Picking out an engagement ring for your special lady can be one of the most stressful experiences for a man. Especially if you want to pick out an engagement ring without your girlfriends' knowledge. While it is perfectly acceptable to pick out an engagement ring with your girlfriend, it is not nearly as romantic as catching her by complete surprise. However, it does require a lot more effort and subterfuge on the man's part.
This is the most important part of picking out an engagement ring. You have to know your girlfriends' ring size. This is made extremely easy if your girlfriend wears rings often. All you have to do is snatch one and take it with you to the jewelers.
However, if your girlfriend does wear rings, you have to do some plotting.
The best thing to do is recruit some trustworthy female help. If your special lady has a sister or a best friend that you get along with well, it is best to recruit them. Get a ring sizer, like the kind you got when you bought your class ring in high school or college and have them haphazardly play with it when they are around your lady. Have them take notice of what size fit them best.
If that fails, try playing with some string and make them a ring out of it. Make sure not to tie it too loose or too tight. If you keep that, most jewelers can work with it.
When choosing the right ring size without actually having the ring size, it is better to have it be too loose than to have it be too tight. Nothing spoils a romantic proposal more than not being able to slip the ring on your lady's finger.
Finding Out What She Likes
This step can take a bit of doing, more so than finding out her ring size. The best way is to try to bring up the topic of rings without actually doing so. If you have friends that are getting married, then maybe ask them to give you a hand. Have them engage you wife and talk about their engagement, show off that ring, and with any luck she will divulge a few points of what she likes. If she doesn't, bring it up after and ask her how she liked the ring.
Some women do not like the classic diamond ring, so that may be something to consider.
If you are a lucky man and your girlfriend starts to suspect you may be ready to propose, she will probably start dropping hints.
You could also go with the old classic of taking her to a mall and leisurely looking around a jeweler store, but this is very suspicious unless done smoothly.
Getting the Ring
Now that you have the size and hopefully some hints into what your lady likes, it is time to get that ring. Now you have to consider the old classics.
The 4 C's
The color of the diamond contributes to it's ability to sparkle. When going to the jeweler, it is important to know what they are talking about when it comes to color. Basically all you have to do is remember your alphabet. D is the highest ranking in accordance to color. It is a perfectly colorless diamond, but it is very rare and expensive.
The last ranking of a color of a diamond is the Z ranking, this is the poorest quality and have an extremely yellow tint. Basically anything below a J ranking is considered a poorly colored diamond.
The clarity is judged by the amount of flaws the diamond has. Most flaws cannot be seen by the eye, though. The ranking system for this one is not nearly as easy to follow as the color ranking system is.
The highest quality of clarity if the FL and IF ranking, these are flawless diamond and are rare and extremely expensive.
The lowest quality is the I1, I2, and I3. These are diamonds that have flaws that one can actually see. These are cheap, but if your lady knows diamonds she may be a little put off. Most people go the middle ground and get a diamond with microscopic flaws, these have clarify rankings that start with a V or and S.
Cuts control how the diamonds look, but like most gemstones, it controls how much light the stone reflects. These cuts rank from ideal, very good, good, fair, and poor. If you want the ring to sparkle whenever she looks at it, or show it to her friends, it is best to go for a Good or above cut.
Carat is what people really care about. This is the size and the weight of the diamond. The average person buys a diamond that is between o.5 and 3 carats. Those are the most affordable options, but you know what they say, bigger is better. If you can afford bigger, I am sure it will not go unappreciated.
Now that we have covered the important 4 C's, there is one more factor that a to-be-husband needs to consider. It is really the 5th C.
The general consensus is that a man should spend half of what he makes in a month on an engagement ring for a lady. However, if you are particularly poor and your lady knowns nothing about diamonds, you can go for a cubic zirconia alternative. These can be easily passed as a diamond, but unlike diamonds, they can be broken by enough force. If your lady does not care about fancy things, cubic zerconia are a very affordable option. They are especially helpful if you plan to buy a real diamond later.
The Ring Band
The metal for the ring band is important too, there are several options to choose from.
This is the old classic. You cannot go wrong with gold, especially if the diamond is a bit low on the color scale. Gold bands tend to hide the yellowish tint.
White gold is good if you want a silvery band. White gold is a bit harder to repair than yellow gold, but is cheaper than platinum.
Platinum is a sturdier silvery option than white gold. However, it is much more expensive. Unlike white gold, platinum will not lose it's shine after awhile and need replating.
Never be cheap and get a copper, silver, or nickel band. I've seen some jewelers that try to pass these off. It's not worth it. They damage easy, rust, or leave strange green stains on your fiancees' skin.