First, decide on a budget together. If the man is the one who will be putting out the cash for the ring, then be respectful of his boundaries. If you plan on purchasing it together, then it should be a joint decision. This is probably the hardest part of the whole process; it could be the first time you and your significant other really talk about finances. Probably the best advice I could offer anyone who is going to be purchasing an engagement ring is that the cost of the ring has no bearing on how stable your relationship is or how much your S/O loves you. Also, as a female, keep in mind how your ring talk can come off. For instance, I would point out huge Tacori rings and say "Wow what an amazing ring. Can you imagine wearing that every day?" To me, this was just a passing comment much like if Brett were to say "Look at that Ferrari... I would love to commute in that every day." But to Brett he took it more as "I will be ticked right off if that's not what you propose with". Classic miscommunication - be aware of this.
Next, know what will drive up the cost. Diamond cost is directly related to four things: cut, clarity, color, and carat. Keep in mind I am not a diamond expert, this is just what we learned during our ring search. I suggest getting a more thorough run down of these concepts by an actual jeweller.
1. Cut refers to the number of "cuts" (facets) on the diamond itself, rather than its actual shape. Each flat surface on a diamond is a cut.
|Illustration of diamond cuts. Source.|
3. Color is pretty self explanatory. The best rating of color is a D (totally clear) and then ranges down from that. It goes from clear and then like an ombre to yellow. J is where the naked eye can usually detect a slight yellowish tinge to the diamond.
4. Carat is what you hear about the most and talks about the size of the diamond. Most experts will say that you should choose a diamond lastly because of it's carat weight.
Hopefully I didn't lose you in all those technicalities. Onto more fun stuff now.
Look around on the internet together before heading out to a store. Some sales people can get really pushy and you need to have an idea of what you want before facing them. Pinterest is always a good source for this. To help decide on your personal ring style, ask yourself these questions:
1. What is my personal clothing style like? Classic, preppy, bohemian, etc.?
2. Do I prefer angular rings with one large center stone and not much on the band or a ring that has more "flow".
3. What is my favorite shape for a center stone (Round Brilliant, Princess, Marquis, etc.)
4. What metal do we want to use (be sure to match this to your skin tone. I loved rose gold but the red undertones in my skin couldn't handle the look).
5. What kind of center stone do I want? Diamonds aren't all that is out there. You could be like Princess Di and go for a sapphire (this is what we did), or do something different like an emerald (I love this one). Doing something other than a diamond can also help cut your costs. Just keep in mind the strength of the stone. Precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies are hard enough to stand up to every day wear without scuffing but other stones (like aquamarine) might not be able - ask your jeweller about this.
Also, don't forget about the wedding band (arguably the most important ring of the two). Do you want something with diamonds? Does your work permit you to have something with diamonds? I had to get a plain band for work because of infection control policy. Often, engagement rings and wedding bands are sold in sets, but that's not to say you have to buy them together. My ring came with a diamond band, but we only purchased the engagement ring because we knew I couldn't have a diamond band for nursing.
Now that you have an idea of what you want, it is time to decide whether you are going to go to the store alone or together. Brett and I went together, but the downside of this is that I knew he had the ring somewhere and I couldn't see it (since he didn't propose until a few weeks after he bought it).
Lastly, remember that service sells. Brett had bought a lot of my other jewelry from Heinrichs in Saskatoon and had always gotten good service. Naturally this is where we went for the final purchase of our engagement ring and we were not disappointed.
Now just to wait for the proposal...
Hope that this could help! Any questions or comments? Leave me one in the comments section!