Before You Ask “The Question”, Here are 5 Tips to start
This is an exciting time, starting a new life with your partner. And buying an engagement ring is a big step toward that new life. Here’s some advice on picking the perfect ring:
1- Select the jeweler you want to work with
Let’s be honest, buying an engagement isn’t like going down to Publix for a loaf of bread. There’s a lot at stake here: your money, your partner’s happiness with the ring, and your own satisfaction with the purchase. A professional jeweler can advise you on the more nuanced aspects of ring buying and choosing diamonds. Elements to consider include cut, clarity, grading of color and stone, selecting the metal setting, and certifications.
To help choose a jeweler, get recommendations from family, friends, and co-workers. Knowing a real person had a positive experience with a jeweler will go a long toward having peace of mind about a process that can be intimidating.
Also, any jeweler you work with should have an industry organization affiliation. Stores accredited by the Jewelers of America that are members of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) have committed to best practices and high standards for customer service. Independent stores often have long-time ties in their communities, verifiable experience, and a reputation for reliability. And to be fair, large chain stores often have sales and can be a good choice.
Also, you’ll want to find out about a store’s return policy. The option to exchange a stone is a real benefit should it be necessary later on. You want to be able to at least exchange the stone if it turns out to be not the one you (and your partner) want.
2- Select the shape you want
A diamond’s shape is the start of the selection process, and one key to being happy with your choice. Round brilliants are the most popular diamond shape because they have the most light reflecting qualities no matter what their size. Choosing a more distinctive shape such as an emerald cut or an oval is a personal preference; some people just like a more unusual stone shape. If you don’t know what your partner prefers, and you want the presentation to be a surprise, take a look at any gemstones they already have, and ask their family and friends.
3- Select the carat weight
Carat weight, of course, affects the size of the stone, and it’s one of the 4Cs of diamond selection. Chris Atwell, Title Here of Coast to Coast Jewelry and Coin, reminds us, “A stone doesn’t have to be bigger to be better. Consider too how shape and cut will affect the look, and remember the relative size of the stone compared to your partner’s hand.” Carat weight also directly affects the pricing, so you can consider slightly under key weight sizes–1.8 carats or .9 carats–that can make the purchase more budget friendly.
4- Select the metal of the setting
The setting is the metal frame that holds the stone. The classic choice, of course, is gold. This metal actually comes in colors, the metal having a slight tint visible to the naked eye, including white, yellow, and rose. Many engagement rings are made from platinum because it’s durable and a good choice for those with sensitive skin. The color of the stone will also affect this choice, and your jeweler will be able to help you with the selection. A gold diamond, honestly, may not look quite right with a classic gold ring. Conversely, a rose stone can look stunning against platinum.
Diamond colors are also graded. The goal is to have a stone that looks white. Color grades range from D to Z, and usually diamonds in the G to I range have that crucial white appearance. They’re a more cost effective choice too; you don’t necessarily have to pay for a D grade diamond.
Also, the stone’s shape will show its color; oval cuts reflect light and color differently from emerald cuts. Your jeweler will have good advice on how to balance these elements for a perfect ring.
5- Select a jeweler that offers certification
A certification for your stone is a diamond-grading report issued by an independent gemological association such as the GIA or the American Gem Society. This is a promise that the stone you’ve purchased is of the grade, color, weight, and cut that you wanted. The certification can also include the stone’s 4 Cs, shape, dimensions and any cosmetic enhancements. If there are any other factors that affect value—such as being an antique, created by a particular designer, or being handmade, that should be noted on the certification as well.
Choosing an engagement ring will be easier by following these five steps. Best wishes for your shopping and your new life with your partner.