Rarely does a guy go into a jewelry store without some trepidation, especially when he is there to buy the most important piece of jewelry he will ever purchase, the engagement ring. Anxiety, excitement, and even a small level of panic is natural when buying that little beauty that will represent so much. But the more familiar you are with jewelry stores, diamonds, mountings, and what you can expect from them, the more confident you will be and the better choice you will make.
Start With Her
There are too many choices out there today to not involve the woman who gets to wear it. There are many ways to do this without “ruining the surprise.” Here are some suggestions:
- Ask her what she thinks about someone else’s ring (a friend, a relative, or even a movie star). This will usually get the conversation started about what she likes or doesn’t like.
- Look together online. Many websites feature a range of styles. Google “engagement ring” and you can stay busy for weeks.
- Ask those that are close to her, but make sure that they can keep a secret.
- While walking in a mall, browse with her to see what she likes. This is a good time to get her finger sized as well.
Don’t get too caught up in exact details at this stage. You are just trying to answer a few basic questions.
- What is her favorite shaped center stone (i.e. round, princess, marquise, emerald, etc.)?
- Does she want the ring to be white gold, yellow gold or platinum?
- Does she want a solitaire (a single diamond on a plain mounting) or an engagement ring with side stones?
- If she wants side stones, does she like a simple style (with a few accent diamonds) or perhaps a vintage style (with many small diamonds and often beading on the metal), or is there another style of ring that she is drawn to?
Don’t worry too much about every small detail, but you do want to get an primary idea of what she likes.
Look To Yourself
Now here is the time for the tough questions. How much should I spend and how much can I spend? There have been a few formulas out there to determine how much a man should spend on an engagement ring. The most accepted is two months’ salary. However, the best formula comes from taking a good look at your budget and spending within your means.
Some suggestions that will help you:
- Most stores offer interest free financing or layaway, so you can spread out payments over time.
- Also, most stores offer future upgrades where you can trade in your original diamond for a larger one down the road. If you want to give her a one-carat diamond, but your current budget says half a carat, you can plan to upgrade to a three-quarter carat diamond on your 1st anniversary and then upgrade to a one carat on your 5th anniversary.
- Research on-line to get prices before you go into a store, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
- Go in with a budget and try to stick to it. Allow yourself 10% wiggle room, but do not get carried away.
This is the beginning. Knowing what she wants and how much you wish to spend are good first steps. You will also want to learn more about picking a store, picking a diamond, and picking a mounting. The more you are prepared for buying an engagement ring, the better you will like the results: a ring you can proudly give her and a symbol that makes her dreams come true.