Skip to main content

How to Buy the Perfect Engagement Ring!

Oct 30, 2012 03:21PM ● By Erin Frisch
You’ve decided that she’s the one. And now it’s time to let her know. Buying an engagement ring can be an overwhelming task. There’s no shortage of pressure on you to make it perfect. This ring is a symbol of your love for your chosen one, and she’s going to want to show it off to friends, family, and coworkers. But how do you choose the right ring? With so many options to consider (the band, the setting, the actual stone), where do you start? Following these guidelines can help you in your quest for the perfect ring.

First, Establish Your Budget

You may have heard that engagement rings are supposed to cost 2 or 3 months’ worth of your salary. An advertising suggestion from back in the 1940s that stuck, that’s not necessarily a guideline you should follow. Instead, determine how much you want to spend before you walk into a jewelry shop. This way jewelers can show you offerings that are in your price range. Buy the nicest ring you can comfortably afford—and be aware that the price of an engagement ring is often negotiable!

Make It a Surprise . . . Or Don’t?

It has become more common for a couple to head into a store to pick out a ring together. While letting your intended choose will ensure that she gets a ring she likes and that fits, imagine how surprised she’d be if you could pull that off by yourself. Making it a surprise takes some work, but it’s an investment that is well worth the trouble when you see the look on her face. On the other hand, some women insist on going with you to pick it out. One of your families may have an heirloom ring that you want to use. In that case, no surprise is necessary.

What’s Her Size

Let’s assume your proposal goes as smoothly as it can, and your chosen one says yes. The last thing you want is to slip the ring on her finger and not have it fit. If you do get the wrong size, it’s not the end of the world (or the end of the relationship either). Just head back to the jeweler with your fiancé and have the ring re-sized (though this may be an extra cost). To ensure that you don’t have to go through this hassle, you can either ask her what her ring size is, or if you’re going for the surprise, you can get a little sneaky. You can take a ring that she doesn’t often wear from her jewelry box while she’s busy elsewhere, and take it to a jeweler and get it back without her being the wiser. You could also recruit one of her friends, one that can keep a secret, to get the information (or the ring) for you.

Research Her Style

You want to get a ring that reflects your intended’s style. This will take a bit of careful observation on your part. Take note of the type of jewelry she normally wears. Is it silver? Gold? Does she wear big, fancy statement pieces, or does she seem to go for simpler, classic styles? Another option is to head into a jewelry store with her, but let her think you’re on a mission for something else. Take her in under the guise of looking for a new watch, then take note of the kinds of rings she looks at.

Choose the Band

There are variety of metals to choose from for the engagement ring’s band, each with advantages and disadvantages. The classics are yellow gold, white gold, platinum, and silver. Gold, a soft metal, is shiny and easy to polish back to its original luster, but it also wears down faster than other metals. Platinum is super durable, but dulls fairly quickly. These days, silver-looking engagement rings are pretty popular. If your girlfriend wears a lot of silver, it’s safe to go with a platinum or white gold band. Same goes for gold!

Select a Stone

Choosing the perfect stone can seem intimidating, but if you take into account a few key factors, you’ll get a diamond that makes all her friends envious. Cut, color, clarity, and carat determine the quality and cost of the diamond.

Cut. Cut refers to the angles and proportions of the stone, not the actual shape of the diamond. A well-cut diamond reflects light from one facet to another and projects the light through the top of the stone. Cut is the most important factor because it’s what gives a diamond its sparkle. Even if you have the perfect color, clarity, and carat, if the cut isn’t right, the diamond won’t have that fiery brilliance that everyone looks for.

Color. Diamond color is graded on a scale that ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). Truly colorless diamonds are the most rare and expensive. White diamonds are the most popular, but color really depends on individual preference.

Clarity. Clarity is a measure of the number of imperfections a diamond has. Inclusions are other minerals or tiny fractures in the diamond; the fewer inclusions in a stone, the better the clarity. Like color, clarity is measured on a scale. S11 and SI2 are slightly included, but you won’t be able to see the imperfections with the naked eye. Try to find a diamond in this range, and avoid stones with inclusions on the top and in the middle, which can affect the diversion of light and make the stone less brilliant.

Carat. Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. The heavier the stone, the more you’re going to pay.

Now for the Shape

The shape is all about preference. A round diamond is timeless and classic. Princess diamonds are square and also quite popular right now. Shapes can also be oval and pear-shaped, like a teardrop.

Pick the Setting

The setting also depends on your fiancé preferences. Here are a few kinds of settings you should be familiar with before you shop:

Tiffany setting: A single diamond, timeless and classic.

Bezel setting: A metal rim rises above the stone and encases its entire circumference. This is a secure setting and a good choice for those with active lifestyles.

Eternity band: This setting has diamonds that go all the way around the ring.

Pave: This consists of a number of small diamonds set closely together. The stones are separated and held in place by little beads of the setting metal, resulting in what looks like a continuous surface of diamonds.

Channel setting: The stones are set in a continuous row in a metal channel. This is often used to accent a larger main diamond.

Finally, take your time and shop around. Like buying a home or an auto, this purchase takes some time to get it right. Do your homework by visiting several jewelers, reading about the factors involved, and talking to friends who’ve been through the process. All that background of information will make your task easier and your chosen one happier. And best wishes on your engagement!

Have a good engagement story? Share it with us!

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Woodstock Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline