Shopping for an engagement ring is one of the most important purchases a person can embark upon. At the same time, it’s something you usually do once and only once. How are you supposed to know which engagement ring is the right one? Will it call out to you? And could your instincts even be wrong?
Let’s take a look at what you need to know before you commit to an engagement ring.
Take a Crash Course in Diamonds (And Other Precious Stones)
Many people are against mined diamonds for moral reasons. But there are many ethical alternatives to mined diamonds today (such as fair-trade diamonds) and affordable alternatives to natural diamonds (synthetic diamonds). In fact, synthetic diamonds are more perfect than “real” diamonds and often can’t even be distinguished from something real.
Not everyone wants a diamond ring, regardless. But consider that diamonds are generally chosen because of their exceptional hardness. A sapphire or emerald engagement ring can still be beautiful — but it can also get damaged far easier. You need your jeweler to consider this, as it will inform your jeweler’s choices when crafting a band and setting.
Set (and Stick to) a Realistic Budget
Ask ten people how much you should spend on your engagement ring, and you’ll get ten answers. But there’s really only one answer that matters: Your soon-to-be spouse.
There’s a reason why many people spend a lot on engagement rings, and it’s not sentimentality. An engagement ring takes a beating. It’s something that people wear every day for potentially decades, paired with a wedding band. Engagement rings need to be very robust compared to other types of jewelry.
But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. You have to be reasonable about your budget and stick to it. When you look at jewelry, there will always be something that is “just a little more.” You can “just a little more” yourself into spending substantially more than you expected to.
Go shopping with an open mind — but know how much you can spend.
Look at Their Other Jewelry for Their Sense of Style
Where people often trip up when selecting an engagement ring is selecting the right style.
Most people are very particular about the jewelry that they wear. To someone who doesn’t wear jewelry, this can be very confusing; it can be difficult to know the difference even if you’re looking right at an example.
Before you start looking at engagement rings, ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of metal do they usually wear? Some people prefer silver, some prefer gold, and other people mix-and-match. But there are always people who will only wear gold or who will only wear silver.
- Is their jewelry more delicate or bolder? An easy way to determine this: look at any chains they wear. If they wear delicate chains, they likely favor more delicate rings. If they wear thicker chains, they may want something a little thicker.
- Are they more predisposed to curves or straight lines? For instance, on any rings they own, are the stones cut sharply, or are they rounded?
- Does it match the jewelry that they usually wear? If they have a daily wear necklace you previously gifted them, will it contribute to the overall look, or will it clash horribly?
These are all important design questions. While it may seem odd to you (or even arbitrary), people gravitate toward certain styles. It could be that your soon-to-be-betrothed can’t even articulate their sense of style, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Connect with a Jeweler Who Can Work with You
Sometimes the best thing you can do is connect with a jeweler and ask them for help.
Jewelers know what is available, what can be done, and what the current trends are. They will be able to take a look at the style of jewelry your soon-to-be-betrothed already has and tell you what they will likely like for an engagement ring.
Further, you can give a jeweler your engagement ring budget, and they can find an assortment of rings that are most sensible to you.
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You may need to create a custom ring, which a jeweler can help you with. Additionally, you will need to have a jeweler close at hand if you need any repairs or modifications to the ring later.
Make Sure You Have the Right Size
The right size is significant when buying engagement rings — and it can be a challenge. You can purchase a sizer from a jeweler, but that will have you testing out someone’s size while they sleep. You can also try to steal a ring from their drawer, but beware: This often backfires. First, not every ring is worn on the ring finger; in fact, most aren’t. Plus, they may not have told you if the ring they occasionally wear is loose or uncomfortable.
When it comes to most women’s rings, it’s not a big deal. But many men’s rings cannot be resized. Men’s engagement rings tend to be simpler because they are usually rounded and smooth bands. Because of this simplicity, they are often made out of more exotic materials. These materials usually cannot be cut and modified the way that gold can.