8 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Engagement Ring

8 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Engagement Ring

Choose the wrong engagement ring, and life could become a bit ... tricky. Picking out a ring might seem like an easy chore, but an engagement ring is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show her how much you really care.

Where do you even begin?

Need some inspiration? Check out these Pinterest boards:

You begin by learning the process of choosing and designing the ring that can make or break your future. You begin by learning the jargon. Understand what your jeweler means when he mentions the various cuts and settings available. Learn about the metals that make up the band — there are several from which to choose. Find out what features your partner values in the perfect engagement ring, and go forward from there.

In other words — do your homework.

Know exactly what it is you want to say with this timeless treasure before you buy it, and understand just how big a decision it really is. If you follow these steps, presenting your partner with that one-of-a-kind ring that instantly melts her heart will come easily.

1. Set Your Budget

Several factors will affect the price of your diamond, including:

  • Color
  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Carat
  • Certification from the American Gem Society or the Gemological Institute of America (ASG/GIA)

Familiarizing yourself with each of these factors will help you better understand the price of your diamond and whether you're getting a fair deal.

As a general rule, the less color a diamond has, the more it costs. And with color comes clarity; clearer diamonds are more expensive. Diamonds of larger carat size are pricier as well, as are certain cuts. If your diamond has been certified by one of two diamond labs, ASG or GIA, it will cost more too.

Figures published in Daily Finance set the average cost of an engagement ring in 2012 at about $3,500. The rule of thumb years ago likened the cost of an engagement ring to two- to three-month's salary. Grooms-to-be today, however, use various factors to arrive at an affordable budget.

2. Know Your Partner

Will you involve your partner in the ring selection? Or will you surprise her in the end? Make sure you know which method she prefers. If she doesn't accompany you to the jewelry store, think about how you will describe her to the jeweler, who will likely ask. Have the right adjectives at the ready: Is she old-fashioned or trendy? Does she mostly wear silver, gold or another precious metal? Does her wardrobe consist mostly of dress-up options, or is she a jeans and sweatshirt kind of girl? Think about these questions before you begin looking at rings.

Other ways of learning more about the woman you love include:

  • Questioning her friends and family
  • Noticing the cuts and settings of her current jewelry pieces
  • Paying attention when she points out the various rings in jewelry store windows or online
  • Studying her Pinterest account for clues to the rings she loves

3. Learn the Lingo

Know what each popular cut of diamond looks like and the benefits and disadvantages of each. Some cuts, such as the round cut, make lower-quality diamonds look more appealing because they reflect more light. Other cuts work best for diamonds that are already nearly flawless. Ranker.com lists the top 10 diamond engagement ring cuts:

  • Round
  • Princess
  • Radiant
  • Cushion
  • Asscher
  • Emerald
  • Oval
  • Pear
  • Marquise
  • Heart

Each cut has its own individual characteristics. Know which ones work best on the diamonds that fall within your budget.

4. Meet With Your Jeweler

Choose a reputable jeweler who employs a gemologist on staff, if possible. And remember to ask whether he's certified. Independent jewelers often know more about their art than the staff employed at larger jewelry chains.

5. Choose Your Setting

Engagement ring settings are just as numerous as diamond cuts. Familiarize yourself with each one before you begin shopping. Popular settings include pave, prong, trellis and channel. There are other settings as well; some work better with certain cuts of diamonds. An experienced jeweler will be able to help you fit your diamond to your setting and will also be able to give you the information you need about the various metals that make up most engagement rings:

  • 14K/18K Yellow or White Gold
  • Palladium
  • Platinum
  • Silver

6. Choose Your Center Diamond

This is where your knowledge of the four Cs comes into play. In choosing your center diamond, you'll also take into account your desired setting. Your jeweler can help you choose a diamond with the right clarity and color to fit your budget.

7. Buy Your Ring

Choosing and designing the ring are the difficult parts. Paying for it is usually anticlimactic. Know going in whether you plan to pay cash for your ring, charge it to your Visa card or work out a financial plan with your jeweler.

8. Propose

If you thought choosing the ring was difficult, all your preparation pales in comparison to the actual proposal. But speaking those four difficult words will come much easier if you're confident that the ring resting comfortably in your pocket is the perfect offering of love.

Jeweler's Trade Shop wishes you good luck on your proposal and many great wishes for the years of happiness that lie ahead.