Proposals are highly anticipated moments for couples, requiring careful planning and an informed investment. Just like love, there is not a scientific formula or exact path to finding the perfect ring. It’s a delicate balance of thorough research, organization, and listening to your gut instincts. As you prepare to find the one, start by learning these six do’s and don'ts of engagement ring shopping.
1. Do Give Yourself Time
If you have a couple of months to prepare before proposing, consider dropping subtle questions about jewelry to your partner. Collect jewelry style intel from your partner to inform your shopping strategy. Ask your partner for jewelry gift recommendations and favorite brands, but don’t give the impression that it’s for them. Mention you’re interested in buying gifts for your sibling, parent, or friend. Get brownie points by complimenting your partner the next time they wear jewelry and ask what brand they are wearing. Overall the goal is to:
Learn and listen, let your partner do the talking
Don’t drop hints or ask questions frequently
Give yourself time (3-6 months) to collect intel
2. Don’t Spend Everything
While we all have seen extravagant engagement rings on magazines and on rare occasions in person, don’t feel you have to spend so much money on an engagement ring. In 2019, a study conducted by The Knot revealed that while the national average spend for engagement rings was nearly $6,000 USD, as many as a third of their respondents were spending between $1,000 to $3,000. It’s no secret that engagement rings are costly, but what should be emphasized is there are many ways to consider which ring is perfect for your partner. Consider these factors and questions when setting your ring budget:
Does your partner appreciate fine jewelry enough to increase budget?
Is there a must-have feature of the ring to consider an increase in budget?
Consider the overall budget. How much budget will there be for the engagement ring and wedding band for you and your partner?
3. Do Your Research
When you begin your quest for engagement ring shopping, many will refer to the 4 C’s: cut, clarity, color, and carat. These timeless features are the first things to consider when shopping for an engagement ring. These ring characteristics influence the price of your purchase. Use the intel you collect from your partner to answer the following:
Which cut diamond or gemstone does your partner favor? (i.e. round, princess, pear, radiant, oval, heart, emerald)
What is your preferred color? (i.e. yellow diamond, gemstones, clear diamond)
Does carat size matter to your partner? (i.e. by weight)
What influence does clarity have over your decision?
According to Tiffany & Co., poor clarity grade has multiple inclusions which directly affect the sparkle of a diamond ring. Clarity is a measure of the diamond’s purity and rarity, how flawless it is to the naked eye and under 10-power magnification. A jewelry powerhouse like Tiffany & Co. has high standards and only accepts .04% of the world's gem-grade diamonds.
4. Do Schedule Appointments
In-person visits are a hands-on experience to learn about a specific jeweler and their collection of engagement rings. Because of COVID-19 many flagship stores are providing online consultations to support your jewelry shopping needs. Book an appointment to review a customized portfolio of rings you are interested in. This step may feel intimidating, but remember that you are the expert when shopping for an engagement ring. Only you will know which ring is “the one,” and jewelry experts are there to answer questions about their jewelry and understand what you are looking for. Here are some tips to help your appointment go as smooth as possible:
Mention your budget. This is a milestone purchase and unless it is within your means to spend big, there is no reason to look at high price tags that you cannot afford at the moment.
Dress the part. Whether you are meeting virtually or not, consider this a date or first time meeting with your future in-laws. Make sure you dress comfortable so you feel as confident as possible. So if that’s business formal or casual, either way go for it.
Schedule worthy appointments. It’s not about how many appointments but which jeweler’s you talk to. Try to narrow your list down to include your top 3 favorite jeweler’s so you have an opportunity to remember their unique qualities and collections.
Browse online. Before you meet with your jewelry consultant, browse the jeweler’s site online to learn about past and new collections, metal colors, sourcing, etc.
5. Do Consider Ring Size
Unlike clothes and shoes, rings are not items you can exchange if they don't fit. In most cases, jewelry is resized to accommodate a better fit for the individual. The majority of jewelry experts will tell you it’s better to move down in size than to need a size up. Still, how do you know what size to even consider without asking your partner? Here are some ways to estimate your partner's ring size without giving away your motives:
Have a friend or close relative find out for you. Have your partner try on some of their friend’s old rings or on a shopping trip have your friend try on rings with your partner. The good ole, “oh this doesn’t fit me, does it fit you?,” trick should work just fine.
If you’re comfortable temporarily borrowing a ring from their jewelry box, use that ring as a reference to size. Be quick and stay resilient if your partner notices it missing. You may have to leave it somewhere your partner would leave their jewelry.
Ask your partner for advice on someone who is relatively their size. “I’m considering getting my friend a silicone ring because they’re ring is going to get damaged when we workout, what size do you think they are?”
6. Don’t Make it About Anyone Else
The more people that know you are shopping for an engagement ring the more you’ll receive opinions. Friends and family mean well, but will try to interject what they know about your partner and their ideal fantasy ring. Let’s remember it’s your ultimate decision and personal opinion that matters most. An engagement ring is a unique gift from you to your partner-- a symbol of commitment and love. Keep the focus on yourself and your partner by re-considering common disruptive thoughts:
If you think your budget is too low or too high, think about your intentions and preference for rings. There is a ring for every budget and since you are purchasing it, you ultimately decide what is right.
If you think a diamond is not enough, consider an alternative setting or gemstones to add some color to your decision.
If you think it’s better to play it safe, don’t. Choosing a ring is an exciting moment, notice how you feel when you pick “the one,” if it doesn’t excite you it’s probably not the one you are looking for.
Shopping for an engagement ring is an exciting moment and a personal proclamation of love. There are many jewelers to consider, but they are easier to narrow down once you know the ring qualities and features that matter most to your partner. Don’t forget to keep your engagement ring secure for the big proposal, meanwhile start thinking of creative and romantic ways to pop the big question. Your perfect engagement ring and happily ever after awaits!