how to shop for engagement rings | for the soon-to-be groom

So far all of our articles here on The Groom’s Guide have been intended for the groom who already wears the title.  But there are plenty of guys out there not yet engaged but are ready to get started and need a little help with that first step; the engagement ring.

You’ve thought about it plenty, now it’s time to actually get it done. First set your budget, your average price for a diamond engagement ring is about $6,000. Now comes the big question: “How do I do this?”  What are the first steps? I took another trip down to Bernie and Sons in downtown St. Petersburg and visited my friend Brad Serata to talk about all the steps. Let’s break it down right now.

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The 4 Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat

This is the first stop on your journey here.  You’ve probably heard these words before but never really knew what they meant. The “4 Cs” are your parameters for diamond shopping. Obviously, the better a diamond scores on each of these scales, the higher the price.  The setting is equally as important but we’ll get to that next. I’ve got a great interactive reference site for you from the Gemological Institute of America for each one of the 4 Cs.

  • Color – You want your diamond to be nice an clear so the less color the better.  The grading is built on a alphabetic system starting with D (obviously, right?). D has the least amount of color, Z the most.  Learn more HERE.
  • Clarity – A lot of factors determine the clarity of a diamond.  How a diamond scores on this scale can really only be determined by an expert although you can clearly see the difference between a flawless diamond and one that scores low.  A flawless diamond has a more pleasing overall appearance versus an “included” (low end) diamond. Learn more HERE.
  • Cut – The right cut on a diamond makes it sparkle. This is the only part of diamond grading that is man-made and requires precise craftsmanship.  The scale goes from “Poor” to “Excellent” and the difference can be seen clearly in the right light. The right cut and angles bounce the light around inside the diamond, aside from size this is the best way your future fiancé can show off her ring. Learn more HERE.
  • Carat – The carat defines the weight of the stone, the higher the more expensive. The average size is about 1 carat or just over. Many factors determine the price of a diamond but this is number 1.  Learn more HERE.

When you’re traveling around from jeweler to jeweler, be sure to bring THIS APP for iPhone along with you.  It gives you all the same tools above and a sweet, easy to use app.

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Now that you know a thing or two about the diamonds themselves, it’s time to be a make it personal.  Now you shop for the woman you love and that’s the hardest part.  The actual setting of a diamond does serve a functional purpose, when properly done it allows more light to shine through the gem and gives it more sparkle. The design of a ring can vary a significant degree, there are about as many options as there are different kinds of women.  This is scary but also comforting because it means there’s one that’s perfect for your bride. So look at them all and narrow them down.  When I was shopping for my wife’s engagement ring I went to every store in the city that I could find and there was literally just one that was right for her.

Another aspect of the design of the ring is the metal being used.  Your options are generally gold, white gold, platinum and palladium. This choice can be made if your bride has a preference you’re already aware of, but this is largely a budget decision.  Platinum and palladium are much more expensive than gold.

When talking to the salesperson, trust your instincts.  Make sure they are there to help you and not just earn a commission.  The salesperson should be listening to you and helping to suggest options and not pushing anything on you.

It’s not uncommon to see men and women shop for engagement rings together. If you’re not comfortable making the decision yourself or she has specifically requested it, go in together and really pay attention to what she wants.  But try to keep some of the mystery here, have her pick 3 that she loves and would be happy with then choose between them without her.

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In the end, remember that this is more than just a ring.  It not only symbolizes your love for her, the amount of effort you put into the shopping process reflects how seriously your taking this wedding in the first place. This is something that she’ll wear on her hand everywhere she goes for the rest of her life so do everything in your power to make sure that she’ll love showing it off.

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