If you want to propose, don’t put it off just because you can’t afford the ring you want. All it is is a token of your love so it’s stupid to say you’ll put off being with her until you can buy a bigger boulder. A modest piece will be a shared memory of your sacrifice and commitment. You can always upgrade as an anniversary gift later!
You will need to find out her ring size so you are going to have to sneak out one of her cosmetic rings or draw the inside line of the ring on a piece of paper to take to the jeweler.
ERR ON THE SIDE OF GREATNESS - BUT REMEMBER YOUR BUDGET!
Both in size of band and rock. You can always downsize but you can’t make a small ring bigger. It’s the cut, clarity and carat which largely determine the price of the ring. To check the quality of a diamond, you need to consider its clarity, carat, cut and color. Fix your budget as there is nothing worse than finding a ring you think she will like and having to say,’If only it was a bit cheaper.’ Decide your budget before you go looking. It is important to select the right band, the right setting and gemstone and the right size. The average size is 7 but, if unsure, go with a bigger size as it is easier to size a ring down than to size it up. The ring needs to be pretty practical too if you want your fiancee to be wearing it! Having a huge egg of a diamond, even if you can afford it, when she plays the piano or is a surgeon or mountaineer is probably not the best idea.
CUT, CLARITY, COLOR, CARAT
Bone up a bit on this otherwise you will be getting your lesson at the same time as the sales pitch from the jeweler - not a wise combination. Clarity refers to the stone’s imperfections which are basically miniscule so you could only notice them with a magnifying glass. Don’t worry - it’ll still sparkle even if it’s an I3 (most inclusions). Maybe not as much as an F (flawless) but not so anyone will notice. Any color grade below H will be too yellow; go for the whitest or clearest you can afford: D, E or F. As it gets more yellow, it goes into the G, H,I category all the way down to Z. The cut is to do with personal taste and the angles of the facets, how well the diamond reflects light. The shape is cosmetic - what does your girlfriend prefer: cushion, asscher, radiant, pear, princess, round etc.? Princess is trending right now. Round cuts are the most expensive, princess, oval and cushion the cheapest. Carat is just the weight of your rock. The bigger the carat, the bigger the price and just 0.1 difference can be a hike of 20% in price with little notable difference.
THE SETTING OR BAND
Choosing a durable metal is important. Ironically, the purer the gold, the quicker it will wear. The longest-lasting, most durable metal is platinum so maybe worth the extra money. It also indicates you envisage the marriage lasting a lifetime! Metals could be gold, white gold, rose gold, palladium (the cheapest but also less durable). Pronged rings use less metal and are therefore cheaper.
IS IT MISERLY TO CHECK OUT SALES AND DISCOUNTS?
Not at all! There may well be sales running up to Valentine’s Day or in the months after to clear inventory.
WHAT IF I HAVE ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS?
Many couples do not feel at peace getting diamonds when so much of the trade in the past few decades has been used to fund war crimes. There are companies, however, who can proves they sell conflict-free diamonds and are actively involved with civil rights issues. One of these companies is Brilliant Earth. If your fiancee is very environmentally conscious, she may prefer recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds.
VINTAGE - IS IT TOO SHABBY OR VERY ROMANTIC?
Well, that all depends on your girl. If she only listens to vinyl, wears fifties frocks, loves all things retro or as an artistic slant, chances are she will be enamored by a vintage engagement ring - particularly if from an era she loves. Note: vintage does not equate with second hand! Vintage is either Victorian (oldest), Edwardian (second oldest) or Art Deco (most recent). Anything else could possibly have been sourced at the local pawn shop so do ensure you get them certified so you can be insured. Vintage rings may be less symmetrical than contemporary styles - but she may like that! The same rules apply regarding quality. Check the trademark inside the ring and the quality of the jewel.
IF THERE IS NOTHING YOU KNOW SHE WOULD LIKE…
Go bespoke. Just allow a few more weeks, at least six to get it made. If you want it engraved, make sure you tell them at the time of ordering.
Purchase the ring and collect just before the proposal as there will be less chance of losing it! After exhausting your wage, you better ensure you are insured! You can get an extension to your rental insurance or from a special jewelry insurer. Bring your receipt and appraisal (for which you will have to pay).
HOPE AND PRAY SHE SAYS YES!
And keep your receipt just in case one of you changes your mind...
When choosing the actual wedding rings, start early. Custom pieces can take up to a month to create. There is no need to have matching metals but you do need to set a budget and allow time for engraving. Also, consider the practicality of the ring - you are going to be wearing it every day, every night so think long term. Check the quality. There should be the manufacturer’s trademark inside the ring and a quality mark - 24K or PLAT inside. Make sure you have a certificate of authenticity and a warranty to accompany the ring.
And do insure! Both rings. Accidents happen, rings get lost, stolen. Your wedding and engagement rings are your most significant piece of jewelry so look after them. .