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How to Choose the Right Engagement Ring for Your Future Mrs.

 

Learning how to choose the right engagement ring

You remember the first time you saw her.

It may have been love at first sight. It may not have been, but you felt that strange “something” when she walked into the room. Or maybe you were “just friends”… until you weren’t anymore.

Whatever the case, your heart is telling you that she’s the one you want to spend the rest of your life with and what’s more, your head is in agreement. If either had hands, they’d be high-fiving. So the next step is the ring.

It’s likely you’ve been informed already that the ring matters. It REALLY matters.

It can’t be just any ring. You need to pick the perfect ring for her. Whether you pick something classic or create your own new design – it has to be perfect.

And we know there is a rather (ahem)… sizable selection of engagement rings for women to be found. But fear not! Your perfect engagement ring is out there. And this guide we’ve put together will teach you exactly how to choose the right engagement ring for your future Mrs.

Learning how to choose the right engagement ring for women is not as hard as you think.

While it’s not unusual for couples to ring shop together, there’s something beautiful and romantic about going it alone. That whole rugged venturing into unchartered territory thing. Kudos to you!

So be not overwhelmed, explorer, by the vast sea of engagement rings for women. This list of considerations will help you navigate any stormy seas.

Don’t worry. You’ve got this.

1. Engage in Engagement Ring Espionage

So you’re going the traditionalist route and looking to surprise her with a ring she’ll love. The first rule, pay attention.

Notice her jewelry preferences. For example, does she prefer silver/platinum to yellow gold? Is she more inclined toward vintage, classic or modern jewelry? How does she feel about diamonds?

Give yourself a few weeks to watch and take mental notes. (Yes, mental. Written notes could be intercepted.)

Also, consider getting some backup – in the form of her best friends and/or her siblings. They can be hugely helpful further down the road.

And by all means, swear them to secrecy.

2. Where Do You Go Now?

Once you’ve gathered the important information from your espionage activities, you can start your jeweler search.

Ask married friends and family members who currently sport engagement rings where they went. If that doesn’t generate any leads, check for stores with an industry organization affiliation. Jewelers accredited by the Jewelers of America or members of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) are good places to start.

Always find out what a store’s return policy is too. You want to be able to exchange the stone if it’s not exactly the one she wants. (Don’t start sweating. This is a just in case.)

And finally, if you’re working from a humanitarian bent, you may consider shopping at jewelers who sell only conflict-free diamonds and who adhere to a strict, zero-tolerance policy toward conflict diamonds. Be sure they deal with only reputable diamond suppliers who participate in the System of Warranties and follow the guidelines of the Kimberley Process.

3. The Engagement Ring Erector Set

So now you’re well-informed on your soon-to-be fiancé’s preferences, gathered your band of secret-keeping sidekicks and picked out the jeweler.

So, here’s the thing. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll happen upon the ring as you walk into the store. Perfect. Because now you get to do the cool part. You get to build the perfect engagement ring.

You will need to consider a few things in the construction:

“The 4 Cs”

If the stone is going to be a diamond, you need to know these four characteristics of the stone in regards to quality. They are Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight.

  • The more colorless a diamond is, the closer to perfection it is. When purchasing a diamond, less color means a higher quality stone.
  • Diamonds with more clarity and the fewest amount of flaws such as inclusions and blemishes are considered more valuable.
  • A diamond’s cut grade is proportionate with how well it interacts with light. The higher the grade, the more dazzling the diamond.
  • Diamonds are measured in carats, so the carat weight of your diamond has a huge effect on its price. (The phrase karat with a “k” refers to the purity of gold.)

A qualified jeweler will help you better determine these four characteristics.

Shape

While cut refers to the angles of the facets of the stone, shape refers to the actual geometry of the stone. Is it square, oval, round, etc.?

Setting

The metal framework which will hold the stone you’ve chosen can set the tone for her special engagement ring.

Metal

When it comes to the band, there are a variety of metals to choose from.

Platinum is super durable. It’s also hypoallergenic so it’s a good choice if she has sensitive skin.

Gold is softer and more diverse. It comes in a variety colors, including white, yellow, rose, and even green.

Palladium sounds like a roller skating rink but is actually a metal in a hue that is similar to platinum, but grayer.

Inscription

This is optional, of course. But having an inscription ensures that her ring will be one-of-a-kind and right from your heart.

4. You Can Budge on Your Budget

The old advice was that you should spend two months salary on a woman’s engagement ring.

The new advice says to simply buy the best ring you can without going into major debt or selling an organ.

If your wife-to-be leans toward the extravagant while your budget leans in the other direction, that’s workable. Maybe get a ring with a slightly larger surface area. It won’t be as impactful, but a one-carat ring will look much larger if the stone isn’t set as deep.

If you’d rather keep the look of the stone intact, here’s a helpful tip. Buying just shy of the next carat – for example, opting for a 1.8 instead of a 2 – can garner a savings of nearly 20%.

As for clarity, buying on the shyer side can still give you plenty of sparkle. Many defects are not even visible to the naked eye.

5. Get It in Writing

This one is no joke.

Diamonds that are one carat or larger should be accompanied by a diamond grading report issued by an independent gemological association such as the GIA or the American Gem Society.

You might also get a “fingerprint” of your ring on the bill of sale, which would include the stone’s 4 Cs, shape, dimensions, and any cosmetic enhancements.

If there is anything else that affects its value, i.e. if it was made by a famous designer, is an antique or period piece, or is handmade or custom-designed, this should also be noted.

Get it on paper, man.

6. Now Sit Back (or Pace the Floor) for Several Weeks

Now that you know how to choose the right engagement ring, keep in mind that once you order the ring, there will be a waiting time. It could potentially take up to six weeks to arrive, maybe longer if you’re having it custom designed. But it will be worth the wait.

Just know that if her best friends and/or siblings are starting to champ at the bit to spill the beans, you may need to resort to bribery. Chances are, they’re almost as excited for her to get it as you are.

Congratulations and good luck! She’s going to love it.

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How to Choose Your Bridesmaids

Despite the fact that you probably have a couple of girls in mind even before you’ve got the ring on your finger, choosing bridesmaids is not a decision to be made lightly. While family members are often the first to be selected (sisters, cousins, soon-to-be sisters-in-law), the process can prove problematic if you have a relative that you simply don’t get along with and would like to exclude. And when it comes to friends, the potential for hurt feelings can ratchet up even higher (after all, you choose your friends while you have no say over the family you get stuck with). So how do you go about picking the individuals who will stand beside you on the most important day of your life?

The best way to start is to make a list of potential candidates. Include only women who are close to you and that you share a strong connection with (that is likely to remain strong). There’s nothing worse than looking back at wedding photos and wondering: who was that lady from the office that ended up in your wedding party (and then disappeared from your life when you switched jobs)? By starting with a list of only close friends and family, you can avoid this unfortunate situation.

Next, consider the role that bridesmaids must play. Remember that they have certain obligations where the wedding (and planning) is concerned. This might make their location and their level of commitment an issue. Those who are distant (geographically) will still need to be fitted for a dress and they will have to show up early to attend the rehearsal. And you’ll likely want them present for the bridal shower and bachelorette party (if you plan to have these events). So maybe you’d be better off choosing only women who live in the area (unless you’re planning a destination wedding, which makes it a moot point).

But even worse than being far away is being flaky. You don’t need the added stress of having to track down bridesmaids for important functions. You should also keep in mind that the maid (or matron) of honor is on the hook for several duties (throwing a shower, arranging a bachelorette party, and handling a number of other details). So you’ll definitely want someone who is responsible and trustworthy to fill this role. In short, you shouldn’t worry so much about hurting feelings. Someone is going to feel neglected no matter what you do. As long as you surround yourself with women who are reliable, capable, and caring, you’ll ensure that your wedding goes off without a hitch.

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Rules for Choosing a Wedding Band

If he popped the question by giving you the perfect engagement ring, then you are one of the lucky few women whose man actually has a sense of her style. Congratulations! Now all you have to do is pick the wedding bands. This may sound simple in comparison to perusing engagement rings, but in fact, it can be even more difficult. Considering that you both have to choose the rings that will symbolize a lifetime of love and devotion, there are several factors that will come into play. Here are a few rules to help you out.

1. Consider your engagement ring. When you go to choose wedding bands, you may want to select a style that goes with your engagement ring. Since you are likely to wear them together frequently, you don’t want them to clash.

2. To match or not to match? That is the question. Many couples like the idea of a traditional set of wedding bands that matches (usually with a slightly larger band for the man) since it symbolizes unity. However, modern practice holds that this is unnecessary. Today, women tend to choose a band that goes well with their engagement ring (or even combine the two into one band) while men seem to like comfort-fit bands that may not be as attractive, but are certainly easier to wear on a daily basis.

3. Choose a metal. One thing you will want to match is metal. It simply won’t do for him to have a gold band when yours is platinum. And often this is dictated by the metal featured in the engagement ring.

4. Choose a style. Again, you should settle on a style that both of you can live with. Some couples prefer plain bands while others opt for diamond studs or a Celtic motif. You can keep it simple or jazz it up, but be sure you’re on the same page. There is some amount of leeway for disparity amongst rings, but in general, the symbolism of the rings is lost if you go in two completely different directions.

5. Don’t steamroll him. Men don’t have that many options when it comes to jewelry and in fact, most guys don’t even like to wear much. Take into account that he’s opting to show the world how much he loves to you by donning this ring every day for the rest of his life. So let him have a say in what he’ll be wearing. You got the engagement ring of your dreams, so give him a little latitude when it comes to the wedding band. If you really don’t like the set he selects, you can always combine your wedding and engagement band into one ring.

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Things to Consider When Buying a Man’s Wedding Ring

Even though he picked your engagement ring on his own (or with a little help from your friends and family), choosing the actual wedding rings is something you want to do together. A lot of couples simply opt to get matching rings, although some women choose a band that is better suited to their engagement ring (or simply go with a 2-in-1 combination band). However, this may be the one and only piece of jewelry your man ever wears, so you want to make sure he gets something he likes (since he’s going to have to live with it until death do you part). It needs to be something special and you can do a lot to ensure that he’s happy with it.

For starters, it needs to be comfortable. Men are all about what feels right. They might not seem terribly particular when it comes to clothing, shoes, and underwear, but you may have noticed that when they find something they like, they buy it in bulk. This is because they have a notion that it doesn’t really matter how something looks as long as it’s comfortable (a concept many women have a difficult time grasping). So, to ensure that he finds a wedding band that suits his aesthetic, have him try on a number of rings until he finds one that feels the best (and don’t allow your aesthetic sensibilities to interfere). Keep in mind that many companies make comfort-fit bands with rounded edges in a number of very nice styles, so you may want to look for these innovative brands.

Next you’ll want to consider how the ring looks. It doesn’t have to match your wedding band, but you don’t want it to be totally dissimilar, either. At the very least, you should choose the same metal. It’s going to look awfully strange if your band is platinum and his is gold. And you may want to stick with a similar theme, as well. For example, say your ring is ultra-modern and festooned with diamonds. He may not want a ring with gemstones on it, and that is perfectly acceptable. But he shouldn’t make a beeline for the Celtic knot designs. If that’s something he wants, then perhaps you should consider getting both rings in that style.

In short, you may need to make some concessions. Men and women often have very different ideas about what is most important when it comes to items that will adorn their bodies, and people in general have different notions of what is attractive. So consider this your first challenge of compromise in your newly solidified relationship and think about letting him have his way just this once (or at least convince him that your way was his idea in the first place)!

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5 Best Ways to Buy a Diamond

1. In person. Of course, the best way to get what you want is to hold it in your hand and take a look. However, visiting a retailer almost guarantees that you’re going to pay a boatload of extra cash (they have to pay the cost of operating a storefront, and then there is the inevitable markup). So instead of approaching your purchase by visiting brand-name stores, go to your local jewelry district (or make a trip to a nearby city that has one) so that you can get the best prices and practice your rusty haggling skills. By the way, bring cash.

2. Online. Although it can be difficult to tell the value of a diamond by a photo, the grades don’t lie. So learn all you can about cut, color, clarity, and carat so that you can make an informed decision without ever seeing the stone. You stand to save a lot of money since e-tailers generally apply a substantially smaller markup and they lack the extra overhead of running a physical location for their business. Just make sure your diamond comes with certification papers and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you have time for an independent appraisal before you commit.

3. At auction. If you’re looking for something special, you may have some luck buying it at auction. While diamonds sold on the block are generally pretty fancy (and come with a higher price tag) you may be able to get them for a steal if you don’t have much competition (and there is no minimum placed on the item).

4. At an estate sale. Another great way to find antique or interesting stones is by frequenting estate sales. Since the family of the deceased is often looking to clear out a lot of merchandise in a short amount of time, you may be able to get some pieces with undesirable or outdated settings for a bargain and then reset the stones at a later date.

5. Loose. Many times, you will pay a lot for the setting that comes with the stone. But if you know a reputable jeweler, you want to create a unique and personal setting, or you think you can get the setting for less somewhere else, simply buy the stone loose. Not only will you be able to get a closer look at it (and probably a quicker appraisal), but you can also negotiate a better deal on the price of an unset stone.

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How to Insure Your Diamond Jewelry

Like most valuable items in your home, diamonds can be covered by insurance. Not only can you insure your diamonds, but considering their value, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. However, there are a couple of steps you must take first and a few options available where coverage is concerned, so there are a few things you should know to get started.

To begin with, you need to know the value of your diamonds. That means you’ll have to take your collection to a jeweler and get each stone individually appraised. This can get a bit pricey if you have a lot of items, but considering the cost of replacing them after theft or damage, the price of appraisal is minute. Upon completion, you will receive a certification stating the particulars of each diamond and its estimated value, which can be used to determine your coverage. You should make copies and photos to provide your insurance company.

So what options are there where insurance is concerned? Really, there are three types, and only you can decide which one is right for your collection. The most commonly used coverage is called “Replacement Value” and it covers the cost to replace your property. This is the least expensive coverage because your diamonds can often be replaced at a much lower cost than their stated value. You could also select the “Cash Value” option, which will pay out the current market value of your merchandise (although the price of diamonds, as with other commodities, is constantly fluctuating, so depending on when you need to cash in your policy, you may not even receive the amount you paid for your stones).

Finally, you can opt for one last type of coverage, which is called “Valued At” insurance. It is not very commonly used and there are two reasons. It tends to be the most the most expensive option, and insurance companies don’t generally like to offer it because they must pay out an agreed upon value for the items covered. This means if you have a diamond that you purchased for $1,000, but the value at the time of coverage is agreed to be $1,200, that is what they will pay you, even if it is only worth $800 at the time of theft or irreparable damage. Most insurance companies are loath to pay even a fraction of what something is worth, much less more than it’s worth, so you can understand why they charge more for this coverage.

In any case, you will have to choose the insurance that best suits your needs and your budget, but being aware of the steps necessary to get the proper insurance and knowing the different options available is a good first step towards making sure you get the value out of your diamonds in the event of accident or theft.