Picking out an engagement ring isn’t the kind of thing you can just up and decide to do. (So guys, congratulations if you thought you could because you’re SOL if that’s the case.)
Shopping for the Ring of a Lifetime takes careful planning. It takes making a list, checking it twice – and then rewriting the whole thing two times over. It takes asking for help – and lots of it from your friends, your partner’s friends and family members.
Sometimes, it takes crawling through Pinterest pages and diary excerpts. Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Knowing what to get the girl or guy of your dreams on that Very Special Day when you Pop the Question isn’t something you should take lightly.
You don’t wake up one morning thinking, “Oh, I’ll go and buy an engagement ring today.” (And if it does happen like that, chances are the margin of success is very, very limited.)
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before hitting the pavement in search of the perfect bling.
Know what she likes.
Before you so much as Google “engagement,” let’s get one thing straight: The ring is all about the wearer. Sure, you’re going to pick it out – but it really has nothing to do with you.
It’s very “Lord of the Rings”-esque, but the ring changes everything for the person who’ll spend forever wearing it.
So before you shop, search or thumb through magazines, think long and hard about what your partner wants. What she likes. What she’s been hinting at for the past seven years.
Remember what she hates.
In the same vein, bear in mind the rings that your partner absolutely isn’t interested in. Chances are that she isn’t hoping for an identical match to the one her best friend’s sister was just given – and she definitely doesn’t want anything remotely close to the ring her sister-in-law is sporting.
Pay attention when she drops hints. She’s dropping them for a reason.
And if you don’t know… ask.
You’re probably not going into this engagement blind, so don’t be afraid to bring the topic up when you’re together.
You don’t have to give away exactly how you’re planning on doing things, or even when you’re asking, but it would serve you well to put the questions to your partner: What kind of ring does she love? What does she loathe? Is she looking for something more commercial, or something with a really personal meaning? Is she hoping for her grandmother’s ring? Her mom’s?
If you don’t know, there’s no harm in asking.
Make a plan.
You need a plan of attack. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you do… because you do. You need to know where to go, what shops to visit, which places are off-limits and what rings are completely outside of your budget.
Know before you go. You’ll be so thankful you do.
Know before you go: the four C’s of ring shopping.
Repeat after us: Cut, color, clarity and carat weight. Even though these might not speak volumes to you, the four C’s of an engagement ring are definitely important to your partner.
And if those four C’s don’t mean anything to you, don’t be afraid to ask an expert to help you understand why they’re so important.
Consider the four C’s the structure of your shopping list: What cut does she want? Is color level a factor? What even is color level? Does clarity even matter? How is carat weight a thing?
An expert, a girlfriend or even your partner, herself, can help you understand why these are so important. (Plus, you want to make sure you aren’t getting ripped off on a ring that may not be worth all you paid for it – and what is worse than that?)
Shop with a list.
You’ll likely have an idea of the rings that your beau picked out, so use that as a jumping off point. Start there – and see what happens.
You don’t have to stick to your list, but knowing what you’re looking for – size, cut, color and pricing for starters – helps alleviate the pressure when you get to the store.
At most, it’ll keep you away from the rings you don’t want and keep you focused on the goal.
Get up and get to the store.
There may be few cases on record where a guy has been successful shopping for an engagement ring online. So do yourself a favor and assume that you won’t be part of the select few who’ve done it successfully and get yourself to the store.
You need to see the rings in person to know what you’re looking for, to know what you want and, more importantly, to know what you don’t want.
Storefronts like Two by London even give you the five-star treatment: They’ll pick you up and bring you to the store. All you have to do is, literally, lift a finger.
Make sure you’re meeting with a certified GIA expert.
A GIA expert, you say? WTF is that? A GIA expert is someone who knows gems inside and out – and they can make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth no matter what ring you decide on.
And most of the time, GIA experts work at the stores you’re visiting. You can meet with one, ask all your questions and feel confident that you’re getting the best, most reliable information there is, so you have everything you need before making the first step toward happily ever after.
Sit on it.
Nobody buys the car on the first test-drive. Remember that. It’s OK to find a few you like, narrow down your list and then sit on it for a few days. Give your mind a few days’ time to shave off the rings you’re not totally in love with.
Once you know which ones you’re really serious about, that’s when you call in reinforcements…
Solicit advice from the people closest to your partner.
The people closest to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with are the people you need to check in with. They know better than anyone what kind of ring the woman (or man) of your dreams is hoping for.
They can tell you know on the spot if it’s wrong, cry tears of joy when it’s right, or remind you to keep looking.
Go back and visit the ring.
You know how people will tell you, time and time again, to try something before you buy it? To wait and see if you like it? To give it a few days before you commit?
The same holds true for engagement rings. Even after you’ve checked every box, crossed every “t” and dotted every “i,” you still need to make sure you’re 100 percent committed to your purchase.
So sit on it for a few days. Go back and visit your ring. Treat it like the puppy in the window and go back to see it.
When you’re certain, without a doubt, that it’s the one – that’s when you buy.
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