Picking the Perfect Engagement Ring

Nothing is as nerve-wracking as asking the woman of your dreams to marry you, and you’ve got an enormous job on your hands before you pop the question: buying the ring. This is the symbol of the love you’re counting on sealing the deal, which is very daunting if you’re a man with no experience in the world of jewelry. Sure, this is the most crucial bit of bling you’ll ever buy, but no pressure. Follow these steps, and you’ll have no trouble picking the perfect engagement ring.

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Decide on a high street or bespoke ring

First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy a ring that’s already in-store or create a unique piece of jewelry yourself. Opting for a bespoke engagement ring is the more romantic option as it’ll come straight from the heart and can symbolize everything you love about the lady in your life. For example, jewelers Taylor & Hart suggest featuring your future fiance’s favorite color or engraving lyrics from a song that’s special to your relationship.

While custom-made engagement rings have their perks, there’s no shame in plumping for an off-the-shelf sparkler—especially if your budget will only stretch so far. Tradition dictates that men should spend two months’ salary, but this isn’t practical for everyone, like people with debts to pay off or young workers starting their careers on lower wages. Budget according to your situation, and don’t splash out on anything you can’t afford. Starting married life on a shoestring is the last thing you and your partner want.

Choose a ring style

Whether you plan to shop on the high street or design a bespoke engagement ring, having a style in mind is very important when there’s so much choice available. There are lots of different engagement ring settings, but these are some of the most common:

  • Solitaire: A single, high-quality diamond.
  • Pave Center diamond and smaller stones on the wedding band.
  • Halo: Small stones surrounding the center diamond, making it look bigger.
  • Three Stone: Center diamond with a stone either side, symbolizing the couple’s past, present, and future.
  • Bezel: Center diamond held by a metal frame.
  • Double Diamonds: Two center diamonds.

Select a diamond

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Some men like to surprise their partner with a unique gemstone like a sapphire or emerald. These are cheaper than diamonds meaning a larger gem is more affordable. However, a diamond is still the most popular choice by far, and learning how they are classified will help you make the best choice.

  • Carat: The weight of a diamond, where larger stones have higher carats.
  • Clarity: This regards natural inclusions and blemishes like cracks or the presence of foreign crystals. Diamonds with few of these are more expensive.
  • Color: Traces of nitrogen can color diamonds, but the most valuable ones will have the least color.
  • Cut: This is a measure of a diamond’s overall beauty, based on its ability to reflect and refract light.

In addition to the stone itself, you’ll also have to select its shape. This will depend partly on your partner’s ring style and partly on your budget. Round diamonds are the most sought-after and, therefore, the most expensive, but you can usually cut costs or stretch to a larger carat by choosing something else. The most popular diamond shapes include oval, pear, and heart.

Compare precious metals

Generally speaking, engagement rings will be made from either platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, or silver. The color is vital as you want the piece to complement your partner’s complexion, so pay attention to the kind of jewelry she already wears. If she doesn’t own much bling, a good rule of thumb is that people with cool skin tones tend to gravitate to light metals like platinum, white gold, and silver, while yellow gold and rose gold looks great against warm skin tones. 

You could also do some research and weigh up the pros and cons of each metal to see which type is best in a practical sense. For example, platinum will dull quicker than other metals, but its durability means it will retain its shape for a long time. Gold, on the other hand, is shinier than platinum and easy to buff and polish, but will wear down faster and may eventually need to be replaced in a process called reshanking.

Find out the ring measurement

You and your future wife will remember your proposal for the rest of your lives. Make that moment as special as can be by ensuring the ring fits when you slide it onto her finger. Unfortunately, this measurement is a detail few men bother memorizing.

Of course, you can’t spoil the surprise by asking her, so take one of the rings she already owns to be measured by a jeweler. If there aren’t any lying around, ask her friends and family if they happen to know this info. When all else fails, go for one of the most common women’s ring sizes: a six or a 7. Double-check your jewelers resizing policy before purchasing your engagement ring just in case you do need to have it adjusted, you want nothing to get in the way of picking the perfect engagement ring.