Engagement Ring Buying Tips
Engagement rings, along with wedding bands, are the most symbolic pieces of jewellery a woman can own. To that end, choosing the perfect engagement ring can be quite nerve-wracking. Not only are you looking for a beautiful ring that will reflect your fiancée’s personal style, but you will also be making a monetary investment. Hopefully the following tips will take the stress out of finding an engagement ring.
One of the first decisions you should make is whether you buy the ring yourself or with your fiancée. Some couples are more practical and shop together to ensure that the ring is exactly right, while others like to shop separately so the ring is a surprise.
If you decide to choose the ring yourself, instead of the bride-to-be, you will want to make sure you get a good match. Look at the jewellery she wears. Does she prefer yellow or white gold, diamonds or other stones, solitaire or many small stones? Ask friends and family for their advice. Even have her show you rings she likes in a jewellery store. She may figure out what you’re doing, but the actual ring will be a surprise. Finally, don’t forget to have her ring size as it’s difficult to have rings resized.
Probably the other most important decision you have to make is budget – how much do you want or can you spend on the ring? Set the budget before you even begin shopping. Traditionally, guidelines for ring price are about two months of the groom’s salary. Again, these are just guidelines and you may want to spend more or less, depending on what you can afford. Once you have your budget set and ideas of what you think your fiancée will like, now it’s time to shop.
When you go to look at rings, there are basically three components to think about: the diamond (or gemstone), the setting and the band. Each of these parts of the ring need to be considered when choosing which one you want.
Diamonds are the traditional stone to have on an engagement ring, but for something a bit more unique, you may want to look at a coloured diamond or another gemstone. If you do decide on a diamond, there are a few qualities of diamonds that you should consider:
- Carat – the weight (or size) of the diamond
- Cut – the depth and width of the stone
- Colour – the “whiteness” of the stone or for coloured stones, the amount of colour
- Clarity – whether there are any blemishes in the stone or if it is clear
- Facet style – facets are any flat surfaces of the cut diamond, forming the step cut, brilliant cut or mixed cut styles of diamonds.
Once you have decided on the diamond or stones and their shape and style, you’ll want to decide how best to show them. This is where the setting comes in. Setting holds the stones in place and defines the style of the ring. The different settings are:
- Prong – the most common setting for diamond rings where a metal bar protrudes from the band of the ring and holds the stone in place. This is best for displaying single, large stones to allow the most light to shine through.
- Pavé – prongs that resemble beads secure many stones in place, with each prong touches at least three stones. This type of setting creates the look of a large stone by using many smaller, glittering stones. This way, the cost of the ring can be kept down.
- Tension – an opening in the band holds the gemstone through the pressure of the band trying to close the opening.
- Channel – a groove in the band holds a row of gemstones in a line between two parallel bars. Usually, in this setting, the stones sit directly beside each other without bands between them and is a common setting for anniversary or wedding bands.
- Cluster – a group of gems form a pattern, usually smaller stones surround a larger one.
- Bezel – a metal rim fits around the outside edge of the stone to hold it in place on the band.
- Bar – a rod of metal is set amongst the gemstones and makes up part of the pattern.
Finally, the last component of the engagement ring to consider is the precious metal to use for the band. Commonly, engagement rings are made from white or yellow gold or platinum, although stainless steel, silver and titanium are growing in popularity. Yellow gold is the classic choice for engagement rings, usually in 18k or 14k as 24k is too soft. Lately, white gold has grown in popularity partly due to fashion trends and the silver colour being more popular and also because the white colour of the metal doesn’t interfere with the colour of the diamond. Finally, platinum is the most valuable of precious metals. It is good for allergy sufferers as it is a pure metal and not mixed with any alloys. Like white gold, the colour of platinum does not affect the colour of the diamond.
By taking the time and doing a little research, you are sure to find a ring that you’ll be proud of and fits into your budget. Even more importantly, you’ll find the perfect ring for your perfect companion.