How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring

Now that you’re ready to ask the most important question of your life, you’re considering the ring.

You want to be sure that the ring and the moment are perfect for this momentous occasion.

It seems crazy to think that not that long ago that choosing an engagement ring only consisted of a few questions.  You got to choose from a couple of different metals, white gold or yellow, and only a handful of cuts.

Now there are too many options to consider when you’re engagement ring shopping.  And all these choices can make it downright confusing!

You know that you want your proposal to be perfect and you want her eyes to light up when she sees the ring.

That special ring that you chose just for her.

A little research and planning can help make this process much easier (or at least a little less painful) so read on for some tips to help you out.

How Much to Spend

The very first question that has to be answered is what is your budget for the ring?

The notion of spending two months salary is an outdated marketing ploy that continues to stick around as the correct number.  We’re here to tell you that you can feel free to ignore this advice.  But kudo’s to DeBeers for getting this message to stick around for decades, that’s some amazing marketing.

All marketing aside, you need to factor in whether you’ve been saving up for this purchase or it’s going to be financed.  How much are your comfortable spending and what can you expect to get for that amount of money?

There’s really no correct answer about how much to spend on an engagement ring because it’s going to be different for each couple.  The most important thing is to pick out a beautiful ring that expresses your love.  Don’t go into crazy amounts of debt for the ring.  (Remember there’s still a wedding and your future ahead)

Expensive is not the same as thoughtful.

The 4 C’s

Diamonds are universally graded by the 4 C’s.  These are color, clarity, cut and carat weight.  Each diamond is unique and each will have specific qualities that will determine it’s value.

Color – In diamond speak color is actually the lack of color.  The closer to a pure color a diamond is the higher it’s value.  There are a few levels of color that are not going to be visible to the eye, but can change the price of the stone immensely.

Clarity – Diamond clarity means that that there aren’t any blemishes on the stone.  A blemish on the inside of the stone is called an inclusion and on the outside of the stone it’s a blemish.  These also may not be visible to the naked eye, but can be a source of identification on each stone.  Since diamonds are formed in the earth they are rarely perfect.  Perfect, or flawless diamonds, are pricey!

Cut – We traditionally think of the diamond cut as the shape of the diamond, but for grading purposes it’s really about how sparkly the diamond is.  This is how each facet on the stone reflects light, hence the “sparkle”.

Carat Weight – This one’s easy – it’s the weight of the stone.

So what makes this a little confusing is that you can have two stone’s that are the same carat weight but drastically different in price according to the other ranking factors.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Well size only matters if that’s what’s important to you and your partner.  If having the biggest ring you can afford is the goal then you may think about having a diamond that is classified a little lower in the 4 C’s.

Remember that a ring that has been thoughtfully chosen and presented with love will be far more meaningful than the largest stone you can purchase.

The Stone Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

There may be flaws in a diamond that aren’t visible to the naked eye but will make it less expensive than a “perfect” diamond.  Having a stone that’s perfect on paper doesn’t have to be a consideration.

Hold the stone in your hand.  View the stone in the setting.  How does it look to you?  How does it make you feel?

Don’t be Trendy

An engagement ring should suit your future fiance’s style and be a symbol of your love.  Think about their style and the jewelry they currently wear.  Does she pick flashy jewelry or very minimal pieces?  Does she prefer gold or white gold?  These are good questions to consider when you’re starting the search.

Don’t be afraid to go with something completely unique.  There are beautiful vintage rings and other stones besides diamonds that make amazing settings.  Think about her personality when you’re making these decisions.

Keep in mind that this ring will be worn everyday for the rest of her life.

This will be the single most important piece of jewelry that she owns.

Yes, those are scary thoughts, but a thoughtful ring that shows that you know her personality will be a perfect choice for your future bride.

Consider the Setting

The wedding ring should be a part of the discussion when choosing the engagement ring.  You don’t want the setting to be an afterthought.  Think of the entire setting as a piece of art.

Oh, you didn’t know those are two different things?  Most engagement rings will be part of a set, but not all of them.  The engagement ring will have a ‘surround’ that is the wedding ring and makes up the set.  This is where you get the terms ‘engagement ring’ and ‘wedding ring’.

Consider Your Lifestyle

If you and your partner lead an active lifestyle you may want to consider a smaller and more unique stone, or a more inlaid setting.  You don’t want her to not be wearing her ring when you’re out camping and climbing, and you don’t want the ring to need repairs regularly.

Work with a Jeweler

You may be able to design a beautiful and unique wedding set by working with a jeweler.  You’re not limited to just walking into a store and picking something out.  There are different settings and stones that can be mixed and matched to create a beautiful engagement ring and special wedding set.

It’s also great to have a relationship with your jeweler for the future.  You can have your ring cleaned and serviced and know that they’re taking great care with your valued possession.  They’ll also be able to help you choose future gifts.

You Don’t Have to Commit

If you’re not completely certain about the ring choice and you’re wanting it be a surprise, see about purchasing a temporary setting.  A reputable jeweler will work with you to come up with a ring for your proposal that you can then exchange for the perfect ring later.

If you can pull of a surprise proposal you’ll be the envy of all of her girlfriends and a legend in the making.  This is your chance to show off just how romantic and thoughtful you are.

Consider Sustainably Sourced

We think the trend of using ethically sourced gems is a great one to follow.  Many stones can be traced all the way from the mine to the market and it’s a great feeling to know the special story behind the stone and the ring.

If you go this route, be sure to get all the details so that you can share these.  These details are part of the story and building of your future together.

Phone a Friend

There’s no reason to be stressed about going out alone shopping.  Take a friend of yours or a friend of hers that knows you both well.  You can lean on them to help you make the best choice.

I assure you that your future fiance’s best friend will know pretty clearly what kind of ring she’s been dreaming of.  You will have to depend on her to be able to keep the secret though.

Remember that this is the most important gift you can give, and the most important piece of jewelry she’ll own.

Protect the Jewels

Be sure that you get an appraisal and insurance on your purchase.  This is an important purchase and you need to protect it.

We found that a great resource on purchasing diamonds and some in depth knowledge is the Gemological Institute of America. There’s a lot more information on the grading of diamonds if you’re interested.

And as soon as you pop the question you’ll want to Take a Ring Selfie!

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