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Choosing the perfect engagement ring can be tricky, especially if you’re planning a surprise proposal.
This guide is written especially for men. If you’re not a man or only one of you reading this is, see our Engagement Ring Buying Guide for Both of You instead.
How to Choose a Ring She'll Love
Style choice is very personal. When three women walk into a jewellery store you can almost guarantee they’ll come out with three completely different selections. And whilst some men might think one diamond ring is as good as the next (it’s got a diamond on it, hasn't it?) we know you’re not one of them.
The truth is, if you want to surprise your girlfriend with a ring she’ll love, you need to do your homework.
(Don’t) Ask Her Friends
Many well-meaning guides will tell you to seek the opinion of your future fiancée’s friends, but this requires careful consideration. Yes, they may be well placed to advise on the style of her dream engagement ring - after all, they’ve seen the sketches. But can they keep a secret? You could ruin the surprise by even giving them a whiff of your plans to propose.
On the other hand, if you know your fiancée would rather have the perfect ring than the perfect surprise proposal then consulting her friends is a must. In fact, are you sure they haven’t already been steering you in the right direction? Whose idea was it to propose anyway?
Be sure to ask specific questions to ensure you don’t get overloaded with interesting but totally irrelevant information, such as which style of ring would best match the bride’s shoes. For example, would she prefer a big rock or a small elegant setting? Gold or platinum band? Vintage or contemporary design? Remember, whilst the opinions of others will help, don’t rely on them entirely. Use them along with the next steps to narrow down your choices.
Complement Her Clothes
No, don’t tell her you love her new top (you should be doing that anyway). Pay attention to the clothes she chooses to wear (along with her tastes in home décor and yes, even her car) and you’ll realize you already know a lot about her tastes in jewellery. Does she spend a lot on fine tailoring and silk blouses? Then an elegant solitaire ring might suit. Does she like a lot of bling? Go for a big rock. Does she prefer to hang out in t-shirt and jeans? Avoid anything overly fancy.
You can also get clues from the jewellery she already has. Does she prefer gold or silver? Big chunky styles or dainty, florally things? You get the picture.
If you know what she likes but aren't sure how to translate that into a style of engagement ring, contact us and we’ll help.
If in Doubt, Buy a Round
Round diamond, that is. Round brilliant is the most popular shape diamond and most engagement rings are solitaires - a plain band with a single, stunning stone. It’s popular because it’s beautiful, elegant and timeless, and because you can focus on getting the highest quality, largest diamond money can buy.
If you want to play it safe but still have something a little bit different try a bezel set diamond, which has a contemporary look, or play with the metal colour. Gold is traditional, but ‘silvery‘ metals like white gold, platinum, and palladium are all popular at the moment.
If All Else Fails, Go to the Source
There really aren't any subtle ways to ask your girlfriend what style of engagement ring she likes so if you've reached this point you should probably accept your proposal won’t be a surprise. Fortunately, you can still surprise her with the when, where and how so make sure those are jaw-droppingly good.
In the meantime, avoid casual (read: lame) questions about other women‘s engagement rings and instead play it cool. Something like, “If we ever got married, what sort of engagement ring would you like?” Then leave it at that. If nothing else, you’ll appear mysteriously romantic.
Most important, don’t let choosing an engagement ring get in the way of proposing. If you’re really stuck, just ask her to marry you and then afterwards you can go shopping for the ring together.
What to Order and How
Okay, so now you've got an idea of style, here’s how to go about actually buying the thing.
An engagement ring consists of two parts: the stone(s) and the setting. You need to choose both separately.
We’ll assume, since you’re here, that the stone will be a diamond. But just one or a whole sparkling pile of them? You already know solitaire settings are the most popular style for engagement rings, but if you’re not sold on that, check out some other setting styles.
You’ll also want to consider shape. Round brilliant isn't the only flavour diamonds come in and different shapes offer different things – for example, a marquise diamond looks best on long, slender fingers. Learn about the endearing qualities of all the diamond shapes before you decide.
Finally, you’ll need to choose the metal the setting is made out of. We offer palladium, platinum, 18ct white gold and 18ct yellow gold. Can’t tell your platinum from your palladium? Click here to learn about the different metal types.
What to do when you don't know her ring size
Don’t know her ring size? Don’t panic. Short of dangling on a wire from the bedroom ceiling as she sleeps, there’s no graceful way of determining your girlfriend’s ring size without her noticing. So unless you’re prepared to either a) ask her friends or b) ask her, simply choose ‘Not Known’ as the size when you order and we’ll send you the ring in a standard size. Once you've popped the question and the ring has been tried on, you can return it to us to be resized free of charge.
If, however, you’re willing to give the dangling from the ceiling thing a go, you’ll want to request one of our free ring sizers.
How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
There’s a vicious rumour going round that you should spend 2-3 months salary to show you really care, but pay no heed to that as it’s pretty old-fashioned advice. By all means, do it if you want to. Just don’t spend that much because you feel you should.
Spend as much on the engagement ring as you’re comfortable with. That means spending an amount you can afford and that you’re happy spending. An engagement ring is a special purchase but if you’re having a panic attack as you reach for your credit card, you’re probably spending too much.
It may help to start with a budget in mind so you don’t get carried away when you start browsing. As a rough guide, aim to spend more on the diamond than you do on the setting and make sure you know all about the Four C's as that will help you get the most beautiful, stunning diamond for your money.
So you've chosen a ring. Now what?
Make sure you place your order at least three weeks before you’re planning to pop the question. Each of our rings is carefully made to order by our master-craftsmen in Hatton Garden. It takes 10-14 working days to build, size, polish and otherwise magic the perfect engagement ring into being and it can’t be rushed. On the bright side, that gives you plenty of time to work on your proposal.
Once your ring is ready, it’s shipped next working day in a beautiful wooden box, ideally sized to slip into your pocket for easy, down-on-one-knee retrieval.
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