You can't just pop into any old jewelers, pick out a ring, and pay for it. You wouldn't buy a car or a computer that way; you'd shop around, compare prices and ask for specs, right? Large jewelry purchases, especially engagement rings, require the same smart-buying skills you've perfected over the years, applied to particularly sparkly slivers of rock.
* If you're going traditional, the diamond is the most important part of her ring. Generally, you should keep an eye out for the '''The 4 C's''':
** '''Cut''': This indicates not the shape of the diamond, but the polish and symmetry of the stone, and how it was processed from its original, rough form. Round brilliant is the most popular diamond cut.
** '''Color''': Anything less than clear is impure, but some women may prefer the charm of something in a brown, blue, black or pink. While colorful diamonds and mixed sets have developed a certain cachet, white diamonds are still preferred for engagement rings.
** '''Clarity''': Diamond clarity refers to both interior and surface flaws. Flawed or cloudy diamonds are less sparkly and worth less than flawless stones. Consult the GIA site for more information on diamond clarity.
** '''Carat''': The mass of the diamond. The bigger the stone, the more carats, and the higher the cost.
* '''Shape''': Not one of the 4 C's, but still vital. It's an aesthetic choice that the presumed bride-to-be will probably want to make herself. That said, the most common diamond shapes are as follows.
* There are lots of other choices to consider when picking out a ring. You might want to eschew the diamond altogether and go with colorful gemstones, such as rubies, sapphires, and emeralds; these are becoming more popular.
** Sapphire engagement rings have enjoyed a revival in recent decades, with Princess Diana's engagement ring, now Kate Middleton's engagement ring, setting the trend.
** Alternatives to diamonds can be seen as a way around the controversy concerning diamond mining practices.
** Opals and pearls are usually avoided because they are softer stones that can scratch relatively easily.
There are only a few metals widely available for jewelry:
There's no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the ring setting and stone design. Just watch out for a poor setting, as it can snag on a sweater or come loose. If you can get a sense of what to buy beforehand, you'll both be much happier. This kind of investigating will either take a concrete discussion or lots of not-so-subtle prying. However, if you're getting married, you're going to have to have a lot of important discussions sooner or later, so you might as well practice now. Check out a few different ring settings below.
Jokes aside, size matters to a lady. While the stone's size is up to your judgment, taste, and budget, the ring has to fit her finger or it's no good. In other words, '''make sure you know her ring size'''. If you're not going to take her shopping with you, you might have to be a little sneaky when figuring this out.