You are so in love, you think you have found ‘The One’ and you have mustered up just enough courage to ask for her hand in marriage. Congratulations!
Except… you haven’t quite found The Ring. No, we don’t mean Gollum’s precious but the perfect engagement ring for the perfect girl of your dreams.
If you have not been in the habit of giving her jewellery for other special occasions (although we think you definitely should), buying an engagement ring it is probably your first experience in the outwardly complicated world of jewellery buying.
We understand that when buying an engagement ring, it is a seemingly immense task that bears tons of pressure.
After all, let’s see – it is a declaration of your everlasting love for your her, a symbol of your willingness to take the relationship to the next level, PLUS it sure as heck does not help that society has pressure on “how big is the bling” and she will want to be showing off the ring to her friends and family. Gosh.
Take a deep breath and read the guide below:
1. Give Yourself a Budget and Timeline
We are not here to sugarcoat this, so let’s face it: Regardless of your budget, buying an engagement is likely going to be expensive.
So it is extremely vital that you set your budget before you step into a jewellery store. We can assure you that you will be pressured to go higher and somehow when those flawless gems are placed in front of you, their beauty tends to get the better of your wallet.
Do not be afraid to tell the jeweller your limit, this will also help them present you options that are within your price range. Remain firm or you can even try negotiating.
You may have heard of the “rule” that a man is supposed to spend 2 months salary on an engagement ring. It is an extremely successful ad campaign invented by DeBeers during 1940’s that would make any ad man proud.
So do not feel pressured. Buy the nicest ring that you can afford and if increasing the carat means missing a few month’s rental or taking out a loan, it is NOT a good idea.
Give yourself a timeline of when you want to propose. We encourage you to shop around and survey for your best option but do not delay too long simply because you cannot afford the biggest or shiniest ring.
A woman who loves you will not mind a humble ring as it is a symbol of your love, it should not be a reason stopping you from marriage. You can always get her a nicer ring for an anniversary present somewhere down the line, women love more jewellery anyway.
2. Size Her Up
It is not the end if you don’t get the size of the ring right on the first try. We know she’ll probably want to wear the ring straight away and never take it off, but most rings such as solitaires and even those with stones halfway around the band are resizable.
Typically the jeweller you buy it from will do this for you; unless it is a complicated piece, which may require more attention from a specialist.
The easiest way to find out her size is to nick away with a ring she already wears on her ring finger (try to swipe a ring that you don’t see her wearing often; she will be less likely to notice it has gone missing for a bit) and take it to any jeweller to get them to tell you the size or use our ring size guide.
You could enlist the help of a friend or a roommate of hers.
To maintain the surprise factor, press one of her favorite rings (one she wears on her ring finger) into a bar of soap until it creates an impression. #detective right? Make sure you don’t forget to clean it off!
3. It’s About Her
As much as it is about you, it is about her.
Although you’re paying for the ring and may have strong opinions about the design do remember that she is the one wearing it for a lifetime.
We want your future fiancé to avoid having that Carrie Bradshaw moment when she discovers the ring her boyfriend has chosen is a design she absolutely hates… and proceeds to throw up.
Cue the, “Oh my god, my partner doesn’t understand me, how can I marry him?!” thoughts running wildly through her head.
Make sure you listen closely anytime she talks about jewellery and if she has any inkling you might propose, she may drop hints or even less subtly pinned her favourite rings on her inspiration board or have pictures saved on her phone.
She may talk about how much she loved the vintage style engagement ring she saw during her friend’s recent proposal.
If you still would like some “you” in the ring, consider adding your own personal touch with a customised ring.
Surprisingly, the word ‘custom made’ does not always mean pricey as some custom made rings may even cost less as you are able to decide the size of the stones used and thickness of the band.
Hence, being more in control of the budget instead of having a fixed design already decided for you.
4. Do Your Homework
It is practically nightmarish, as all diamonds look the same at first – twinkling, shiny, sparkly and perfect.
The first time you see a good one, you will probably be awestruck and be so tempted you might feel like swiping your credit card and have the ring boxed up right there.
However, not all Diamonds are built the same and the price you are quoted may not match the quality of that particular stone. So learn the 4Cs like it is SPM all over again.
- Carat – The most visually apparent factor, the weight of the diamond is expressed in carats; 1 ct = 0.2 gram. But a physically lighter, shallow-cut stone may appear larger than a deeper cut stone with a small surface area. So do not be fooled.
- Colour – Graded by comparison to masterstones under a standardised artificial light. A diamond with less colour will display greater brilliance and ‘’fire’’. The highest value stones on the grading scale start with D and E which are practically colourless and they proceed to become more coloured as they advance down the alphabet. G-J is near colourless, K-M is faint yellow, N-R is very light yellow, and S-Z is light yellow.
- Clarity – With most Diamonds, there is more than meets the naked eye! A diamond is called internally flawless if after examination by an experienced grader, it has been found free of internal characteristics known as “inclusions”. The clarity scale is as follows: Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) and Included (I1, I2, and I3).
- Cut – Is the quality of the final shape of the stone which is directly related to the Diamonds overall beauty and finish. When a diamond has been cut correctly, the stone will reflect and refract light to the best of its abilities. By having a deep understanding of the way the light moves, a modern diamond cutter is able to harness the stones internal brilliance. This grade is considered to be the most crucial one in determining a Diamond’s beauty. The grades range from Ideal to Poor.
5. Consider an Alternative
Did you know that prior to 1930, Diamond engagement rings were not very common at all?
In the recent years, popular alternatives such as Sapphires, Rubies, and Emeralds are making a comeback.
Sapphires more so in particular, not only because the Duchess of Cambridge wears hers so proudly but also in comparison to Diamonds, Sapphire is one of the hardest gemstones (Diamonds rank 10 and Sapphires rank 9 on a 1-10 mineral grading scale called the Mohs scale of hardness), meaning it will hold up well to the everyday banging about.
Be wary though, because almost all coloured stones in the market are heat treated to improve the colour and reduce inclusions.
Non-heat treated gemstones are extremely rare and fetch much higher prices.
Just ask your jeweller to disclose how the stone was treated. Gemstones engagement rings also make for a great alternative as they carry with them tons of hidden secrets and meanings.
6. Ask For Permission – No Matter How Awkward
It doesn’t matter if you just met her family five months ago or if you are already being treated like the son they never had, we advise you to formally ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
It isn’t the most comfortable situation to be in but if you try putting yourself in their shoes, you will agree that the act of asking shows a lot of respect and appreciation for your significant other’s family.
Trust us when we say, they will love you more for it. There is no point being discreet when you are about to embark on this journey together.
7. Buy The Ring and Hide It
Armed with your knowledge and your credit card limit in check do enter confidently into the store.
You might be a newbie to jewellery, but a well prepared person will less likely be duped. So we recommend that you do not buy on the first trip to the store but instead take the time to consider, compare, and bargain.
Finally, after spending all that time, energy and moolah, please don’t ruin the surprise by simply stashing the ring in a place she is likely to stumble upon.
We can’t physically help you here, but try to think about the most unlikely places she will go sniffing around and hide it there until you propose.
Andrew Zo seems to have invented the greatest ring box to keep it hidden.
With all said and done, as tempting as it may be to choose the ring together, a surprise never disappoints… unless you have chosen the wrong ring. We kid.
Although we don’t know your girlfriend, she’s a lucky girl and we are pretty certain she will be overjoyed when you ask her to marry you, beggin’ you to put the ring on it!
Now not to make you feel inadequate but here are some of the most famous celebrity engagement rings.
Check out our range of diamond and gemstone rings here.