How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring

Wedding and Engagement Rings

Wedding and Engagement Rings

When you decide to eventually pop the question, the next question usually is, “What engagement ring should you buy?” Choosing the perfect engagement ring can be nerve wracking, especially when you’re unaware of the many options on the market.

Each option has its own set and characteristics with their own pros and cons. Choosing the right gemstone for you comes down to your budget and the actual look you’re after. In this article, we’ll discuss modern trends in engagement jewelry and provide some advice on how to save money on your purchase. 

Set a Budget

The idea that you have to spend three months of your income on an engagement ring was propagated by diamond brands like De Beers to get men to spend more money on engagement rings. The two to three months “rule of thumb” was a marketing gimmick from the 1940s and is something we should abandon, especially when weddings themselves today cost more than mid-market cars.

You should only buy an engagement ring you can afford, so don’t go into debt to buy it. After all, you’re going to face all the expenses of setting up your household and, even sooner, a wedding.

Instead, set a budget based on what you can afford to spend on a ring. If possible, buy the ring in the summer or fall when demand for engagement rings is lowest. June may be the most popular time for weddings, but engagement rings are available at bargain basement prices then.

Choose a Gemstone

Before you start shopping for an engagement ring, determine the type of gemstone you want in the ring. For example, some people are willing to buy a gem that looks like a diamond, but isn’t, in order to save money. This is an excellent option for someone who wants an elaborate engagement ring with multiple stones but who cannot afford diamonds.

You could save money on the engagement ring by buying a lab made diamond instead of a natural stone. This is cheaper than a “natural” diamond, but physically indistinguishable to the naked eye, and they are often brighter and clearer than natural stones. However, don’t assume that just because a gem was lab made, it will automatically be cheaper than the real thing. Synthetic diamonds sometimes cost just as much as natural ones.

There are also many diamond simulant options that you can choose from, but not everybody will be happy with a cubic zirconia ring, as beautiful as it may be. Diamond nexus simulants are growing in popularity these days and offer a much less expensive alternative to real diamonds. While they are in many ways very similar to real diamonds, they do not offer quite the same shine.

If you want a natural stone, pick a ring that is just below the 1 karat or 2 karat threshold. This will enable you to buy a ring that is almost the same size, but at a fraction of the price. Another way to save money on engagement rings is to select a diamond in a less popular cut, something other than the standard square or round shape. The only thing that matters is how well the diamond reflects light internally and sparkles, whether it is diamond, square, round or another shape. Diamonds cut too deep or shallow don’t reflect the light internally and thus don’t sparkle. This gives them a lackluster appearance.

Diamond colors range from colorless to light yellow, and the whitest stones are the most expensive. Diamond clarity is graded, too, and the clearest stones cost the most. If you are willing to select a lower grade stone, you could save money on the ring or upgrade to a larger gem. Conversely, a perfect central diamond surrounded by lower grade stones could be an affordable alternative to a massive single gem.

Choose the Type of Band

The metal used in the ring impacts the price of the ring. Platinum is a modern trend in engagement rings, but it is an expensive one. Many people think that its durability is a plus, not realizing that it will look old and dull much sooner than gold. It’s likely your loved one’s preference will be for something that looks good in six months, and not a ring that will need to be re-shanked or polished regularly.

Some people buy an engagement ring made out of silver to get the look of platinum without the cost, but this can look cheap. White gold is an option, but it costs less than pure gold. This is part of the reason for the recent trend toward silver and white engagement rings.

If you want a larger diamond, you can offset the price by buying 14 karat instead of 18 karat gold. The recent trend in rose gold diamond engagement rings is another option for those who want something different to a bright white diamond in a traditional gold band. Rose gold diamond engagement rings may be 18 karat gold with silver and copper added to give the rose coloring, while 14 karat red rings take on this shade due to the fact that they contain more copper. The red color is often seen as a symbol of love, and it nicely contrasts with the golden wedding ring later worn alongside the engagement ring.

Rose gold rings are often much more durable than regular gold rings and also tend to be easier to maintain. They are also much more versatile and work on a wider variety of skin tones. Rose gold gives you more personalization options and will definitely stand out compared to other metals. In addition, some interesting combinations can be achieved when using rose gold. Rose gold allows you to replicate an heirloom feel if you don’t actually have any heirloom pieces to pass on.

Find Out Her Ring Size

Find out what size of ring your intended wears before you go shopping. Be careful of taking a ring out of her jewelry box, since it may sit there because it no longer fits due to changes in weight. Instead, find a ring she wears periodically, but find a way to borrow it without her noticing it.

Some people think they can skip this step since they already know her glove size. However, you want to find out her ring size so that you don’t present her with an engagement ring only to find out it is too small to fit – and then need to either trade it in for a larger ring or pay the jeweler to expand it – or too large that it slips off.

Choose a Ring

If you are going to propose and give your loved one a placeholder ring and then take her shopping for a nicer engagement ring, this step involves the two of you. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the advice of her friends and family about the type of ring she likes before you choose a ring.

After you’ve decided on a budget, the type of gemstone and the metal it is to be made out of, you can start shopping for an engagement ring. This is similar to deciding on the number of bedrooms and square footage you want in a house. By having the main criteria decided in advance, you’ll be shown a wide selection of rings that suit you instead of the most expensive rings in the store of such varying styles it is hard to decide.

Don’t buy a brand name ring, since you will be charged more for the brand recognition. Brand name jewelry is no more than a marketing ploy, and buying a “Tiffany” piece is not an actual indication of quality. Not to mention that there is actually no way to tell the brand of a piece of jewelry just by looking at it. Most people will simply be excited to receive an engagement ring, and you should never spend thousands of dollars more to gain the approval of brand snobs.

Plan on the Presentation

If you are surprising your girlfriend with an engagement ring, you need to plan how to give it to her without potentially losing it. You don’t want to end up on News of the Weird because she accidentally swallowed it after you hid it in a piece of food. If she helped pick out the ring, you can still have fun planning how you will tell your friends and family about the proposal. If you don’t have a specific idea, just go for the classical candlelight dinner proposal. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Before you go ring shopping, set a clear budget so that you don’t end up spending more than you can afford before you’ve even started planning the wedding. Select a gemstone and type of band. Understand how differences in stone clarity, shape and color affect price. Learn her ring size before you start shopping for just the right engagement ring. And, only after you’ve selected an engagement ring should you plan how you’ll present it. Hopefully with these tips, you won’t go far wrong.

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