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What Kind of Engagement Ring Should I Buy?

Narrow down your diamond engagement ring choices by observing your future bride’s style — and what jewelry strikes her fancy when she window-shops. Engagement ring shopping is the perfect example of the paradox of choice. On one hand, it’s reassuring that there’s a perfect ring for every woman. On the other, the sheer number of decisions you face as a ring buyer can be overwhelming. A diamond is forever, as years of advertising have informed us, and that adds a lot of pressure to your choice.

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What choices does your future wife make when she wears jewelry today — simple basics or bold, colorful pieces that match her outfits?

When setting out to find the perfect engagement ring, focus on your bride-to-be first — then break down your choices step by step.

Step 1: Define her personal style

You might not have spent a lot of time thinking about your fiancée-to-be’s style — you know she’s beautiful, but what are her tastes and personality? Spend some time observing her fashion choices. (But don’t be too obvious — she’ll definitely know something’s up if you suddenly start staring at her all the time!).

For example, does she gravitate toward:

  • Classic styles: T-shirts and jeans, simple sheath dresses, tweed jackets, basic skirts and slacks?
  • Edgy or retro styles: vintage clothes, steampunk or rockabilly looks, and funky shoes?
  • Feminine, romantic styles: pretty sundresses, ruffled blouses, maxi skirts, delicate sandals?
  • Bold, colorful styles: bright, patterned tunics, platform or high-heeled shoes?

Of course, many women mix and match these different styles. Pay attention to how she dresses for work, as well as hanging out on weekends or dressing up to go out. What is her preferred look?

In addition to how she dresses, consider her lifestyle. The engagement ring you choose should suit her lifestyle. For example, someone who’s athletic might prefer an engagement ring with smaller stones instead of a large diamond solitaire ring; while someone who needs to look well-heeled for her job might want an engagement ring that’s expensive and dramatic.

Step 2: Determine her jewelry style

Your bride-to-be might already have a lot of fine jewelry or perhaps she wears fashion jewelry for fun. Observe the choices she makes when she buys and wears jewelry:

  • Does she gravitate toward white or yellow metals?
  • Does she tend to wear simple basics — stud diamond or pearl earrings, lockets or pendants — or fun pieces that match whatever she’s wearing?
  • Does she often make a statement with her jewelry, choosing colorful, bold, and memorable pieces that other people notice and comment on?
  • Does she tend to prefer a certain gemstone or color? For example, does she wear a lot of jewelry with her own birthstone or have a signature color?
  • Does she have any heirloom pieces of jewelry handed down through her family that she treasures and wears often?

Step 3: Ask for input

If you’re trying to keep your proposal a surprise, you obviously can’t directly ask your fiancée-to-be what she wants in an engagement ring. But there might be covert ways to find out. On your way to a movie theater or restaurant, you’ll probably pass by a jewelry store. Slow down as you pass by the windows, and pay attention to what she oohs and aaahs over as you do.

There’s a lot to learn about a person on social sites like Facebook or Pinterest. Use this to your advantage and log on to see what she’s interested in lately. If you can browse her Pinterest boards, she may have some dedicated to fashion, home design, activities, or just stuff she likes. Jackpot!

Another, more secretive way to get ideas is to ask her family or close friends: best girlfriend, sister, aunt or mother. They’ll be able to give you a female perspective on what your beloved would prefer in an engagement ring.

Step 4: Narrow down your options

Begin to explore the different decisions you’ll need to make an engagement ring, and use your reconnaissance to help you narrow down your choices. For example, you’ll need to choose from:

  • Diamond solitaire ring, engagement ring with side stones, or a flatter engagement band with diamonds inlaid.
  • White, yellow or rose gold, or platinum.
  • All-white diamonds, color diamonds, or gemstones.
  • Modern, classic or vintage styles.

A trustworthy, reputable jeweler will be able to take the thinking you’ve done about your fiancée-to-be’s taste, personality and lifestyle and help you hone in on the right kinds of styles and options to consider.

Step 5: Determine your budget

Once you’ve done this groundwork, you’ll begin to get an idea of what kind of costs are involved in an engagement ring, which will help you determine a budget. Getting a feel for what you can afford and what you want to spend will help you start making some choices about the right engagement ring for your budget and what tradeoffs you can make to get the best quality and most beauty from a diamond engagement ring.

By focusing on your bride-to-be — who she is and how she expresses herself — you’ll arrive at the engagement ring that she’ll be proud to wear forever.


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