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Choosing the Engagement Ring

#WeddingWednesday: Choosing the Engagement Ring

You know you’re in love with the person of your dreams.  You know you’re ready to pop the question.  No, not the one where you ask where they want to go for dinner; you already know the answer to that.  It’s THE QUESTION asking your partner to spend the rest of their life with you.  This #WeddingWednesday piece is all about choosing the right engagement ring to wow her when you ask the question.  She’ll have no reason to say no once she sees how much you thought of her!

Photo by Nicole Chan

The 4 C’s

Let’s start with the specifics of the diamond or the 4 C’s.  The 4 C’s are cut, clarity, carat and color.  You cannot purchase the ring without first considering the 4 C’s.  That would be like purchasing something simply because it is super expensive when, in reality, the quality is sub-par.

The color of the diamond ranges from the letter, “D” for colorless to the letter, “Z” for light.   These differences are very subtle.  Colorless diamonds are extremely rare and most diamonds have a yellow or brown tint to them.

Clarity ranges from flawless to I3.  If a diamond is flawless it has no internal or external characteristics which is very uncommon.

The cut of the diamond ranges from excellent to poor.  This is made up of the three characteristics: brightness which is the combination of all of the white light from the surface and interior of the diamond, fire which is the flares of color coming from the diamond, and scintillation which is the pattern of light and dark colors and the sparkle that occurs when the diamond, the light or the observer moves according to the Gemological Institute of America.

One carat is 200 milligrams.  Each carat is divided into 100 points.  So 2 carats equals 200 points.   Clearly, finding the right ring will take a lot of studying.  All diamonds may look the same but don’t just pull out your wallet as soon as you see one ring.  The first price you’re quoted may not even be the best price.  Pay attention to the four c’s and shop around to find the best price.

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Selecting a Gem

You may think that a diamond is the best and only option for the engagement ring but there’s also another  good quality gemstone.  Sapphires like diamonds are one of the hardest gemstones.  Diamonds rank 10 and sapphires rate 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness so they will be great for everyday wear.  Although they are similar, sapphires are less expensive than diamonds.  Choosing a sapphire allows you to get a bigger gem for your budget.  You may think that sapphires restrict you to choosing the color blue but they come in a variety of colors such as pink and yellow.

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Make sure that you inspect the stone with a handheld magnifier called a loupe that most jewelers will have.  A good jeweler will be able to guide you as you look at the stone, telling you what to look for.

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The most common shape for a diamond is round which tends to cost more than other shapes.  Selecting a non-round diamond can help you save a great deal of money.  Non-round shapes include the princess cut (square) and the cushion cut (rounded square with softly tapered edges).

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The Metal

The typical metal choices for the ring are platinum, white gold, yellow gold and rose gold.  Platinum is the most durable and is much more expensive but is one of the most popular metal choices.  Platinum is also hypoallergenic which is perfect for those with sensitive skin.  Palladium and recycled metal are also options for the metal.

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Choosing the Right Ring for your Partner

With so many options, choosing exactly what your partner will love is no easy feat.  Pay attention to what jewelry she already wears.  From your studies decide whether she would prefer something sleek and modern or detailed and vintage.  Do you think that she wants something flashy with a lot of sparkle or something that is simple and elegant?  If she does not wear much jewelry look at the clothes she wears and the furniture she likes to gain insight into her style.  You could also ask her best friend for ideas (as long as she can keep a secret! Or see if she has a Pinterest account with photos saved of rings that she likes).If she is more into vintage apparel and décor or if she is a history buff then she will most likely love an antique ring.

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Check out the jewelers return policy to make sure that if she does not like the ring then you can return it to find something that she loves.   These typically are one-of-a-kind and have a romantic history attached to them.  They are also less expensive so you will love the ring as well.

Another option when choosing the ring is to create a custom ring with the jeweler.  Custom does not mean expensive.  Many times the diamond and the setting do not come together.  You can just buy them separately to create your own custom ring.

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Many times these days couples shop for the ring together.  If you really want to surprise her then try asking her best friend or sibling to help you.  Make sure that they are sworn to secrecy. Don’t tell too many people though.  The more people who know the better chance someone will spill the beans.

You’ll find that after you have made the decision to propose you will become intrigued by any conversations regarding jewelry.  If you feel that you have not gathered enough information, set up a day to browse rings together as long as you have both already talked about marriage.   This is all about her.  Just because you put in some effort does not mean that she will love the ring.  Make sure you buy her exactly what she wants regardless of what you want.  Only think about what she would buy and not what you want to buy.

The Size

What size is your partner’s ring finger though?  Getting this answer is not an easy task without directly asking her.  Typically a woman’s ring size is around 6-6.5 and you will want to go more towards the large size.  You could always sneak a ring from her jewelry box and take it to the jeweler and have it sized.  Check your jeweler’s resize policy as most rings can be resized if you can’t get a ring.

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The Price

I’m sure many of you are concerned about the price tag.  There is no designated amount that you “should” spend.  The two month’s salary idea can be thrown out the window.  Spend what you feel comfortable with and buy the best ring that you can buy without going into major debt.  If she wants a big, elaborate ring that doesn’t fit in your budget, choose a ring with a larger surface area.  One-carat ring will look much larger when it won’t be going as deep.  You could also buy just shy of the next carat and have a little less clarity as it won’t be noticeable to the naked eye.   Stay firm on your limit.  Do not feel pressured to pay more than you can for the ring.

Choose the Right Jeweler

Looking for a good jeweler?  Start your search with recommendations from friends and family.  If they do not have any recommendations for you then look for stores accredited by the Jewelers of America or members of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).  Large, renowned chains are typically reliable and offer sales.

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Waiting Time

Once the ring is ordered it can take up to six weeks to be ready and it could possibly take longer if it is being custom designed.  If you want the inside of the ring engraved make sure that you request it when placing your order. A diamond-grading report issued by an independent gemological association such as the GIA or the American Gem Society should come with the ring if the diamond is one carat or larger.  You could also get a “fingerprint” of your ring on the bill of sale which includes the stone’s 4 C’s, shape, dimensions and any cosmetic enhancements.  Anything that may affect the value such as if the ring was made by a famous designer or is an antique should be included on the bill of sale.

Before Planning the Proposal

Besides purchasing the ring, one of the main things that you will need to do prior to getting down on one knee is asking your partner’s parents for permission to marry their child.  It does not matter how long you have been with your partner, this piece will be awkward.  Just do it because they will love you more for it and will love being included in the surprise.  Don’t be secretive with them.

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Planning the Proposal

After all of the ring buying you will need to plan the proposal.  You will be exhausted at this point.  You’ll want to get the ring right out of your hands and on to hers as soon as possible but you’re not yet done.  You need to do something that she will remember forever.  You only have once chance to pull off the perfect proposal.  Make sure that it is a moment that she will love and cherish.

Photo by Nicole Chan

Share your wedding hashtags in the comments.  We would love to see your creativity!  For more tips and wedding fun, make sure to check back every Wednesday at