If you plan to ask the love of your life to marry you, then you will need to go shopping for the perfect wedding ring. This is not only a huge step in life, but also a large investment. Therefore, the best thing you can do is educate yourself on how to shop and what to look for to ensure you get the best ring for your specific budget.
Start by gaining as much insight as possible into your girlfriends style. For many couples, they have talked about marriage and perhaps even looked at rings together. In this case,the selection process would be easy. However, if you have no idea, then you can look at the type of clothing or other jewelry she wears. Additionally, consider her lifestyle and job. As an example, if your girlfriend loves vintage clothing and tends to be a little free-spirited, then an antique or customized ring would be an excellent choice. However, if she is conservative, then you might consider a Victorian style ring.
The second thing you need to do is determine exactly how much you can spend. Although you might want to buy your girlfriend the most expensive ring in the store, you need to be realistic about what you can afford. After all, the last thing you want is to start your marriage off in debt all because of a wedding ring. A good rule to follow is to have two months salary set aside for the ring. For this price, you can find a number of excellent choices. You should also remember that you would generally pay more when buying from a jewelry store. Therefore, consider all your options to include estate sales, jewelry wholesalers, and even online auctions such as eBay.
Next, you need to decide on style, shape, and quality. For the style, you would consider buying a single stone, or solitaire, a bridal set, which features one large stone surrounded by many smaller stones, or a multi-stone ring, which consists of a band designed with multiple stones. For the shape, you have your choice of Round, Brilliant, Oval, Pear, Marquise, Heart, Princess, Emerald, Trillion, and Tear Drop.
The quality is the most important factor when buying a wedding ring. To help you choose the best quality, rings are broken down into the four Cs Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut. For Carat, this is the weight of the diamond, which most people identify as one carat, two carats, and so on. Clarity is the most important of the four Cs. Your goal is to buy the clearest diamond you can afford. When a diamond is clear, it means it has fewer obstructions or imperfections than a diamond that is cloudy or yellowed.
An actual scale exists, consisting of many different ratings. However, to give you an idea of the top and bottom ratings, you would find FL, which stands for flawless. This type of diamond is near perfect, very expensive, and rare. On the bottom of the scale is I1, I2, or I3, which means the imperfections can be seen by the naked eye. This diamond is poor quality but very affordable. Your best bet would be to choose a diamond with an SI1 or SI2 rating, which means it has imperfections but you would have to use a 10-x magnification to see them.
Finally, there is color and cut. With color, you can actually buy diamonds in all types of colors. Some are colored because of poor quality while others are colored because they are rare, generally referred to as fancy colors that might include red, blue, and pink among others. However, for the average person buying an engagement ring, you want a diamond that has as little color as possible. Color also has a special rating with D being the least amount of color and Z being yellow.
For cut, this refers to the way in which the stones facets are cut. For instance, a fully cut diamond has 58 facets but the diamond cutter may choose to change the number or value to bring more fire into the stone. Since a diamond acts as a prism, light is accepted into the diamond and then bounces off the facets. Then, this light is sent back to give the diamond its brilliance. The way in which the diamond cutter cuts the stone determines how much brilliance it will have.