Buying an Engagement Ring

Step 2 buying an engagement ring where to start?

Buying your future fiancée’s engagement ring can seem like an overwhelming task.   Start with figuring out what type of engagement ring she likes.

When buying an engagement ring you will hear about “The Four C’s,” Can I afford it, Crap that’s expensive, Cold feet, Can I get some help….!

Just kidding.  The Four C’s really stand for Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat.

Buying an Engagement Ring Action 1: Determine what style of ring she likes

To guys, all rings might look the same but to your future fiancée they do not.  A few common styles are Solitaire, Side Stones, Three Stones, and Halo.  I won’t list every style of ring that exists, but I will give you tips on how to figure out what she likes…. Then you can research what that looks like.

  • The easiest solution is she has already dropped hints as to what she likes.  Many girls do this so keep your ears and eyes open.
  • Another way to determine what style of ring she likes is by asking her opinion on someone else’s ring.  Most women will tell you what they think about it and what they would prefer.   The perfect opportunity to ask this is when a friend of hers gets engaged.  Ask her, “So did she like the ring?”  She will tell you what her friend thought – and what she also thinks of it.
  • Friends and family can also be a good source of info, but make sure they are not gossipers, or you asking might get back to her.

Buying an Engagement Ring Action 2: Finding Out Her Ring Size

Yes gentlemen, rings come in different sizes.  Be re-assured – if you don’t get the size right you can get the ring resized, but it is much easier to make the ring smaller than bigger.  If you are not able to figure out her ring size estimate larger than smaller.

The easiest way to figure out her ring size is to use one of the rings she already has.   Make sure it is a ring that she still wears occasionally as over time someones fingers may get larger or smaller.  If you borrow the ring she wears every day, she might notice so good luck on not being suspicious.  Also make sure it is a ring that she wears on her ring finger, not a ring she regularly wears on the thumb or pinky finger.

engagement ring size, ring size chart, buying engagement ring
Engagement ring size chart

Buying an Engagement Ring Action 3: Buying the Ring

You will hear things like you should spend 3 months salary on a ring.  The amount of money you spend really has to fit your budget and what your girl likes.   To start do your research online to get an idea of ring styles, brands and costs.   When you have more of an idea of what you want, find a reputable jeweler.   Go there and start shopping to determine what your money will buy.   Remember, name brand engagement rings cost much more then generic ones.  If you are buying a plain solitaire band without any design for a solitaire the only difference between a name brand and the less expensive generic no-name brand…is just the brand.

I did buy a name brand – not because my wife wanted the name but because she liked vintage – style rings.  The brand Tacori is known for their vintage looks, so her style is what led me to buy Tacori.

Buying an Engagement Ring: The Four C’s:  Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat.

I am not going to go into a lot of detail here as I am not a jeweler… I’ll just give you enough so when you do talk to a professional you know what the hell they are referring to.

  1. Color:  The color of the diamond dictates the quality when you are talking about “colorless” diamonds ( FYI pink, chocolate diamonds this doesn’t apply to them.)  The quality of the diamond is based on the absence of color.  A perfect diamond has no hue, a perfect diamond has a higher value. Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the official diamond grading body uses a D-to-Z diamond color-grading system to measure the degree of colorlessness.  The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.  The jeweler will show you the diamond under a magnifier glass, but the color difference will be so slight that it will be very hard to tell.   Picking the color level is up to you and will just be a function of what you are willing to pay for what is considered “more quality.”
  2. Clarity:  Means the lack of internal imperfections called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’  While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.  The GIA has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.  (Source GIA):
    • Flawless (FL) – Highest Value
      No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
    • Internally Flawless (IF)
      No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
    • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
      Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
    • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
      Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
    • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
      Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
    • Included (I1, I2, and I3Lowest Value
      Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
  3. Cut: A diamond is a rock and an uncut diamond looks like a rock – not ready to be worn on your future wife’s finger.   The cut is not only shape the jeweler cuts the diamond into (princess, emerald, pear, or round), but how good of a job they did in cutting it.  A good cut is about how the diamond returns light… Basically the bling or sparkly effect.   The range is from excellent to poor.
  4. Carat Weight:  How much the diamond weights – basically how big it is.  A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements for example 1.01 carats vs. 1.02 carats.  All other things being equal the larger the carats the higher the price.  But remember the first 3 C’s also affect the value.

Now, every man has to pick the engagement ring himself.   I recommend listening to your jeweler but also listening to your gut on what your fiancée will like.  I picked towards the higher end of quality in color, clarity, and cut – not perfect or flawless, but very good – and then the largest carat weight my budget allowed.

Buying an Engagement Ring Action 4: Paying for the ring 

Just as an FYI as plan your budget many jewelers offer a period of financing with 0% interest.  I am not encouraging you to go into debt to buy a ring more expensive than you can actually afford.  However, this is an option for those who have good credit and may want to spread out their payments instead of paying all at once.

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Buying an Engagement Ring Action 5:  Getting Insurance 

This is something I encourage you doing right away.  You never know what can happen.   For my proposal, I was traveling with my ring overseas so this was something I made sure I got before I left.  It give me a little peace of mind even though I was already a nervous wreck. At least if I lost the ring I didn’t lose out on replacing it.   Your jeweler can recommend insurance or you can do your own research.  As with any insurance, how much you pay is relative to how expensive your ring is.

Now that you have the ring, let’s go to the next step: Step 3 Picking the proposal location

For additional info on buying a diamond here is a great resource guide.

Marriage Proposal ideas by category :

  • Beach Proposal ideas Beach Proposal ideas
  • Valentine’s Day Proposal ideas Valentine’s Proposal Ideas

Quick Links to Specific Cities Proposal Locations and Ideas

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My wife’s ring after I proposed at the Eiffel Tower. This was a small restaurant we found that was open on Christmas eve.

If you found this page helpful I encourage you to leave any advice that might help others who are buying an engagement ring.  This site is a community to help your fellow man.

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