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The Engagement Ring Guide – Part 2

The perfect engagement ring will make your big moment shine even brighter. Use this guide as you start your quest to buy the right engagement ring for your future bride.

You’ve decided to pop the question — the question, the one that will change everything. But before you can start planning your happily-ever-after with your future bride, you have a little shopping to do.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by how much you need to learn when you set out to buy a diamond engagement ring. Technical information about the 4Cs, conflicting information about how much you need to spend, and hundreds of different styles and options can quickly confuse you.

Use this guide as your starting point to orient yourself to the vast world of diamond engagement rings. We’ll help you understand where to start, and what to consider, before you make your final decision.

Style before science

Buying a diamond engagement ring is nothing like any other purchase you’ve made. There are countless variables that affect beauty, quality and cost. It’s not like buying a car, where you get virtually the same thing every time, with a few options or add-ons. Every diamond is unique, and the ring in which the diamond is set presents countless options as well.

Many people focus first on diamond quality — the “grade” of a diamond based on the 4Cs of color, clarity, carat weight and cut — before they shop for style. The 4Cs were originally conceived as an educational tool to convey why a diamond cost so much. They’re valuable for understanding tradeoffs when buying a diamond within your budget.

But once your fiancée puts the ring on her finger, she isn’t going to go around showing people her “E color, VS1 clarity, 1.2-ct., thick-girdle” diamond ring. She’s going to show off her beautifully designed and brilliantly sparkling engagement ring.

That’s why we recommend focusing first on finding the perfect style for your fiancée — and then finding the right diamond to fit that style. Consider the following options when considering the right engagement ring style.


Diamonds and Gemstones

  • A Diamond Solitaire Is your fiancée interested in a simple and elegant diamond solitaire — a single diamond showcased in a metal band?
  • A Ring with Side Diamonds or Colored GemstonesWould she like an engagement ring with side diamonds or side color gemstones for added dazzle or color?
  •  A Halo RingShe might want a halo ring, which has one center diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds.
  • A Diamond Engagement BandDoes she want a diamond engagement band instead of a ring with larger center stones?
  • Color Gemstones or Color DiamondsDo you think your fiancée-to-be would prefer color gemstones or color diamonds instead of white diamonds in her engagement ring?

Shapes

If you decide to go with a center-stone diamond or a ring with side stones, you’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the shape of your diamonds or gemstones. Your choices include:

  • Round
  • Princess
  • Emerald
  • Marquise
  • Oval
  • Pear
  • Heart

Metals

What metal color and type best fits your fiancée’s style and taste? Do you think she would prefer:

  • PlatinumThe hard, modern look of platinum?
  • White GoldThe softer and contemporary look of white gold?
  • Yellow GoldThe classic yet fashionable look of yellow gold?
  • Rose GoldThe unique and romantic look of rose gold?

Settings

What diamond or gemstone setting is right for your bride-to-be’s engagement ring? Do you think she’d like:

  • ProngThe clean and classic look of a prong setting?
  • ChannelThe extra flash and flair of a channel setting?
  • PavéThe glamorous look of a pavé setting?
  • BezelThe contemporary, striking look of a bezel setting?

Styles

There are as many engagement ring styles as there are personalities in the world. How do you find the one that’s right for your bride-to-be? Start by narrowing down what her personality and style call for:

  • Modern & Classic
  • Vintage-Inspired
  • Clean & Minimalist
  • Glamorous & Ornate
  • Traditional & Understated
  • Dramatic & Unique

The Quest for Quality

Once you’ve narrowed down your style choices, it’s time to start thinking about getting the best quality for your budget.

In the world of engagement rings (and all jewelry, really), quality equals beauty. The higher quality a diamond is, the more beautiful — and the more expensive — it will be. That’s the general rule, anyway. The reality is that you can get a beautiful diamond engagement ring by making simple tradeoffs. We judge diamond quality by the 4Cs:

  • ColorA diamond’s quality is based in part on how white it is. A D grade is the whitest; a Z grade is perfectly yellow. Color changes between D and H are virtually indistinguishable with the naked eye.
  • ClarityThis “C” measures how many internal blemishes, or “inclusions,” a diamond has. While clarity affects a diamond’s perceived quality and price, most inclusions don’t really affect a how a diamond takes in and returns light, which makes it look like it’s lit from within.
  • Carat weightThis “C” is pretty easy to understand: the bigger the diamond, the more expensive it is. However, size alone doesn’t always equal beauty.
  • CutThe way a diamond is cut and proportioned affects how the light shines through it. Well-cut diamonds tend to be more expensive, but they also have more play of light and dazzle, so you can compromise on other “Cs” and still get a gorgeous diamond.

Have your jeweler show you the diamond through a loupe or gemological microscope, and pay attention to how precisely the diamond’s angles are cut, whether there are glaringly visible inclusions and other visual variables that affect a diamond’s beauty. Then, compare how the diamond shines compared to diamonds graded at higher and lower quality. Stand across the room to test the how it looks. Ultimately, you want to choose your diamond based on its beauty.


Finding the right jeweler for your engagement ring purchase

You can spend weeks educating yourself about diamonds, but ultimately getting the best quality and value when buying an engagement ring comes down to trust. When shopping for an engagement ring, look for a jeweler who will:

  1. Express interest in your fiancée-to-be’s unique personality and style, and emphasize what she wants.
  2. Show you the diamond through a gemological microscope or loupe to educate you about cut.
  3. Help you quickly narrow down your options for style.
  4. Focus on helping you find the right style and quality for the price — the best value you can get.

Now that you have the lay of the land: go have fun! This is a chance for you to spend some time thinking about the woman who will be your wife, and the ring you choose should celebrate her personality and spirit with a unique and special symbol of your love. Best of luck!

The Engagement Ring Guide – Part 1

Narrow down your diamond engagement ring choices by observing your future bride’s style — and what jewelry strikes her fancy when she window-shops.

Engagement ring shopping is the perfect example of the paradox of choice. On one hand, it’s reassuring that there’s a perfect ring for every woman. On the other, the sheer number of decisions you face as a ring buyer can be overwhelming. A diamond is forever, as years of advertising have informed us, and that adds a lot of pressure to your choice.

What choices does your future wife make when she wears jewelry today — simple basics or bold, colorful pieces that match her outfits?

When setting out to find the perfect engagement ring, focus on your bride-to-be first — then break down your choices step by step.

Step 1: Define her personal style

You might not have spent a lot of time thinking about your fiancée-to-be’s style — you know she’s beautiful, but what are her tastes and personality? Spend some time observing her fashion choices. (But don’t be too obvious — she’ll definitely know something’s up if you suddenly start staring at her all the time!).

For example, does she gravitate toward:

  • Classic styles: T-shirts and jeans, simple sheath dresses, tweed jackets, basic skirts and slacks?
  • Edgy or retro styles: vintage clothes, steampunk or rockabilly looks, and funky shoes?
  • Feminine, romantic styles: pretty sundresses, ruffled blouses, maxi skirts, delicate sandals?
  • Bold, colorful styles: bright, patterned tunics, platform or high-heeled shoes?

Of course, many women mix and match these different styles. Pay attention to how she dresses for work, as well as hanging out on weekends or dressing up to go out. What is her preferred look?

In addition to how she dresses, consider her lifestyle. The engagement ring you choose should suit her lifestyle. For example, someone who’s athletic might prefer an engagement ring with smaller stones instead of a large diamond solitaire ring; while someone who needs to look well-heeled for her job might want an engagement ring that’s expensive and dramatic.

Step 2: Determine her jewelry style

Your bride-to-be might already have a lot of fine jewelry or perhaps she wears fashion jewelry for fun. Observe the choices she makes when she buys and wears jewelry:

  • Does she gravitate toward white or yellow metals?
  • Does she tend to wear simple basics — stud diamond or pearl earrings, lockets or pendants — or fun pieces that match whatever she’s wearing?
  • Does she often make a statement with her jewelry, choosing colorful, bold, and memorable pieces that other people notice and comment on?
  • Does she tend to prefer a certain gemstone or color? For example, does she wear a lot of jewelry with her own birthstone or have a signature color?
  • Does she have any heirloom pieces of jewelry handed down through her family that she treasures and wears often?

Step 3: Ask for input

If you’re trying to keep your proposal a surprise, you obviously can’t directly ask your fiancée-to-be what she wants in an engagement ring. But there might be covert ways to find out. On your way to a movie theater or restaurant, you’ll probably pass by a jewelry store. Slow down as you pass by the windows, and pay attention to what she oohs and aaahs over as you do.

There’s a lot to learn about a person on social sites like Facebook or Pinterest. Use this to your advantage and log on to see what she’s interested in lately. If you can browse her Pinterest boards, she may have some dedicated to fashion, home design, activities, or just stuff she likes. Jackpot!

Another, more secretive way to get ideas is to ask her family or close friends: best girlfriend, sister, aunt or mother. They’ll be able to give you a female perspective on what your beloved would prefer in an engagement ring.

Step 4: Narrow down your options

Begin to explore the different decisions you’ll need to make about an engagement ring, and use your reconnaissance to help you narrow down your choices. For example, you’ll need to choose from:

  • Diamond solitaire ring, engagement ring with side stones, or a flatter engagement band with diamonds inlaid.
  • White, yellow or rose gold, or platinum.
  • All-white diamonds, color diamonds, or gemstones.
  • Modern, classic or vintage styles.

A trustworthy, reputable jeweler will be able to take the thinking you’ve done about your fiancée-to-be’s taste, personality and lifestyle and help you hone in on the right kinds of styles and options to consider.

Step 5: Determine your budget

Once you’ve done this groundwork, you’ll begin to get an idea of what kind of costs are involved in an engagement ring, which will help you determine a budget. Getting a feel for what you can afford and what you want to spend will help you start making some choices about the right engagement ring for your budget and what tradeoffs you can make to get the best quality and most beauty from a diamond engagement ring.

By focusing on your bride-to-be — who she is and how she expresses herself — you’ll arrive at the engagement ring that she’ll be proud to wear forever.

Winter Wedding Ideas

Winter is truly a wonderland when it comes to inexpensive and creative ideas for your wedding. There are so many fun wintery elements that you can incorporate into your décor to really make your wedding unique. Winter has many possible themes, whether your wedding is centered around the excitement of the Holidays or the quiet peacefulness of nature as it goes dormant. Below are some great winter wedding ideas that will make your big day an event to remember.

Table Settings and Center Pieces
Since few plants flower in the winter, why not skip the flowers on your tables and utilize what mother nature gives you for free. Gather pine cones, twigs, and berries to use as a part of your center piece. They are easy to find and can be painted white, silver, gold, or red to really make them stand out. You can also buy metallic floral spraypaint from a craft store and use it to “frost” your natural elements to make them look elegant and wintery. This DIY centerpiece will cost you very little money, but the results will be priceless.

winter_cp1

Cocktails and Meals
Plan to serve some special wintery cocktails to get everyone feeling warm and toasty. Hot Toddys, cinnamon martinis, or irish coffee are great drinks to warm the soul. Coordinate with the vendor who is providing your bar and see if they can help you choose some seasonal cocktail options to offer your guests.

 

For your meal, consider fare such as game, fowl, or roast rack of lamb. Serve with harvest-type vegetables like squash and root vegetables. You may also want to serve a hearty soup such as pumpkin or butternut squash. Choosing seasonal foods will usually cut down on the catering costs.

rosemary-lamb-ck-438253-lhotbutterrum

Setting the Mood
For an intimate atmosphere, use lots of candles at each table but keep the overhead room lighting low. This will really warm up the room and enhance the mood of your celebration. For a brighter and lighter atmosphere, try using white Christmas lights or paper lanterns to illuminate the room in a wash of light, which will give everything a magical feel. These affordable lighting solutions will really help set the tone for your reception.

winterlights

Winter Wedding Color Palettes
Winter is the time of the year when nature goes dormant, so this should be reflected in your color palette. Stick with various shades of white along with cool and neutral colors for your wedding color palette. Creative accents can add a splash of color against the neutral background.

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