How to Buy an Engagement Ring

A Guy’s Guide to Getting Hitched, our editorial series to guide you from the days leading up to your engagement to those following your wedding, continues. This week: Part three.

Before you ask for her hand in marriage, you’d better sort out what you’ll put on said hand if she accepts. They say a diamond is forever, but a tacky cubic zirconia could be forever, too, if you opt for one now. If she’s not an OCD-type who wants to pick her own ring, you’ve got to pull this one together yourself. And it better be perfect. How to buy the right engagement ring.

Start Early
Start scouting long before your intended question-popping date. Once you finally decide, ring settings can take a couple weeks.

Spend Prudently
De Beers, apparently, invented the two months’ salary thing. A better rule of thumb: Be reasonable, and avoid starting your new life together in debt.

Think Small
A big diamond is like a pricey sports car — it gets attention, but not always the right kind. Learn the four Cs and go for a small, high-quality diamond instead of a large one with tiny flaws (which, surely, she’d notice).

Be Old-Fashioned
Ask her dad’s permission; he might just offer an heirloom. It’s more meaningful that way. And by meaningful I mean cheap.

It’s like buying a car; most independent jewellers negotiate. It might be worth a trip to NYC’s Diamond District for some serious bargaining. Just make sure the rock is properly certified.

Go Blood-Free
Get a Kimberley Process-approved conflict-free diamond. Or, ditch diamonds for sapphires or rubies.

Get Help
Shop with a trustworthy female – her best friend, or your sister. She could save you from an eternity of shame – or the harshest rejection of your life.

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Simms Photography on Flickr.


3 thoughts on “How to Buy an Engagement Ring”

  1. Having gone through this process six months ago I highly recommend building the ring yourself. It will ALWAYS come out cheaper and you’ll get a much bigger bang for your buck.

    Oh, and besides the C’s don’t forget about Polish. Make sure it’s excellent or higher as this is what makes that pretty rock shine.

  2. What Korman said below. Anyone buying a ring already made sitting in the store is throwing away money. Even better, if you can find a custom jewler they will usually sell you the stone wholesale. My wife’s ring was appraised independantly at nearly 4x what I paid for it.

  3. Good advice. Do not overlook also estate sales. Many rings come with written appraisals for far more than the ring is selling for. Good antique shops know what they are talking about and the settings can be checked and repaired if necessary. If you are truly looking for a deal (and are willing to take a chance) some pawn shops sell great pieces that can be sized or restyled for a fraction of the cost of a diamond at a retail jewelers. I bought my wife a great 1/3 caret diamond from a pawn shop for $150 (appraisal $2000.00) and reset it as a pendant. There is no such thing as a “new” diamond. All diamonds are ancient, so you might as well get a good deal.

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