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4 Things You Need to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring

by Russell Smith

Before you take your woman out to dinner and strategically place a ring in her mashed potatoes, you should get a few things in line first. We’ve compiled a list of the 4 most important things you should know about the ring-buying process.

Engagement Ring

The Price

Needless to say, price is one of the most important aspects of your decision. Although it does depend on what your special someone is like (high maintenance, modest, flashy, etc.), and your income, there are a few things you should know about the price of the ring. Generally, the rule is that the price of the ring should be close to your salary for three months, but many consider this rule outdated so go with a price that you feel comfortable enough paying.

The average engagement ring costs around $3,500, but that obviously varies based on the type of jewel and its size (more on those later). If money is an issue you could use a family gemstone; ask your mother if you can use one of her jewels and have it re-set or re-cut.

In addition, you could look at antique shops for some alternatives or consider using a gemstone that isn’t a diamond – sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and pearls are good alternatives. Just remember, there’s a lot more to a marriage, and your relationship, than the price you pay for a ring.

Diamonds: The Four Cs

Color, clarity, cut, and carat – these four Cs are the guidelines that jewelers use to determine the value of a diamond. When you visit a jeweler or look for a ring online, these are the guidelines by which you should search for a diamond engagement ring.

Color refers to the (you guessed it) color of the diamond. Colorless diamonds sparkle more and are more expensive, although richly colored diamonds like green, blue, canary yellow, and pink diamonds are considered rare and are very expensive.

Clarity refers to the number of impurities in a diamond; flawless diamonds have no blemishes and are more expensive than those with flaws.

A diamond with a good cut is well-proportioned to exhibit the diamond’s sparkle and brilliance. A diamond’s cut is ranked on a scale with six rankings – ideal cut is the highest and poor is the lowest. Shoppers with average budgets should search for diamonds that have “very good” or “good” cuts.

Carat refers to the mass of a diamond; some shoppers may sacrifice cut or clarity for a diamond of a larger size. Together, these four Cs determine what some call the fifth C – cost.

The Gemstone

Although diamonds may be the obvious choice for an engagement ring, recently other gemstones have gained popularity. Sapphires are generally blue in hue, and they’ve gained popularity as a diamond alternative due largely in part to celebrity culture, specifically, Prince William who gave his then-girlfriend (now wife) a sapphire and diamond heirloom as an engagement ring.

Rubies and emeralds are also popular choices. With these gemstones, darker and more vivid colors are preferred. Lastly, pearls can be used for engagement rings, as well. Here, thickness, luster, shape, surface perfection, make, and size all determine the cost of a pearl. To get a nice ring that isn’t loaded with diamonds, you could also choose a ring with a non-diamond gemstone and then add small diamonds along with the band.

Engagement Ring

The Band

The type of metal used for the ring can affect the aesthetic and cost of the engagement ring. Generally, engagement ring bands are gold, platinum, or palladium.

Gold is durable and can be a less expensive option, but it’s important to know what type of gold your soon-to-be-fiancé prefers. Yellow gold is what we picture when we think of gold, white gold is very neutral and looks somewhat like silver, and rose gold has a pinkish-copper color.

Platinum is durable, pure, and hypoallergenic, but it’s also the most expensive option. Similarly, palladium is much like platinum, but it’s less dense, has a slightly grayer color, and is less expensive.  Women are particular about what type of metal they prefer, so make sure you learn what she likes.

Gearing up for a proposal can be a time filled with nervousness, anxiety, and a lot of decisions. Follow these tips to get a ring that your fiancé, and you, will be happy with.

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1 comment

shannon July 1, 2013 - 10:47 am

“Just remember, there’s a lot more to a marriage, and your relationship, then the price you pay for a ring.”

Oh dear god, for the sake of my sanity, please edit what I hope is only a typo in this sentence. It should read “than” not “then”. Than is the comparative word you are looking for. Then denotes something which comes next in a sequence of events.

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