"Will you marry me?" is one of the most important questions you will ever ask. Naturally, you want the perfect ring to go with the proposal — and finding perfection takes time. About 35 percent of couples spend three months or less looking for the right engagement ring, while 24 percent of couples spend four to six months picking out just the right bling before formalizing the engagement, according to The Engagement Ring Bible.
Most people will turn to the Internet, talk to their friends and family and ask their fiancé-to-be some questions to help steer toward the right decision, but what do you do when it actually comes to making the purchase? Should you buy your engagement ring online — after all, you can buy just about anything online these days — or, should you make a trip to the store and do your buying in-person? We've compared both options to help you in your quest for just the right diamond engagement ring.
Choose the Right QualityAn engagement ring is an investment, and it’s one you want your fiancé to wear with pride. Determining quality is the first step you would take with any investment. Diamond quality can be broken down into four core characteristics, or the 4Cs:
- Carat weight
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created these four grading methods, which are now in widespread use. The color grading scale begins with the letter "D," which indicates a colorless diamond, and it continues all the way to "Z," which indicates the highest level of color. The clarity scale is designed to indicate the presence of inclusions or blemishes in the stone. The scale begins with "flawless" and descends to "included." Diamonds come in all different kinds of cuts, one more desirable than another based only on taste, but the quality of the cut can be determined. The GIA's scale for cut starts with "excellent" and drops to "poor." The final, and perhaps most easily recognized characteristic to the shopper, is carat weight — or size. The more carats a diamond is, the higher the price tag. A single carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams.
GIA, the American Gem Society (AGS) and the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) all grade diamonds using the 4Cs, though their assessments can vary. GIA is generally considered the most popular diamond certification organization in the industry. It is important to look at these certificates when you are selecting a diamond. The lure of shopping online for an engagement ring is the same as shopping for anything else. You have thousands upon thousands of options all at your fingertips, and you don't even have to venture outside. You can also narrow your search to look for engagement rings with diamonds only certified by GIA or one of the other gem organizations.
Remember, though — just as the benefits of online shopping are the same, so are the potential pitfalls. You can have all the quality assurance in the world, but you could receive something very different than expected. You are at the mercy of the website's description of the engagement ring and its honesty. Some websites are certainly reputable, but exercise caution when choosing an online merchant. On the other hand, when you are shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you can see and hold exactly what you are buying before you hand over your credit card. You may not be able to determine the 4Cs by yourself, but a jewelry store will have the experts who can. Not only will the associates at a store be able to demonstrate the quality of an engagement ring you are interested in, but they will also be able to help you work with your price point and steer you toward the type of engagement ring with just the right style and sparkle to stun your spouse-to-be.
Select the Features
Most people are novices when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring, and it is easy to become lost in the sea of different styles. Princess or pear cut? White gold or platinum? The decision is tough, and it definitely matters. Brides ranked the following as the most important feature when it comes to their engagement rings, according to The Engagement Ring Bible:
- Overall design: 86.2 percent of brides
- Price: 62.7 percent of brides
- Color: 58.5 percent of brides
- Sentiment: 58.3 percent of brides
- Size: 47.7 percent of brides
The diamond is the centerpiece of the engagement ring, so pick the cut you want first. Some of the top cuts include:
If you're looking for inspiration, look up some celebrity engagement rings. Beyoncé wears an 18-carat emerald cut ring from Jay Z, while Mila Kunis wears a classic round cut engagement ring from Ashton Kutcher. Most of us can't spring for a 33-carat Asscher cut diamond engagement ring like Elizabeth Taylor wore from on-and-off-and-on-again husband Richard Burton, but the fabulous and famous are a good way to get an idea of different styles. The next important feature of any engagement ring is its setting. The setting is going to show off that brilliant diamond. Popular settings include:
- Bar. Small diamonds, each spaced out by a metal bar, surround the entire engagement ring in this setting.
- Bezel. A thin piece of precious metal surrounds the large center diamond of the engagement ring.
- Channel. This setting holds a row of smaller diamonds around the entire band.
- Cluster. The central stone is nestled amongst a number of smaller diamonds in the cluster setting.
- Gypsy. Unlike most other settings, the gypsy setting has the stone sunken into the band so the diamond is even with the rest of the engagement ring.
- Micro pave. Tiny stones run around the entire large diamond in this setting.
- Pave. In the pave setting, smaller stones surround the entire center diamond.
- Prong. Four to six prongs, typically, raise the diamond above its band.
- Shared prong. A common prong supports neighboring diamonds on an engagement ring with a shared prong setting.
Last, but not least, you have to decide on the metal for the engagement ring's band. While the look of the precious metal is important, you also have to consider durability. Yellow, white and rose gold are three of the top options. Each of these metals is combined with a different alloy to strengthen it since gold is a soft metal. For instance, white gold, which is yellow gold coated with rhodium, is a beautiful metal, but it can lose its coating.
If your fiancé doesn't like the buttery or rosy luster of gold, consider platinum or palladium. Both of these metals have a silver color — palladium is darker — and have the added benefit of being hypoallergenic. Now that you know more about the different cuts, settings and bands, how do you pick the right one? Online you're on your own. You could be a savvy shopper who knows your fiancé's tastes like the back of your hand, but most people are going to be a little nervous about the guesswork involved. Even if you are the rare person to know just what style of engagement ring to pick, your online purchase may not line up with your expectations once you see it in person. Online pictures often don't accurately capture their subject. Once again, in-store experts will come to your rescue when it comes to deciding on different features. You can sneak a couple of pieces of jewelry your intended already owns to the store, and the sales associates can take a look to get an idea of her style preferences. Alternatively, you can talk about significant other's personality. Does she love a touch of glamour and flash, or does she lean toward the understated and classic look? With just a couple of tidbits of insider information, an in-store associate will be able to narrow down your choices and help you find just the right style. Plus, there will be no surprises when it comes to the engagement ring's appearance.
Online shopping certainly has a number of immediate benefits. You have the chance for savings and a quicker, more convenient shopping process. However, an engagement ring is a lifetime purchase. Your spouse will love and wear that engagement ring every day. If you think about the future, spending a little more in store can be more than worth it. Online retailers may be great for a one-time transaction, and they likely have some type of return policy, but aside from that, your interaction with the seller is finished after the sale. On the other hand, you can build a lasting relationship with a trusted jewelry store. A jewelry store with a quality showroom will offer benefits that come along with the committed purchase of an engagement ring. Your spouse will be wearing her engagement ring long after the magic of the wedding and the honeymoon are over, and day-to-day life means wear and tear. An engagement ring bought from a jeweler can come with lifetime cleaning and inspection, while you would need to find somewhere yourself to clean and maintain an engagement ring bought online. If the engagement ring becomes scratched or dirty, you want to be sure you have a place that can bring it back to its original sparkle and shine.
This may seem obvious, but what if the engagement ring doesn't fit quite right? In the romantic, whirlwind moment of the proposal, the perfect fit will hardly seem to matter. However, once wearing the engagement ring becomes part of the daily routine, your fiancé could realize it is a little loose or a bit too tight. You don't want to lose the ring or have it be uncomfortable to wear. With an online purchase, you will have to do a bit of research to find a jeweler to fit the ring and pay a fee. If you've decided to a buy an engagement ring from a jeweler, you can likely bring it back to the store for a free professional fitting. Your fiancé will feel, rightly so, the engagement ring was made just for her.
Perhaps more importantly, you can purchase an in-store engagement ring with a lifetime warranty. The sentimental value of an engagement ring is priceless. You will want to have a plan in place if something were to happen to it. One of the smaller stones could be knocked loose, or even the center diamond. A lifetime warrantee will guarantee you can repair the engagement ring, the ring your spouse could not imagine going through life not wearing.
Sometimes the right engagement ring just isn't in your price range, but you just can't wait to pop the question. Love comes first, and the perfect ring can come later. You could buy a filler engagement ring online and save up for just the right one, but some jewelry stores offer you a better option. A trade-in option allows you to apply 100 percent of your original diamond purchase price toward the purchase of a more valuable diamond from the store. Then, your partner can have the engagement ring of her dreams and lifetime relationship with a trusted jeweler.
An engagement ring is one of the most personal and memorable gifts you will ever give. Shouldn't the shopping experience match? Online shopping is an impersonal experience. You do not have the chance to speak with anyone else, ask for advice or hear other proposal stories. The stories you have to tell are part of the magic of promising to be with someone forever. Buying an engagement ring the same place you buy the latest book you want to read or order your groceries is not a story.
When you walk into the jewelry store where you will find the engagement ring you want to buy, you are about to begin an extraordinary experience you will want to tell everyone about. You can laugh with your fiancé about trying out different rings and proposal speeches on the sales associates, just so you can try to imagine what it will actually be like on that special day. You can tell her how you saw engagement ring after engagement ring until you started to get a nervous feeling you'd never find the one, until the showroom associate held up the diamond that now rests on her ring finger. You can laugh with your family and friends when they tease you for being so nervous. You can tell your kids how tightly you held the box in your hand after you left the store, scared you would drop the engagement ring that already meant so much.
Trust Mountz for the Jewelry That Matters MostAn engagement ring is so much more than a diamond set in a precious metal. It is the first step you will take together as a couple committed to a lifetime together. From the 4Cs and the engagement ring's design to the assurance it will stand the test of time and the stories you will tell for years to come, you want everything to go just right. The moment she sees it, you will know all the effort you spent in that jewelry showroom was worth it. Let us help you find the diamond engagement ring worthy of a lifetime. Visit one of our convenient locations and trust your special moments to Mountz!
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