People dream about their wedding since they were little kids. Every little girl imagines what her wedding will be like, what her dress will look like, and what it will feel to walk down the aisle. But perhaps the most romanticized item of all is the engagement ring. It’s the thing that she’ll show off to all her friends, and symbol of her excitement, and a tangible icon that you’ve made things official: you’re tying the knot, and there’s a ring on her finger to prove it.
With all of this expectation and imaginings, there’s no surprise that there’s a lot of pressure on the groom to find the perfect engagement ring. Of course, there are some couples who shop together, who peruse the stores and talk about styles, and some still who wait until after the question has been popped to even choose the ring, but there’s something special about getting an engagement ring as a surprise (or a semi-surprise), when the groom gets down on one knee and hands his bride-to-be the little ring box filled with something wondrous and magical inside. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and everyone wants it to be perfect, but how is the groom to know what she wants? And how is the bride to give hints?
Well, we’ll leave the secret machinations of clandestine ring shopping to someone else, and we’ll just talk about what all there is to know about an engagement ring–the things you need to know if you’re going to find the perfect one and bring that ecstatic smile to her face.
Know Her Style
Not every ring is for every woman. Some women are simply enthralled with an array of diamonds in a beautiful pattern, and some want a single gorgeous solitaire that stands out on its own. While there are still some people who never discuss marriage before the fact and the ring is a total surprise, it’s more common for couples to stop by stores as they walk through a mall and point to the rings they like and don’t like. Women might have bridal magazines with pictures circled or pages dog-eared, and any man would be wise to watch for these clues to get an impression of the kind of ring she’s looking for.
We’re all for a little surprise, but what is more important than surprise is a lifetime of satisfaction, and if you have to sacrifice a little bit of the shock value of pulling out a totally unexpected ring in exchange for getting a ring that you know she’ll love, it’s probably best to fall on the side of communication.
Some typical styles are the traditional and elegant engagement rings, usually showcasing a single diamond in the center often with a precious metal band. Other traditional rings include the three-stone rings.
On the other hand, she might be going for something more stylish and now when it comes to rings, and being able to dazzle with something glitzy and unique is more appropriate. Halo rings often fit the bill here: a large diamond in the center surrounded by a halo of many smaller diamonds, even running around the band.
The bride may be more of an adventurous girl, an outdoorsy type who wants a beautiful ring, but is also a ring that isn’t too bold or flashy. She might find nature-inspired rings to be more her cup of tea, with organic shapes like a pear diamond with a band featuring intertwined twists. Something that speaks to her organic side while still sparkling with radiant light.
And then there are the timeless rings, the rings that never go out of style. Whether this is a throwback to a vintage design, or something antique, some women are all about the history of the ring they’ll wear forever.
But maybe she doesn’t fit any mold. Maybe something modern is what’s called for, something contemporary. There are so many rings now that are out of the box, with an array of diamonds in an artsy pattern, rather than a single bold stone. Or maybe it’s a solitaire, but with a non-traditional form. If this is your bride’s style, you’ll know.
Know the Basics of Diamond Rings
Once you get the general idea of what your bride’s style is, you’re going to need to pick a diamond. You will quickly find that there are so many choices for an engagement ring’s diamond. First, you need to understand the four Cs, and the shapes of the diamonds which will help you narrow down the choices with finding the perfect ring.
The Four Cs: Cut, Carat, Clarity, and Color
The Four Cs are kind of the credentials of the diamond: the vital statistics that come along with the stone that identify what it is and what makes it unique and valuable. They are the cut, carat, clarity, and color.
Contrary to some ideas, cut doesn’t refer to the specific shape of the diamond–we’re not talking about round versus princess here. Cut refers to the way that the diamond is cut by the jeweler so that it best enhances the sparkle of the diamond. You can have two diamonds of equal size and shape, but one may sparkle far more because it is cut in such a way that the light bounces just right, bouncing off of angled mirrors, to flash and catch the eye. If a diamond is cut to steeply, it won’t bounce right, and the same if it’s cut too shallow. This is why diamond cutters have to be masters of their craft: the get the cut of the diamond perfectly right for the light to bounce.
The size or weight of the diamond is measured in carats. The average size of an engagement ring is one carat, though a typical jewelry store may have one or two diamonds that go up to four or five carats that fetch a much higher price. (The largest diamond in the world, known as the “Star of Africa” weighs in at 530 carats, and is about the size of a golf ball.)
Every diamond has flaws, known as inclusions, which are tiny specks that exist in the otherwise clear stone. These imperfections are considered when determining clarity, which is rated on a scale from “flawless” to “included”. The smaller and fewer inclusions, the higher the price. (This might also be a place where cost can be cut, because the difference in the top few tiers of clarity–from flawless to internally flawless to very, very slightly included to very slightly included–are all virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. It’s not until you get to slightly included where the flaws are visible without magnification.
Diamonds come in a wide variety of colors, and while clear is the traditional and most popular (and rarest) many other colors exist and some have come into vogue as new fashion trends. You may be familiar with so-called “chocolate diamonds” (diamonds with a brown hue), but there are also pink, yellow, red, and more. It all depends on what minerals combine with the carbon of the diamond. Although a perfectly colorless diamond is the rarest and most expensive, when it comes to colored diamonds, the price goes up depending on the vividness of the color.
Picking the Shape:
- Round: By far the most common and most sought-after diamond, this is a favorite because the cut of a round diamond (see “cut” as mentioned above) makes a round diamond sparkle quite a lot
- Oval: The oval is like the round, and can sparkle a lot as well. It is often worn by women with long, thin fingers
- Emerald: The emerald cut is square or rectangular, with beveled corners, and are often quite large. With emeralds, clarity is more important because it’s easier to see inclusions
- Asscher: Another square diamond, but with a unique geometry that sets it apart. A more art deco cut, it is still very beautiful, and can cost substantially less than a round diamond of the same carat
- Cushion: The cushion is an antique look, a square with rounded corners straight from the 1800s
- Princess: A princess is known for its brilliant shimmer, and by design it looks bigger than it actually is, making it a good budget buy.
- Pear: This tear-drop shaped diamond is gorgeous, and will withstand the test of time
Don’t Forget the Metal!
We know we’re talking about diamonds here, but let’s not forget about the metals! Traditionally, engagement rings were made with yellow gold, and many still are. But in recent years the move has been more toward white gold, platinum, or even silver. Rose gold is also a stunning choice in metal that has become a crowd favorite! The differences in price reflect rarity but also hardness. Platinum and silver look almost identical, for example, but platinum is much rarer and therefore more expensive. And platinum doesn’t scratch as easily as golds.
Know Your Priorities
What’s Your Engagement Ring Budget?
Tradition has it that an engagement ring should cost three months of a groom’s salary. Don’t believe it. This was a marketing campaign from De Beer’s in the 30’s as a way to get people to spend more on diamonds.
Knowing what your budget is before you go into the process of shopping will guide your decisions along every step of the process, as you pick through the 4 Cs, and the shape and style. While you want to be absolutely happy with the ring you choose, no one wants to start marriage in debt because of a ring. Figure out what suits you and go with it.
Also, be reassured that by choosing a LovBe lab grown diamond, you are getting the best value for your money. Learn more about the LovBe Advantage today, and play around with our Ring Builder to create the perfect engagement ring for your fiance!