How to Buy an Engement Ring

Should I buy the diamond and engagement band from the same spot?

You’ve found the woman of your dreams and you’ve decided it’s time to ask her the big question. Now you want to find her that perfect engagement ring. There are many things to consider when you start shopping. What metal do you want for the band? What diamond shape and cut are you interested in? Should you buy the diamond and the engagement band from the same spot?

It’s a big decision. Ideally, she’ll be wearing this ring everyday for the rest of her life, so you want your selection to be perfect. Make sure you know what to look for when shopping online or speaking with a local jeweler.

First Steps: What should you consider when its time to start shopping?

  • Budget: How much am I going to spend and how to find a good deal
  • Band metal and color
  • Diamond size and cut
  • Ring size
  • Your girlfriend’s tastes

Budget

Before you start shopping, you should have a clear dollar amount in mind. The industry standard is considered two months salary. However, this is a decision that is very personal. You’ll want to pick something she will love but you don’t want to put yourself into serious debt or spend years saving, either. Remember, this is a symbol of your love and commitment, not just a pretty ring or a show of wealth.

It may help to browse a few internet ring sites to determine the average cost of the ring type you prefer. Prices will vary between stores. Keep in mind if you find something a little above your budget you may still find it or something similar on sale.
When considering your budget remember you are also going to need a wedding band. Some engagement rings come as a set, and some do not.
How to Buy an Engagement Ring

What Metals Are Available for Diamond Engagement Rings?

Engagement and wedding bands are typically made of gold (yellow, white or rose) and platinum. These metals endure long wear and maintain their beauty.

Silver is not considered an appropriate metal for an engagement ring since it is subject to tarnish with time.

Gold is measured in carats with 24 carats being pure. Pure gold, however, can be very soft and subject to bending.

Most engagement rings are between 14 and 18 carrots. For example, this would mean that 14 of the 24 carats are gold, while the other 10 are another metal. White gold is yellow gold that has been treated to look silver. This treatment sometimes fades and it may be necessary to send the ring back to the jeweler for subsequent treatments. Some women’s body chemistry can speed the process. The ring may turn back to yellow gold in 6 months or not for several years.

Platinum is an option if you want a silver band that will neither tarnish nor fade. Platinum has become popular among engaged couples in recent years. It is far more durable than gold and will not scratch easily, although it is more expensive.

What to consider when buying a diamond

When comparing diamonds you’ll want to consider the four C’s:

  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Color
  • Carat

The first of the four C’s (the cut) determines the shape of the diamond. Diamonds come in a variety of shapes. In addition to the traditional round cut, there are marquis (diamond shaped), princess (a type of square cut) and several others.

Second is the clarity of the stone. This scale determines how many flaws are in the diamond. A diamond rated “C” is perfectly clear, while one rated “SI” means that it includes some flaws.

Other Characteristics to Consider

The color of the diamond is also important. Some diamonds will have small flecks of yellow or other colors in them. A G-H range is a nearly colorless diamond and will appear completely clear to the naked eye.

Carats are the measurement standard for precious stones (one carat equals 200 milligrams). A single stone with the same carat size as a collection of smaller stones is generally considered more valuable.

The four C’s determine the cost of the diamond. A small perfect stone will cost about the same as a larger, flawed stone. In most cases, slight flaws are not noticeable to the naked eye.

Ring Size: Make sure it fits

If you and your fiancé shop for rings together, she can have her finger sized. If you would like surprise her, you’re going to have to do a little digging to determine her ring size. Here are a few things you can try:

  • If she already has a ring that fits her third finger, take it when she isn’t wearing it and trace the inside of the band. The jeweler can determine the size from your drawing, and she won’t be suspicious of a missing ring. Most internet engagement ring sites also offer a sizing chart that you can print and compare.
  • Ask her mother, sister or her closest friend. They may know her ring size already. Just be sure they will keep your secret.
  • When she’s asleep, take a piece of string and wrap it around her third finger to measure.

Make sure the ring you choose can be sized! Some bands that have encircling diamonds can only adjust one to two sizes.

How do you know she’ll love it?

Keep her personal tastes in mind when shopping for a ring. Does she generally wear classic clothes and prefer a more sophisticated style? Then you may want to choose a classic, simple band and diamond cut. Is her style always changing with the times? Does she and like unique and interesting clothing? She may prefer a trendier ring.

A woman who likes her environment clean and organized might like a single stone on a simple band, while a woman who enjoys a flurry of activity or likes colorful everyday jewelry may want a ring with several stones or a unique band. Her personality and style will help you determine the perfect ring for her.

Should I buy the diamond and band in the same place?

What if you found a diamond you love, but the band is the wrong metal? Or what if the band is perfect, but the diamond is the wrong cut or size? Most jewelers have options where you can choose the diamond and band you want, ensuring the perfect look. You might even find a diamond you want on sale in one store and the band in another.

If you buy separate, budget for the jeweler’s cost for setting your diamond. If you saved a substantial amount, it may be worth the extra fee. Your options are limitless. With a little work, and now with so many options available online, you can find or create your perfect ring.

Which brands are the most common?

If you are interested in finding a ring from a respected designer, or are looking for a set of rings with a certain look, you may want to look for a popular engagement ring brand. Some of the most popular include:

Saving a little money

When it comes to buying your engagement ring, you want to get the most for your money. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Shop sales. Most stores and online sites have sales for major holidays. Especially Valentine ’s Day and Christmas. Sometimes you can even try to get stores to compete for your business by telling a store of a similar ring that a competitor is offering at a lower price.
  • Shop at stores that offer discontinued styles or overstocks.
  • Check out online discount jewelers. Many offer the same rings you find in a local store for up to 60% off. Nervous about buying from just a picture? Find a ring you like at a local store and then search discount sites for that same or similar ring.
  • Buy used. There are several online auction sites that sell used jewelry. A local pawn shop might also turn up a good buy. You can find a great ring at a much lower price.
  • Estate jewelry. Look for local sales or a shop that specializes in estate sales.

When it comes to buying that perfect ring, the price range is almost limitless. Consider what you want to spend, and then look for a ring that fits your girlfriend’s personal style. Once you have these things decided, start comparing the four C’s and look for discounts. In no time you’ll have that perfect symbol of your enduring love to slip on her finger.

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