The Engagement Ring Guide – Part 3

When is a ring not just a ring? When it has a ring that goes along with it — and we’re not just talking wedding bands here.

Engagement ring styles are varied and the choice can be mind-boggling, but let’s go ahead and add a bit more complexity into the mix: a matching band. Another ring, you say? Yes and no — we’ll elaborate.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a matching wedding band, and, of course, a few reasons not to. We’ll start with saying “yes” to the band.

When the match counts


The easiest way to match the engagement ring and wedding band is to purchase a set that’s been designed to go together. These “bridal sets” are found at many jewelry stores. A bridal set on the ring finger looks thoughtful, finished and elegant. For a matched look that includes the groom, consider “trio sets,” which have a matching engagement ring and wedding band for her, and a complementing band for him.

You can absolutely match a wedding band to an engagement ring without purchasing a designed-to-match set. It just takes a little bit of savvy.

One of the easiest ways to create a match is to look for a matching style to the engagement ring:

  • A vintage-inspired wedding band to go with a vintage-inspired engagement ring.
  • A classic solitaire ring with a classic band.
  • Perhaps a knife-edge band with a contemporary ring.

What is key is that the bands be similar in width. A wide wedding band could overwhelm a smaller engagement ring and vice versa. Think about the rings in terms of proportion.

If the engagement ring has engraving on it, then you want the same engraving style, one that’s very similar or none at all. A different engraving style could clash with the engagement ring.

If you want color diamonds and/or gemstones in your wedding band, make sure they match with the colors of the stone or stones in the engagement ring. A wedding band with pink and yellow diamonds is not going to work with a white diamond and tanzanite engagement ring. Trust us!

Matching metals

Metal is another way to think about matching bands, and there’s no other way to say this: The metals and colors need to be the same. Platinum and platinum. Rose gold and rose gold. Of course, some rings are made in mixed metals and look perfectly beautiful because they are designed that way. But if you have a two-tone band on your engagement ring, look for a two-tone wedding band to complement it.

Enhancing It

 

If you’ve purchased a smaller solitaire stone or one with a lower clarity grade with a little less sparkle, an “enhancer ring” may be the right add-on to boost the “bling factor” of the engagement ring. And you might not be done — you may still want to purchase a wedding band after that.

 

An enhancer ring dials up the beauty of an engagement ring by complementing it with additional stones (diamonds and/or precious gemstones), which boosts the size of the ring and changes its appearance. Usually enhancers are curved to fit around the center stone of your engagement ring, making them look as if they were created together. Another type of two-sided enhancer accents both sides of the engagement ring; the engagement ring usually slips into an opening in this enhancer, so they appear as one complete ring.

We match but the rings won’t

Not everyone is looking to match their rings. It’s a personal choice, and it may be yours.

Some people just don’t like to match. Maybe the bride-to-be was the girl in second grade with the crazy pink and green socks and orange, blue and black argyle sweater. Maybe that style has evolved, but it doesn’t include what she derisively terms “matchy-matchy.” If matching is not what’s wanted, then it’s not what’s going on the bride’s finger.

And just because the engagement ring and wedding band are worn on the same finger, it doesn’t mean they’ll always be worn together. Many women only wear their engagement rings during their engagement or for several years into their marriage.

Lives are busy and complex and hands (and rings) can take a beating. Perhaps your fiancée has a job that could put her ring in danger. Or she may put her engagement ring away for safe keeping, only taking it out for special occasions or “dress up.” Her wedding band becomes “everyday wear.” Kind of like what you’ll be doing with the “good china” and the everyday dishes. If your wife-to-be has a lifestyle that works this way, there is no true need to match the styles of engagement ring and the band.

As with just about everything in the “getting to the wedding” process, to match or not to match is a personal question. But now you have some ideas to help you plan your approach. If you’re looking to match, think proportions, think metals, think styles, think sets. And if you’re not, well, you don’t have to worry about it.

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.

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