A Definitive Guide for Choosing an Engagement Ring

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by Suzanne Sachs  5 min read

engagement-rings

THE BASICS --

An engagement ring is a significant purchase for many reasons. Not only does this one piece of jewelry represent a romantic commitment and the start of a couple’s life together, but it can also be a big financial decision, a lifelong style statement, a showpiece of a couple’s values, and an heirloom for future generations. This makes buying an engagement ring a complex and possibly overwhelming decision, but Vintage Diamond Ring is here to help. This complete guide to buying an engagement ring can help you choose, purchase, and feel confident in just the right engagement ring for you, your relationship, and your happily ever after.

What You Need To Know--

Is an Engagement Ring Necessary?

Before buying an engagement ring, consider if, as a couple, you want such a symbolic ring at all. Not all couples choose an engagement ring, but if you are uncertain, you may come to regret not having such a traditional symbol of your promise together. Discuss your feelings about engagement rings with your partner, as well as style preferences, budget, and other details to be certain you both agree about this important purchase. These discussions can also help you feel more comfortable as you shop for an engagement ring, because you will already have some sense of the type of ring you and your loved one prefer.

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Budgeting for an Engagement Ring

How Much Should You Spend?

The rule about spending two months’ salary on an engagement ring is a falsehood perpetuated by retailers at a time when the diamond market was expanding and more couples were interested in purchasing diamond engagement rings. Today, couples should consider their engagement ring budget carefully, taking into account other financial obligations including debts, savings, and other expenses. While the average cost of an engagement ring is roughly $5,000, there are many gorgeous and meaningful rings available at any price point, no matter how much or how little a couple may be comfortable with or able to spend.

Saving up for several months before buying an engagement can help couples feel more financially secure for the purchase, and many retailers offer payment plans or in-house financing to help couples more easily afford the ring of their dreams. Considering estate rings, antique and vintage engagement rings, or non-traditional ring designs is another way to make the most of a budget without compromising on the beauty and distinctiveness of the engagement ring.

Diamond Education: The 4 C's

The more a couple knows about diamonds, the better prepared they will be to purchase a quality stone that will last a lifetime. The key to being a savvy diamond buyer is the four Cs of diamond quality: carat, cut, color, and clarity.

• Diamond Carat

The overall weight of a diamond is measured in carats. Larger diamonds don’t always look larger, however, depending on their cut, shape, and orientation in a ring’s setting, as well as how thick or thin the fingers may be where the ring will be worn. A diamond a fraction of a carat smaller may also be far more affordable as well, such as a stone that is nine-tenths of a carat in weight rather than a full carat, though the size difference will not be immediately apparent to
the eye.

• Diamond Cut

The cut of a diamond is the stone’s overall shape and proportions. While there are many different diamond shapes, the proportional cut gives stone the best possible dimensions to effectively scatter light for a more brilliant, sparkling appearance. As with carat, however, a diamond with a slightly less than ideal cut can be just as beautiful as another stone but for a far more affordable price.

• Diamond Color

Diamonds range from perfectly colorless (D,E,F) to near colorless (H,I,J,K) to slightly tinted brownish or yellowish hues (K,L,M). The darker the tone, the less desirable the diamond may be, but stones with some color can have more character and distinction than colorless diamonds. The preference for stone color also changes over time, and antique and vintage engagement rings often feature diamonds with more color. Some diamonds also have “fancy” colors in brilliant shades such as pink, yellow, or blue, which can be stunning in different engagement ring styles.

• Diamond Clarity

The clarity of a diamond is a judgment of any flaws in the stone’s crystalline structure. A flawless diamond has no visible inclusions, chips, shadows, or other imperfections. Many small flaws, however, can be cleverly concealed with a diamond’s cut or shape, or the setting that showcases the stone. Small flaws and inclusions can also be difficult to see or may add identifiable character and individuality to the stone.

In addition to the four Cs, many couples also consider a diamond’s shape when choosing an engagement ring. The round diamond is the most traditional and popular choice for engagement rings, but other shapes are also lovely, including the elongated oval, emerald, pear, or marquise shapes, as well as the bold square princess or radiant shapes. Some couples prefer the whimsical romance of a heart-shaped diamond or the uniqueness of the three-sided trilliant shape, while the vintage look of a cushion-shaped stone is another fine choice.

• Ethical and Conflict Free Diamonds

Another consideration in diamond education is often called the fifth C – conflict. Many socially- conscious couples want to ensure that their diamond engagement ring is ethically sourced, and that the stone has not contributed to terrorist operations, human trafficking, slave-like labor, environmental destruction, or civil wars. By choosing a diamond that is certified conflict-free, couples will feel comfortable knowing they are not supporting blood diamonds and the horrors they can sustain.

sapphire-engagement-rings

Gemstone Engagement Rings

Diamonds aren’t the only option for an engagement ring. Many beautiful gemstone engagement rings feature emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and other stunning gems that bring a burst of color and personality to the jewelry. Gemstone rings can be more affordable than diamond engagement rings, and couples can choose a gemstone with personal significance to them and their relationship, such as a birthstone, favorite color, or other sentimental stone. A ring can even be designed with multiple gemstones for different layers of meaning, and diamond accents can be used to add sparkle and glamour to the piece.

Just as with diamonds, couples should thoroughly investigate the gemstone they are interested in, and learn what constitutes a quality stone and a good value. Look at different stone shapes and sizes, different colors, and different ring designs to find one that truly showcases a colored gem to its greatest advantage and beauty, making it a worthy symbol of an engagement.

Engagement Ring Styles and Designs

Whether a couple chooses a diamond or gemstone as the centerpiece of their engagement ring, there are many ring styles to choose from. The classic solitaire, with or without side accent stones, remains the most popular engagement ring choice with its elegant simplicity. Other popular options include:

  • Three stone rings representing a couple’s past, present, and future.
  • Halo settings with a large center stone surrounded by a ring of small accent diamonds.
  • Bezel settings that protect an inset stone with a firm and distinctive design.
  • Pave settings that shimmer with a coating of small diamonds on the band.
  • Split-shank settings that lighten a ring and draw the eye to the center stone.
  • Bridal sets that integrate both the engagement ring and wedding band into one design.
  • Cluster settings that bring together multiple stones to simulate a larger center stone.
  • Vintage engagement rings that highlight jewelry eras, such as Art Deco, Victorian, or Edwardian.

In addition to choosing the engagement ring style, couples can also choose the metals that make up their engagement ring. While white and yellow gold are perpetually popular options, other shades of gold such as rose or sage can be equally beautiful. Platinum is another fine choice for a durable and bright engagement ring. Titanium and palladium are other choices, and couples can mix and match metals or a truly unique and one-of-a-kind ring.

pear-shaped-ring

Choosing a Retailer

Once you are ready to buy an engagement ring, choosing just the right retailer can make the process much more comfortable and encouraging. Decide whether a larger, online retailer may offer you the best selection, or if you prefer to work with a smaller local business. Choose a retailer who carries a large inventory of rings in styles you like, and browse their different collections to get ideas about what would suit you and your relationship. Investigate the retailer’s policies, such as any certifications or authentication services they provide, as well as return or refund policies, ring cleaning and care options, resizing, and gift packaging. You should not only feel great about the ring you buy, but the retailer you buy it from.

Protecting Your Purchase

The last step in buying an engagement ring is to protect this valuable, irreplaceable purchase. Be sure you have proper documentation on your ring – its GIA grading reports and authentication papers if necessary, as well as sales receipts, ownership records, and maintenance schedules – and consult with your home or property insurance company to arrange additional coverage if needed in case of theft or damage. Speak with your retailer about how to properly care for your ring, and plan to bring it to a reputable jeweler for regular inspections and proper cleanings in years to come to keep it always looking its best, long after the I dos.

Buying an engagement ring can be just as much of a commitment as the question you will ask with that ring. By thoroughly understanding engagement rings, diamonds, gemstones, and different engagement ring options, however, you can feel more comfortable with the purchase and be ready to choose the engagement ring that will best represent your love and your life together with that special someone.

Antique Engagement Rings For Everyone:

No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.

Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:

Antique diamond cuts are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of vintage engagement rings today!

 

Suzanne Sachs

Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. She ultimately started VintageDiamondRing.com in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.

 

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