Grooms and Groomsmen
Ricky WBride Online Columnist

A Groom's Guide to Choosing an Engagement Ring

So you’ve found ‘the one’, you’ve asked her father for her hand in marriage, and you’ve planned the proposal to end all proposals. Now’s the tricky bit- finding a ring that she’ll love as much as you. There’s a flabbergastingly small amount of instruction related to this topic. So we’ve decided to remedy that, and come up with a fail-proof method of attack when it comes to sourcing the perfect rock for your lady. 


Work Out Your Budget

An obvious instruction that many tend to forget or overlook. Although the traditional idea of devoting two months salary to funding the engagement ring was originally introduced as part of a De Beers marketing campaign during WWII, this is still the yardstick many use to approximate how much they should be spending today. We say anywhere between six weeks and four months’ salary should do it. Sit down with your finances, create a ceiling figure (your absolute maximum limit to spend on the ring), and do not go over it. 

A surprisingly large amount of men use the advice to ‘buy the best you can afford’- which, to be honest, is total crap. There is absolutely no point or use going into debt over the ring, or simply having the ring affect your finances in a way that will cause any discomfort or resentment down the line.

Do Your Research

 If you haven't yet, read this great guide to buying the perfect engagement ring. If you want the bottom line, don’t buy anything below an ‘H’ in colour (the ring will look too yellow), of an Si grade (otherwise natural imperfections within the stone will be visible to the naked eye), or anything below a Very Good polish and symmetry (otherwise the diamond won’t sparkle). 

Get to Know Her Style

Know your basics before you take any further steps. Does she usually wear a lot of jewellery? Does she have a specific style- minimalistic, classic, boho, glamorous, vintage, etc? Does she only wear silver coloured jewellery or gold coloured jewellery? If she only wear silver, the ring band and settings could be made of silver, white gold or platinum, and if golden-coloured jewellery is her thing, you can opt for either rose or yellow gold. Similarly, find out if she has a Pinterest page- chances are, she'll have some great examples of what her ideal style is, including her taste in jewellery. 

Use Your Observational Skills.

Start by paging through magazines and catalogues to see if anything jumps out at you. Collect any pictures you particularly like for reference to show the jeweller or her friends down the line to see if it would suit her style and personality.

Set a Trap

If you have no clue what she might like, take her past a jewellery store and tell her that you’re looking for a watch. Chances are, she’ll wander over to the ring vitrine and have a look. Pay attention to what she’s looking at, and if she knows that an engagement is coming soon, ask her outright what sort of style she likes. If you’d like to keep it more on the down-low, keep your eyes peeled and say nothing. 

Recruit her Friends

Nine times out of ten, her close friends have a good idea of her style, and will be able to offer some invaluable guidance. 

Consult With a Professional

If you’re not 100% set on what you want for a ring, make use out of the professionals who deal with this every day. Describe your partner’s style, how often she wears rings, and any practical considerations that might affect your choice (for example, if she works with her hands, you’ll probably opt for a ring that doesn't have raised or particularly fragile detail). Tell the salesperson that you’re not sure what you want, and they’ll be more than happy to guide you. Also remember that it’s primarily in movies that you see customers haggling with salespeople over a ring, and is a rarity in reality. A reputable brand like Georg Jensen or Tiffany’s will not make exceptions to accommodate your wallet, no matter how much you love the ring. 

Go Bespoke

If you can’t seem to find anything that you think she’ll love, consider helping to design one yourself. This can range from simply picking out a band, setting and the rock, to literally designing an entirely new piece. For this, you’ll need to go directly to a designer- big brand names generally don’t want to compromise the brand ‘style’ for a one- off piece.

Grab 'n Go

 In other words, steal a ring from your beloved. Take care to grab a ring she wears on her ring finger for the best fit. If, for whatever reason, you can’t grab a ring or approximate her finger size, don’t worry too much. The salespeople will be more than willing to help you estimate using their own hands as examples. Even if you get it completely wrong, you can always have the ring resized (though this will usually cost extra). 

Matchy Matchy

Think about your ring for a second. Generally, couples wear a ring made from the same material. So if she’s going to be yellow gold, usually you will as well. If she’s easy on the subject and you have a strong preference, by all means, go with what you like. You also have to be equally happy, after all.

Go Beyond the Stock- Standard

Sure, a traditional white diamond set in a plain band will do it. But this isn’t the type of ring many go gaga over (unless her style is super traditional). Consider personalising the ring slightly by using a coloured stone, or smaller coloured stones to accent the diamond, or personalising the band. Diamonds come in a huge variety of incredible colours, as well as other precious and semi- precious stones, such as rubies, emeralds, topaz, etc. 

Consult Your Purchasing Checklist Before You Buy

Now's the time to go slow- take your time to shop around and to compare quality, price, and service. Remember to always:

  • Ask for the store's refund and return policy before you make a purchase
  • Check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry, such as a silver stamp, brand stamp, or diamond GIA number.
  • Ask, if your ring has pearls on it, whether they're natural, cultured, or imitation.
  • Ask whether a gemstone is natural, laboratory-created, or imitation.
  • Ask whether the gemstone has been treated in any way. Is the change permanent, or can it be reversed? Is special care required of it?
  • Make sure the jeweler writes down for you, signs and dates any information you relied on when making your purchase, such as the gem's weight or size. Some jewelers also may supply a grading report from a gemological laboratory. 

Alternatives to Buying a Diamond Ring

  • See if there are any family heirlooms you should/ could be using
  • Use other precious or semi- precious stones instead of a diamond (which weren’t in popular use until the aforementioned De Beers campaign)
  • Buy her a temporary ring if you can’t afford the real deal just yet. Although some advise against this and insist that you buy the best you can, now, speaking as a woman, I suggest you ignore this ridiculous advice. I would far prefer to wait a few months (or even years) for a gorgeous ring to wear for the rest of my life over some cheap compromise because you thought I would be impatient or, somehow, embarrassed (what rational human being would react or reason in this way? A construction of the imagination of a man who thinks he understands women far better than he does, I think).
  • Just buy her a beautiful ring that made you think of her, irrespective of whether it has stones in it or not. Think one-of- a-kind designs. A great place to look is on etsy (hundreds of vendors offer fine jewellery), or again, have something custom made. Unless she’s a traditionalist, she’ll love the uniqueness and thought that went into buying or designing the ring. 

Implementing this advice, it'd be pretty tough to not find a ring she'll love. Let the hunting begin!

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