When you find someone who is right for you, you want to make it forever. Buying the perfect ring is the first step down that path. Engagement rings and gifts are a long standing tradition; references to rings given upon betrothal date all the way back to the Roman Empire. Giving your bride-to-be a ring is a gesture she’s sure to enjoy.
Preparing To Pop The Question
Not only are engagement rings beautiful, they are also thoughtful. While some couples are giving each other smaller rings, or eschewing rings altogether, others are staying with tradition and shopping for jewelry. While some couples choose to shop for engagement rings together, it is still the groom who most often pays – and also who most often will buy the ring as a surprise.
Surprise! Is It The Only Option?
There are pros and cons to having your partner with you when you browse engagement rings. The biggest pro is finding out exactly what she wants in a ring. When your partner is there with you, the ring can be picked out, tried on, and altered to meet her approval, all in the same day. However, the downside to this is there will be no surprise.
In contrast, shopping for diamond engagement rings for a surprise proposal can be exciting and nerve wracking, but can give your partner a memory that will last forever. The con to this is not knowing exactly what she will like, being unsure about the ring size, and – if the proposal is a surprise – not knowing if the answer will be yes.
Know Before You Go
Before you even start to think about looking for engagement rings, you need to get information on what engagement ring styles would interest your bride. This can be done openly – just ask! If you want to propose as a surprise, however, you will need to be a bit sneakier with your information gathering. The easiest way to figure out what kind of ring she would like is by simple observation. When you are with her, take note of a few things:
- What types of metal does she wear?
- Does she have a favorite color?
- Is she attracted to modern or classical design?
- What type of gemstones does she like?
- Does she point out particular pieces of jewelry she likes?
All of these can help you find the perfect ring for popping the question.
Once you’re ready to take the plunge and go ring shopping, you should determine your budget. Depending on what you’re looking for and where you shop, engagement rings can cost anywhere from under $100 to over $10,000. While it can be easy to get carried away and splurge on the “perfect” ring, putting yourself in debt before you say “I do” is no way to start married life.
There are a few traditions that some people go by when determining a budget. An older piece of advice is to invest two months’ salary into an engagement ring. This comes out to an average of approximately $2000.
Most jewelry salespeople, however, work on commission. This means they’ll do everything they can to bring up your total cost, from suggesting a different (and more expensive) stone to upgrading your metal – from 14 to 18k gold or from white gold to platinum as an example.
While these would bring more monetary value to the ring, it can also take your bill over what you had planned to pay. Stick to your guns and stay within your budget. Sometimes cheap engagement rings can guarantee more joy than an expensive one.
Steps To Building Perfect Engagement Rings
Whether you’re alone or with your partner, budgeting isn’t the only thing you need to take into consideration when you go shopping for engagement rings. While you can go into jewelry stores and buy a ring already made and set, some grooms are choosing to design their own rings from scratch. As with shopping together, there are pros and cons to each of these choices.
Premade Engagement Rings: While buying an engagement ring that has already been designed and set by a professional jeweler and is now being sold in a store may save time and money, you run the risk of your bride-to-be seeing someone with the same ring on their finger. In addition, some of the gemstones may not be as high-quality as you would like in your ring choice.
Designed Engagement Rings: A personally designed engagement ring has the guarantee that no one else will have the same design. It also has the special touch that only something hand-crafted specifically for the recipient can bring. However, buying the stone and setting separately – or having the entire piece designed by a professional jeweler – can raise the price significantly. You also run the risk of your partner not liking the design, especially if she prefers more classic pieces.
New Can Mean New To You
One option that fits nicely between the premade and custom designed options is finding the perfect piece from a selection of antique engagement rings. This can be something as heartfelt as your (or her!) grandmother’s ring, or a beautiful band found tucked away in the jewelry case of an antique shop. Vintage engagement rings can be more expensive than other premade rings simply because of their age; however, they have an elegant feel that can’t be matched by a newer piece.
Set In Stone
Whether you choose to go with a premade ring or a custom designed one, the stone choices for engagement rings can pose problems for even the savviest groom.
While tradition dictactes that diamond engagement rings are the best bet, others can showcase emeralds, rubies, or sapphires. In some rings, one type of gemstone is used in the center, with other types accenting on either side.
As they are the most common option – and usually the most expensive – there are special qualifications to rate diamond engagement rings. These ratings determine the prices of the diamond, with higher ratings bringing higher costs. They are known as the “four C’s”, which are Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat.
- Cut: The cut of the diamond is one of the most important parts of determining the stone’s price. The more intricate the cut, the more brilliant the stone; however, the more intricate cuts also command a higher price. Princess cut engagement rings are gaining increasing popularity among modern brides and are second only to the traditional round cut engagement rings. Other interesting cuts include cushion cut engagement rings, Ascher cut engagement rings, emerald cut engagement rings, marquise engagement rings and pear shaped engagement rings.
- Clarity: Clarity refers to how clear the diamond is. All natural stones have the potential for small flaws within, called inclusions. The fewer number of inclusions, the higher clarity rating the diamond will have. Diamonds with the fewest flaws are the most brilliant, which in turn will command a higher price.
- Color: Diamonds can come in many colors, from brown to yellow to almost completely colorless. Colorless diamonds are the most desired because they give off the most sparkle. Diamonds with a deeper color absorb more light, which means less sparkle.
- Carat: The carat weight is how the size of the diamond is measured. Larger carat stones are more expensive than smaller ones, as they are harder to find.
Send In The Band
The other part of the ring is the band that holds the stone. There are two parts to each band: the band itself and the setting. The setting is what holds the stone in place.
The two most common types of engagement ring settings are a raised prong and a channel; however, channel set stones are more commonly found in wedding bands. The band itself can hold channel set stones and can be very thin, filigreed, or a solid piece of metal.
The bands also can come in numerous metals. Engagement rings are most commonly found in gold, white gold, and platinum. Platinum is a stronger metal than gold, and commands a much higher price than gold or white gold. Gold can be found in different carat weights, as well.
The Perfect Piece
Whether you choose to create a ring that will enter the hall of the most unique engagement rings of all time or buy a preset piece, knowing what to look for will let you have the best proposal experience with the perfect piece of jewelry from the huge selection of engagement rings on the market.