10 Things to Know Before Buying Your Engagement Ring
Congratulations! You've done the hard part, and found the love of your life. Now, with these 10 bits of knowledge, we can help you find the perfect ring to easily convince your soul mate to say 'yes!'
1. Know Your Budget
Before you start browsing online for styles, or heading into a jewellery store, it's best to sit down and work out how much you can afford to spend on an engagement ring. If you ask the internet, you'll get responses suggesting between one to three month's salary, so don't bother doing that. In truth, the correct amount to spend on a ring is what you're ultimately comfortable with. While some look at this as an ultra-extravagant one-time purchase, you & your beloved will appreciate not starting your life together under an enormous pile of credit card debt.
2. What Are Your Partner's Tastes?
There's one thing to keep in mind throughout your entire shopping process: Most likely, your partner will be wearing this ring forever. That stressful factor aside, all that means is you need to consider your significant other's individual tastes. You may have a preference for platinum, and read about colourful pink diamonds being in trend, but this mean's nothing if your lover has their heart set on a yellow gold vintage art deco ring. If your partner hasn't been dropping hints along the way and you're looking to surprise them, ask a close (and trustworthy) friend of theirs for a second opinion.
3. Heirlooms – Old, New, Remodelled
While some may have their eyes set on a shiny new diamond ring, others may be moved more by the sentimental value that comes with a family heirloom. They may also be dreaming of wearing their mother or grandmother's classic wedding ring, or perhaps one passed down your side of the family. An inherent bonus of heirloom pieces is not having to buy them, so they are perfect for those on tighter budgets.
If you think an heirloom is right for you & your beloved, but don't have any jewellery that is suitable (regarding #2), consider the possibility of reworking your family heirloom into a custom piece. After you've sought the owner's permission, you can consider placing gems into new settings, or melting down the metal and having it recast into a new mould.
4. Involving Your Partner
While many are set on surprising their loved ones with a ring they picked out all by themselves, consider that they may have different feelings. Ring shopping with your fiancé or fiancée prior to proposing may not seem quite as romantic, but it's becoming more & more common. Remember, the expectation is that your future spouse will be wearing this piece of jewellery every day. If you'd like to retain an element of surprise, think about proposing with a different ring before finalising the engagement ring together. This is particularly perfect when redesigning a family heirloom, allowing you to propose with the 'before' ring, and work together on the ultimate 'after' ring once a 'yes' has been confirmed.
5. Ring Sizes & Resizing
Not all rings can be resized if the fit isn't perfect, so keep this in mind. When resizing a ring typically a sliver of the band is cut out, and depending on what is required, either more metal is added or the gap is closed. Due to this, many antique rings, engraved rings, rings with bands wrapped in gems, or rings with tension settings cannot be easily resized. Your best option is to buy the right size from the beginning. If looking to surprise your partner, you can take a perfectly-sized & often-worn ring from their jewellery box to bring to the jewellers. If you're worried a borrowed ring may be noticed you can either measure it, or place it on your finger & trace around the band noting how far down it slides. Using their specialised sizing tools, jewellers can then match up their measurements as required.
6. The Four Cs of Diamonds
The four things to consider when looking at diamond quality are Cut, Colour, Clarity, and Carat. While it's common for people to boast about their diamond's carat weight, we find that cut is the most important of these Four C's. Ultimately, it is what will determine how much your diamond will sparkle & gleam. Colour refers to how clear the diamond is, with Grade D being regarded as fully colourless (a desired quality). On the other end of the scale is Z, which is quite noticeable yellow. Grades higher than G however are hard to detect if you're not a diamond expert, so if you're looking to get the most for your money, opt for either G or H. Finally, Clarity looks at how many imperfections your stone has. These can include surface defects like blemishes, or inclusions like foreign material inside the diamond. Higher clarity will increase the stone's value, but keep in mind that without a magnifying glass, you're unlikely to spot such small imperfections. An SI1 or SI2 grade is more than suitable.
7. Metal Bands
We've come a long way since yellow-gold being all that glittered. Today you have a multitude of options when choosing your beloved's band. Yellow gold may be the traditional ring you both envisioned, but others prefer the versatility of white gold. As part of its construction white gold is commonly mixed with nickel, giving it its signature colour, as well as more strength & durability than yellow gold. Even stronger though is rose gold, which gets its pinkish hue from its copper/gold mix. If your partner is fashion-forward, this trendy band may be for them. If your budget allows it, and your partner prefers silvery white bands, platinum is also an option. Platinum is even harder, with the added benefit of being hypoallergenic. Do keep in mind however that it requires more frequent polishing to maintain its sheen.
8. Traditional Diamonds or Alternatives
While diamond engagement rings often come with a lot of preconceived notions and tradition, it pays to think outside the box sometimes. Whether looking at completed or custom made diamond engagement rings, you can shake things up & seek out alternative diamond colours (pink, red, blue, black), modern stone settings, or look at incorporating other precious stones into your rings.
9. The Right Setting for the Right Stone
Ring settings refer to how your stone or stones are connected to the band of the ring, and the list of setting types is expansive. To make things easier, you can skip knowing the setting names (pave, bezel, tension, prong, channel etc.) and look at what's important: what look and design style are you & your betrothed after? Do you prefer having a large central stone pulling focus, or does a cluster (or row) of smaller stones appeal more? Each setting has their own unique selling points, with some making your diamond or diamonds appear larger, more striking, and even sparklier. Remember to think of the ring holistically, rather than purely focusing on the main diamond's value.
10. Insuring the Ring
So after all of that, you've landed on the perfect engagement ring – now insure that baby! It would be an understatement to say you would be bummed out to have the ring be stolen or to lose it, so make sure you're protected. The simplest way to go about this is to call your pre-existing insurance agent, and just add the ring to your renters or homeowners insurance. Your plan may increase a small amount, but this small price is the price of peace of mind, and is well worth it. If you & your partner aren't living together, be sure that the ring is added to their policy specifically.