How to Choose Your Ring

How to Choose an Engagement Ring

Choosing an engagement ring can feel like a daunting task – especially if you want to surprise your girlfriend with a ring that’s so special, she’ll just have to say “Yes!”

However, buying an engagement ring, without your girlfriend knowing what you’re planning, can be a relatively straightforward process – as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. These apply no matter whether the ring is a diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, aquamarine, amethyst, topaz, or any other gemstone from which you may choose.

Most guys hate shopping for anything, let alone something as important as an engagement ring. With so many things to think about: the style, the stone, the metal , the quality, the price ……it can be enough to make anyone feel just a tad overwhelmed. However, since you’ve already decided that you want to marry your girl, let’s look at the ways to make the ring buying process as painless – and ideally, as enjoyable as possible for you.

Buying a ring online can be an excellent way to find that special ring. It can give you the ability to browse a wide range of jewelry options – and do it in the comfort of your own home, without feeling under pressure to buy, until you’ve found the perfect ring.

Another benefit is that many websites can offer rings at much lower prices than shopping mall jewellers, because their overheads are much lower and therefore some of these savings can be passed over to you.

However, before you settle down to check out some jewelry websites, let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to know beforehand:

1. What type of ring will you’re girlfriend like?

If you’re going to surprise your loved one with a ring that you have chosen, you had better do your homework to discover the type of ring that she would choose for herself.

You need to observe and check out the following:

What style of jewelry does she tend to wear? (eg. does she favor gold or silver metal jewelry? Does she like modern designs or antique styles or maybe jewelry that’s a little unusual? Does she wear any jewelry with gemstones and if so, what color are they? Are the rings she currently wears simple slim bands or chunky in design? Has she ever made any comments about a friend’s engagement ring that can give you a clue as to what she really likes?

Checking this info out with your girl’s mother or best friend can be a good plan of action – as long as they can be trusted to keep your secret.

2. Your girlfriend’s ring size

Again, your girl’s mother or best friend may be able to help out here. However, if this is not an option – or they don’t know, then read our other article “How to find out your girlfriend’s ring size” for some helpful tips on the different ways you can discover this.

3. How much to pay for a ring?

Recommendations on this point vary tremendously, with figures ranging from allocating anything from 3 week’s to 3 month’s salary on buying an engagement ring. Three month’s salary may be fine for those flush with cash, but for many guys, finding that special ring without bankrupting yourself in the process is an important fact to take into consideration. If your budget is a little limited, there are some ring styles you can buy that look impressive, but are less expensive than some others. (Our article: “How to wow your girlfriend with a ring, without going bankrupt” will give you ideas on how to make the most of your budget.

However, when money is no object, then choosing an engagement ring is usually less of a problem – once you’ve figured out the type of ring your loved one will like.

Most of us, however, have to work to a budget. This doesn’t mean scanning the web for cheap (and possibly substandard) rings. It means that you should choose carefully. If you’re set on buying a diamond then our article “How to choose a diamond ring” will also give you some helpful tips on how to select a great ring.

How to choose a diamond ring

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
(Marilyn Munroe in the movie “Gentlemen prefer Blondes”)

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me
are the number of carats in a diamond”
(Mae West)

For many people, a diamond is the natural choice for an engagement ring. Because of its intrinsic and commercial value – as well it’s magical sparkle, a diamond is believed to be the only gem suitable for expressing one’s love and level of commitment. “A diamond is forever” claimed the famous De Beers marketing campaign slogan that subsequently made the connection between romance and diamonds in everyone’s minds. Today, there is still a mystique and emotional value attached to a diamond engagement ring. It has been estimated that over 75% of all engagement rings, sold every year, are diamond.

The dilemma for many guys, however, is not whether to choose a diamond, but how to choose a diamond ring that’s big and sparkly enough to prove to his loved one, the amount of commitment he is willing to make. The quality as well as the size is so important in ensuring that you present your love one with the ring of her dreams. So let’s take a look at what you need to know:

1. What to look for in a diamond?

For many people the ideal ring is a diamond ring. The most popular diamond ring, is a solitaire – and subject to your budget, the bigger the better. You may have heard about checking out the 4C’s (ie the Carat, Cut, Clarity and Color)before buying a diamond. But if not, this is what they are all about:

The Carat:

This relates to the size and weight of a diamond. The most popular and most frequently purchased sizes of diamond are between 0.5 and 1.5 carats. However, if you can afford more, I’m sure your loved one will be more than delighted. Many years ago in the 1960’s, the actor Richard Burton bought his wife Elizabeth Taylor, the Krupp Diamond that weighed a massive 33.19 carats and cost £305,000. She has apparently worn this ring nearly every day since. However, since we can’t all be rich movie stars, the next best thing to buying a large rock is making sure that it’s got an excellent cut – then your girl can have a sparkly ring and feel like a movie star too!

The Cut:
Diamonds, as with many gemstones, can be cut into many different shapes. However, the quality of cut will determine how much light the diamond will reflect and the amount of sparkle a diamond can have. The higher the quality of cut, the higher the price of the diamond ring will be. Categories of cut are defined as follows:

  • Ideal cut (this reflects nearly all the light that enters a diamond)
  • Very good cut (reflects almost as much light as an ideal cut)
  • Good cut (reflects most light but not as much as the above)
  • Fair cut (reflects quite a lot of light but will not be as brilliant as the ideal cut, very good cut or the good cut)
  • Poor cut (very little light reflected and therefore will not sparkle much)

It is therefore important that if you cannot afford a very large diamond, then get one that has a good cut, to maximise the sparkle factor. A s the saying goes: “Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you can do with it that matters!” – and sparkle does matter!

The Clarity:
Clarity is assessed by the lack of flaws (otherwise known as Inclusions) in a diamond. Most inclusions are microscopic and therefore not visible to the naked eye. However, where there are visible inclusions then these can reduce the diamonds natural lustre. The clarity of a diamond is graded in the following way.

FL (Flawless) and IF (Internally Flawless): These are very rare and expensive

VVSI and VVS2: These are very, very slightly included and the flaws cannot be seen without a microscope)

VS1 and VS2: These are very slightly included, but not usually to the naked eye)

SI1 and SI2: Some inclusions may be visible to the naked eye, but the diamond is still considered to be of a good clarity standard)

I1, I2, and I3: The inclusions are visible to the naked eye and the diamond is considered to be of poor quality

The most popular and frequently purchased diamonds are the VS!, VS2, SI1 and SI2 as they are good value for money diamonds

The Color:
A pure colorless diamond is the most sought over since this contributes to a diamond’s ability to sparkle. The color quality of a diamond will vary from colorless to those with a yellowish tint. Diamonds are color coded as follows:

D This is the purist most colorless grade and also very rare
E-F Colorless and also fairly rare
G-H Very nearly colorless and an excellent quality diamond
I-J Nearly colorless but still a good diamond
K-M Has a noticeable tint of color and not considered to be of good quality
N_Z The poorest quality diamond

The most popular and most frequently purchased diamonds are ones between F and J

Whilst not one of the above 4 C’s, there is a 5th C, which stands for Certification. You should always make sure when buying a diamond that your ring will come with a certificate of authenticity, guaranteeing that the ring you purchased is of the quality that was advertised. The two most respected authorities that grade diamonds and provide certification are: The GIA (Gemological Institute of America and the (AGSL) American Gem Society Laboratories. Check to see whether your diamond ring will come with a certificate from one of these authorities before you buy.

  • Which metal to choose

Whilst yellow gold works well with many of the colored stones, an increasing number of women are choosing to have the silvery tones of white gold or platinum – especially if it’s for a diamond ring.

The advantage of platinum is that it is more durable than white gold, which loses it’s white shine over time and will need re-plating at some stage with rhodium. However, platinum is more expensive than white gold.

Yellow gold is a traditional choice and whilst it can become scratched with general wear and tear, it is much easier to repair than white gold.

The first thing to consider is your girlfriend’s likely preference for a metal. Is the metal of her current jewelry mainly silvery or gold in color? Has she ever indicated her preference for platinum, white gold or yellow gold? If she’s a yellow gold person then the decision is simple, but if she prefers silvery tones and you’re working to a tight budget, you may have to opt for white gold instead of platinum if you want to go all out on the size and quality of the gems.

How to find out your girlfriend’s ring size

One of the problems facing any man choosing an engagement ring, a promise ring – or indeed any ring designed to show his love and commitment – is discovering what size to buy.

Finding out your girlfriend’s ring size, if you’re trying to keep your proposal a surprise, requires a certain amount of ingenuity – and sometimes the help of her mother or a friend. Here are some ideas:

  • If she already wears a ring on one of her ring fingers and takes it off at night, then this may give you (or her mother or friend) the opportunity to quickly figure out the size. This you can do either by:
    • pressing it into a small bar of soft soap to leave an imprint
    • tracing a line round the inside of the ring onto a piece of paper, or
    • pushing the ring down onto one of your fingers, as far as it will go and making a small pen mark at the point where it stops – then measure round your finger to determine her ring size. (Note: If you’re using the soap trick then do remember to wipe any traces of soap off the ring before you put it back)
  • Check out her jewelry box for a ring you can borrow or take a tracing, as described above.
    Where possible take one that you know she wears on her ring finger, in case you take one that she wears on a different size finger – or is one that doesn’t fit her any more.
  • Take a piece of string when she’s asleep and gently wind it once round her finger. Make sure that the string is not wound round too tight and that it can be moved gently over her knuckle. Take hold of it at the point where it meets the end of the string and then gently remove the string from her finger, whilst keeping hold of the meeting point. Make a pen mark or cut the string length at this point. Measure the short piece of string to figure out her ring size. This trick can be difficult to achieve if she’s a light sleeper. Plus the sizing may not always be totally accurate. However, it can provide a guideline.
  • This next trick is a good way of checking whether your string measurement was correct. Buy an inexpensive but pretty costume jewelry ring in the size of your measurement. If however, you haven’t been able to do the string trick, then aim to buy a costume ring that is a size 6 – since this is the average ring size for a girl (or, if you suspect that her fingers are larger than the average girl, get a larger size) Next, pretend that you’ve either a) found it lying in the street b) won it in a competition, or c)say that your friend bought it as a present for his girlfriend but it doesn’t fit her. Offer the ring to your girlfriend. Hopefully, she’ll like it enough to try it on and you can see how well it fits her finger. This trick can also be a good way to check out her taste in jewelry – for example: try and get a costume ring in a similar style to the one you are thinking of buying her as an engagement ring.
  • Get help from your girlfriend’s mother or a good friend, who can keep a secret. Ask them to include a window shopping trip to a jeweller and try on some rings, the next time they go shopping with your girl friend. This is a good way to discover not just the ring size but your girlfriend’s preference for ring styles as well.
  • If all else fails, you will either have to:
    • guess the size and have the ring re-sized if you get it wrong (so make sure when you buy the ring that it can be re-sized, or
    • let your girlfriend in on part of the secret by suggesting that she try on some rings whilst you are out shopping one day. Now she’ll probably guess what you’re planning but won’t know when or where. However, at least this way, you’ll know her exact ring size and have a better idea about her likes and dislikes. Plus, by her reaction to the jewelry trip, you’ll get a good idea as to whether she’s likely to accept your eventual marriage proposal.

The ring sizing chart below gives you the diameter of each ring size and the corresponding code letter for each size. Use this to help you determine your girlfriend’s ring size , once you have managed to obtain a tracing from one of her rings, or you have one of her rings to compare.

Good Luck !

How to wow your girlfriend with a ring – without going bankrupt

When money is no object, then choosing an engagement ring is usually less of a problem – once you’ve figured out the type of ring your loved one will like.

Most of us, however, have to work to a budget. This doesn’t mean scanning the web for cheap (and possibly substandard) rings. It means that you should choose carefully. If you’re set on buying a diamond then our article “How to choose a diamond ring” will also give you some helpful tips on how to select a great ring.

If you’re wanting to surprise your girlfriend with a great ring, but are a bit short of cash, then here are some suggestions to help you impress the one you love – and without breaking the bank.

Choosing a ring where the diamond (or gemstone) looks larger than it is

  • A ring with a bezel setting can make the stone (diamond or otherwise) look larger than it actually is. A bezel setting has metal surrounding the centre stone.
  • A diamond with the centre stone surrounded by lots of tiny diamonds also creates the illusion of the main diamond being bigger than it is -or in the case of gemstones, where the main gemstone and the surrounding ones are the same color.
  • Marquise and oval shaped stones also create the impression of being larger than round stones
  • A 3 stone diamond ring can add up to the same weight as a solitaire, but costs less, simply because one large diamond is more expensive than 3 smaller ones.
  • White gold creates less contrast than yellow gold when it is next to the white of diamonds. This can also help the centre stone to look bigger than it is.

Alternatives to buying a diamond :

If you’d like to buy your loved one a diamond ring, but can’t afford it, consider buying a gemstone ring in one of the following ways:

  • A white sapphire surrounded by diamonds
  • Your girlfriend’s birthstone (read our article on gemstones and birthstones) and choose a ring with her birthstone surrounded by small diamonds.
  • However, if her birthstone is one she doesn’t like, think about selecting a gemstone for the month in which you met – or some other significant date for both of you

Alternatively, forget about having any diamonds and buy the largest gemstone you know your girlfriend loves (and you can afford). Make sure the stone is cut so that it sparkles well and gives it the wow factor.

Popular Ring Settings

Buying a ring for your loved one can sometimes seem quite complicated. What with decisions to be made about the gemstone, the color, the cut, the metal … and now, you’ve also got to decide on the setting.

The main purpose of a ring setting is to hold the gemstone securely and in a way that allows light to reflect off the stone for maximum effect.

With so many different and beautiful ring settings, there really are no right or wrong settings to choose; a setting is very much a case of personal preference.

Unless, you’re able to get a good idea as to the type of ring your girlfriend prefers, it’s usually a good idea to keep the ring setting simple – and let the gemstone speak for itself. However, if you’ve got an inkling that your girl would like something just a little bit different – or maybe a ring that looks antique, then here are a selection of popular ring settings for you to think about:

Prong setting:

A prong setting is a simple setting that is commonly used for the classic diamond solitaire ring. There are different variations of the prong setting, with some allowing the ring to be raised up high, in order to show off more of the gemstone.

Bar setting:

This is a variation of the prong setting and commonly used where there are 3, 5 or 7 gemstones needing to be placed in a row . In this type of ring setting, the prongs are merged together to create a long bar that holds the stones in place.

Bezel setting:

In a bezel setting, the gemstone is held in place by a metal circle or collar surrounding the stone. The bezel encases the gemstone and is attached to the top of the ring. The bezel is a simple setting with a modern look.

Tension setting:

Another modern look is the tension setting. Here, the gemstone balances in a gap between the two ends of the metal ring. The tension setting is an excellent ring for people wanting a modern designer look.

Flush setting:

Gemstones are sunk into the metal at varying intervals around the outside of the ring. This is a flush setting where the stones are nearly flush with the level of the metal. This setting makes a beautiful wedding band or a very modern and understated engagement ring.

Channel setting:

Gemstones are set into metal channels around part or the whole outer circumference of the ring. Both round and baguette shaped gemstones can be used. This setting is a favourite for wedding rings particularly when worn with a matching single round solitaire or single baguette shape engagement ring.

Pave setting:

The surface of a pave ring is literally paved with tiny diamonds – or other gemstones. This creates an extremely pretty and sparkly ring. The Pave setting is created by placing tiny diamonds into holes that have been drilled out of the metal ring. The stones are placed in rows so that they cover the surface of the ring. A pave setting is often seen as a part setting on either side of a central diamond.

Cluster setting:

This setting uses a combination of different sizes – and sometimes different shapes – of gemstones to create a raised cluster or flower design. The clusters can be tightly arranged or quite open and spread apart.

Ballerina Setting:

Using tapered baguettes around a central gemstone the ballerina setting creates a stunning display of sparkling stones – in a pattern reminiscent of a dancer’s tutu. The setting is used for both diamond and colored gemstones. It is a setting often seen in antique and vintage style designs.

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