Five Questions to Ask When Buying an Engagement Ring – The Ultimate Pre-Proposal Shopping GuideFive
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
So you’ve found the person you want to spend your life with, and here’s hoping the feeling is mutual. Now that you’ve done all the romantic legwork, you’ve found yourself tasked with finding the perfect ring for the perfect girl. Choosing an engagement ring is daunting at best. This completely uncharted territory is rife with expectations, between planning the type of proposal dreams are made of and finding the right words to express your love, as well as the ring that says what those words simply can’t express. If you’re a little freaked out at the prospect of selecting a ring, and the thought of shopping for jewelry is making you break out in a cold sweat, then continue reading for tips on making the engagement ring process both easy and enjoyable, from start to finish. We’re guessing you have a lot of questions, here’s a few that’ll get you on the right path toward the altar:
1. How Much Should I Spend? Now’s the time to get practical. First and foremost, you’ve got to figure out your budget. Forget the outdated myth that suggests saving two months’ worth of salary. That’s ridiculous for a lot of people, many of whom feel their money would be better spent on a down payment for a house or an exotic vacation than a piece of jewelry. On the other hand, an engagement ring is a big investment, one that your family could pass down through future generations. So naturally, this decision is different for every couple. Figure Out Your Budget Beforing Buying an Engagement Ring Regardless, figure out how much you feel comfortable spending, and don’t go into debt just to pop the question the right way. If you’re in the market for a ring and haven’t quite reached your savings target, we do have some financing options available, so you can pay over time.
2. What Do I Need to Know Before I Shop? Aside from cost, there are a few more things you want to know about your future wife. Hopefully these are things you’re already aware of, but sometimes the pre-proposal jitters get the best of your brain. In any case, be aware of the following: What to know before shopping for an engagement ring What does her personal style look like? Think about what she wears on a regular basis — is she really polished and put together, or more of the wash and wear type? What kind of job does she have? If she’s an artist, a geologist or a plumber, then perhaps you want to go with a ring that’s sure to stand up to a host of external stresses. If she works in an office, or maybe isn’t very outdoorsy, then you can go a little more flamboyant with the ring setting. When do you plan on proposing? Is there a looming holiday, birthday or anniversary serving as a deadline? Again, a lot of this will be contingent on your budget if you’re saving up for the ring. Keep in mind, a lot of rings take a few weeks to prepare or make if selecting a custom option, so consider the calendar.
3. How Do I Know What Her Size is? If there’s one way to strike fear in the heart of the lovelorn man, it’s figuring out what her ring size is, especially if you want to surprise your gal. Seriously, most people have no idea what their own ring size is, much less someone else’s. Obviously, you don’t want the ring to be small or so loose that it falls off. There’s a few ways around this one. First of all, you could always just ask her directly. She’ll be onto your motives, but she won’t know exactly when a proposal could strike. How to find out her ring size before buying an engagement ring There’s a Couple Ways to Do This: Be sneaky! Wait until your girlfriend leaves the house and check out her jewelry collection. Look for a ring you’ve seen her wear on her ring finger, so you can be sure to get this one just right. You can slip the ring on your own finger and use a sharpie to mark how far down it goes, then ask the jeweler to find a ring that fits that spot. This only works if you’re headed straight to the jeweler. Or swipe one of her rings and take it with you (just be sure to put it back where it came from). Ask around — are there any friends of hers you can call? Family members? Again, this one is kind of a shot in the dark, since most people probably don’t know their friends’ ring sizes. But, this might work out if your soon to be fiancé is the type who has been planning her wedding since grade school. If this is the case hit up her best friend, she might have some insights. This one is probably the most obvious option — grab one of her rings from her jewelry stash and match it up to a ring size guide. Just print one out and find the right size. Easy, painless, with a relatively low chance of getting caught. Just don’t leave that piece of paper lying around, or your plans could be foiled. Another thing to note, the ring finger on her less dominant hand is likely a bit smaller. If she’s right-handed, her left ring finger is probably about a quarter size or so smaller than its right hand counterpart.
Resizing If you don’t get the size right, it’s really not the end of the world. Once all the engagement excitement has had some time to sink in, head back to the jeweler and get that ring sized to perfection. We recommend doing this even if she’s sure it’s the right size, to ensure it both stays on and is comfortable. Engagement rings are generally an item worn on a daily basis. Over time, it’ll be an annoyance if a loose ring keeps slipping around.
4. What Should I Consider When Actually Selecting the Ring?
Consult the 4 Cs
Cut, color, clarity and carat. Finding the perfect combination of the 4 Cs is key. Here’s a quick rundown on what this all actually means. Basically, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created this method for discerning between quality diamonds and those that don’t quite make the cut. Known as the 4 Cs, this method is the universal set of criteria for assessing diamond quality anywhere in the world. Consult the 4 Cs when buying an engagement ring Anyway, here’s a basic breakdown to help you understand the 4 Cs. Cut — Cut refers to the diamond’s ability to transmit the light and sparkle you’ve come to expect in an engagement ring. Contrary to popular belief, the cut does not refer to the actual shape of the diamond — i.e. round, heart, emerald, etc. Each diamond has a cut grade, and the higher the quality, the better light is able to pass through the stone. Color — Color is rated on a scale that goes from D (100% clear) to Z (extremely yellow or brown). In general, the clearer a diamond is the better — and more expensive. Most people select somewhere around the G-H range, as it provides the best bang for your buck as far as color is concerned. Clarity — Since diamonds are created when carbon has been exposed to extreme heat and pressure, they often come out with some imperfections, called blemishes and inclusions. Determining the clarity of a diamond is based on evaluating how noticeable these imperfections are. Jewelers evaluate the number of these marks based on the overall number, position or size. There’s no such thing as a flawless diamond, but the closer to perfection, the higher the quality. Carat — The final C, and sometimes thought of as the most important, carat refers to the weight of the diamond. As a point of reference, one carat is 1/5 of a gram. Many gals fall into the bigger is better camp, but that’s not necessarily true of everyone. Sure, large diamonds are rarer than small ones, and therefore more expensive. But if they are cut poorly or have a low clarity rating, they won’t necessarily be the most beautiful, brilliant diamond on the block. Don’t disregard the other “Cs” in favor of the biggest rock you can afford, in general, cut and color will be more important than carat, as those play a bigger part in whether or not a diamond appears to be perfect. A couple more things — Keep in mind the diamond shape when selecting. It’s not one of the “Cs,” but it’s important nonetheless. A pear or oval shaped diamond creates the illusion of longer fingers. A round diamond is probably the best bang for your buck when it comes to sparkle and shine. Not to worry, our experts are here to help. If you’d like to get an idea of the different shapes, take a look at our full collection of rings. When selecting a diamond, ask the jeweler to show you a selection of diamonds in your price range so you can compare quality, and get a sense of what works best with the rest of the ring.
…And the Big M Add this to the laundry list of considerations. What type of metal do you go with? Again, this one really comes down to your gal’s personal style. In general, white gold and platinum are the most popular options, given that they feel a little more casual and modern for daily wear. Here’s some suggestions that’ll help you make a selection: Is she drawn to cooler colors like blues and greens? If so, you might want to go the platinum route, to match her favorite pieces. If she likes warm colors like reds, oranges, etc., yellow and rose gold rings might be a good option. Does she have a selection of different jewelry? Then perhaps mixing metals is a good choice. Mixing white and yellow golds together allows her the best of both worlds, giving her a ring that matches everything.
Quick tip: here’s something you probably wouldn’t think about. If you do get something on the warmer end of the color spectrum, you’ll still want to set the diamond in a platinum or white gold setting. The cooler metal highlights the diamond’s brilliance and will give the ring an overall sparkling affect. One last thing — if your girl has sensitive skin, consider platinum. This metal is naturally hypoallergenic, so there’s no chance of itching or irritation. An itchy red finger isn’t going to look as picture perfect as a comfortable one.
The Style Factor Okay, a traditional engagement ring is a solitaire with a round diamond perched on top. We all know what this looks like — it’s elegant and timeless, the engagement ring equivalent of the little black dress or a plain white tee with jeans. On the upside, it’ll never go out of style. On the downside, it can be a little predictable. Look at the classic ring as a jumping off point and make some tweaks as needed. Play with different sized diamonds in different shapes. Tweak the setting or mix metals, or maybe add an embellishment to the band to make it your own. Still stumped? Head back to the jewelry box for some more research. What does her other jewelry look like? Look around online for styles you think will complement the pieces she has, and take those findings with you when you’re ready to consult a jeweler. At Mountz, we’ll be able to help you pick something that blends in with her existing sense of style, but really shines on its own. If you’re leaning toward something more unique than the traditional engagement ring, take a look at shapes like the pear, emerald or even heart — timeless, for sure, but they’ll also stand out in a crowd.
5. Will the Ring Need Maintenance? Protect that Diamond Once you’ve made your selection, it’s important to get that rock insured right away. At Mountz Jewelers, we include a free appraisal with all engagement rings, as well as advice regarding insuring the ring through an exclusive jewelry insurance provider. If you’d like to take care of the insurance on your own, your existing renter’s or homeowner’s insurance will likely offer the option to cover the ring.
Protect Your Ring Keep it Sparkling Cleaning — not exactly everyone’s favorite topic. It sort of tarnishes the whole romance aspect of this ring business. But listen up, because this is important, and you probably wouldn’t think to do this. Women usually wear their engagement rings day in and day out, through all kinds of messes, inclement weather, hand washes and more. They’ll eventually lose a little bit of that special luster. To keep that freshly engaged sparkle throughout the years, visit your jeweler periodically (every 6 months ideally, but maybe every year is more realistic). Some metals like white gold need to be re-dipped periodically to maintain that glow.
I’m Ready to Take the Leap — Now What? You’re armed with a few tips and tricks for a solid proposal, at least as far as the ring is concerned. When you’re ready to pop the big question, stop by your Jewelers’ location for a consultation with one of their experts. They'll walk you through the entire process whether you’ve just started browsing, or you have the perfect ring in mind.