Buying the Perfect Engagement Ring

by AJ Pettersen · 10 comments

When I knew I was going to ask her to marry me, I thought I would walk into the jewelry store, pick something out, head home and pop the question. If only life were so simple. With my final year in college dwindling, I knew I was going to ask her to spend her life with me. She wasn’t thinking about being engaged before graduation was over, so I knew I had to do it before. What’s an engagement without a little surprise? Here are some ideas if you are planning on going engagement ring shopping.

Where to Shop?

I headed to a trusted jewelry shop near my home called Shane Co. with my future in laws. I asked a few people where they had gone, but the catchy commercials are what initially sparked my interest. Shane Co. is fantastic for a few reasons: the employees don’t work on commission, they have free maintenance on rings, they do appraisals for free in the shop and they have a high tech coffee machine.

I have heard a number of horror stories about shoppers at jewelry stores where employees fight for customers to earn more commission. Without commission, I was passed along to the employee that would fit my needs the best. She had no incentive to sell me the more expensive ring, she simply wanted to help me find the perfect one. She was in no rush and was very helpful all along the way.

Maintenance is important. My fiancée’s ring has already had to be re-dipped once and she gets it cleaned every few months. Many places do both of these for free, whereas some stores will charge a fee for everything you do after you purchase a ring.

If you want to insure your ring (as I did), you will need to get an appraisal. Finding a store that will help you along in this process is vital.

Ring Education

What does your future wife want in a ring? I knew my fiancée wanted certain things in her ring, which is why I brought her family along to help me shop. There are so many options to choose from, covering a wide range of sizes and price tags.

Settings come in many different shapes and sizes. There are skinny bands, thick bands, silver bands, gold bands, and more. Some have diamonds in the setting, while others do not. Find out what fits best for your situation. Keep in mind that white gold will fade to gold over time and may need to be re-dipped.

When choosing a diamond, I had to go through the four-c’s education. These are color, cut, clarity and carat. I was shown rings that differed in each category. I knew the carat size I was looking for and I found that color was the most noticeable trait of the other three. When put next to a white background, I could tell the difference between white and not so white. You will need to do your own education at the jewelry store to determine which of the four-c’s are most important to you. It is important to remember that each level you go towards the perfect diamond, means a higher price as well.

Finding the Right One

You have found the perfect partner, now you need the perfect ring. Where do you plan on going to find it? If you have already gone through the engagement ring process, where did you go? Did it go as planned?

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  • SB522 says:

    Just went through the process of buying an engagement ring. The hardest thing for me was finding the right resources to get educated about diamonds. There is a lot of information out there, and a lot of it is designed to make you feel like you need to spend more to get the “perfect” ring. I came across a website called thetruthaboutdiamonds.com and it was a lifesaver. I believe its run by a diamond appraiser who runs an amazing blog and gives out free advice to people asking for it. If I were new to the world of diamonds it is a great place to start educating yourself. My two cents.

  • Shane says:

    I do think it is best to go to the smaller well known local jewelers for the best options. The main chain stores I really hate.

  • I really want my gf to basically just pick it out haha. If I’m going to spend 3 month’s salary I don’t wanna get the wrong one!

  • Lark says:

    I have had my white gold engagement ring since 1961 and it has never faded. There are other white gold pieces in my family that are close to 100 years old, and they have never faded. White gold does not fade.

    • KM says:

      Maybe jewelers cheat these days by making everything lower quality. My white gold wedding ring fades in some places (mostly the underside that is on the same side as my palm), but it seems that it does that from use, not from age.

      • JC says:

        White gold is really grey gold. 14 karat will be light grey or dark grey depending on whether it’s made with nickel (allergies!) or palladium (more expensive). 18 karat is much the same, but it will have a distinct yellow tint in either case. Most white gold jewelry (and a lot of cheap department stores even sell coated 10k or 8k yellow gold jewelry as “white gold”) is coated in rhodium to make it look like silver or platinum. Even the very good stuff is often coated, because people expect it to look a certain way.

        That coating wears away fairly quickly, and some people call it “fading”. Lark’s rings were probably not coated in the first place, so there’d be no change in color. It’s cheap to have a simple ring “dipped” and get the coating back on there, but it’s only going to last a few months with constant wear — it’s a very, very thin coating.

  • Jules says:

    Rings are a pain in the butt to me. They get in the way of doing delicate things. They trap Really Squicky Things next to your finger (keep that in mind when you cook!). If you take yours off to cook with–as I would–it inevitably gets misplaced. If you work as a doctor–as he does–it would have to be worn on a chain around your neck. And you can never be certain that it’s not “blood” jewelry. We’re planning to get our marriage bands from the department store–$30 sterling-silver-plated bands–mostly because anything fancier would just be pointless, since they’d probably end up in my jewelry box 99% of the time.

  • I’ll eventually be getting engaged but I’ll be letting my girlfriend pick her ring within reason… within reason being key!

  • How do you know when a jewelry store doesn’t pay commission? That’s a good point; those on commission will always try to upsell or sell you a more expensive ring. I think it’s a great idea to bring her parents along, or at least a friend. Somebody who knows her taste!

    • KM says:

      I don’t know…he may be trying to find a good deal, but her parents (wanting the best for their daughter) might think he is cheap and that may not look so good.

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