Choosing the engagement ring is usually the first step towards wedding planning. Many men will choose a ring themselves and then offer it with the big question. Others will choose the engagement ring with their fiancée in order to get her exactly what she wants.
Whichever way you’re doing things, read this guide on choosing an engagement ring.
If you’re planning to marry this girl then you probably know her quite well. However well you think you might know her, don’t assume anything. An engagement ring has huge emotional meaning for most girls and is the very first step you’re taking on a forever life together. That means you get it wrong at your peril!
Ask her friends
Most girls will discuss such things with their girlfriends long before the question is popped. Find a close friend who can keep a secret and enlist them. Ask them what your future wife likes, what metals, what stones, what style and what else.
Then ask them to “appropriate” one of her rings that will fit the third finger for you to use as a size guide. You can do this part yourself if you live together.
Follow the rules
Just about every girl over the age of 12 learns that an engagement ring should cost around a month’s salary. Follow that rule. Even if she isn’t worried about cost or value, follow the rule. It’s too important not to.
Engagement rings are usually diamond, so the rule when choosing stones is to buy the best you can afford. That means no colour grade below H and now cut grade below Very Good. This ring is going to be a symbol of taste as well as love, so get it right.
See what she’s got
You should already have a good idea of the type and style of jewellery she likes from what she owns or wears. Does she wear traditional? Modern? Unique? Designer? Does she wear yellow gold? White gold? Platinum? Silver?
All these should influence the type and style of engagement ring you buy. Use this knowledge along with what you learn from her friends to help make your decision.
Learn the 4 C’s
Anyone hoping to buy the ultimate engagement ring needs to learn the 4 c’s. They are cut, colour, clarity and carat. They are all ways of comparing diamonds and will define the characteristic of the stone. Nobody is asking you to be an instant gemmologist, but it pays to be in the know.
The cut is the only manual element of a diamond and so is susceptible to mistakes, poor workmanship or absolute perfection. The cut determines the shape of the stone and the “fire” of it. Fire is how the facets reflect light. Get it right and it looks great, get it wrong and you lose the sparkle.
Colourless diamonds are grade “D” and are the ultimate. They are also the most expensive. Colour grades go from D to Z, with D being the clearest to Z being the most coloured.
For a typical engagement ring, something between D and H would be the best. If you’re looking for something a little different and are sure your fiancée will love it, it’s more than acceptable to look for coloured diamonds further down the scale, or “fancies” which are naturally coloured diamonds.
There is a lot of talk about clarity, but for the most part, it’s pointless worrying about it. Unless you’re going to be staring at the ring through a jewellers loupe, clarity is largely irrelevant as you cannot judge with the naked eye.
Diamonds have things called Inclusions, which are cloudy formations within the stone. This is how clarity is graded. Clarity is graded from IF, Internally Flawless downwards to I3, Imperfect 3. If you think your fiancée will worry about clarity, buy SI1 or above. That’s Slightly Included 1.
Carat can be important as it dictates the weight and size of the diamond. A carat weighs 0.2gm and is subdivided into 100 points. The average size for an engagement ring is between three-quarters to 1 carat.
Choosing an engagement ring is a very important task and one that could influence the entirety of the rest of your life. Getting it right could make her year, getting it wrong could ruin it. So do your research, get your facts right and do the best you can.
Good luck with your choice!