Your journey into the land of engagement ring shopping may be fraught with adventure, intrigue, confusion and sleuthing, but we’re here to help make that journey the easiest it can be. If you’ve found the one and are ready to pop the question, it’s time to start planning your attack and creating sly, tactical maneuvers.
Set your budget
One of the most important first steps to take when considering buying an engagement ring, just like any other large purchase, is to decide on your budget. Going into a jeweller without a number already set in your head could leave you buying something you can’t afford and going into debt. It’s unlikely that your partner wants to start her life with you in debt for a larger diamond. As tempted as you may be to push your budget, don’t do it and don’t let the salesperson push you into it. When trying to stick to your budget, look for small hacks that can save you money. The most popular cut of diamond is round, so you can save 40 percent by buying a different style cut. You can also save up to 20 percent by buying a diamond at .9 versus a full carat.
Educating yourself about the 4Cs of diamonds is a crucial step in finding the perfect engagement ring. That’s the cut, clarity, colour and carat (This is not karat or carrot). These qualities are what differentiate a great diamond from a good diamond and will be the deciding factors in the diamond’s price tag.
Ninety percent of engagement rings feature a centre diamond, but it’s not the only option. Be sure to do some reading before arriving in the store and ask the jeweller to view the diamond under a loupe, a handheld magnifier.
A good jeweller will even show you what to look for to know the diamond is of high quality. Not only should you read up on the 4Cs, but you need to start listening intently any time your girlfriend mentions jewellery or her style.
Get to know your partner
From this day forward you’ll listen with all your concentration anytime your partner talks about jewellery, her fashion sense, when you pass a jewellery store or when a jewellery commercial comes on TV.
You’ll be desperately hoping she’ll mention even the tiniest detail about what she likes and doesn’t like so that you can gather clues over time about what type of engagement ring to buy for her.
Listen for these small details but also be observant; notice if she’s quirky and different, if she loves antiques or if she is all about the bling and the sparkle. These details help you decide what kind of ring will fit her personality.
If you’ve started your search of all that your loved one desires in an engagement ring, it might be time to recruit some backup.
Many women actually do talk about what kind of engagement ring they want with their friends. Call up your girlfriend’s best friend and ask her for some advice.
She may already know what your girlfriend wants or she may be willing to drop some questions the next time they hang out and report back to you.
Find her size
And we don’t mean dress size. Finding out ring size is the toughest step in this sleuthing game. There’s no tag on a ring that tells you the size.
The most important thing to remember, a ring that’s too big is much easier to size down and is less embarrassing than one that won’t fit over her knuckles. Here are some sneaky ideas for discovering her ring size:
- Borrow one of her rings. If you have access to her jewellery box, borrow one of her rings that she doesn’t wear very often and won’t notice is missing. Take the ring to the jewellery store to be sized, but be sure to know which finger she wears it on so that her left hand ring finger size can then be estimated. If she has a ring the she wears on her right hand ring finger, this is the easiest to determine size from.
- Trace one of her rings. There are two ways to try this. If you can’t borrow one of her rings, but can access it for a few minutes, grab the ring, paper and pencil. Trace inside and outside the ring many times, getting an accurate sketch. You can also slip the ring on your pinky and then trace on either side with sharpie and then try on ring sizers at the jewellery store to find which one matches.
- Set up a ploy. There are numerous ways to set up a ploy but one simple one is to tell her that you’re buying a ring for your mother or sister and that you’re not sure what size to get. Especially if they have similarly sized hands, this will work well. Another ploy is to go out to the shops to buy shoes. When you pass a jewellery store, tell her that you want to look at watches. As you’re engrossed in picking gold or silver, she will inevitably wander off to look at rings. Take note at what she looks at and you can even throw in your opinion, which she will either counter or agree with, giving you more data.
- Start a conversation. When the jewellery commercials come on TV or when you pass a jewellery store, you can nonchalantly mention what you like or dislike and she’ll likely participate in the conversation giving you lots of good intel.
- Give her a ring. This one sounds simple, but there’s some good acting involved. Lots of outdoor markets and craft fairs have jewellery for sale. Pick out the ugliest ring you can find, have her close her eyes, slip it onto her finger and tell her it’s her new birthday present. She’ll likely be thinking about how ugly it is and not what you’re really trying to find out. Do this ploy with a size 6 ring, which is the most common size.
No matter how you choose to go about this reconnaissance missions, plan ahead. Give yourself time to collect all of this information naturally and over time, otherwise your partner may get suspicious of all your questioning and sneaking around.
If you just can’t decide or figure out what your girl would like, some jewellers offer return policies or can set a diamond into a temporary band which is then exchanged for the one your girl really wants after the proposal.
Have you started looking for your engagement ring? A great place to start is here.