• Steve Mummery

The Do's and Don'ts of engagement ring shopping

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

If you’ve never gone engagement ring shopping before, the process might feel a bit daunting. With so many stones, metals, and styles to choose from, plus the fact that you may not know exactly what your partner is looking for, you may be feeling anxious before even stepping foot into a jewellery store.

Read on and learn the top must-do's and definitely-do-nots of engagement ring shopping.

DO: Learn the basics

It pays to study up on the basics—namely, the 4Cs of diamond shopping, carat, cut, clarity and colour and how to differentiate the most common diamond shapes before engagement ring shopping. That's a pretty easy one for Dr. Google - just delete your history if you have a shared computer if you’re keeping it a surprise. Remember: cover your tracks.

DON’T: Rush the shopping process

I recommend starting to research engagement rings at least six months before you’re planning on proposing (26 percent of proposers plan even further out!). This time frame not only provides some space to consider your partner’s style, but also gives you time to save some money or budget as needed for the purchase.

DO: Look for hints

Your partner may be dropping hints—and it’s up to you to find them! If you can, check out their Pinterest boards to see if they’ve pinned any rings recently. Keep an eye out for any comments about jewellery they make on social media — this can be as subtle as liking or commenting on a photo of someone else’s engagement ring or wedding band.

Another great way to figure out their ring style is to ask their friends — someone they go shopping with often is quite likely to have some insight into what they’d like. Just make sure said friend is trustworthy and will stay tight-lipped if you’re planning a surprise proposal! Finally, think about their wardrobe and the types of jewelry or accessories they wear day to day. If they wear mostly silver-toned jewellery, a white gold or platinum ring might be best. But if they’re into warmer-toned jewellery, focus on yellow or rose gold rings.

DO: Find the right retailer

Be sure to buy from a retailer that offers free resizing and an upgrade policy. This will allow you to adjust your ring’s band size and upgrade the size of the diamond as needed. Read reviews on Google or anywhere you can find them or get recommendations from family members or friends. You’ll also want to find a retailer that’s geographically convenient, as you’ll likely have to make multiple trips.

DON’T: Feel like you must spend three-months’ salary

The average cost of an engagement ring is about $5,000—but how much you choose to spend is a matter of personal preference, your comfort level and where you’re at financially. Ask yourself: How much can I afford to spend considering my savings, income, and expenses?

DO: Choose the setting first

When it comes to figuring out how to buy an engagement ring, in most cases you should choose the setting first. If you first figure out the type of setting that will work best for your partner’s lifestyle and personal style, the choice of diamond becomes easier. Further, the metal you choose for the setting will help determine the colour grade of the centre diamond.

DO: Customise together

If you’d like to create a completely custom ring, we recommend designing it with your partner. Since a custom ring has essentially endless possibilities, this is the time to bring your creative minds together and build something that represents your relationship as well as your partner’s personal style. This also negates the risk of you (or your jeweller) designing something that is not a good fit for your fiancé-to-be.

DO: Think about the recipient’s lifestyle

When engagement ring shopping, consider your partner’s hobbies, lifestyle and sense of style. Ladies, for those drawn to clean, elegant looks, a solitaire ring is often the perfect choice. If they love complex outfits with lots of layers, a halo engagement ring is usually favourite. For someone in-between the two, go for a solitaire with a diamond band for subtle added sparkle.

Guys, if your partner is pretty active and often works with their hands, choose one of the two most durable metals: platinum or palladium. Also consider buying the most secure type of ring setting for a diamond: a bezel or semi-bezel solitaire.

DON’T: Be afraid of shopping together

Turns out that 42 percent of couples shop for an engagement ring together. Before you do so, be sure to discuss who’s paying or if you’re splitting the cost, and determine your budget. Work out whether you are both getting a ring, or just one of you.

DO: Ask questions

Before purchasing a ring from a retailer, be sure to ask the following questions:

How do I figure out my partner’s ring size, and what if I buy the wrong size?

How do I insure the ring?

Is there an upgrade policy with the ring?

How long does it extend and what does it cover?

Are all the ring materials (including the diamond and metal) conflict-free?

Are the diamonds certified by GIA or AGS?

What is the carat, clarity, cut and colour grade of the centre diamond?

How does its price compare with diamonds of the same carat weight and quality?

DON’T: Feel pressured

When you first go into a store to start engagement ring shopping, go in with the knowledge that you will probably not make a purchase that day. The initial trip to a jeweller should be dedicated to research. Browse as many styles as possible. Take a notebook or use your phone to take pics and make notes on styles you like. If you don’t see something you like at a particular retailer, just leave — the last thing you want is to be pressured into buying something that doesn’t suit you and your partner.

DON’T: Stress out

While it’s important to educate yourself about your options, above all don’t stress out! The proposal is the hard part. As long as your partner says yes, you can always go back and adjust the ring to make it exactly what they want.

Steve Mummery is a celebrant based in Perth. You can find him online at smcelebrant.com.au or facebook at smcelebrant, Instagram @smcelebrant or you can find lots of wedding inspiration on his Pinterest page @smcelebrant including wedding & engagement rings, dresses, shoes, groom's attire, flowers, arbours, the lot.

Call Steve to chat about your wedding ceremony today on 0418 897 215 or email steve@smcelebrant.com.au

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