, and get ready to shop!
1. Go in With a Budget
Jewelry stores exist to sell things, and the salesman (or woman) will very likely try to convince you that a bigger ring equals more love. Heck, some women might even try to convince you of that, but hopefully you're not marrying one like that. It is really embarassing to have to still be paying off an engagement ring after you get married, effectively making your wife foot part of the bill. Instead, stick with something you can afford to pay off, entirely, before the wedding. The old fashioned rule for budgeting for an engagement ring is two month's salary, but also take into consideration how hefty your bills are right now and what you can afford for a monthly payment.
2. Know Your Girlfriend's Tastes
To a woman an engagement ring that doesn't fit her style can scream "he's not the one for you". She'll think that you don't pay attention to her style, and perhaps that you don't even really know her. Anyone who has seen the episode of Sex and the City where Aiden buys Carrie a ring she hates will understand. Pay attention to the jewelry she wears daily, and dig around in her jewelry box. Does she wear more yellow gold, or more silver gold? Are the shapes modern and geometric, or swirly and antique? Does she prefer dainty pieces or more bling? By paying attention to her tastes you'll end up with a ring that satisfies both of you.
3. Take Someone With You
Don't go into the fray alone, or you may end up overwhelmed and talked into a 3 carat princess cut ring in yellow gold when your girlfriend would really prefer a dainty marquise ring in white gold. Preferably you should take someone who knows her really well, like her mother, sister, or best friend, but only if you know for sure that this person will be able to keep their lips zipped about the impending proposal. Having someone with you provides support in the face of a big decision and pushy salespeople as well as someone to bounce ideas off of.
4. Know Your Jewelry
Before you go into a store to buy a diamond engagement ring you should know your basic diamond and gold facts. After all, you wouldn't go out to buy a car without first knowing the difference between an automatic and manual transmission, would you?
When talking about gold with a salesperson you'll hear this strange word, karat, frequently. Karats indicate how pure the gold is, with 24 karat gold representing pure gold, ranging down to 10 karat gold which is the lowest amount of gold. 24 karat gold, while pure, is also very soft and malleable, which is not goot for wear and tear over time. Thus, most pieces of jewelry have gold alloyed with other metals, such as copper or silver, to temper the metal and make it stronger. You also have to know what color of gold your girlfriend likes. Yellow gold gets its color from the actual gold metal, but white and rose gold are also options. White gold is currently very popular, and is made up of a mixture of gold alloyed with nickel, silver, and/ore palladium. White gold is a lovely and less expensive option that platinum. Rose gold is also gorgeous (my personal favorite) and has a rosy, pink tinge which it gets from the copper which is mixed with the gold.
As far as diamonds go you need to remember your four C's- color, cut, clarity, and carat. The term "carat" indicates how large a diamond is, so a one carat diamond is larger than a 1/2 carat diamond. The larger the stone, the more expensive it will be. The clarity of a diamond refers to how many inclusions, or flaws the diamond has. Few diamonds are perfect, but for an engagement ring the flaws should not be visible to the naked eye. Flaws include cracks, foreign material in the diamond, or clouded areas. For color, most diamonds are clear and colorless, but some also have rare color and are called "fancy" diamonds. For grading, jewelers have given diamonds a scale of D-Z, D being completely colorless and Z being a bright yellow, and all the variations in between. Fancy diamonds come in colors such as blue, green, brown, and pink, but tend to come with very hefty price tags. Finally, cut refers to the shape in which the diamond is cut by the jeweler. The classic, round cut is still very popular, but many women also like the modern shaped princess cut. See the pictures to the right to view the most popular and common cuts.
5. Find a Quality Jeweler
An engagement ring is one of the biggest purchases of your life, and you want to buy it from someone who will back up his product. Ask friends and family for suggestions, many can tell you about both good and bad experiences with jewelers. Generally speaking a small, family owned jeweler will probably be able to tailor their service to you more specifically and will deliver more personal service. Plus they will always remember you and be there to service and/or repair the ring they created. Before buying though always make sure that the jeweler is a member of the Jewelers of America of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Also look into the store's return policy, guarantees, and warranty information on the ring.
Because the ring is just the beginning! Fortunately once you propose your fiance will probably take over all the wedding details, though you may be faced with questions about flowers and linens for several months. Take a deep breath and relax, your wedding will be a once in a lifetime event, so don't ruin it with too much stress.