Shopping for an engagement ring doesn't have to be a dreaded experience. With the right amount of knowledge about what to look for in a ring, coupled with your excitement about asking the girl of your dreams to marry you, this can be an enjoyable exercise matching your newly discovered ring expertise with the money you've got available to spend. In this article, you'll learn the most important things to consider when choosing an engagement ring for your beloved.
Be familiar with the terms that you'll be confronted with when shopping for a ring. Giving the impression that you know what you're looking for will increase your confidence and help you to ward off any disreputable ring sellers. Here are some of the terms to be familiar with:
Choose A Good Chattanooga Jeweler. The main thing to remember here is that expensive doesn't necessarily equate with being the ideal jeweler. Look for a store that makes you feel comfortable, where the staff are pleasant and helpful, and where the advice they provide gels with you. As well, be sure to look somewhere that fits within your budget range; this avoids the inevitable disappointment at finding something that would be "just perfect if it didn't cost so much". If you can, check that the jeweler is registered with a society, association, or organization that regulates, certifies, etc., jewelers.
- Band: The band is the circular part of the ring that sits around the finger. It's usually made from gold, silver, or platinum, although it can be made from some other combination of metals. Gold is yellow-orange in its natural state and is normally alloyed with another metal for durability. Some prefer the lighter yellow color of less-pure gold such as 14K or 10K. "White gold" is gold alloyed with metals purposely to give the mixture an off-white color and must be plated with another metal--rhodium is common--for a bright silvery appearance. The plating wears off; some jewelers will replate their rings from time to time for free. Platinum is hard, strong and naturally silvery but will dull slightly from a mirror finish over time with wear, which is not necessarily a problem. Since a gold setting will make a diamond look very slightly yellowish, it is a waste of money to buy a very high color grade diamond to put in it.
- Setting: The setting refers to the piece that holds the gemstone in place, which is attached to the band. The setting can be "pronged" or "invisible". Some rings combine a platinum setting with a gold band for the special background color of gold and the contrast, lack of diamond-tinting, and strength of platinum. A setting with a bezel, or at least six prongs for some redundancy, can be safer for a ring that is likely to be worn during significant activity.
- Gemstone: The gemstone is the feature piece of the ring, usually a diamond. Occasionally, this is facetiously referred to as a "rock". The bigger the stone, the better according to many, although it's more important to go with your girlfriend's personality and preferences rather than assuming this. The gemstone doesn't have to be a diamond (see below) but reasons for deviating from this should be good ones!
- The 4 C's: These are the carat, color, clarity and cut of the gemstone (usually a diamond).
- The 5th C: Cost. A cubic zirconia can be beautiful and indistinguishable from a diamond only by a jeweler or other expert. It is softer than a real diamond so it may dull over the years. Lab Diamonds are another great alternative to traditional diamonds. Generally cost 5-10% of what a traditional diamond would, and looking just a beautiful, they definitely deserve some research. A rhodium-plated silver ring can be indistinguishable (except for the identifying mark an honest seller should put on the inside) from a rhodium-plated white-gold one. These can be a good option for a couple with little money up front. An alternative is a smallish real diamond (the price goes up very fast with size, so a very nice one of less than a half-carat, whose face area will be more than half of that of a one-carat diamond, will be a few hundred dollars) in a simple real gold ring.
- Ask around your married friends or your family for recommendations on a good, trusted jeweler. Obviously, this will mean they'll know what you're up to, although you can just say that you want to buy a nice piece of jewelery.
- An online jeweler such as James Allen or Blue Nile can be a good option if you're willing to accept a little less "hand-holding" for a better price. (You might consider this an advantage as a low-pressure sales environment, but a good retailer shouldn't pressure you, either.) Be sure to check that the jeweler has an excellent reputation because a customer could be at much greater risk of subtle fraud with diamonds and precious metal than with most other products.
- If you're happier proposing first and shopping for a ring with your fiancée, take her preferences for the store into account as well. This is easier where you'd prefer that her choice and tastes are fully accounted for; it's just as romantic, but it means you'll need to provide a mock-ring for the engagement, and explain to her that you'd rather the two of you choose the ring together.
- Another thing to discuss with the jeweler is the ability to custom design the wedding ring to match the engagement ring. You might like to think ahead to this eventuality because it can be a stunning combination to have both rings matching well together.
Find out her tastes. If you're purchasing the ring without her, choosing one will be will more difficult where the ring is a surprise because obviously you won't be able to ask her. Do keep in mind that nowadays, many women prefer to be part of a joint decision to purchase a ring, so if you find it really difficult to know her style and taste, provide a temporary ring and tell her that you'll choose the real one together. Some of the ways to try and work out her taste include:
Fix your budget. There is a tradition that holds that a man should spend two months of his salary on the engagement ring. Whether or not you do this will depend on your wish to conform to tradition. What does matter is that you select a ring according to what you can afford, so have a good idea of this amount before searching.
- Asking her about rings in general. If you're going past a jewelery store pretend to be interested in a watch. Then casually drop a comment about the styles of rings, saying you like a certain type and asking her what she likes. If you're very good, she won't notice the ruse. If you're not so good, she'll probably tweak but she still won't know when! Other ways of getting her to talk about engagement rings is to make a comment about a friend's engagement ring and to ask her preferences at the same time.
- Ask her family for ideas. This will depend on whether or not you want them to know before she does, of course.
- Another ruse is to have her friends take her into a store to ask her "just for fun". You'll need to have absolute trust in them to keep quiet and to pull this off. It's not a good option if you'd prefer to keep it quiet until the moment of the proposal.
- Sum up her tastes from the clothes she wears and her existing jewelery. You're in the best position to know whether she likes plain, fancy, patterns, large or small fashion statements. Is she traditional, classic, contemporary, or way out there? Use what you do know about her fashion preferences to your own advantage.
- Is she an impassioned supporter of Fair Trade and human rights? Be sure to look for recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds as part of your choosing process.
- Let your jeweler know your price range so that he or she can show you a variety of rings that fall within that range.
- Keep in mind the possibility of having an engagement ring customized. Talk to the jeweler about the price options, the timing, and the styles that are possible.
Check the practicality of the ring. If your girlfriend is a real outdoorsy type, consider a ring that is able to cope with the wear and tear of constant activities. The higher the positioning of the gemstone on the ring, the easier it is for it to get caught on clothes, gear, hair, etc. and the greater likelihood that it'll get knocked about. Look for a lower gemstone setting for an active girl, and a higher setting for a fashionista or glamor girl.
- Obviously your girlfriend can also remove the ring, but the desirability of the shape and size of the ring will often be proportionate to her outdoor interests, as a girl who is always on-the-go will be more likely to prefer a compact, less obtrusive style of ring than a girl who is highly fashion conscious and puts a lot of effort into preparing her outfits.
- Read how to figure out her ring size so that you get it right if you're not choosing together.
Know your diamonds. Diamonds tend to be the traditional engagement ring choice, because they are enduring, and match everything. Diamonds are the hardest material that’s why it’s suitable as a gemstone for diamond solitaire engagement rings. They don’t lose their polish and they are resistant to scratching. The only way for diamonds to be scratched is by other diamonds. As engagement and wedding rings are worn daily people prefer diamonds which suit perfectly for every day wear due to its above mentioned properties. The word “diamond” comes from ancient Greek and means “unbreakable”. They are said to have been first found in India. Diamonds have become popular since 19th century due to the progress in its technology. There are natural diamonds and diamonds produces synthetically as well as diamond stimulants such as silicon carbide and cubic zirconia which look like diamonds and even have qualities of it. To distinguish one from another several gemological techniques are used. Only deviate from a diamond if you know that your girlfriend loves another stone much, much more, or has voiced her intense dislike of diamonds. When choosing a diamond, be aware of the "Four C's", as explained in the video above.
Purchase the ring. Collect it just before the proposal. That way you can avoid worrying about keeping it safely.
- Be sure to check that your insurance covers its loss, or ask for insurance from the jeweler's store if available.
- Ask for a certificate of authenticity and a warranty to accompany the ring. Certificates are very useful to collect with a diamond to find out exactly where they originated from. They are usually only available with the purchase of diamonds larger than just under 1 carat. For smaller diamonds, a certificate would add a considerable amount to the cost of the stone as you may end up paying an extra several hundreds of dollars or pounds to obtain one.
- Insure! The ring is likely to be the most expensive piece of jewelry you have ever bought, and the most expensive piece of jewelry your fiance (we hope) has ever worn. To prevent her from having to give it up for appraisal and insurance when she's just getting used to wearing it, get it done before you pop the question.
- Set off - it's time to propose!