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The Perfect Engagement Ring
There is no magic or scientific formula to finding and purchasing the perfect engagement ring. However, if you know the person you love, learn all you can about what she truly wants, and do your homework, then you will be able to find it.
With a rich history dating back to the 15th century, the diamond engagement ring is an enshrined and deeply rooted symbol of betrothal in western society. Beginning in 1477, as a sign of his love and commitment to his offer of marriage, the Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring to mark their engagement. At this time diamonds were considered a talisman of good fortune for a husband and wife.
Later, in 1870, diamond mines were discovered in southern Africa, which opened up the diamond market. This allowed more people to take on the practice of presenting the diamond engagement ring, which, up until this time, had been a practice only common amongst the wealthy. Worn on the third finger on the left hand, which dates from the Egyptian belief that this was the only finger which held a vein that led straight to the heart (the vena amoris, or vein of love), this began the enduring western legacy of the diamond engagement ring.
When it's time to ask that special someone if she will spend the rest of her life with you, you want to be certain to have the engagement ring to offer as a bond of your undying commitment to your love for her. There are a few important considerations in finding, selecting and purchasing the perfect diamond engagement ring that one needs to be aware of. Amongst these are:
- Cost of the engagement ring
- The type of band for the ring, such as what type of metal the engagement ring band should be.
- The type of diamond with which to highlight the engagement ring.
- Shapes of engagement ring settings.
- Choosing and presenting the engagement ring to your beloved.
It is probably best to begin with the amount of money you will be able to spend on a diamond engagement ring. The industry standard in gauging how much one should spend on an engagement ring has been to suggest two months salary. While this can be a good budgeting tool, you need to understand that it is not a rule, as some economists suggest spending no more than 6 weeks salary or 6% of one's yearly income. The final decision is one that should be based on your own research into finding out what type of engagement ring your loved one actually wants, and then seeing how close that comes to the reality of what you can afford. Remember, this is a symbol of your enduring love for her, not just a pretty ring for any occasion.
The band that will hold your engagement ring around her finger must reflect the eternal nature of your commitment. It is for this reason that the engagement ring band is normally made of gold (yellow, rose or white) or platinum. Silver is not an acceptable band for an engagement ring as it is subject to tarnishing with age; this is not the message you want to send in regards to your love for the woman whom you hope to marry.
Gold of whatever color is measured in carats, with 24 carat being pure gold. The gold engagement ring is most commonly between 14 and 18 carats, with the numbers representing how many parts out of 24 are the metal gold, such as 14 carat being 14 parts gold alloyed with 10 parts of another metal. Platinum, which had been quite popular for use in engagement ring settings up until World War I, has seen resurgence in popularity in recent years, with some estimates as high as 30 % of engagement rings being made of platinum.
In order to choose the perfect diamond for your engagement ring, you should familiarize yourself with the 4Cs of diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. It is well to begin with a standard size diamond of one carat and then decide from there what direction you can go in. For example, a stone of one carat can often be far more valuable than three smaller stones of equal clarity, cut and color. While this might point in the direction of going with the three smaller stones, remember, this is a legacy of your love for your betrothed, and a single large stone is usually viewed as the preferred choice. In regards to color, a G-H range is near colorless, and will appear colorless to the naked eye. Clarity is important, but you can move as far down as the SI (slightly included) range as, once the diamond is set, inclusions will be far more difficult to see. The cut of your diamond depends upon the size of the diamond and the engagement ring settings you are choosing between.
The shape of your diamond engagement ring should show off the diamond, while remaining wearable according to your fiancé's desire. What is meant by this is that an engagement ring is meant to be seen and worn daily, which means that if the bearer of the engagement ring likes to wear clothes that include fibrous textures, such as wool sweaters, then an engagement ring with a high setting, which would catch on such clothing, would probably not be advisable. While a high setting on an engagement ring exhibits a diamond better than a low setting, it is far less practical in most daily situations than a low setting. Similarly, the durability of the ring must also be taken into account. A thin gold band might be attractive, but in certain work environments, such a thin band could be noticeably worn down over time. In such a case, you might want to consider a thicker gold band, or a thin platinum band, for your diamond engagement ring, as platinum is far more durable than gold.
When you have done your research, and you know how much you can spend, understand the different metal bands that can be used for your engagement ring, are familiar with the 4Cs and are aware of the many different engagement ring styles and settings, you should then be ready to begin your shopping. At this point you must decide whether you would like to shop for an engagement ring with your future spouse, or if you would like to make it a surprise.
These days it is common for a woman and man to shop for a diamond engagement ring together. While this does remove the romance of surprise, it takes pressure off of the man to choose without knowing which of the diamond rings she would choose for herself. When your loved one is choosing her own engagement ring, under your budgetary restrictions, of course, she will choose exactly what she wants in terms of engagement ring settings, etc. For the braver, or foolhardy, depending on your point of view, the element of surprise cannot be passed over. For those who would choose this route in purchasing an engagement ring, here are a few ideas to help you:
- Observe what type of diamond jewelry she seems to admire, whether in magazines, on television, in storefront windows, on others, and in her own jewelry box or even in bridal jewelry sections of bride magazines. For example, if she has a number of pieces of antique jewelry items, and tends to noticeably sigh over pictures in which antique jewelry is prominent, it is probably a fair bet that an engagement ring with a nod towards an antique style would be the way to go.
- Talk to her parents. Her parents may recall her talking about specific types of engagement rings. It is not uncommon for a woman to have a set idea of what her perfect engagement ring should look like, even at an early age, and to have shared this information with one or both parents. Asking her parents in this way can also be seen as a nod towards the former days of asking a woman's father for his approval in marrying his daughter.
- Ask one of her friends to help you pick out the engagement ring. More than likely, she has discussed everything under the sun with her friends, including what she would love in an engagement ring and even wedding bands. If her friend can keep a secret, she will probably make it extremely easy for you to find the perfect engagement ring.
There is no magic or scientific formula to finding and purchasing the perfect engagement ring. However, if you know the person you love, learn all you can about what she truly wants, and do your homework - then you will be able to search it out from the thousands of other diamond engagement rings. Just remember to shop around for prices at wholesale fashion jewelry merchants like ours to be sure you are getting everything, including any wholesale diamonds, at a fair price. Be sure to have your ring and any diamonds appraised by an independent appraiser before you make your purchase. Do not forget, that while you need to stay within your budget, and you may want to surprise her, the engagement ring , like all other wedding jewelry, is a lasting, tangible sign of your love for her, and it is a decision that must be made with both the head and the heart.