By Sheryl Alfaro
After several relationships, you have finally found the perfect girl and you are ready to jump from boyfriend to fiancé. You asked her father for her hand in marriage and you plan to make the perfect proposal. The first step towards your dream wedding is buying the perfect engagement ring.
There is a lot of pressure in buying an engagement ring. This will serve as a symbol of your love for your partner. It also shows your willingness to spend the rest of your life with her. Furthermore, your girlfriend will most likely show off the ring to her friends and family. Now that’s a lot of pressure!
Well, buying an engagement ring does not have to be a stressful ordeal. With the right amount of knowledge, coupled with your excitement to take your relationship to the next level, buying an engagement ring can be a pleasant experience. Here are some important things to keep in mind in selecting the perfect engagement ring.
Be Clear About Your Budget
Buying the biggest rock that you find in the jewelry store or stretching your finances to breaking point is NOT the way to go. There is nothing romantic about going into debt over an exorbitantly priced ring.
Before you step into a jewelry store, be clear about your budget. This will help the jeweler in showing you different rings that are within your price range. Don’t just pay what is asked because the price of an engagement ring can often be negotiated.
You might have heard that you should spend 2 to 3 months’ salary on a ring but four to six weeks’ worth of your salary is sufficient to buy a quality ring. If you are low on budget but you are dying to propose, get her something you can afford. You can always get her a nicer ring as an anniversary present somewhere down the line.
Know Her Ring Size
Don’t guess at her size. The fact that you've held her hand a million times does not guarantee that you know her ring size. Getting on one knee and sliding a ring that doesn’t fit on your lady’s finger can be embarrassing.
Try to swipe a ring that you don’t see her wearing often or get a friend or family member to do it. Have it sized by a jeweler. It is best to be sure to avoid any potential awkwardness or embarrassment later.
If you get the wrong ring size, you can have it resized to make it smaller or larger. Just take the ring back to the jeweler and drop a little extra cash to get it properly fitted. Still, it is best to avoid the potential embarrassment and additional cost by picking the right ring size.
Know Her Taste and Style
Most couples prefer to ring-shop together. However, if you want to surprise her with a ring, you have to do some undercover work. You have to pay attention to the type of jewelry she wears for you to get a good sense of her taste. Does she prefer to wear gold, silver, or platinum? Does she like simple and elegant pieces or the big and intricate ones?
Unless she doesn’t have any idea that you are planning to propose, your girlfriend has probably done some research about the type of ring she wants to receive when the proposal comes. Many girls will give you hints, but if your girl hasn't mentioned anything, try asking her best friends or her family members for help. They will most likely know it if your girlfriend has a certain ring on mind.
Choose the Ring Band
You can choose from a variety of metals for the ring band. Ring bands are often made from silver, gold, or platinum but it can also be made from other combination of metals.
Platinum is one of the popular choices among couples. It is pure and durable, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. However, it dulls more quickly and it is harder to bring back its luster. There is also gold which is shinier and easier to polish but it wears down faster.
You may be more concerned about the durability of the ring band but your partner will be more interested in the way it looks. If she is the fashionable type, go with platinum or white gold band. If she is more the traditional type, go with the yellow gold band.
Choose the Right Rock
The center stone is the focal point of the ring. While the traditional, colorless diamond is often the best picked for engagement rings, you can go with colored engagement rings. Sapphires, emeralds and both black and white diamonds are now commonly used as the center stone or as an accent around the edges of the ring.
Before you go and make your purchase, you want to take into account all the factors that will determine the quality and cost of the diamond.
1. Cut – This has the greatest influence on a diamond’s beauty. A diamond cut does not refer to its shape but it is about how well the diamond’s facets interact with light. It determines what we generally think of as a sparkle. You would want to purchase a diamond that has a very good cut to have that fiery brilliance she can show off to her friends.
2. Color – Diamonds come in different colors but when it comes to white diamonds, color actually refers to a diamond’s lack of color. The presence of a yellow tint will lower the price of a diamond. Chemically pure and colorless diamonds are the rarest, thus, the most expensive.
3. Clarity – This refers to the imperfections (inclusions) in the diamond. These could be tiny fractures or mineral fragments. The fewer imperfections a diamond has, the more it is going to cost. A diamond with inclusions on the top and in the middle can influence the diversion of light making it less brilliant. Since clarity decides the brilliance of a diamond, try to pick one without any visible inclusions.
4. Carat – This is actually the weight of the diamond. A heavier stone will be more expensive. However, it is possible to make a stone appear larger than its actual carat weight. With the help of your jeweler, you can choose an appropriate setting to make the diamond look bigger.
Choose A Good Jeweler
Start your search for a good jeweler with recommendations from friends and family. You can also check for industry organization affiliation. A good place to start is to search for stores accredited by the Jewelers of America or members of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Often large and renowned chains are reliable and offer sales. You can also buy diamonds from an online jewelry store such as Blue Nile or James Allen. Since there are risks of fraud, ensure that you are dealing with reputable jewelers. Do your homework to search for the best place to buy diamonds online.
Ask the jeweler if they have the ability custom design the engagement ring. It will also be beneficial to find out what a store's return policy is. If in case it is not the one she wants, you want to be able to exchange the stone for another one that she prefers.
Purchase The Ring
Before you make your purchase, remember to ask for the diamond’s certificate of authenticity and warranty. Buy GIA certified diamonds. This will let you know exactly what you are buying since all the important information about the diamond are described in the certificate.
After you have placed your order, a ring can take up to six weeks to arrive. It can take even longer if you're having it custom designed. You may want to engrave the inside of the ring. Be sure to request the inscription when you place your order.
Have It Insured
A diamond engagement ring is one of the most important pieces of jewelry you will ever buy. It will be a great idea to have it insured in case it is ever damaged, lost, or stolen. Check if your homeowner’s insurance policy will allow you to add expensive jewelry to your coverage. You can also ask your jeweler if insurance is available or at least to lead you to some reputable insurance companies.
As my grandmother once jokingly told me when my wife and I announced our engagement, “Every girl dreams of the perfect wedding day with the perfect someone and with the perfect ring.” So, if the first two things didn’t meet your fiancée’s expectations, at least your ring will be perfect.