No matter what she says, no woman really feels engaged until she has a ring on her finger. If you've decided to make it official this Valentine's Day, you'll need to do more than rehearse the big question, you'll also have to make sure the ring in your pocket is the one she's been visualizing since the day you met. Here's how to seal the deal with the perfect engagement ring.
Set your budget and choose your jeweler
You may wish to give her the sun, moon and stars, but starting out your lives together in debt is less than a perfect strategy for marriage success. While some still rely upon the three-month rule, every person's financial situation is different. Be realistic about what you can afford, based on your current salary, prospects and financial goals. And don't forget to budget in the cost of insurance. Nothing is more expensive than an uninsured, lost or stolen ring.
Unless you're in the habit of buying $10,000 trinkets on a regular basis, you'll need to find a jeweler you can trust. This is a lot like picking the right doctor. Research online reviews, take their reputation and number of years in business into account, as well as the type of merchandise they are known for and overall taste level of their stock. To determine their level of professional education, ask if they have American Gem Society credentials. A good jeweler will work within your budget and know what to suggest and where you can compromise in order to get the type of ring you are hoping for.
Know her style, to diamond or not to diamond?
Who is this lovely woman you fell in love with? Is she a rustic, cowboy boots and jeans kind of girl or does she lean toward classic looks and cool sophistication? Analyze her over-all style before you buy, and if necessary, enlist the troops. This is where all the brownie points you've accrued with her friends and family come in handy. Ask her mom, sister or best friend for advice, or to accompany you to the jeweler for a second opinion. These are the people most likely to know her ring size, too.
While many women have their hearts set on wearing the perfect diamond till death do you part, engagement rings have been known to house a wide variety of gems. Kate Middleton hardly balked at receiving her blue sapphire and diamond heirloom and Halle Berry's magnificent emerald was reminiscent of her green peridot birth stone. While opting for a non-traditional ring may not always wind up being less expensive than a diamond will, it may jive more with the love-of-your-life's personal style.
The 4 C's
If a diamond is a must, you'll have to take a crash course in carat, clarity, color and cut. Diamonds are graded on these four characteristics and it is here where that all-important budget and the expertise of a knowledgeable jeweler will come into play. If your goal is a stone as sparkly as her personality, cut will be the most important characteristic. Rock size does matter, but a good jeweler will be able to work with you on compromising somewhat on color and clarity levels so as to enable you to purchase a larger ring.
Don't forget the band
Bands typically come in gold, white gold and platinum, with platinum being the most expensive, but also the strongest. If you do decide to go for the gold, make sure the ring claws are checked every couple of years so as to ensure the stone's safety, or opt for a gold band with platinum claws, for maximum strength.
Congratulations to you both and Happy Valentine's Day!
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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