Want to get engaged, but don’t know where to start? Here are a few handy tips and tools for guys. I compiled this Engagement Ring 101 that I often emailed to prospective customers to help them make informed choices. I've broken the process down so that you don't have to get too overwhelmed with all the nitty gritty details. May these tips help her say YES to you!
1. Keep it true to who you are
Even though the most engagement rings consist of gold and diamonds, it should be true to who you are. Some have gotten engaged with wooden rings or tattoos undermining the idea of having to spend hundreds of thousands on a big diamond. Whether traditional or non-traditional, expensive or affordable, may this ring-getting-process be special and significant to both of you. Here's how to get started:
2. Get her ring size
Very important! If you are lucky she has a ring that fits on the ring finger: steal, measure and return it. If not, unless you get engaged with a ring from a lucky packet or tie a knot on a finger with a piece of string, don't guess her ring size. You might think her finger is as big as your pinky, but don't take that risk. One can stretch/shrink a ring after it has been made, but it is not recommended. To find her ring size is often the most difficult part for guys if you want to keep the engagement a surprise. The easiest way is to take her to any jewellery store and ask to measure her finger that it fits perfectly. If you don't want to take her to a jeweller, ask a good friend to take her. Ring sizes are normally measured according to an alphabetical letter (British system) e.g. K, L or M or the US system is according to numbers e.g. 5 or 6.5.
3. Stay within your budget
How much is enough? Good question. Often guys ask: so what does an engagement ring cost? Quite frankly, I cannot answer them as it varies so much. You need to be more specific if you want to get a good estimate, but my advise is to stay within your means. Its not worth it to take out a loan and take years to pay it back. Choose what you can afford. If she wants a very expensive ring and you just cannot foresee how you will ever live up to her standards, here's advise:
4. Take her Ring Shopping
From my experience, it is the exception if a girl knows exactly what they want their ring to look like. Most girls need a bit of help deciding. Usually they want to go to jewellery shops to try on a few rings and get a feel for what size, look, metal and design suits their finger. If she likes the idea that you take her, do it an make it is a special outing. It only happens once, so treat it as a date. When she fits on the most expensive ring, stay cool and try to focus on the design of the ring rather than the price tag. You don't have to buy it. Take note of what she likes about the rings she fits on. Ask strategic questions like "what do you like about the ring? The metal colour, design, way the stones are set, size of the ring etc." Be attentive to detail. If you can see her put on a ring and there is a smirk on her face, these initial questions can help you a lot to get to a final design.
5. Use Pintrest or online pictures
Taking her to jewellery shops is great, but finding out what she likes online is often a quicker and more effective tool to cut to the chase. If she has a Pintrest board for jewellery or engagement rings, take a good look and ask her what she likes about them. Try to be as specific as you can as it streamlines the process. Should you discuss a ring design with her, find out if she only wants an engagement ring or also wants a wedding band (basically two rings). This makes a difference to the overall design and much better to know her expectations from the beginning. The quicker you know which metal, design, stone and the way the stones are set she likes, the easier the process becomes.
6. Different Metal options
Does she like a silver, white gold, yellow gold or rose gold, platinum? or a mixture of different metals?
Here is a great chart to show you the different colours of metals from Pictures on Gold:
Here are metal prices from most expensive to the more affordable: Platinum, 18ct Gold, 9ct Gold, Titanium, Silver, Stainless Steel. Platinum is the hardest and most expensive metal for engagement rings. The purer the gold is, the higher its ct (carat) e.g. 18ct yellow gold is purer than 9ct yellow gold. Consequently the 18ct gold will be more expensive than the 9ct.
#Price Tip: You can use 9ct gold instead of the traditional 18ct. Use the extra bit of money to buy a bigger diamond as it hardly makes so much of a difference in the overall look of the ring.
7. Consider gemstone options
Not all ladies are interested in diamonds as the only option. Think of Kate Middleton's sapphire engagement ring. If she wants something different, explore the options - such as different coloured sapphires. Should she want a diamond, do you know about the 4 C's? They determine the price of a diamond (colour, carat/size, cut/shape and the clarity)?
#Diamond Price Tip: Buy a medium coloured diamond (G-M) and medium clarity (slightly included-SI1 or very Slightly Included-VS1/VS2) as you can hardly see a better colour or clarity with the naked eye.
8. Consult a jewellery designer
Most jewellery designers won't charge you for a consultation. Its a great way to get an expert in as part of your special process, even if you don't use them at the end. Most designers will draw or give input and ideas in a consultation that can help to streamline your ideas. Therefore I advise you to know what she likes before you visit a designer, so you get the best advise for your ideas. In a normal jewellery consultation you can expect someone that will ask questions and then draw initial ideas on paper. Once you have come to an agreement of what you would like, they can work out a quote. If you give them the go ahead, the design process will continue where your final design will most probably be transferred onto computer. In this way, you can get a 3D idea of what the ring will look like even before it is made. Should there be any amendments, it can be altered before the ring is in production. This is a huge improvement in the industry as designs on paper does not always look the same in real life. After completion of the 3D design, the ring goes through to production where it is cut or printed in wax, casted, worked of, set the stones and voila!
All of the best to find the perfect ring!