Congratulations, you've decided to tie the knot. Now it's time to pick out an engagement ring. For many men, the second decision is actually harder. An engagement ring not only represents a sign of lifelong commitment, it also represents a substantial investment. Take a deep breath! With a little planning and forethought, you can turn this stress-inducing event into the happy task it was meant to be.
An engagement ring is composed of three parts: the stone, the setting (the part of the ring designed to hold the ring in place) and the band—the loop of metal that makes the piece function as a ring.
If you want to surprise and please your fianc�� with your choice, pay close attention to jewelry she currently wears. If you're still confused, consult with her friends and relatives—in secret, of course!
The old adage of “two months salary” is essentially a marketing gimmick: buy what you can afford. You'll need to balance the enduring nature of the ring with the reality of your current (and future) expenses. Set a budget early and stick to it.
An engagement ring's setting is made up of metal prongs that hold the stone in place. Four prongs will allow more light to shine through the stone, but six prongs will keep the stone more secure.
If you're buying a diamond engagement ring, be sure the diamond comes with a certificate of authenticity provided by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or similar certifying agency.
The most popular style of engagement ring is the solitaire, which features a single stone mounted on a simple band. Other available styles include rings with gemstone accents, three-diamond rings and rings that match the wedding band style.
Engagement rings can feature pear or oval stones or they can be set off with multiple baguette style stones. Other features may include filigreed bands or bands with etched decorative patterns.
While diamonds are by far the most popular engagement ring stone, other choices include rubies, sapphires and emeralds. If your budget is tight, consider moissanite or cubic zirconia.
Although yellow gold has been a traditional favorite, white gold has become very popular as an engagement ring material. Looking to make a statement? Consider a platinum band and setting.
Let's face it: an engagement ring comes with a lot of baggage. No, we're not talking about the emotional commitment the ring represents; we're talking about the expectations of your fiancé and her family, friends and co-workers. The engagement ring has been promoted and romanticized to the point that men feel weak in the knees as they consider the purchase. The good news is that buying an engagement ring is like any other purchase. Success means doing your homework, setting a budget and considering your intended's style and tastes.
An engagement ring is composed of several standard parts that include:
The stone: Most often, engagement rings are set with diamonds. If you've never bought a diamond before, become familiar with the characteristics of the stone. Often referred to as the “four Cs,” the important things to consider are the cut (the depth and width of the stone), the color (how white the stone appears), the clarity (a measure of the stone's imperfections) and the carat (the weight of the stone). If your fiancée appreciates something unique, consider other stones like rubies, sapphires or emeralds.
The setting: The setting is the physical mounting of the stone to the ring itself. The most common setting involves metal prongs that wrap around the stone to hold it in place. More prongs result in a stronger mounting, but fewer prongs allow more light to reach the stone. Setting alternatives include pave settings (many small stones mounted close together) and channel settings, which feature several stones mounted in a row with metal bands holding them in place.
The band: The band is the actual ring part of the engagement ring. The band can be a simple solitaire style band or it can be decorated with filigree, etched patterns or accent stones. White and metal gold are the most popular choices for bands and settings, but platinum and even palladium are unique alternatives.
The hardest part of buying an engagement ring may be knowing what style of ring she'll like best. This is the person you're intending to spend your life with, so hopefully you've been paying attention to what she likes. If the answer is “not so much,” then here are some ways to find the perfect engagement ring:
Go through her stuff. If the element of surprise is important, find a quiet moment to peek in her jewelry drawer. A quick inventory will give you a good idea of what she likes. While you're in there, slip one of her rings on your finger (not too tight!) and mark your finger where the ring stops. Go to a jeweler and have them determine the ring size from the mark.
Ask around. You may risk the big secret, but the best source of information may be her friends and close relatives. She may have shared her thoughts with them and they'yell be honored to help out—as long as they can keep quiet!
Look at her hands. The style of the engagement ring should flatter her hands. An oval or pear shaped stone will make her fingers look longer, while a busy ring with lots of stones can overwhelm a petite hand.
Ok, your head is whirling with the weight of this decision, but here are few more things to think about:
Know the policy. Make sure you understand the return, sizing and exchange policies of the jewelry stores where you are thinking about making your purchase.
Get it certified. If you're buying a diamond engagement ring, you'll have more piece of mind if the stone has a certificate of authenticity from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the International Gemological Institute (IGI) or some other certifying agent.
Stay focused. Whatever your budget, stick to it. Extra funds spent on an engagement ring could be going toward a down payment on a house or other future needs as you begin your life together.
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