When shopping for an engagement ring, whether solo or together as a couple, there are things just as important—if not more—as “color, cut and clarity” that will make the purchasing experience better in the long term for both grooms and brides-to-be.
Style and Color Preference are Key. If you’ll be doing the ring shopping solo or secretly with a friend or family member, pay attention to the jewelry your girlfriend already owns and wears. Is it silver or gold? Two-tone? Simple? Ostentatious? Does she wear jewelry infrequently or all the time—if infrequently she may not feel comfortable wearing a large engagement ring and/or wedding band. You will also need to know her ring size—fourth finger, left hand. And no, ring fingers on left and right hands are not always the same size.
Money IS an Object. A quality diamond costs. A recommended guideline on price is 2 months’ salary. Depending on the type of job you hold that will be a factor in what you can comfortably afford—a good cut of diamond, according to DeBeers, the largest diamond producer in the world, will require a minimum of $1,000. To get all the bells and whistles, you will need to spend upwards of $2,500.
If you want to spend outside that limit, you’ll need time to save more, and that could impact the timing of when you’ll be ready or able to pop the question. If an engagement has been talked about between you and your girlfriend, and she is expectant or impatient for a specific date, it’s important to know what you can and can’t afford.
Some couples choose to finance the ring(s), but you’ll need to carefully choose a payment plan that’s within your monthly budget. This is especially tricky if you are purchasing the ring as a surprise. You don’t want to spoil the gift or the moment by sweating out the fact that you bought something you couldn’t pay for, but common sense tells you it would be better to let your girlfriend know that there will be impending payments coming due on the ring. Will you be paying for them yourself or will it become a household payment if you still owe at the time of the wedding. Talk it out. It’s no good for a couple’s first argument to be over the payment of a bride’s jewelry.
Single or Double. Buying an engagement ring as a stand-alone piece of jewelry, rather than as part of a wedding band set, might give you more options on the style of ring you buy, but be careful in making this decision.
Often, a beautiful engagement ring that’s looked great on your girl’s finger during the months leading to the wedding, becomes less so when paired to a wedding band with an unmatched style or whose finish doesn’t match the engagement ring’s luster.
Also think about the set of the stone in the engagement ring. Big or intricately cut stones often require a wedding band tthat’s sculpted to fit the engagement ring’s shape or height. Wearing mismatched rings is uncomfortable, and a bad fit can lead to a greater chance of a ring slipping from a finger. Wedding band sets make better sense for a couple that wants matching bands too.
Shop Till You Drop. You may see that phrase more commonly attributed to women (trust me, she’ll be doing to same in choosing the wedding cake), but you’ll want to pay attention here.
Shop and compare rings and prices everywhere from fine jewelers to independent retailers to department store jewelry counters. Watch for weekend circulars in newspapers for promotions and sales. Listen for radio ads as you drive to and from work—holidays offer key times for discounts on jewelry sales. Talk to friends and coworkers and ask where they’ve bought jewelry—personal referrals are always worth following up on.
Plan the Moment. Do more than just have the ring box wrapped. Yes, she’ll be excited about the box and what’s inside, but it’s what you say and how you say it when you give her the box that she’ll remember for a lifetime.
If you have to right it down, fine—she won’t complain, and it will be more endearing as well as become a memento of the occasion. But whether reading your own words or speaking from the heart, on bended knee or holding her hand in yours as you slip the ring on her finger, it will be something that lives in her mind forever, long after the day you both say “I do.”