How to select the perfect engagement ring
So, you’ve met the girl of your dreams and you’re ready to pop that all-important question. Not only do you have to come up with a proposal she’ll be proud to recount to her friends for years to come, you’ll have to select the right engagement ring, too.
For many men, the selection of an engagement ring for their significant other is the first time they’ve had to make a jewellery purchase. It can be daunting to walk into a jewellery store for the first time, especially when met with terms and options that can seem like a foreign language.
Here, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to choosing the perfect engagement ring.
Set a budget
Before you even set foot in a jewellery store, it’s important to understand how much you can really afford to spend. There are beautiful rings at every price point, so don’t feel obligated to stretch yourself too thin just to buy a bigger diamond. And always remember that the sticker price isn’t necessarily the final price; there is almost always room to negotiate.
Find her ring size
This can be tricky, if you are trying to surprise your girlfriend with a ring. One thing you can do is take one of her other rings to the store with you for sizing. The key is to find a ring she wears (so that you know it fits) but one that she doesn’t wear so often as to notice it is missing while you use it.
Find out what she likes
If you’ve been with your partner a while, you may have a good idea bout her personal style, but maybe not. You may have to do a little detective work to find out what she prefers. Look at the jewellery she typically wears. Is it mostly gold or silver? A mixture? Does she like to wear a certain stone, such as her birthstone? Does she prefer more simple, understated pieces, or more elaborate ones? The answer to these questions will help guide your decisions when you are faced with all those choices.
You can also bring her into a jewellery store under false pretences (getting your watch battery replaced, for example). While you’re taking care of that, casually take note of what she looks at while she’s waiting for you. She’ll likely give you clues about what she likes without even realizing it.
The four C’s
Assuming you are going to purchase a ring with a diamond, there are four things to keep in mind when selecting the diamond, known as the four C’s: cut, colour, clarity, and carat.
Contrary to what the name suggests, “cut” isn’t a reference to the shape of the diamond. Instead, it’s an indication of the specific angles and proportions of the diamond. This is determined by the cutter, not the natural formation of the stone. Diamonds with a high-quality cut will reflect light more effectively, giving it a beautiful sparkle.
Diamonds come in a variety of colours, graded on a scale from D to Z. “D” rated diamonds are colourless, and are the rarest (and therefore the most expensive). When it comes to choosing a colour, it’s really a matter of preference.
The fewer imperfections (known as “inclusions”) a diamond has, the higher the clarity (and the higher the price tag). Generally, it’s best to choose a diamond that is rated in the SI1 and SI2 range, as you won’t be able to detect the inclusions with the naked eye.
This is an indication of the weight, and therefore size, of a diamond. The heavier the stone, the heftier the price tag. Don’t get too caught up on the carat weight; the appearance of the ring as a whole is more important. A skilled jeweller can make a smaller diamond appear large by way of skilled shaping and mounting procedures.
Selecting the shape
In addition to the 4 C’s, there are many different shapes of diamonds to choose from. This is entirely a matter of preference, so try to do some detective work to determine what your lady would like.
Round diamonds are classic and timeless. Princess diamonds are square shaped, and a little more modern than a round diamond. There are also pear-shaped, oval, and heart-shaped diamonds, to name a few others.
Finally, you’ll have to choose the setting. This indicates the way in which the diamond is placed, or “set” into the ring. Again, this is a matter of taste. Choose from settings like the classic Tiffany setting (what most people think of when they think about engagement rings) or Eternity setting (which features a band of diamonds all the way around, rather than a single stone set atop the band). A bezel-set ring features a stone that is “sunken” into the surrounding rim, giving it a low profile. This is a great choice for a woman who works with her hands or has an active lifestyle, as the stone will be more protected than it would be with other settings.
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