Buying an engagement ring is probably one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. After all, it’s a symbol of your love for your partner and, since they’ll (hopefully) be wearing it every day for the rest of their life, should complement their personal tastes and style. But if this is your first foray into the world of buying expensive jewelry, you might be left a little overwhelmed, especially if you’re planning on surprising your other half with the ring rather than picking the ring out together. Here, we’ve got the ultimate guide to buying an engagement ring for your significant other, covering everything you need to know before you step foot in a jewelry store.
Work out your budget
Tradition once stated that you should spend three months’ salary on your partner’s engagement ring, however this practice is generally considered outdated. According to an article by New York Times, most people put down just two weeks’ salary on the ring, which may be in part to the fact that people are realising that the supposed cost of an engagement ring was actually a marketing campaign by the diamond company, De Beers.
Regardless of how much you can afford to spend on the most important bit of jewelry you’ll buy, set a budget and stick to it. This may well mean you need to dip into your savings, or even start a new savings pot, but if you know how much you have to save, it’ll be much easier to cut out any needless spending. This will also allow you to start shopping around to see what designs are available within your chosen budget.
Choose a ring style
This is arguably the hardest part of engagement ring shopping. The ring style should ideally fit your partner’s general fashion style, so think about their clothes and any other accessories they wear on the regular. This should make it easier to work out whether they’d prefer a classic ring, or contemporary, vintage, art deco, retro, or even something completely different. The choices really are endless, and it all depends on what your other half actually enjoys wearing. If you’ve ever discussed marriage during your relationship, think back to any hints they may have dropped about the ring style, or make any notes if you discuss it while you’re looking around.
The ring style doesn’t just mean the diamond either, extending to the actual band and what metal you’d like. Picking a metal that’s durable is crucial here, and popular choices are gold, platinum, silver, and palladium. You can also choose whether your partner would want a plain band or one with diamonds encrusted, adding extra bling and value to the finished ring.
Bespoke or high street?
Like almost everything, you can either buy your engagement ring straight from a shop, or have it designed to your specifications. And having a bespoke ring doesn’t mean it’s going to blow your budget either. In fact, working with a jeweler may actually be more cost-effective for you, as they’ll generally do the most work possible for your budget. As explained by the jewelers at Taylor & Hart, a professional custom ring designer will work closely with you in order to design a ring that fits in with your chosen engagement ring style, design, requirements, and most importantly, your price point. And while you are free to browse the stores to pick up a readymade ring, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll get everything you’re looking for.
Pick out a diamond or gemstone
Another benefit of working with a professional designer is that they can explain the differences between a diamond and a gem, as well as run through the different styles, clarity, and cuts of a diamond. This is all important information to know, as it will affect the overall cost of the finished ring. A carat is perhaps the most recognisable term for describing a diamond, and this is simply the unit that’s used to measure the physical weight of the stone — one carat is 0.2 grams. However, this isn’t actually the part of the diamond to focus on, with the shape and clarity are far more important when picking out an engagement ring.
Diamonds can be cut in a huge number of shapes, and the clarity refers to how ‘pure’ the stone is. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) puts every diamond on a scale of clarity, ranging from Flawless (FL) to Included (I1, I2, and I3), meaning that any blemishes are obvious under 10x magnification, which will then affect the transparency and overall brilliance of the diamond.
Of course, you may decide to get a gemstone engagement ring, depending on the style your fiancé wears. These could be something personal to them, such as their birthstone, or something meaningful. Garnet gemstones, for example, are considered to be the stone of passionate devotion.
Find out your partner’s ring size
While most rings can be resized, you probably don’t want to deal with the added faff that comes with it, and your partner will probably appreciate having a ring they can wear straight away, so it’s a good idea to get the right size from the get-go. If you’re shopping for a ring together, this makes the process much easier, but if you’re planning a surprise proposal, getting the right ring size becomes tricky. You could sneak a ring your partner already wears away to get the right size, and hope they don’t notice that it’s gone missing, or trace around the inside of the ring to get a guide on their finger size.