The Jewelry Insider

July 1, 2011

How do you choose the perfect engagement ring? Where do you start? How much should you spend? Should it be a surprise or should you shop together? How do you know you’re getting value?

So many questions surround one of the most emotion-filled purchases that you’ll ever make. Get this one wrong, and it’s never going to be forgotten. However, if you’re like most people looking for their first engagement ring, you probably don’t know a whole lot about diamonds. And in this case, ignorance is not bliss. Before you take another step, spend time here and learn all there is to learn about diamonds and engagment rings. So, when the time comes to signing on the dotted line you’ll know you’re getting the perfect ring (at the perfect price).

Know the Four Cs – Cutclaritycarat and color are the main factors that determine the quality of a diamond and thus, its price. It’s critical to educate yourself in each of these areas before you start shopping. Do your homework – shop around, look at stores’ Web sites, ask trusted friends and relatives where they buy their jewelry, read everything there is to read on Jewelry.com. In other words, arm yourself with as much information as possible before you’re ready to make the purchase. Know her style – pay attention when she admires someone else’s engagement ring or a ring in an advertisement; ask her friends and family what she likes.

Look in her jewelry box; notice the style of jewelry she already wears. Also note the kind of metal she prefers (yellow gold, white gold, platinum). Go shopping with her at the mall and browse by a few jewelry stores; you’ll get to see first-hand what really catches her eye. Find her ring size – Just imagine – you pop the question, she happily accepts, she starts to put the ring on – and it doesn’t fit. What a letdown. You want that magic moment to be perfect. So either get a ring from her jewelry box and bring it with you, or make an impression of her ring in soap or clay, or trace the inside of her ring on a piece of paper, or even put her ring on your own finger as far as it will go and mark that spot with a pen. A jeweler can get an accurate measurement through any of these strategies. And of course, you can always ask one of her best friends or relatives for her ring size – just be sure you choose someone who can keep a secret.

Have a budget in mind, but be flexible – Diamonds are available in a range of prices, so you’re certain to find one that suits your taste and budget. Once you understand the Four Cs, you’ll be able to find a stone that represents the best value, based on the combination of color, cut, clarity and carat weight you desire. But don’t automatically pass up the “perfect” ring just because it’s more than you planned to spend. Remember that this is an investment that will last a lifetime – and it won’t depreciate in value. Besides, most jewelers accept credit cards or offer financing that allows you to pay for the jewelry in installments. As for how much you should actually spend, consider the commonly accepted guideline of two month’s salary. However, this is only a directional tool to help you establish a budget. Always consider the bride as part of this decision: if she prides herself on keeping debts low and credit cards paid off, she may not appreciate even the most beautiful ring that requires payments or loans.

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