How do you know which engagement ring she wants? You’re going to propose this Christmas and it should be the most romantic day of her life. The pressure is on to get THE ring just right… That’s why we’ve created this fool-proof guide for you. In this article:
- Getting her ring size
- What style she wants
- Your budget
- Choosing the diamond or gem
- This one diamond quality that’s good value
- Why not silver?
- Finding the right jeweller
1. Ring size, ring size, ring size
Ring size is THE most important thing when you’re shopping for an engagement ring. It’s the first question any jeweller will ask. And ring that doesn’t fit will ruin the big moment for her, and you don’t want that.
So, you’ll need her finger size. How do you do that? Well, whatever you do, don’t try DIY methods like measuring her finger with string. Home measurements almost always end in disaster.
Instead, try one of these methods:
♦ Measure her existing ring with a ring sizer app
♦ Get a free ring sizer tool in the post
♦ Visit a jeweller and simply get her finger measured there
♦ Ask one of her friends to find out her ring size in secret
2. Find out her style
Now that you have her ring size, what is the most important thing for her about an engagement ring? The answer is, the design. She is going to be wearing that ring for the rest of her life. (And she wants to show it off to her family and friends.) So it needs to be perfect.
The easiest way to know what sort of jewellery she likes? Look at the jewellery she already wears. She may love big, extravagant and sparkly. Or she might prefer understated, elegant and simple.
If you’re the kind of man who pays attention to fashion, you might already have this one sussed. Not sure? Don’t take any risks. Go ask her sister or best friend for advice. (You could ask her mum, but her peers will be more in touch with the style she likes.)
These are the 5 most popular ring designs right now:
Solitaire ring – one single diamond
Halo ring – One large diamond encircled by smaller stones
Gemstone ring – Sapphires, emeralds, rubies
Sidestone ring – extra diamonds along the ring’s band
Cluster ring – lots of small diamonds set together
3. Set the budget
How much should an engagement ring cost? There’s always been much debate about this. A month’s salary? Two month’s salary?
Luckily, the reality is that there are no rules. Just bear in mind she’ll wear the ring all her life. So it needs to be high enough quality to withstand daily wear.
Just get the best possible quality you can afford. Some jewellers also offer 0% financing, if you pay a deposit up front.
4. Choose the diamond cut
It’s time to shop for the ring. Now, stop to consider this for a moment: most people expect a diamond to have lots of sparkle. However, a diamond’s radiance depends on its quality and how it’s been “cut”.
Cut refers to the diamond’s final shape and finish, which could be round, square, rectangular, and so on.
These are the most common diamond shapes in order of “sparkliness”:
♦ Round brilliant – Round, the top sparkliest diamond cut
♦ Princess – Square, almost as sparkly as round brilliant
♦ Pear – Looks like a teardrop, medium sparkle
♦ Marquise – Rounded sides tapering to points, medium sparkle
♦ Emerald Cut – Rectangular, giving off long flashes rather than sparkle
- Round cut
- Princess cut
- Pear shaped
- Marquise cut
- Emerald cut
5. Choose diamond quality
Next, you’ll want to pick the diamond quality. Want to learn more about it? Here’s some straightforward information for you.
But as a quick rule of thumb, if you’re buying a solitaire diamond of up to 1 carat, ask your jeweller for quality H/Si or above.
If you stick to H/Si quality as your minimum, you can’t go wrong. With this quality or better, you won’t be able to see any obvious flaws in the diamond with your naked eye, you’d need a jeweller’s powerful loupe to spot any.
Incidentally, H/Si is the most popular diamond qualitybecause of how good it looks and how affordable it is.
6. Choose diamond size
“Carat” refers to a diamond’s size. Once you know the style, minimum quality and budget you want, then the best way to spend your money is on carats.
Bear in mind that large diamonds are much rarer than small diamonds. So they’re much more expensive per-carat than small diamonds.
If you’re struggling to stretch your budget to one large diamond, look for a ring made with a cluster of smaller diamonds. It will look big, sparkly and beautiful, yet be affordable.
7. Alternatively, pick a gemstone
Maybe your girl wants a colourful gemstone instead of a diamond? Gems are a beautiful choice that stand out from the crowd. Kate Middleton’s famous blue sapphire ring has made gems really popular in engagement rings in the recent years.
Generally speaking, you could go for any gemstone or her birthstone. However, bear in mind that not all gems are the same toughness. This is an important consideration for jewellery worn daily.
Gem hardness is measured on a scale from 1-10. Diamonds are the hardest, rated at 10. Sapphires and rubies are 9. Then topaz at 8, emerald and aquamarine at 7.5-8, tanzanite 6.5-7. Find out more about each gem in our comprehensive Gem Guides.
8. Choose the metal
There are four choices of precious metal for engagement rings. Your decision will depend on her style preference and your budget.
(Notice that silver is not included in this list. It is far too soft and malleable to withstand constant daily wear. It is therefore not a recommended metal for engagement rings.)
Platinum: Platinum is beautiful, and the most tough and durable of all precious metals. It’s also the most expensive choice. Platinum does not stain or scratch, although with age it develops microscopic surface denting, forming a look that’s called “the patina of age”. This is considered desirable in platinum jewellery, as it gives it a much loved and worn heirloom feel.
Yellow Gold: A traditional woman will prefer the classic look of yellow gold. Yellow gold may be sold as 18K gold or 9K gold. This is a measure of how much gold is used in the ring. Gold on its own is far too soft, so it has to be mixed with other, harder metals to keep its form. 18K gold has more gold content than 9K gold, but is also more expensive.
White Gold: White gold is simply yellow gold alloyed and coated with white precious metals to give it it a silvery-white luster. It looks beautiful and most people cannot tell it apart from platinum. Bear in mind though that its white precious metal coating will eventually fade and the yellow gold will shine through. This is normal, but means the ring needs to be re-coated every so often. Like yellow gold, white gold is sold in 18K or 9K purities.
Rose gold: This is a very fashionable and beautiful alternative to yellow gold. It’s made by alloying yellow gold and copper. It won’t scratch or need maintenance, but with age, the copper will tarnish slightly making the metal slightly redder. As with platinum, many people like this well-loved antique look rose gold gets with time. Rose gold also comes in 18K or 9K, just like yellow and white gold.
9. Buy the engagement ring she wants
It’s time to shop. Now that you know what you want and have fixed a budget, you can explain your exact requirements to your jeweller. In the UK, it’s a good idea to stick to jewellers who are members of The National Association of Jewellers (NAJ). You can find verify a jeweller’s membership on their website.
Good luck! Let us know how your big day went on Facebook! And don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any advice.
(Any prices that were quoted in this article were taken on 22 April 2016 and could vary at any time after this date.)