You’ve been courting this girl for some time now, and things have progressed to the point where you know what is next… She has probably looking at you with arms folded and tapping her foot in anticipation for some months now. Uh Oh what do you do?! You have been wanting to buy her a ring and make her an honest woman, but where on earth do you begin? Being a Gemologist, I can’t believe it took me this long to post about this. Continuing the Every Swell man should learn series, here it is all you swell gents, a crash course in buying an engagement ring. Now, put on some antiperspirant, and wipe the sweat from your brow, it can be complicated, but I will help you through it.
Step One: Find her style
If she hasn’t already inundated you with pictures of rings she likes or dragged you into countless jewelry stores, your first goal is to find her style. This isn’t as hard as it seems, take a look at what she is wearing already. Does she like big and bold, or does she like simple and elegant, modern or vintage, white or yellow. What are the shapes of the stones she wears? Of course this is even easier if you have already bought her some jewelry (you have, haven’t you?). These are all important clues to her personal style, she wears what she likes and her engagement ring would compliment that.
Now, there is a fail safe here, if you are totally lost I always recommend a solitaire. A solitaire is one stone, any shape on a simple thin band. the beauty of a solitaire is the options you have. once you have presented it to her, you can match it to some bands or a wrap, place it in an insert, find a mounting to reset the stone into, or even custom make a ring that is completely hers to set the stone into. Some women love to be part of this, but you were still able to have the surprise by giving her the center stone in a solitaire setting.
You will notice I have not said diamond yet, don’t worry I will talk a lot about them, but I should mention not every woman wants a diamond as their center stone. some like colored stones for various reasons such as birth stones or to represent some significance in their lives, so be aware of this. Before diamonds were the stone of engagement rings, around the turn of the century it was customary to give your bride to be her birthstone in a ring.
Step Two: Find a Jeweler
Sure you can go to your friend’s cousin’s neighbor, because “he’ll give you a great deal, he works at that kiosk in the mall that buys gold” , but I wouldn’t recommend that. You are looking for someone who will help you professionally and give you a fair price at the outset, but will also take care of you for years to come. Remember you have other jewelry to buy; wedding rings, attendant’s gifts and a gift for the bride(pearls always pearls) and birthdays and anniversary… woah, I am getting ahead of myself. Find someone who will take care of you for the long haul, stand behind their pieces and offer maintenance when it’s needed. Find an established jeweler with credentials. Look for a GIA Graduate Gemologist, and a store or individual who is certified by the American Gem Society. Ironically, I happen to be both of those things (shameless plug: check out my store, Diamonds and Gold). This gives you the assurance you are not just talking to a clerk, but someone who knows what they are talking about and will keep your best interests in mind.
Step Three: The Diamond
This is the tough part, which is why you need someone you can trust. Buying a diamond is like buying a car. There is so much more to it than “ooh, ill take that one its shiney!”. It is a science, that’s why people like Gemologists go to school and spend lots of money to learn about diamonds. How this helps you is they can sift through all of the “stuff” and translate it to you in a manner that will help you choose the diamond that is the best value. I am going to give you a quick crash course in the fo C’s of buying a diamond. Now, this is a very simplistic approach, but it will be a great guideline.
- Color-To me this is the most important, color is the first thing you will see when you look at a diamond. It is a D-Z scale representing how much color is in a diamonds(excluding fancy colors) D is the top having no color at all and gradually there is mor and more until you arrive at Z, which is the most color before it becomes a fancy grade. Stick with something G or above and you’ve got a nice diamond.
- Cut-Cut is not the same as shape eg; princess, round, or emerald shape, but cut is how proportionate the diamond is, the better proportions of the diamond the larger it will look and the more it will sparkle.
- Clarity-Is the size, quantity, location and relief of any inclusions in the diamond. No these are not called carbon, the entire diamond is all carbon! Inclusions can be other crystals, or interruptions in the growth structure of a diamond, some can be pretty , and some are distracting . This is on a sliding scale like color Flawless or Internally flawless are at the top, and I1 or 2 are at the bottom. Anything that is SI1 or better to your naked eye is free from inclusions and is a nice looking grade.
- Carat weight-Is the actual weight of a diamond, and if cut correctly how large it looks face up. If someone shows you a one carat stone, but it looks small that means all of the weight is in the bottom, don’t pay for a 1 carat that looks like a 3/4 carat Carat weight is all about personal preference, what is important to you and what fits in your budget without sacrificing the other grades. 1 carat is o.2 grams.
Many of these will be listed on a certificate that accompanies most larger diamonds, but be careful not to rely on a cert too much and ignore what your eye tells you. High color and clarity grade would lead you to believe that it is a gorgeous diamond, but there are other factors that can take away from the value and beauty of a diamond. Things such as florescence, poor polish and symmetry, fracture filling and poor cut can drastically change the look of a high grade stone. So,always look closely with your naked eye and with a microscope before you sign on the dotted line.
Step Four: Buy it.
Ignore all the rules about how much percentage of your salary you should spend or what the average size is. Buy what you like and what you can afford, there is no need to break the bank just to impress everyone. Buy a respectable ring that she will be proud to wear. No one will be impressed when your fiancé is wearing a 5 carat ring and you live in a homeless shelter and bike to work in order to pay for it.
Step Five: Ask her already!
Have a plan and do something unexpected and romantic, don’t just hand it to her casually or leave it lay for her to find it, you’re doing it one time so do it right. Make her a meal, repeat your first date, and don’t forget to ask her dad! Now go marry that girl and I wish for your future together to be swell.