Take time researching the investment that will be with the two of you for your entire married life. Between the monetary and emotional worth of an engagement ring, it is a symbol of the value of your love.
For centuries, diamonds have been the traditional stone for engagement rings. Though traditional, they have never been the sole option. Find out from her family and friends whether she has her heart set on a diamond. If she doesn't, be creative in finding a ring that symbolizes your relationship. Choose a precious stone that has personal meaning, reset a family heirloom, or have an artisan handcraft a unique piece.
How Much to Spend
You should spend between one and three month's salary for the ring. Don't be pressured to spend an unrealistic amount, but make your decision on how much to spend logically and practically. Be aware that the ring will depreciate in value simply when you leave the store, so only buy a ring when you are entirely sure.
Choosing a Diamond
Quality is going to be your first consideration, so go to several reputable jewelers and get a good perspective on your options. Also, you'll need this knowledge about diamonds:
1. Cut – You'll have to choose between round, pear, emerald, princess, marquise, oval and other shapes. Every diamond is cut to shape, but when cut poorly, it looses some of its brilliance. Beware of flaws in the cutting of the 57-58 facets on the surface of a diamond.
2. Color - The most valuable diamonds that are graded as “D” are the traditional white, or colorless. Diamonds with distinct color are called "Fancies." Colored tones continue down the scale to a “Z” grade.
3. Clarity – Diamonds come raw with tiny clouds or feathers inside. A diamond graded "IF," which stands for internally flawless, is of the very highest quality. "I3" is the worst level of diamond clarity grading. Unless you have the money to spend, look for one graded ASI1," or Slightly Included 1, which will only have imperfection that can’t be seen without equipment.
4. Carat – Carats measure the weight of the diamond, with the regular engagement ring weight usually being one to one and a half carats.
As you discuss diamonds with jewelers, look out for diamonds that have been improved artificially. Watch for misleading language like "clarity enhanced." When you purchase a diamond, be sure you get a gem certificate, a fully detailed receipt and a warranty or guarantee for the official quality of the ring.
If the risks that come with going to jewelers overwhelm you, consider getting a cert stone. Independent gem laboratories, like the Gemmological Institute of America, professionally assess, code, and grade diamonds using laser techniques. Purchasing a cert stone will ensure that you aren't conned into buying a less valuable colorless stone, such as white sapphires or topaz.
Choose a Ring She'll Love
The hardest part may come in figuring out which ring she'll love the best. Ask her girlfriends and mom. Look at her Pinterest pages. Look at her taste in jewelry and rings: Large or small? Single or multiple stones? Yellow or white gold, silver or platinum? Keep your ears open for anything she says about other girls' rings. Above all, let your choice show your love.