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What should I look for when buying an engagement ring?

Thursday, December 8th

What Should I Look for When Buying an Engagement Ring?

An engagement ring is a major investment that may adorn your bride-to-be's hand for years to come. While you want the ring to make a great first impression when you pop the question, you understandably want to find a ring that she will cherish across many decades. Unfortunately, selecting the right engagement ring can seem unnecessarily stressful and complicated. After all, there are a seemingly endless number of rings to choose from, and there are many factors to pay attention to as you make your selection. By focusing on a few key factors, you can more easily narrow down your options and make a selection that both of you will love.

Your Shopping Budget

At one time, the rule of thumb was to spend the equivalent of three months of your salary on an engagement ring. However, this advice is outdated. A better idea is to set a budget that is affordable for you given your financial situation. Do you want to finance the purchase of an expensive ring and take on a monthly payment for the next several years? Do you prefer to tap into your savings account to pay for the engagement ring? Weddings and honeymoons can be expensive, and these expenses will take center stage after your bride-to-be accepts your proposal.

While it is important to set a budget that is affordable for your current situation and that takes into account the expenses that you will be faced with over the next year or two, remember that there are many factors that play into a ring's cost. Whether you are most concerned about diamond quality, size or other factors, keep in mind that you may be able to make concessions in some areas to find a ring that is affordable for your budget. Also, some couples choose to replace an engagement ring with an anniversary ring at a major milestone anniversary. This means that there may be a wonderful opportunity to upgrade down the road.

The Quality of the Diamond

As soon as you start looking for an engagement ring, you may be confronted with information about diamond quality. These are described as the four C's. These are cut, color, clarity and carat. The shape and depth of a diamond's cut will impact how brilliantly it reflects light. This directly affects how lustrous the ring will look on her finger.

The diamond's color refers to its natural tone. When looking at white diamonds, the premium options are colorless or near-colorless diamonds. Colorless diamonds are rare, and the price tag reflects that rarity. These are graded as D. Diamonds generally pick up minerals and other elements in the ground, and this impacts color. Diamonds that are rated from E through J have progressively more coloration from minerals and elements. However, it is almost impossible to differentiate between E and J with the naked eye. The cost, however, will be reflective of the rating.

The natural formation process can result in internal inclusions and external blemishes that affects a diamond's clarity. Generally, you cannot spot these characteristics without the aid of a microscope. However, blemishes and inclusions can impact the appearance of the stone through its light refraction. A flawless diamond is the rarest type, and it has no blemishes or inclusions when the diamond is viewed under a 10-times magnification. This is followed by internally flawless and very, very slightly included. More flawed diamonds are rated at very slightly included, slightly included and included. Diamonds at this end of the spectrum may appear to be cloudy, but you will not actually see a defined blemish in most cases.

Diamonds are sized using carats. While some people believe that a carat refers to physical dimensions, it actually refers to the gemstone's weight. Generally, larger gemstones have more weight. However, factors like density, imperfections, the shape of the diamond and other factors can make a heavier diamond look smaller or a lighter diamond look larger. Because of this, carats and physical dimensions do not always correspond perfectly.

A Brilliant Shape

It is easy to confuse a diamond's cut for a diamond's shape, but these are fundamentally different. Cut refers to the length, width, depth and angles of the gemstone. Shapes, however, include round, oval, marquise, cushion, pear, heart, radiant and more. The shape can impact how a diamond reflects light. A princess or round cut is most common. When selecting an engagement ring, it is important to keep your bride-to-be's preference in mind. If she has not yet provided you with an indication of her preference, there are a few ways to gain insight without indicating your plan to propose. For example, you can look at other gemstone rings that she wears. You could also ask a close friend or a family member to provide you with some feedback.

Her Personal Style and Preference

From earrings to necklaces, bracelets and rings, jewelry is selected carefully by a woman. It is not enough that she finds a specific item to be pretty. It has to correspond well with her unique sense of style and her personal preferences. Your partner may think that many rings in a local jewelry store are pretty, but there may be only one or two that she would consider wearing. When selecting an engagement ring, the task becomes more complicated. Many types of jewelry are swapped out daily to correspond with a woman's outfit or mood. An engagement ring may rarely be removed, so it becomes a staple in her wardrobe.

Some couples openly shop for an engagement ring together. In some cases, a woman may hint about the styles that she is drawn to. However, if you are not fortunate enough to be in these situations, you could gain insight by looking in her jewelry collection. A long-time friend may also help you to select a ring style that she will love.

As you look at styles, also pay attention to the metal. Platinum, yellow gold, rose gold and white gold are popular options. White gold and platinum generally bring out the brilliance of a diamond because of the metallic tone. Yellow gold and rose gold, on the other hand, add contrast to the ring and can be just as beautiful.

The Ring's Size

Most styles of engagement rings can be resized. Simply take the ring to a jewelry store to request the service. The timeframe for completing the service varies. It often will range between a few days to several weeks. However, resizing an engagement ring often is not the most desirable option. Once engaged, your bride-to-be will want to show off her ring to friends and family. She will not want to wait up to several weeks to wear the ring. An easy way to get the right ring size is to take one of her other rings to a jeweler for size-matching. If you take this approach, select a ring that she wears on her ring finger for a sure fit.

The Right Jeweler

With both online stores and local retail stores to choose from, how can you decide which jeweler to make your purchase from? Obviously, you want to work with a jeweler who sells the right ring. However, you will find that there are many ring styles that are similar. Some jewelers will allow you to select the style, setting and style separately. This gives you greater control over the price. Also, check the return policy. You are not planning to return the ring, but you understandably want to have that option available. In addition, pay attention to customer service. Your jeweler should guide you through the shopping experience with various resources and should have a knowledgeable professional available to answer your questions.

You can see that there are many factors to consider when you are selecting an engagement ring. A great starting point is to decide on the perfect style and size. You also should define your budget before you start shopping around. By taking these preliminary steps, you can more easily narrow down your options when you are searching for the right engagement ring.

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Engagement Ring FAQ

...because you want the world's best selection and pricing, not just the limited options at your local brick-and-mortar jewelry store! Whether you buy a ring that's ready-to-ship or you design the ring of your (or your fiancee's) dreams, you won't find more possibilities than what's offered online.
That varies widely by retailer and by ring. If you choose an engagement ring that's in stock and pay for expedited shipping, some online jewelers can have it to you the next day! On the other hand, if your perfect proposal involves a one-of-a-kind, customized ring that costs tens of thousands of dollars, it could take a month or more before it's ready. The best jewelers provide an estimated shipping timeframe right on each ring's description page.
Most jewelers ship engagement rings with ample insurance, making it risk-free even for the most high-end items. However, if you're concerned about "porch pirates" taking your ring from your doorstep or mailbox, you've got options: either opt for "signature required" delivery during checkout, or choose a jeweler that also has a retail location near you and have your order shipped to the store for in-person pickup.
Fear not. Engagement ring retailers usually include at least one free resizing, plus exchanges are almost always accepted within 30-60 days of purchase.
If you're considering a custom-designed engagement ring, you'll want to read the retailer's return policy very carefully before making your purchase. Some may allow for returns and exchanges while others may not. On the other hand, in-stock rings usually have a return policy ranging from 30-60 days from the date of purchase, and some online jewelers extend that timeframe during the winter holiday season.
More often than not, yes. Many jewelers automatically cover the diamond(s)or other gemstones, but you may need to add on a protection plan if you want coverage for loose prongs, resizing, or damage due to wear and tear (as opposed to manufacturer defects).
Usually, the financing options will be displayed near the price in the engagement ring's description or through a link at the bottom of the site. You may be offered a store credit card, an installment loan, or financing through a third-party partner.
That's a wise question to ask, because when it comes to engagement rings and online jewelers, "not all that glitters is gold" . Customer feedback is essential to determining where to buy this piece of jewelry that could very well become a family heirloom: look for a retailer with plenty of positive reviews, where shoppers say that the engagement rings were exactly as advertised (or better!) and that the customer service team handled any issues with professionalism and prompt attention. This is - hopefully! - a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, so choose a jeweler that will give you an unparalleled shopping experience.

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