Buy the Right Engagement Ring

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Buying an engagement ring can be one of the greatest challenges of a man's life. Once you've made the decision that you want to spend the rest of your life with the woman you are seeing somehow you're supposed to go out and find the perfect ring that encapsulates your love for her. So how do you do it without getting ripped off by unscrupulous jewelers, buying a ring that she won't like or being able to afford it? There are ways to navigate all of these potential pitfalls and make the experience a memorable one for both you and your beloved.

Before You Go Shopping

You should always make an attempt to find out what kind of rings your sweetheart likes. As much as the TV commercials like to convince you that the biggest and most expensive diamond engagement ring is the best, it's not. The style of the ring should factor into your decision as much, if not more, as the size, cut and clarity of the diamond. Start taking serious notes at least one month before you decide to go shopping; look at the jewelry she has already to get ideas. Does she prefer simple designs with a single stone or ones with multiple insets? Some women may prefer other gems like rubies, emeralds or their birthstone over diamonds. Does she prefer yellow gold or white gold? Ask her close friends, sisters, even family members to get hints without revealing what you are planning to do. Diversion is key here. Finally, write all this information down so when you go shopping you will have notes to go back over. You're about to be bombarded with information and can lose sight of what really matters the deeper you go into the forest of engagement ring shopping!

Shopping Around

Now it's time to go shopping. Remember to take your notes and some extra paper and a pen with you. Pick a mall or street that has a number of jewelry stores and start shopping. Look around at the different kinds of diamond rings the store offers; most stores have a specific section devoted solely to diamond or diamond engagement rings. See what you like and take note of it; after all, this ring is supposed to symbolize your love for her and so it should reflect some of your tastes.

When a salesperson approaches and asks if you need help, don't be afraid to be upfront and tell them that you're shopping for an engagement ring. While it's true that salespeople work on commission and want you to spend as much money as you can afford, never forget that you're in charge of your wallet. If you are specifically looking for a diamond engagement ring ask them to explain to you what the four Cs are:

  1. Cut: Depending on how the diamond has been cut light will reflect better or poorer when it strikes the gem's surface. The better the cut, the higher the cost, the more sparkle the diamond has. As well, there are different kind of shapes with the most traditional one for engagement rings being an oval design.
  2. Color: Diamonds are rated on a color chart using the letters between D and Z, with D being the best grading. The further down the chart, the more yellow the diamond will show.
  3. Clarity: Diamonds can contain tiny imperfections that may be hard to notice when you're looking at them but are factored into their cost. A flawless diamond will command top dollar. Ask your salesperson to show you the difference between 3 or 4 different clarities and take notice of the difference between what you see with the naked eye and what can be seen under magnification.
  4. Carat: All diamonds are measured in terms of carats, and the higher in weight the stone is the more expensive it gets. Typically a one carat stone is used as a median guide and is given a value of 100 points; a half-caret would then be 50 points, a quarter-carat 25 points and so on.

Spend time on getting to know the differences between the four Cs not just in physical terms but in their cost to you. You'll soon discover that the so-called "perfect" diamond doesn't truly exist unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money.

As well, the majority of diamond engagement rings feature one stone. This kind of ring is traditionally called a diamond solitare.

Which Metal?

A diamond engagement ring can be made out of yellow or white gold, platinum (more expensive) or titanium (very expensive). Most engagement rings are fashioned from gold and as a general rule of thumb you should have yours made from it too unless your fiancee-to-be has made a point about preferring a different metal over gold.

How Much?

The diamond industry has made a very successful campaign to the public that a man should spend two months worth of his salary on an engagement ring. You should know that doesn't have to be the case, but typically speaking expect to spend at least $2,000 for a decent ring with fair cut, clarity, color and under one caret in size. If you want to go with one caret minimum, your price should be around $4,000. Smaller improvements in the color, cut and clarity will bump it up considerably, and higher end engagement rings can cost upwards of $10,000. Again, try not to fall into the trap of bigger equals better and try and center on what kind of ring you would like to see on her finger. An engagement ring should be a symbol of your love for her at this moment in time. If you're just starting out in your career you don't need to go into big debt to get an expensive ring; you can always upgrade the stone in the future. And if the cost of the ring is more important to her than what you can reasonably afford maybe you should reconsider getting engaged to this person!

You've Found It!

So now you've found the perfect engagement ring at a price that won't put you in the poor house. Now you need to find out the specifics on the store's return policy. What happens if she doesn't accept your proposal, or what if she would like a different design or stone? The store should have an open exchange policy meaning that you can come back within a reasonable amount of time and return the ring with no questions asked. Furthermore, if she loves the ring you and your new fiancee should be able to come back and have the ring re-sized if it needs to be. The store shouldn't charge you for this service.

What About Grandma?

Some people prefer to give an engagement ring that has been in the family for generations. There is nothing wrong with this tradition; in fact, it may symbolize the love you have for your sweetheart because you are willing to give her a piece of your family's history. If you have a ring like this take it into a jewelry shop to have it cleaned and appraised. You can also decide to add on to the ring by upgrading the diamond on it, saving yourself money that you can put towards a bigger diamond!