Let's start this lesson with a simple statement of fact: If you've found the right woman, the ring you choose won't matter nearly as much as the fact that you're proposing. But since you're making the investment, why not do your homework and flash the ring that will make her heart stop?
While the time and cost it takes to create an engagement ring may seem overwhelming, let's put it in perspective. The right rock will make her...
The envy of all of her friends.
Think of you every time she catches a glimpse of her left hand.
Feel like you really know her.
This last step is the key to choosing the perfect ring for your bride-to-be. Even though guys are traditionally hesitant to purchase 'fashion' items for their wives or girlfriends, there's a surefire three-step approach to making sure that the ring you buy will fit her like a glove, literally and figuratively.
1. Know your Metals
Not sure whether she likes a warm yellow or pink gold or prefers traditional white? Sneak a peek in her jewelry box and see what she normally wears. If she's like many women, she'll have a mix of different colors which means that she's open to either metal. Unless you are sure she has strong preference (go ahead, ask her best friend!), most women opt for a white metal because it is the perfect match for white diamonds. The tip: Colored metals can sometimes reflect into a white diamond, dulling the hue of the stone you just paid a bundle for!
2. Select your Shape
Although some think that bigger is always better, sometimes the right ring is all about the shape of the diamond you choose. Here's a quick cheat sheet for diamond shapes:
Round. The most classic and popular shape for diamonds, the comparatively high number of facets (cuts in the stone) means that you'll get a lot of sparkle for your dollar.
Princess. A modern square shape that works perfectly for a slightly less traditional bride.
Emerald or Asscher. These rectangular shapes are step-cut, which means that you can look down into it and see the facets like a staircase. This is best for high-quality diamonds (you can see every flaw!) and larger stones. Bonus: It's the best way to show off a really gorgeous gem.
Oval and Cushion. These shapes are picking up momentum again and are both romantic and practical. Why practical? Ovals often have a big 'spread', meaning that most of the weight is along the top and not underneath. This can make your diamond look even larger than it is. Cushions have a bit of a vintage feel, which looks great with Art Deco or retro-inspired settings.
Fancy shapes (Pear, Marquise, Heart). Rule of thumb with these shapes: Be sure the bride-to-be is on board. These are not for every woman, but if she likes the look she'll be sure to have a ring that stands out from the crowd. Want to learn more? Consulting a diamond buying guide will help you make the big decisions.
3. Score your Setting
Now that you've nailed down the basics, the fun really begins. In all fairness, you don't have to go about this process by yourself. Close friends and family of the bride may already be clued into what she wants (or what she definitely doesn't want), so don't be afraid to ask for help. Here are a few details to consider when you're shopping for engagement ring settings:
Modern settings. These are often less bulky and more sculptural in feeling than other rings. Perfect for a fashionista who wants something a bit offbeat. These are often solitaire style, meaning that there are no large side stones. A perfect example is this Floral setting.
Three stone setting. A great way to express the sentiment of your 'past, present and future' together as a couple, this setting also contains a lot of carat weight, which may be a budget consideration. Check out this mounting with baguette side stones.
Period touches. In fashion, everything old is new again, so don't be afraid to go vintage-inspired with your ring choice. Details like hand-engraving, filigree and yellow or pink gold (like this 'Medieval Mounting') are just right for a woman who appreciates a retro look.