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Your Ultimate Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring

Image Gallery: Engagement Rings All those diamonds look the same to him. See pictures of diamond engagement rings.
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Many men associate shopping with a type of pain that's similar to dental work. For those of you who've decided to pop the question, however, now is the time to abandon your shopping phobias!

With a little legwork (and some luck), your bride will proudly sport her ring for the rest of her life, so take the time to ensure that it fits her personal style and quality standards. After all, buying a diamond is an investment.

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To choose the right ring, you've got to pick the perfect diamond.
To choose the right ring, you've got to pick the perfect diamond.
Aaron Graubert/Getty Images

Purchasing an engagement ring requires more preliminary effort than your average shopping excursion. Before you even set foot in a jewelry store, you've got to do some homework.

First, figure out what you can realistically afford to spend. You've also got to factor the annual cost of ring insurance into your overall budget. Typically, insurance will run from 1 to 3 percent of the ring's value.

Next, become an expert on settings, styles and stats. Learn the Four Cs (carat, clarity, cut and color) -- and ask your bride what aspect is most important to her. Some will sacrifice the sparkle for the size or the color for the cut.

You're not the first guy to buy a diamond ring, so talk to trustworthy friends who've been down this road. Find out what they wish they'd done differently, and get recommendations for helpful jewelers who delivered a quality product. If you're interested in designing your own ring or resetting a family stone, get names of jewelers who specialize in those areas.

Above all, remember that finding the perfect ring takes time, and several shopping trips may be necessary. Play it safe: Bet on at least three weeks to get the right ring or longer if you're placing a custom order.

"It's the thought that counts" may be a nice sentiment, but it's certainly not the reaction you want her to have when she lays eyes on the ring.

Before selecting the ring, consider your girlfriend's personal style and taste. Does she favor contemporary or antique jewelry? Would a yellow-gold band match her jewelry collection, or does she tend to sport platinum or white gold? Politically minded brides will want to avoid conflict diamonds, so bear that in mind when selecting a stone.

It might be wise to enlist the help of her mother, sister or best friend, provided she can keep a secret. If you don't mind dialing down the surprise factor, you can even ask your girlfriend to design the ring of her dreams online or take her to a jeweler to browse. (While you're there, be sure to have her ring finger sized!)

Trust us -- even if she picked the ring herself, she'll still be thrilled during the proposal. And particularly picky brides will probably thank you for letting them participate in the process.

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Sources

  • "A Very Special Engagement: Diamond Ring Glossary." Martha Stewart Weddings. 2008. (July 5, 2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/a-very-special-engagement
  • "Engagement Rings With Colorful Stones." Brides.com. (July 5, 2010).http://www.brides.com/wedding-engagement/engagement-rings/editorial-pick/2008/11/shaded-stones#slide=10
  • "Getting Started." Brides.com. (July 5, 2010). http://www.brides.com/wedding-engagement/getting-engaged/2010/06/essential-guide-engagement-getting-started
  • "How to Buy a Diamond Engagement Ring." Martha Stewart.com. (July 5, 2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/how-to-buy-a-diamond-engagement-ring
  • Hoyt, Alia. "10 Classic Engagement Ring Styles." TLC Weddings.com. (July 5, 2010).https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/weddings/10-classic-engagement-ring-styles.htm
  • Hoyt, Alia. "How the African Diamond Trade Works." HowStuffWorks.com. April 21, 2008. (July 7, 2010).https://www.howstuffworks.com/african-diamond-trade.htm
  • Obenschain, Chris. "How to Design Your Own Engagement Ring." TLC Weddings.com. (July 5, 2010).https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/weddings/how-to-design-engagement-ring.htm/printable

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