So you're planning to pop the question. Congratulations! You're about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life, and it all starts with getting down on one knee. But before you propose, you've got to pick out the engagement ring. When shopping for an engagement ring, it's best to take the emotion and romance out of the equation for a short time. Engagement rings are a big purchase, and like every big purchase, it's important to be informed. Some engagement rings are superior to others and, unfortunately, there are jewelers out there that will try to talk you into an inferior product. Coming in armed with knowledge and ready to ask focused questions about your potential engagement rings.
Here at The Diamond Authority, we've put together a list of six things to look out for when buying engagement rings. After you read this article, you'll be ready to go into the jeweler of your choice, look at the possible engagement rings, and make an informed choice on the one that's right for the person you want to spend your life with. Then it's time to take that final step and propose. The adventure of a lifetime begins with shopping for engagement rings, and it all starts here with being prepared.
1. The 4 C's
The first thing you'll want to look out for when shopping for engagement rings is the four C's. The four C's refers to the quality of the diamond in the ring, and this is the key thing that determines the ring's value. Diamonds are graded and priced based on four C's - being cut, carat, color, and quality. While some rings may have special emotional value and override questions of value, it is best to know what you're paying for.
Cut refers to the way the original gem was sliced and faceted to increase its shine. Different cuts have different proportions and shapes. Brilliant cut is the most traditional diamond shape while rose cut has a more rounded bottom. Baguette cuts are rectangular while marquise cuts are shaped like a boat.
Clarity refers to the natural inclusions in diamonds. Each diamond will have a clarity rating, beginning at FL (flawless, which is extremely rare) and going down to I3. I3 means big, noticeable inclusions. This will determine how smooth your diamond's appearance is.
Color refers to how close to pure white a diamond is. The scale runs from white to yellow. This category only applies if you've decided to go with a white diamond. Engagement rings featuring pink, black, or champagne diamonds are becoming more popular. A pure white, or D-scale diamond, is extremely rare expensive. The scale runs from D to Z, and most engagement rings are on the G to H point on the scale.
Diamond Carat refers to the unit of measurement that is used to weigh the stone. This doesn't always reflect on diameter as the carat of a diamond is affected by its cut. The bigger the stone in a diamond ring, the higher its carat and the more expensive the ring.
2. The Metal
One of the first things you should ask when shopping for engagement rings is for details on the metal that makes up the band. While the stone is the first thing that catches most people's eyes, the band determines if your intended will be able to wear it for as long as they'd like. Durability is the most important thing you're looking for in bands. Gold or platinum are the best metals for long-term durability.
While engagement rings carry added emotional weight, it's important to treat it like any other piece of jewelry when looking at the band. It should also match the style of the person who will be wearing it. If they primarily wear silver jewelry, you would want to look for a band in platinum or white gold. An engagement rings should blend in smoothly with the rest of the outfit. The gem should be visible, but the band should be subtle and tasteful.
3. The Budget
It's by far the least fun part of shopping for engagement rings, but just like every big purchase, you need to know what you can afford. Anyone who goes into a jewelry shop without researching costs will be in for some sticker shock. The price is always more than you expected. The good news is that there are engagement ring options for every budget, and the key to finding the right ring for a price you can afford is to determine which feature you will prioritize.
If you want a big stone, consider looking at options other than the expensive white diamonds. If shine matters, many of the most brilliant diamonds are small. There are also stylish options combining several small stones, or using stones other than diamonds. A gorgeous engagement ring may set your engagement off on the right note, but shop carefully, because you don't want to be paying off that debt well into your marriage.
4. The Stone
When people are shopping for engagement rings, their thoughts immediately go to diamonds. Diamonds weren't always the go-to stone for engagement rings, at least not until the 1930s. A marketing campaign by De Beers complete with their famous slogan "A diamond is forever" led diamonds to overtake all other gemstones in popularity. Until then, precious stones including sapphires, rubies, emeralds, opals, pearls, and moonstones were used in engagement rings, sometimes in artistic combinations.
One of the most famous engagement rings of all time, Prince Albert's gift to Queen Victoria, was an emerald-covered serpent ring. Like with the metal, the most important thing to know is your partner's style. What color scheme do they most often wear? You'll want the engagement ring to match that. You should also research the hardness and durability of major gemstones. Next to diamonds, sapphires are the most durable gemstones.
5. Ring Style/Size
When shopping for engagement rings, it's important to keep your partner's style and finger size in mind. Nothing is worse than proposing only to find out the ring doesn't fit as you slip it on their finger. Style factors into other parts of the ring, such as the color of the stone and the band. It's important to observe your partner's usual style and pinpoint a few key points about their aesthetic you can describe to the jeweler. This allows you to eliminate a lot of rings right off the bat and narrow down your choices. If you are unsure as to what they would like, consider proposing with a stand-in ring and then going ring shopping together.
Ring sizing is not an exact science, and everyone's fingers are shaped differently. The best way to ensure a ring that will fit on your beloved's finger is to have a model. Take a ring they wear regularly and mark where it lands on your finger before sizing. Also, if they have a few stray rings they wear occasionally but won't miss for a few hours, take one with you to the jeweler. Having a model for size will make it easy to pick out the right ring in the store. You may want to ask if the ring you're looking at can be re-sized for any comfort issues. With proper preparation, you'll maximize the chance of a smooth proposal and a smooth fit on their finger.
6. Protection Plan
An engagement ring is a big purchase, and like any big purchase, you would be wise to consider an insurance policy. Insurance companies will want to see proof of purchase and potentially a professional appraisal before insuring a piece of jewelry. Engagement rings might be hardy, but they're also small and can get lost or even flushed easily. One of the first things you should ask your jeweler when you see a ring you like is if they offer a warranty. If they don't, search around for one that does. Top jewelers will often offer built-in repairs and resizing after purchase to ensure a comfortable fit and long life for your ring. If none of the jewelers in your area or your budget offer a protection plan or warranty, look into outside insurance policies.
It's not something anyone who is proposing wants to think about, but if you're considering a custom-made ring, you should be highly confident that the answer will be yes. While standard rings will be returnable at most jewelers if they're returned in top condition, custom-made rings are often sold under an all-sales-final policy.
You've already made the biggest decision of your life, to propose to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Shopping for engagement rings may seem daunting, but you're now armed with all the information you need to make the right decision. Watch your four C's, and remember to account for the metal band, the stone, the style, the size, your budget, and the ring's protection plan. You'll find the perfect ring, nail that proposal, and be planning your wedding in no time.