How to buy an Engagement Ring

by Reuben Robert

It doesn't always need to be a diamond. It's true. Many feel the modern tradition of diamonds is over-sold. Remember that the value of the engagement ring will mean different things to different women.

So you've decided to pop the question and the next thing in order is an Engagement Ring, to commemorate your eternal commitment to the one you love. Of course, the debate still rages: Why do we need to buy a ring? Is the expense worth all the hype? Does it mean anything at all? When did all this begin, anyway?! Well, the following trivia may help:

* Egyptians believed that the "love vein" (vena amoris) ran straight from the fourth finger to the heart.

* Judeo-Christian ethos considers the ring's significance as its symbol of everlasting continuity.

* Most agree the tradition of buying a diamond engagement ring began in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria bought his future wife Mary of Burgundy a large diamond.

* Still more believe it's a vast conspiracy on the part of the jewelry industry to rake in all our money! Just remember, in matters of the heart, one needs little justification for any act, senseless or otherwise. Follow your heart, and let it decide what you want.

1. YOUR BUDGET - FOLLOW YOUR HEAD, NOT YOUR HEART!


how to buy an engagement ringI know I've just contradicted myself, but hey, this is an important point. It's all very well that you've decided to go in for the ring, however here's the guideline: Jewelry is expensive. Good jewelry is even more expensive. Great jewelry is... But you get the point. Solicit ideas may be a good idea. Speak to men who've already done the deed. A family member could have some advice. Your local jeweler will simply be bursting with ideas too. However, ensure that the final decision is yours. Nothing else will do. Here are some tips to help you along. It doesn't always need to be a diamond. It's true. Many feel the modern tradition of diamonds is over-sold. Remember that the value of the engagement ring will mean different things to different women. Most women believe more in the symbolic value of the ring, especially if the proposal is sincere. There are many imitation diamonds in the market, but remember that while it may fool some, it will never fool her. My advice, don't even try. But do take heart; there are many alternatives to diamonds that are affordable, romantic and of symbolic value too.

A Ruby or a Red Garnet symbolizes the passion and zest for life, and everything the heart stands for. Other marginally more expensive alternatives are the Red Tourmaline or Red Spinel. Choices in green include the Green Garnet and Green Tourmaline, and the enchanting Emerald, all of which stand for the everlasting symbols of faithfulness and continuity. The Blue Spinel, Iolite, Blue Tourmaline and Sapphire stand for purity and spirituality. The Pearl has long been associated with love and weddings, far before any other gemstone. Try and find a natural pearl in an heirloom or antique piece. A good idea would be to combine the stone of your choice with a small diamond on either side to complete the symbolism with the aura of indestructibility and infinity that the diamond stands for. An important thing is to decide whether she prefers her birthstone itself. It will make it more personal, closer to her heart.

So no matter what your budget, and no matter what you want to say, these beautiful, rare and precious choices are well within reach. It simply has to incorporate the correct symbolism for the two of you, while showing thoughtfulness and caring. However, society sometimes fuels unrealistic expectations for the perfect engagement ring, and you may decide to go in for a diamond ring after all. Or maybe, you can actually afford one quite easily. Whatever the reason, remember to separate yourself from the benchmarks that others set, and make this decision based on your own preference. Most financiers and jewelers agree that an ideal budget would be in the range of approximately 2 or 3 months' salary. Some choose to spend more because they have another disposable income, and many find a good ring spending less than the prescribed budget. Just remember, matters of the heart are generally directly disproportionate to your bank balance! Use your head, that's all.

2. WHAT DOES THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE ACTUALLY LIKE?


You will now have to begin doing things that most men find very difficult. Start Paying Attention!

* What is the metal color she prefers? Unlike men, most women will have a definite preference. Your choices will vary between White gold, Yellow gold, Rose gold or Platinum.

* Does she now wear jewelry that is vintage or antique? Or does her preference lean towards modern contemporary design, or is she prejudiced to classic and timeless designs that never go out of fashion?

* Her regular jewelry is probably the best indication of her taste, especially because it almost surely is made up of items she is most comfortable with. Are You Listening?

* If she's ever mentioned an opinion, it's a definite clue. Has she commented on a friend's ring? Why did she like it? Or why not?

* Does she like diamonds, or does she prefer other gemstones? Has she ever discussed jewelry with friends or family?

* If you're clueless, don't worry. It shouldn't be hard to divert her attention towards a jewelry store when you're out shopping. Be subtle! Tell her you're looking for a tie-pin or something, but be sure to stop by the engagement ring counter. Start Noticing Her Hands!

* Think proportional when it comes to choosing the shape of the stone, and the ring's thickness.

* Bold styles generally suit women with long fingers, while delicate jewelry will be unnoticeable on large hands.

* The wider the band, the shorter the appearance of the finger.

* Oval diamonds will make her fingers look more sleek, but avoid over-doing it.

3. CHOOSING YOUR JEWELER & JEWELRY CERTIFICATION


Regardless of whether you choose a gemstone or a diamond, this is an important step. It will not only ensure you get your money's worth, but will also help if and when you decide to insure your expensive investment. In the US, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the AGS (American Gem Society) are the most trusted certifiers for diamonds. Various countries have their respective certifiers, so make some enquiries before you purchase that stone. Look for a jeweler you can trust. Generally, a jeweler who has a good reputation in the community and who's been in business for many years is the one you should approach, especially if you, like most men, are not very familiar with jewelry.

4. The Engagement Ring's Band


Get It Right! However tempting it is to ignore the band because the vast majority of the cost is for the gemstone or diamond, the way the diamond is set in the band decides the overall appearance of the finished jewelry. Fortunately, this is much easier than picking out the gemstone. The thickness of the band isn't the only consideration. Her personal taste in metal color, her hand type, her skin color, the size of the stone, all play a part in deciding what the band should look like. Regardless of whether you choose White, Yellow or Rose Gold, 18ct (Carat) Gold is the best choice, followed by 14ct. Despite being significantly more expensive, many still choose Platinum for the ring. Now you need to decide how you want the stone set. Want it to ride low? It won't be very showy (you're probably wondering what the point is then), but consider that a diamond that juts out is liable to snag itself on just about anything that brushes it and will also be prone to damage. You'd imagine there'd be an easy answer to the illusive question of choosing an engagement ring design.

There is no scientific or mathematical way to design or choose one. It's purely a matter of one's personal preference, hedged by some practical reasoning: - Does it look good? - Is it practical to wear? - Will it withstand normal wear and tear? - Does it hold the all-important gemstone securely? If you want an extremely fine design, then choose Platinum, as it is much stronger and will wear out gold many times over. Also, a 6-claw arrangement will hold the stone more securely than a 4-claw. If her work involves very heavy contact, then you may consider a bezel setting (called a rub-over). It's safer than a claw setting. You may want to sneak one of her rings to the jeweler, so he can measure it. Otherwise an outline will help. You could impress one of her rings in a bar of soap, or push one down as far as it will go on one of your fingers, then mark the spot. Simpler still would be to trace the ring on paper. If all else fails, try asking her mother or friend to do the deed for you! Which brings us to our final point: Is this ring an investment? Ideally, no. At least, not for the reason you've bought it. When you consider the non-monetary investment you've made in the ring, you'll find as a symbol of your love and devotion, it stands unrivaled. As a priceless testament of your love, your woman will be overjoyed, no matter what you choose.
 
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