So, you’re planning to pop the all-important question? If you’re reading this, we assume you or someone close to you is seriously considering spending the rest of their lives with their beloved. If so, congratulations! Marriage is a wonderful thing, and we know only too well the tremendous pressure that comes with a decision as big as this one.
One of the most stressful and complex aspects of planning your engagement is embodied by that symbol of all symbols: the wedding band. Now, we’re certain that your significant other will be overjoyed no matter how you declare your love, but we, like you, also want to make sure that that special person in your life will be surprised and delighted by your choice of ring. How best to manage your personal connection with all the complex expectations bound up in this ritual of commitment, which is as old as human civilization?
If you feel dizzied by these complexities, dear reader, don’t despair. We at Venus ET Fleur® are more than happy to help you navigate these uncharted waters. We’ve dealt extensively in past articles about engagement celebrations and how to plan the perfect surprise for your soon-to-be affianced.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through the entire process of judging, buying, and presenting the perfect engagement ring, as well as some valuable dos and don'ts. The wise bachelor will grab pen and paper and pay close attention as we dive into how to buy the best engagement ring!
1. Choosing Size and Style, or: Doing Your Homework
This first preliminary step involves striking a careful balance between what you know your beloved wants and expects, while making sure your chosen ring isn’t too similar to something they already own.
We advise you, the erstwhile bachelor, to, if you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the jewelry collection of your partner. Do they favor bright-colored stones, or is theirs a more muted, dichromatic white-and-black palette? Do they generally opt for gold, silver, or metals less traditional? As with any gift, the ring’s effect will be greatly defined by how much it shows you understand the tastes and values of your partner.
At some point in this process, you may be forced to admit that you know less about your partner’s jewelry preferences than their friends and loved ones. We strongly advise you to consult the important people in your significant other’s life, as they will no doubt be delighted to help you—though we recommend you vet all potential conspirators for the ability to keep a secret!
Lastly, but of dire importance, is picking the right ring size. Friends and relatives, as mentioned above, can provide crucial assistance here, as asking your partner straight out for the size of their wedding ring finger is liable to give away all surprise. Don’t make any commitments to the purchase until you’ve double- and triple-checked.
2. Deciding on a Budget
Once you’ve got a general idea of the right style for your significant other, you want to establish a realistic budget. Do this before even beginning to browse jewelry stores. This will help define the parameters for you and will help jewelers show you only options that are within your price range. But how to arrive at this figure?
One of the oldest bits of cultural flotsam floating concerning this subject is that a man is supposed to spend approximately two months’ salary on an engagement ring. Though plenty of people have followed this rule with success, it originated in an advertising campaign put out by the De Beers diamond company during the Great Depression. This campaign persuaded a whole generation of returning GIs that this was the only appropriate amount of money to spend on such a monumental purchase.
In the face of this daunting example, we urge you to buy the nicest ring you can afford. A realistic engagement ring budget shouldn’t go beyond your means. There’s nothing romantic about starting your marriage off in superfluous debt! Many women have reported that they would rather spend their money on a nice honeymoon than an unnecessarily ostentatious piece of jewelry.
We hope it goes without saying that, if you want to propose, don’t delay because you wish to buy a more expensive ring. This piece of jewelry is meant to be a symbol of your love—what will it say about that love if it’s forbidden from thriving until you’ve spent enough money? This author knows several couples that treasure their modest engagement rings, bought during hard-scrabble beginnings long behind them. Opting for prudence today can set us up for success down the road.
3. Start Shopping
These days, there are a million and one options for shopping for jewelry online. From Pinterest to Etsy, engagement rings, both trade-quality and homemade, abound. In spite of all this, we highly recommend you pay a visit to a jeweler yourself, if possible.
Not only does this allow you to benefit from the expertise of a seasoned veteran, there is simply no way to fully represent the beauty and charm of a gem through pictures alone. Married friends and family members may well have the inside scoop as far as a reliable jeweler with whom to do business. If this isn’t possible, however, a good way to start looking in this direction is to search for a jeweler represented by a professional trade organization, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or Jewelers of America (JA). Finding a local business affiliated with either of these organizations is always a great choice.
4. Selecting the Perfect Stone
Here comes another area of the ring-buying process fraught with expectations—the stone. Generations of cultural tradition, combined with the wildly successful De Beers advertising campaign already mentioned, have caused a significant portion of Americans to insist upon diamond as the irreplaceable standard for an engagement ring stone.
As with the question of price, we think it’s best to hold fast to tradition only if it has meaning for you. If diamond doesn’t appeal to the tastes of your partner, you shouldn’t feel any pressure to buy one. More than likely, they will appreciate a stone more in tune with their sense of self, whether that’s something more colorful like a sapphire or emerald or something truly unique such as topaz or black opal.
Recent reporting has shown that millennials getting engaged today are opting for fewer diamonds and, generally, less expensive engagement rings. This has much to do with shifting attitudes regarding diamonds as the absolute necessity for your engagement ring.
However, if you and your partner have your hearts set on a diamond ring, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how these classic stones are, well, classified. Traditional parlance grades diamonds according to the four Cs: carat, cut, clarity, and color. Striking a balance between these characteristics can help ensure you get the best diamond for your engagement ring.
That being said, you don’t need a D-grade flawless diamond to express your love to your partner. More important than its technical grading is that the stone looks and feels right to you and, we hope, your beloved on whom it will be worn.
5. Choose, Buy, and Insure
So. You’re at a point where you’ve done your due diligence; you’ve consulted with her girlfriends, reached out to jewelers, local or otherwise, and canvassed their stock for marks of craftsmanship and care. You’ve chosen a stone, a setting, an aesthetic that you feel will perfectly reflect and complement the unique qualities of your significant other.
Our next suggested step is to take a breath and a step back. A huge decision like this is not easy, and it always helps to sleep on it. You shouldn’t be in a rush, after all. It typically takes 6-8 weeks for a custom ring to be finished. After the appropriate time waited… it’s time to buy it. Make sure that, in the interim, you get a detailed receipt from your jeweler, as this can come in handy if the finished product doesn’t match your expectations.
Lastly, we cannot overemphasize the importance of getting the ring insured once purchased. If you have an existing homeowners policy, very often they’ll allow you to fold the ring in. Or, plenty of companies can sign out a separate jewelry insurance policy. This may involve getting the ring appraised by a third party.
6. The Grand Finale (or New Beginning?): Popping the Question
Here we won’t go into great detail, as we’ve spent a great deal of time discussing rings (check out our past article on the subject for more). Suffice it to say that the presentation of the ring is a process all its own, with another set of customs, expectations, and delightful variety in the ways to execute it perfectly.
At Venus ET Fleur, we believe that roses are a timeless and flawless way to commemorate romance. One of our Small Round Eternity® Rose arrangements would be perfect for the occasion—and because these are Eternity Roses, they will last for a full year given proper care, giving you the chance to enjoy their charm and fragrance throughout the entire first year of your engagement.
We hope this brief guide has been helpful to all of you contemplating the monumental decision of proposing marriage. And we hope you are able to use these resources to find the perfect engagement ring to complement and symbolize your true love.
Congratulations, and good luck from all of us at Venus ET Fleur.