As any man of marriageable age will attest navigating the slippery path of wedding requirements while juggling the expectations of the bride-to-be, her family and friends, his own family and friends as well as various traditions can be a daunting task. Throw into that the expectations the love of his life has picked up since childhood by attending her friend’s weddings, watching television and reading those insidious wedding magazines and the poor guy doesn’t know where to begin.
Well, if there is an expectation – and it is an increasing expectation thanks to the ever-present wedding industry – it’s that the groom-to-be will propose with a ring. So, if you’re going down the engagement ring route we’re here to help you navigate those treacherous waters and maybe even save you some money. Your wedding’s going cost you enough so every little bit helps!
Here’s a short course on what to know when/if you’re thinking of getting an engagement ring:
- Engagement rings are actually an African invention – beginning in ancient Egypt. They then fell out of fashion until around 1477 when an Archduke in Austria gave a diamond ring to his fiancé and then the diamond ring became the ‘thing’ to do for those betrothed in Europe and America with it only becoming very popular until after the 1930’s.
- DeBeers started a marketing campaign in the 1920’s-30’s that suggested a man should spent 1-3 months equivalent of his annual income on a ring. While it has caught on in some place it was simply a marketing idea to get people to spend more money.
- If your fiancé wants a ‘wedding set’ that means she would prefer an engagement ring and a wedding ring that match each other and are sold as a set. Often, these can be easily soldered together into one ring after the marriage takes place.
If you’re thinking about going down the diamond ring route there are 4 things you need to know. The ‘4Cs’ – carat, colour, clarity and cut. A lot of the differences in the 4Cs are only physically visible to experts. This means that you can save by following a few rules:
- Carat: Prices jump drastically at each carat threshold so buying a 1.98-carat ring is much cheaper than a 2-carat ring – no one but an expert would know the difference. The larger the carat the more expensive the diamond.
- Colour: Diamonds that are slightly yellower are less expensive but look fabulous against dark skin tones. This yellower diamond also looks brighter in a yellow gold setting than in a silver, white gold, or platinum setting.
- Clarity: If a diamond is slightly less clear but it isn’t noticeable to the untrained eye then go with that. No one is going to be inspecting your fiancés ring with a magnifying glass. And if they are then you have bigger problems to deal with.
A lot of men like to propose with the ring in hand as a complete surprise. This is an admirable gesture. However, bear in mind the following:
- If you don’t know her ring size find out. Get one of her other rings and get it sized or, slide one of her rings on your finger and mark the point to which it sits. A jeweller can figure out the size from there.
- Don’t assume you know her taste in rings. The idea is that she is going to wear this ring for the rest of her life. Be very careful about assuming you know what she wants. If surprise is what you’re after consider asking her friends, aunts, sisters, or mother to slyly find out what type of ring she wants.
- Make sure you discuss with the jeweller about a return policy as well as resizing. Good jewellers will allow you to return to have the ring resized or even changed after you propose.
- If you’re very unsure about what she might want, or if she even wants a ring, then consider buying an inexpensive ‘holder’ ring that you can propose with letting her know that you want to look for rings with her and buy her the one she wants.
While a huge deal can be made over the ring (just like a huge deal can be made over the flowers, the dress, the hair) the most important thing to remember is that the ring is a symbol and symbolises love and commitment. Nothing more. Often jewellers will pressure you into believing it’s a symbol of your financial well-being or that a bigger/flashier ring reflects your love for the other person. This is all nonsense – it’s their job to make you spend more – don’t fall for it! Know how much you can spend and don’t be pressured into parting with more.
Last, but not least, good luck. If you’re buying an engagement ring remember – this is only the beginning and one of the easiest decisions that you have in coming months so prepare yourself for the crazy world of wedding planning.