Congratulations! You’ve decided to pop the big question, and the time has come to ask the love of your life to be your bride.
It’s a big step, and no doubt you’re more than a little nervous. That’s only to be expected. But before you pop the question, have you considered the engagement ring?
Choosing an engagement ring can be confusing, and naturally you want to get it right first time. So, before you set out to ask for your loved one’s hand in marriage, let’s talk a little about shopping for an engagement ring.
We’ll cover the major points, so that you can choose an engagement ring with confidence.
How to Prepare
First things first, you’re going to have to do a prep work before you even consider heading to the jewelry shop. Now, you can’t really spoil the surprise by asking your girlfriend about the styles and cuts she fancies. So, you will have to do a little subtle detective work.
Ask her friends to give you some suggestions on cut and style. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to give you some good insights into watch your girlfriend would like.
As to size, if possible surreptitiously take one of your girlfriends rings from her jewelry box and take it along with you to match the size. If that’s not possible, take one of her rings and trace the inside circumference onto a piece of paper.
This will help the jeweler to match size. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and choose a size that is a little large as it is easier to size a ring down than it is to size it up.
The Four Cs
Now that you have an idea of your girlfriend’s taste in rings, and you’ve sussed out her ring size, it’s time to talk diamonds. That means understanding the basics of the four Cs.
Now, any jeweler will be happy to lead you through a choice of diamonds. But knowledge is power, and if you have a basic understanding of the four Cs you can avoid being taken advantage of by any unscrupulous jewelers.
- Clarity – This refers to a stone’s imperfections. It may be mineral deposits or minute fractures in the diamond itself. The clarity scale runs from F for flawless to I3 for a stone with the most imperfections. Now, most imperfection can not be seen by the naked eye, so don’t get too hung up on clarity. A nice mid-range grade, like SI1 or SI2 will give you the sparkle you want at a price you can afford.
- Color – This refers to the color of a white diamond. The range of grades runs the gamut from colorless to yellow. Color grading runs from D,E, and F for clear and colorless down to Z for highly yellow tinged. AS with clarity, there is plenty of wiggle room here. So don’t be too swayed by the sales person, and let your eyes be the judge.
- Cut – The cut grade refers to how well a diamond reflects light, and ranges from excellent to poor. Choice of cut is also more influenced by personal taste than any of the four Cs. So this is where your detective work will pay off. Hopefully, you girlfriend’s friends were ready with suggestions on the cuts and shapes you should look for. Some of the more popular cuts are Pear, Oval and Princess. But you will have to use your best judgment here.
- Carat – Finally, we come to the weight of the diamond. Engagement rings are typically around one carat. That being said, it is ultimately a matter of taste and cost. Remember, the higher the carat count, the more expensive the stone.
Hot on the heals of the diamond is the ring setting itself. Again, this is closely tied to taste and you will have to rely on the advice and recommendations you’ve gathered to guide you in your choice.
As for metals, you are typically looking at white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum. Platinum is by far the most expensive, and will set you back a bit. White gold and yellow gold are the most popular choices for engagement rings.
Obviously, cost is going to be a major consideration. First, you can throw out the old adage of spending three month’s salary on the engagement ring. Remember, there are the wedding bands to buy so you don’t want to blow the bank on the engagement ring.
If you you take your time, and do a bit of research, you can keep the cost of the engagement ring under control. For example, a 0.9 carat diamond is significantly less expensive than a full carat, and with the proper setting can be fairly stunning.
Don’t be swayed by the sales clerks, and don’t let yourself be pressured into spending more than you want. Also, take advantage of sales. They can be a real ally.
Finally, you need to think about insurance. No engagement ring is cheap, and you want to protect yourself in case of loss or theft. You can have the engagement ring insured through your homeowners or renters policy. Or, barring that, you can turn to a special jewelry insurer.
Before you settle on any insurance policy, however, ask how the insurer handles claims. Is there a cash pay out, or do they reimburse you when you buy a new ring from an approved jeweler?
Now that we’ve talked a bit about shopping for an engagement ring, you should be ready to head out to the jewelry shop to make your selection.
Be bold, and trust your instincts. Your fiance to be is going to love whatever you choose, and it’s hard to go to far afield in your choices. So good luck, and congratulations.