Marriage proposals are obviously highly anticipated moments for couples. They’re also highly delicate—and, let’s face it, more than a little bit demanding and stressful.
A proper proposal (i.e. a successful and accepted marriage proposal) requires both careful planning and an informed investment. Just like love, there’s no carefully calculated, scientifically-proven formula or exact path that leads to discovering the perfect ring. The entire process is a delicate balance of detailed research, obsessive organization, and attentive listening to your gut instincts. Here at Zillion, we like to think of it as something else, too.
An art form.
As you prepare to find “the one,” it’s best to start by learning these six helpful tips—as in the top 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 to the love of your life, consider dropping subtle questions about jewelry to your partner as a featured part of the “run-up” process. To fully inform your shopping strategy, you’ll want to collect some strong jewelry-focused “intel” from your partner in advance. Ask your partner for jewelry gift recommendations and favorite brands—but don’t betray a strong impression that it’s for them. Mention you’re interested in buying gifts for your sibling, parent, or best friend. You can even earn brownie points by complimenting your partner’s style the next time he or she wears jewelry…and ask what brand they’re wearing (maybe it’s even…Tiffany & Co.). The overall goal here is to:
- Do learn and listen; Let your partner do the talking
- Don’t drop hints or ask frequent questions
- Do give yourself time (ideally a full 3-6 months) to collect “intel”
2. Don’t Spend Everything
While we’ve all seen extravagant engagement rings in magazines (and on some occasions, up close, in person), don’t feel you have to spend a massive amount of money on an engagement ring (or on engagement ring insurance). In 2019, a study conducted by The Knot revealed that while the national average spend for engagement rings in the U.S. was nearly $6,000, a third of survey respondents were spending somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 on a less-expensive engagement ring. It’s no secret that engagement rings are costly, but what should be emphasized most here is that there are many ways to consider which ring is perfect for your partner. When planning and finalizing your engagement ring budget, strongly consider these factors and questions:
- Does your partner appreciate fine jewelry enough to increase the budget?
- Is there a “must-have” feature of the ring that justifies a budget increase?
- How much will be budgeted for the engagement ring and wedding band for you and your partner?
3. Do Your Research
When you begin your engagement ring shopping process, many will refer to the 4 C’s of diamonds: cut, clarity, color, and carat. When shopping for the ideal engagement ring, these timeless features are certainly the first things to consider. These ring characteristics should all influence the price of your purchase. Use the intel you collect from your partner to answer the following questions:
- Which gemstone or diamond cut does your partner favor? (i.e. round, princess, pear, radiant, oval, heart, emerald, etc.)
- What is your preferred color? (i.e. yellow diamond, gemstones, clear diamond, etc.)
- Does carat size matter to your partner? (i.e. by weight)
- Does your diamond need to be natural…or can it be a lab-grown diamond?
- What influence does clarity have over your decision?
According to renowned industry titan Tiffany & Co., poor diamond 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, assessing just how flawless it is (or is not)—both to the naked eye and while under a 10-power magnification lens. A jewelry powerhouse like Tiffany & Co. has high standards and only accepts .04% of the world’s gem-grade diamonds. Talk about exclusive.
4. Do Schedule Appointments
In-person visits to jewelry stores provide an invaluable, insightful, and truly “hands-on” (or fingers-on) opportunity to learn about a specific jeweler and their specialty collection of diamond engagement rings. When the COVID-19 pandemic really took root in 2020, however, many flagship jewelry stores pivoted to providing online consultations that support customers’ jewelry shopping needs (here at the Zillion blog, we even addressed some tips and tactics to elevate jewelry stores into the digital domain). During these particular and often peculiar times, it’s best to book an appointment to review a customized portfolio of engagement rings you’re interested in. This step may feel intimidating, but remember that you are the expert when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring. Only you will know which ring is “the One”—and experienced jewelry experts will be there to answer questions about their jewelry and better understand what you’re looking for. While virtual jewelry try-ons are beginning to migrate from futuristic dream to modern-day reality, they’re still a work-in-progress for most national jewelers. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your in-person appointment goes as smooth as possible:
- Mention your budget. This is a milestone purchase, and unless it’s well within your means to spend big on a diamond engagement ring, there’s simply no reason to look at high price tags that you can’t afford at the moment.
- Dress the part. Whether you’re meeting virtually or in person, consider this a hot “date”—or perhaps a first-time meeting with your future in-laws. Make sure you dress comfortable, so you feel as confident as possible. Whether that’s business formal or something more casual…go for it. Do and dress whatever way works for you.
- Schedule worthy appointments. It’s not about how many appointments you make, but which jewelers you talk to. Try to whittle your list down to include only your top 3 favorite jewelers. That way, you’ll have an opportunity to remember their unique qualities and collections.
- Explore online first. Before you meet with your jewelry consultant, investigate and explore the jeweler’s website to learn about past and new diamond engagement ring collections, metal colors, sourcing, etc.
5. Do Consider Ring Size
Unlike clothes and shoes, diamond engagement rings are simply not items you can easily exchange if they don’t fit right. 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 first (and risk giving away the surprise engagement)? Here are some thoughtful ways to estimate your partner’s ring size without giving away your motives in the process:
- Have a friend or close relative find out for you. Have your partner try on some of their friend’s old rings — or have your friend try on rings with your partner during a shopping trip. The good old “oh this doesn’t fit me, does it fit you?” trick should work just fine here.
- If you’re comfortable borrowing a ring from their jewelry box, use it as a size reference. Be quick about it, and stay resilient if your partner notices that it’s missing. You may have to leave it somewhere your partner would typically leave his or her jewelry.
- Ask your partner for advice on someone who’s relatively their size. Try something like: “I’m considering getting my friend a silicone ring because their usual ring may get damaged when we workout. What size do you think they are?”
6. Don’t Make it About Anyone Else
The more people who know you’re shopping for an engagement ring, the more you’ll receive opinions. Friends and family mean well, but will typically try to interject what they know about your partner—and their ideal dream ring. Let’s remember that it’s ultimately your decision and personal opinion that matter most here. An engagement ring is a unique gift from you to your partner; it’s valuable, rare jewelry that symbolizes 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. Remember, there’s a ring for every budget. Since you’re the one purchasing it, you ultimately decide what’s right.
- If you think a diamond alone is not enough, consider an alternative setting or gemstones. You might even consider a “sustainable jewelry” option here.
- If you think it’s better to play it safe, don’t. Choosing an engagement ring is an exciting and rare moment. Notice how you feel when you pick “the One”; if it doesn’t really excite and move you, it’s probably not the right ring for you.
Shopping for an engagement ring is an exciting moment. It’s also a deeply significant and serious moment. After all, it’s nothing less than a powerful, personal proclamation of undying and committed love. There are many jewelers to consider, but they’re 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. In the meantime, start thinking of creative and romantic ways to pop the big question. Your perfect engagement ring and ideal happily ever after will be here before you know it.
Oh, and once you do decide on the ideal engagement ring for the love of your life, give strong consideration to adding an extra layer of protection and assurance by purchasing a diamond engagement ring insurance policy from Zillion. Just in case something does happen to that prized, priceless symbol of your love, one of our affordable, no-hassle, flexible jewelry insurance offerings can replace it—cut-for-cut, detail-by-detail, just the way you fell in love with it the first time.