If you’ve made up your mind to go ahead and propose to your girlfriend, then you’re likely feeling a little pressure. After all, when you pop the question, you need to arm yourself with a beautiful ring. In fact, ‘beautiful’ shouldn’t even be your goal; you’re going to need to bring out the big guns and shoot for perfection! But what if you don’t know anything about fine jewelry? What if you look at the gems on the Home Shopping Network and think “Hey, that’s pretty nice”?
Take a deep breath, Romeo, because we’re about to enter the world of diamonds. It’s a sparkly world, and most women go ga-ga for these precious stones, but just because the ladies love them doesn’t mean you can pick any old diamond, glue it to a metal circle, and call it an engagement ring. There are rules to picking out a diamond ring, things that you absolutely have to know before you throw down a few months’ worth of cash. And diamonds are only part of the equation; the ring itself and the stone’s setting can be just as important. Fortunately, with a little education, you can pick out the perfect engagement ring and your proposal will be the magic moment you’ve both been hoping for!
Learn the 4 ‘Cs’. Those four ‘Cs’ are Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat. Diamonds are not all created equal. They can vary wildly when it comes to their quality, and for the average guy spotting these differences can be tricky. That’s why there’s a standard scale that grades Color quality for diamonds, and that scale helps to take the guesswork out of your shopping experience. The best diamonds are virtually colorless, and those stones lie at the top of the scale. The top graded diamonds are rated D, E, and F grade (there’s no A, B, or C). Those stones are going to break your bank account, so it may be in your best interest to go one tier down and look at the G diamonds. G stones are usually in most fine jewelry, and the naked eye is not able to detect the differences between an F and G diamond, but you know who will know the difference? Your accountant, because the difference in price between the two can be staggering. G diamonds are still very pricey, but they won’t cripple your finances.
Apart from the Color, check out the Clarity rating. There’s another rating system for clarity, but for most high-quality engagement diamonds, you’ll want the VVS1 rating, which stands for “Very Very Slight Inclusions.” Inclusions are the internal abnormalities that may cloud a diamond. VVS1 is third from the top, but trying to find an F or IF (Flawless or Internally Flawless) diamond is going to be tricky, not to mention costly. It’s all about wowing her with the ring, and unless she has a jeweler’s loupe handy she won’t notice the difference. The next ‘C’ to consider is the Carat weight of the diamond. Pretty obvious, but Carat refers to the diamond’s mass, not its size. So, the heavier the diamond, the more expensive it is. There’s no way around this, really, so if you want the big stone, prepare to spend big money. And lastly, consider the Cut of the stone. The standard for most engagements rings is the aptly titled “Ideal Cut Diamond.” It’s named as such because of the many tiny cuts on the diamonds surface that give the diamond its shine. Other cuts are available, and depending on your girl’s tastes, they may even be preferable.
“Certificates are sometimes referred to as the ‘fifth’ C. A diamond certificate, or grading report, is a certified evaluation of your diamond that includes grades for all four Cs. No matter where you buy your ring, insist on receiving a copy of the certification.”
– Chris Easter, editor-in-chief of GroomsAdvice.com and author of “Be The Man”
Style Counts! Okay, so now you know enough about diamonds to make the right purchase, but guess what? How those diamonds are presented is just as important. There are numerous settings and arrangements available. You can go classic with the traditional Solitaire Diamond in a four-prong Basket Setting, but what if your girl likes something a little less conventional? There are many, many stylistic options out there for you, but one of the most popular styles going today involves a Bezel setting, in which the stone is secured closer to the gold band. The stone is then surrounded on either side by two smaller diamonds. This is called the “Past, Present, and Future” style of ring, as the three stones are supposed to symbolize the different stages of your relationship. But be warned, this style works best with white gold instead of yellow gold. This is because the stone is much closer to the band, and a yellow band will reflect more on the diamond’s surface, making the diamond look yellow, and thus not as nice. Yellow diamonds are far down on the Color scale, so go with white gold for this setting. Which, coincidentally, leads to the next tip:
This type of girl would like this type of ring.
Know Your Girl’s Taste. You’ve got a design in mind for the ring, and you’ve got the cash together. But you can’t make the purchase without first taking your future fiancée’s taste into consideration. Obviously, you don’t want to spoil the surprise of the engagement, but there are clandestine ways to gauge her taste in jewelry. The best way? Look at her jewelry! You’ll notice right away if she prefers white gold or yellow gold by what she wears or what she has stashed in a drawer. On top of that, figure out what kind of a statement she likes to make with her jewelry. Does she prefer big pieces that really attract attention, or is she the type who likes a more understated type of jewelry? If she likes a modest ring and you show up with a monster of an engagement ring, your big moment may not be the way you envisioned it. Also, take a moment to get a feel for her ring size by looking at her other jewelry, so you can avoid costly resizing fees.
Payment is Paramount. Okay, this last tip may seem obvious, but you need to hear it. Try as hard you possibly can to avoid financing your ring. Seriously, even if you have to put off your engagement for a little while as you scrape together some extra cash you want to pay for most, if not all of the ring up front. Why? Well…do you want to be the one to tell your girlfriend that you have to take the ring back because you can’t afford to pay for it? For the sake of your relationship, pay cash for the ring.