What Should I Look for When Buying an Engagement Ring?

Jewelry and accessories. A woman is watching jewelry in a jewelry salon

I need some help with a major life decision. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for five years. I’m sure she’s the one, and I’m ready to propose. We’ve talked about marriage, and we’re both on the same page. It feels like it’s the right time to start this new chapter in our lives.

I have most of the details sorted out. I’m just worried about the ring. I know her size, but I want to make sure that I’m buying her a good quality ring. What should I be looking for?

Congratulations! It sounds like you’re prepared to take a big and important step in your life.

Buying an engagement ring can be an intimidating process, especially if you’ve never purchased diamond jewelry. It’s easy to get swindled if you don’t know what to look for or how to gauge the quality of a diamond.

If you’re buying a diamond engagement ring, the first thing you should understand is the 4Cs.

·         Color: Diamond colors are graded from D-to-Z. Diamonds that have less color are rarer.

·         Clarity: The clarity refers to the absence of blemishes and inclusions.

·         Cut: The quality of the cut refers to how well it reflects light (or sparkles).

·         Carat: The carat weight refers to the size of the diamond.

It’s important to determine which of these “Cs” is most important to you. This will help you eliminate diamonds you don’t want and narrow down your options to ones that your bride-to-be will love.

Along with understanding the 4Cs, you should also understand diamond shapes, cut quality and styles. Round is the most popular diamond shape, but there are also other shapes, such as: rectangle, marquise, square, pear, heart and oval.

The cutting style refers to the way the diamond’s facets are arranged. The most common cutting style for round diamonds, for example, is the brilliant cut with an arrangement of 57-58 facets. Other cutting styles including the radiant cut, which is square or rectangular in shape but cut in the brilliant style. The emerald cut, which is also rectangular or square in shape, has four longer facets along the edges and beveled corners.

Cut quality will refer to the way the diamond’s facets interact with light.

In addition to the diamond itself, you’ll need to consider the metal of the band. White gold and platinum are popular choices because they offer a sleek, modern look. These silver-colored metals are also a good choice for diamonds with little color (in the D-J range) because they really make the diamond’s colorlessness pop. If this type of diamond were set on gold prongs, it would make the diamond take on a yellow appearance.

Rose gold is another popular option. It creates a warm look without giving the diamond a yellow tint.

You’ll also need to decide how you want the diamond to be set:

·         Prong: Four to six prongs hold the diamond in place, usually for a single-stone ring (known as a solitaire).

·         Halo: The large center stone is encircled by tiny diamonds. This type of setting can add sparkle to a ring and make the center stone appear larger.

·         Bezel: A thin metal strip is hammered or pushed around the edges of the gem to hold it in place. The setting provides great protection for the stone.

Of course, you’ll also need to consider your budget – probably the most important factor of them all.

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