General Question

mrrich724's avatar

How do you buy an engagement ring?

Asked by mrrich724 (8542points) March 8th, 2010

Hi all. I am buying my girlfriend an engagement ring soon, and I need help!

All I remember is what I learned about the 4 C’s in a college speaking engagement: color/cut/clarity/carat.

What is the most important to you (girls especially please sound out)?

I know about shape, and carat. So I’m more curious about the other sections. Can you recommend a site I can use to look up the grading scale for this stuff?

Real prices? Also, if I haven’t asked any critical questions, please feel free to add those as well (with answers!!!)

Thank You :)

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21 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Carefully. Delay the purchase as long as possible.

Don’t forget the Four Rs:
Rethink. Revise. Recalculate. Regret.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It would be best to find out what style she likes then buy the best quality in your price range.
I personally rarely wear my wedding ring and if I had to do it all over,I would’ve picked a ruby :)

ucme's avatar

Heart sings wallet weeps.Cest la vie.

Likeradar's avatar

I don’t know much about diamonds, so here’s my input as a female:

The cut is very important. Make sure you know what shape and style of setting she wants. This is a piece of jewelery she will hopefully wear forever, you want her to like the actual piece of jewelery, not just the meaning behind it.

Personally, if the person I was with could afford both big and beautiful, I’d like that. But I’d rather have something smaller but gorgeous than big and visibly flawed.

dpworkin's avatar

I would go to a large auction house, like Sothebys, Christies or Phillips, and ask when the next decorative quality Estate jewelry sale is to be held, then just before the date I would go with my betrothed to the auction house to meet with the diamond expert, and explain what you want, then spend some time carefully looking over the rings he or she recommends, devise a bidding strategy (and stick to it – don’t overbid.) If you miss one ring, you will soon find many others. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Pandora's avatar

If she has a best girlfriend that you know of that can keep a secret then ask her.
Or you can also look at her jewelry box. Next time you go out suggest on of her rings that you know she isn’t fond of wearing. When she says she doesn’t like it then ask her why. She will then probably tell you which are her favorite and why. Keep in mind some she may favor because of sentimental value. Be sure to shrug it off or her radar will go off.
Ask family members for her ring size if you don’t know. Or you can buy her a cheap costume jewelry ring and guess her size. If it fits then you win, if not tell her you are sorry and didn’t know her size. She’ll then tell you what her size is.
Cut and design is different for every woman. The engagement ring isn’t usually as important as the wedding ring. She’ll want more imput with the wedding ring.
But ask a gal pal. Its something a lot of girls discuss with each other over the years.
Another trick is you can take her to the mall and pass by the jewelry stores. Say you want to stop by to look at some watches for yourself. She will gravitate towards the women jewelry and watch her expression everytime she looks at a ring.
Then quickly wisk her away saying that you felt the watches were too expensive.
She’ll think nothing of it.
Good Luck and congratulations.

softtop67's avatar

For stone prices go find a Rappaport Report. Wholesale pricing is usually in the 40% off what is listed on the Rap report. This will guide you as to what is realistic pricing etc

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Pandora I’ve never met a woman yet who would be so oblivious to all that you suggest—or any of it. And I’ve known some pretty obtuse women, too.

augustlan's avatar

If your girlfriend is at all aware that you two will be married someday, I highly recommend going window shopping with her. She can try on different rings and get a feel for the shape and settings she prefers. If you want it to be a surprise, don’t buy anything while she’s with you… you’re just looking for her input. My ex and I used to do this pretty much every time we were at the mall. Just… daydreaming, you know?

autumn43's avatar

Whatever you do, don’t go buy a diamond at the mall jewelry stores – Like Kay Jewelers.

If you have a jeweler’s building near where you live, that can be an awesome place to shop around and see all sorts of diamonds – shapes, sizes, colors and they aren’ set – so you can choose the diamond and the setting separately. Also, the jewelers can get you what you want, if you don’t see anything. They are very knowledgeable! (I’m thinking of the Boston jeweler’s building – but I bet many big cities have the same type of thing!)

Good luck! Let us know how and how big! = )

augustlan's avatar

Oh, and congratulations!

RareDenver's avatar

Let her choose the ring, just tell her your budget and then go shopping together. In fact when you tell her your budget go a bit below, she is bound to see one she loves that is just over budget and will give you the puppy dog eyes. Then you can buy it anyway and be the hero, all the while staying in budget.

thriftymaid's avatar

I wish you happiness. I’m not a jewelry person and only had a band; that was all I wanted.

mrrich724's avatar

@EVERYONE Thank you all for the advice.

@augustlan THANKS!!!
@RareDenver That “go low on the budget” is a great idea! However, I’m going to make it a surprise. I remember that one day she said “I want one the same shape as my sister’s,” and I think that is enough to go on (I’ll call her sis’)

The one part that I want just for me in the experience of seeing her surprised!

I will update when it happens (which won’t be for a couple months)

Again, thanks for all the insight everyone :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I gave Meghan a ring that had been handed down through our family for 250 years. Much greater sentimental value and a true “welcome to our family” by my grandmother.

phillis's avatar

THe rule of thumb is two month’s salary that the gentlman makes. Let’s forget that bullshit, shall we? You can do better than that.

I found a 3 carat ring worth $28,000 and got it for $8,000. I did that by scouring the ads in the largest newspaper in my area (in this case, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution). It was before Craig’s List became so well-liked, but I recommend shopping on Craig’s List, too.

Do NOT go to a mall jewelry store. Do NOT got to a stand-alone jewelry store. Do NOT buy from a dealer online. Diamond mark-ups are 10% – 20% higher online. Instead, buy a distressed diamond from a private individual. Make sure the documentation has a picture of the diamond you are looking at so that you can make sure the documentation isn’t for some other, better diamond.

Prongs can hide a world of problems, from feathering to coal specs. As long as the prong hides it, that may be all that matters to you, and that is perfectly fine. But beware of fractures!!! These are usually only seen in “I-1, 1–2, and 1–3 diamonds. But you really do need to look for yourself.

Take a jeweler’s loupe with you. they are very cheap, but can save you thousands.

You’re right about the 4 C’s, though. Learn what you need to know so that you can make an educated decision. Please do not make an impulse buy just because it’s “pretty” and “has a lot of fire”. ALL diamonds have a lot of fire under spectrum lighting. That’s why jewelry stores use them. A lump of coal would sparkle under thier lights.

I am a die-hard pragmatist, which is why I bought a large stone. I knew that if I ever ran into finanial trouble I could sell that sucker and help my family. Depending on your relationship with this woman, it may be something the two of you want to discuss. The larger the stone, the more fun it is to wear it!! But it is nearly impossible to get your money back on a small stone. Make SURE you buy at least half off full retail value, if not two-thirds. You may need that money back one day.


AnetM's avatar

It’s better to take your girlfriend and go together. I’d appreciate that.
Me and my husband did so.

coogan's avatar

Thanks for keeping me in the loop a-hole! I have to find out my best friend is getting engaged on a social collective site. 10 years! I’ll stop yelling now. Your soon to be wife will give you enough of that. Anyways, call me, Phil has a family friend that specializes in rings and can customize it to what you want. They’re low volume, so they don’t have a shop/huge insurance policy to cover costs for. Jenn’s ring is nice, and was made to integrate with the wedding band as well.

mrrich724's avatar


thanks for the info, i didn’t tell you yet b/c i was “thinking it out,” and it’s almost going to be 11 years between us honey. you never remember the details but it’s ok, that’s why i love you.

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