Engagement Rings

Guidelines to Engagement Rings

Now that you have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with it is time to find the perfect ring for the perfect girl. The whole engagement process can be quite daunting at best, between planning where to propose as well as how and what to say - you now have to worry about getting the ring as well. So we have put together some guidelines to at least make choosing the engagement ring a little less stressful.

How much should you spend

First and foremost, you’ve got to figure out what your budget is and how much you would feel comfortable spending. Keep in mind that, yes, this ring does signify a very important time in your life but it is just a piece of jewellery and not necessarily worth going into debt over.

That being said an engagement ring can also be a big investment, one that your family could pass down through future generations.

So naturally, this decision is different for everyone and if you are in a tight situation you can always find out from the jewellers if they have any payment plans available.

What you need to know

Some aspects are important to know to make sure she will love your choice of ring.

Style - A good way to determine this is to look at her fashion sense, is she really polished and put together, or more of the wash and wear type. You can also get a good idea by noting her taste in jewellery, does she tend to go for the bulky look or more in the finer line.

Lifestyle - Consider her job and the type of lifestyle she enjoys, if she is more of an outdoorsy person with an active job you will have to look for something that is more durable. On the other hand, if she prefers to stay in watching a movie and works in an office, you can be a bit more flamboyant with the ring styles.

Size - This is probably the most important thing to know, the last thing you want is to pop the question and the ring is too small or keeps falling off. Naturally the best way to be 100% sure is to ask her directly - obviously this way she will know what is coming; but she won’t know when or how. However, if you prefer to keep it a surprise there are a couple of ways you can go:

  1. Wait until she leaves the house and check out her jewellery collection, try to find a ring you’ve seen her wear on her ring finger (left hand). You can then either slip the ring on your own finger and make a mark to where it goes (this usually works better if you go to the jeweller right away before the mark washes off), or you can simply take the ring with you and just make sure to have it back in its place before she can notice its gone.
  2. Ask around - there might be a chance that her best friend or mother/sister might know her ring size. This can be a long shot as most people don’t even know their own ring size never mind someone else’s, but maybe it’s worth the shot.
  3. This is probably the easiest option - print out a ring size guide and when she is out you can simply match one of her rings to the guide to find the right size.
  4. If she is not the type to wear rings and she does not have any jewellery for you to use you can ask a female friend or family member to help. Arrange with her to come visit (wearing a couple of rings) and work into the conversation a way for your girlfriend to try the rings on.

Something to take note of is that the ring finger on her less dominant hand is likely to be a bit smaller. So, if she’s right-handed, her left ring finger is probably about a quarter size or so smaller than its right hand counterpart.

So now you have managed to get the ring, you ask the question….and the ring is the wrong size. Don’t stress about this….without physically fitting the ring to her finger before buying it you cannot be 100% sure about the size and besides - you just asked her to marry you….the last thing she is going to worry about is that the ring is not a perfect fit. Once all the excitement of getting engaged is over and you have had some time to let it sink in, you can simply head back to the jeweller and get that ring sized to perfection.

What to consider

When considering the look and feel of the ring you need to take into account her style as well as lifestyle (as mention earlier) so you can get a good idea of what style of ring you should lean towards. Once you know this you can look at the finer details:

The 4 C’s

Cut - Contrary to popular belief this does not refer to the actual shape of the diamond, but rather the diamond’s ability to transmit light and sparkle. Each diamond has a cut grade - and the higher the quality, the better light is able to pass through the stone.

Colour - The colour is rated on a scale from D (100% clear) to Z (extremely yellow or brown). In general, the clearer a diamond is the better - and more expensive. A good selection to go with here is from G to H range, as it provides good quality for a fair price.

Clarity - Diamonds are created when carbon is exposed to extreme heat and pressure, and they often come out with some imperfections (blemishes and inclusions). The clarity of a diamond is determined by evaluating how noticeable these imperfections are by evaluate the number, position and/or size of these marks. There’s no such thing as a flawless diamond, but the closer to perfection, the higher the quality.

Carat - This refers to the weight of the diamond (1 carat = 1/5g) and is generally thought of as being the most important aspect. Many people think bigger is better and sure, large diamonds are rarer than small ones - and therefore more expensive - but not necessarily better quality. If they are cut poorly or have a low clarity rating, they won’t necessarily be very beautiful - so don’t disregard the other “Cs” in favour of the biggest rock you can afford. In general, the cut and clarity of the diamond is more important than the carat, as those play a bigger part in whether or not a diamond appears to be perfect.

On this point you can also look at other types of gemstones, which can be pricier but allow for a wider variety of colours.

The shape and size of the ring is also important to consider, different rings flatter different finger/hand types:

Short hand shapes - Go for a smaller sized diamond along with a narrow-width bands as this will create the illusion of longer fingers and makes everything appears to be well proportioned.

  • Shapes to Wear: small round, small asscher, marquise. princess, oval, pear
  • Shapes to Avoid: large round, emerald, heart

Long hand shapes - Here you have many options, as long fingers can accommodate many different shapes and band widths - although wider bands tend to complement length. You can also get away with unique options like an asymmetrical-set oval cut diamond or more of a bold style.

  • Shapes to Wear: round, emerald, cushion, princess, oval, asscher
  • Shapes to Avoid: marquise, radiant, pear

Wide hand shapes - The trick to choosing a ring for wide fingers is to find a style that doesn’t show too much skin on either side of the ring, this will make the fingers look more slender. So, go for a heftier diamond with a medium to thick band - angular shapes and asymmetrical designs both minimize the width of the finger. Don’t pick dainty shapes as it that will appear too frail and can make her fingers look thicker.

  • Shapes to Wear: round diamond with cluster, radiant, marquise (set on the horizontal), princess, oval, pear, rectangular or emerald
  • Shapes to Avoid: marquise (Traditional), emerald

Thin hand shapes - When choosing a ring for slender fingers, the main consideration is not to overpower them. Similar to short fingers you will want to look at smaller stones but with a thicker band, they can help make thin fingers appear wider

  • Shapes to Wear: round, emerald, cushion, princess, oval, pear
  • Shapes to Avoid: radiant, heart

Something to keep in mind is that certain shaped diamonds like round or elongated stones, such as oval, emerald, and marquis shapes tend to look larger than their carat weight

Lastly you need to look at the metal - again, this is very dependent on her personal style and by this time you should have a good idea what her preference is. Consider the jewellery she has, if she has no gold jewellery it is unlikely that she would want a gold engagement ring. However, if she does not prefer one above the other you can make a good judgement based on the colours she likes - for cooler colours like blues and greens, you can consider going with platinum or silver. But if she likes warm colours like reds, oranges, etc., gold might be a better option. Otherwise simply go for the mixed option, mixing white and gold together allows her the best of both worlds - look at setting the diamond in a platinum or white gold setting, the cooler metal highlights the diamond’s brilliance and will give the ring an overall sparkling affect.

Problem areas

Here are a couple of thing you need to take into consideration before you commit to a ring.

Is the ring top heavy - If the stone is too big or there is too much metal in the setting, the ring will have a tendency to turn which can be uncomfortable and very annoying if she has to keep turning it the right way up.

Does the setting/band have sharp edges - This characteristic is often overlooked, but any sharp edges or pointed parts can actually hurt her and make the ring uncomfortable to wear.

How thin is the ring’s band - Your wedding ring is something you are planning to wear for the rest of your life so naturally with time the ring will wear down - and if the band is very thin on purchase it won’t be long before it becomes thin enough to bend or even break.

What is the setting - Make sure you know the pros and cons of your chosen setting. For example, channel settings look great but are not easy to repair and invisible settings are ideal but the stones in them are not held as securely as e.g. prong settings - but prong settings are more expensive to rebuild or repair. You also need to check if the setting is prone to catching in your clothes or hair.

Is the stone setting too high - Every lady wants her gemstone to be prominent and visible, but if it sits too high it will be prone to damage as it will be more likely to get bumped.

How durable is the metal - The softer metals like gold or silver tend to scratch more easily and wear down more quickly. So, if you require a more durable ring you can look at alternatives such as platinum - but this is more expensive.

Quick tips

  • If she has sensitive skin, consider platinum. This metal is naturally hypoallergenic, so there’s no chance of her having a reaction towards it.
  • If you are considering having the ring custom made and you want to propose on a specific day (e.g. birthday or anniversary), you need to make sure that you order the ring well in advance as some rings can take a few weeks to prepare.
  • If you are buying a diamond ring, ask to see the stone’s certificate in order to verify its quality.
  • Women usually wear their engagement rings day in and day out and with time the ring can lose its shine. It is recommend that you take the ring in for cleaning about once or twice a year.
  • If your ring is plated with gold or white gold, keep in mind that the plating will wear off with time, and you will need to have the ring replated every couple of years or so.

Some questions to ask regarding the jeweller

  1. Is the jeweller established and credentialed?
  2. Does the jeweller offer the necessary services?
    1. They should offer an array of services to help you choose your ring and with needs that are likely to pop up down the road. So look for the following:
      1. An in-house gemmologist who’s trained in the properties of precious and semi-precious stones and can guide you in finding the right stone for your style and budget.
      2. Are they knowledgeable and able to answer your questions with confidence and ease
      3. Can they repair or resize the ring.
      4. If required someone who can make custom designed pieces.
  3. Does the store offer a wide selection?
    1. You’ll want to be sure you have plenty of ring styles to choose from.
  4. What are the jeweller’s policies around warranties and returns?
    1. Can the jeweller provide the ring you want in the timeframe you need? And just to cover all possible bases, make sure you understand the jeweller’s warranty and return policy. You never know how good of a fit a ring will be before you have worn it for a couple of days.
  5. Does the jeweller make you feel comfortable?
    1. Do they listen to you and give you relevant advice and suggestions? Do you get the sense that he/she truly want to help you find the perfect ring, or is he/she just trying to make a sale.