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Whether you've been leafing through our issues, dishing with girlfriends, or scouring the web for some pin-worthy bling one thing's for certain: you already know what your dream engagement ring looks like.
But what if he wants to go engagement ring shopping together? Well, that adds a layer of complication. Let's face it, shopping together can be tricky territory. How do you shop considerately and smartly? And (yes, it's okay to think it): Is there really a way to share that sparkler you've been swooning over, without sounding overzealous? Read these seven tips before you head out the door together.
1. Know before you go
Before you go shopping, make sure you acquaint yourselves with the 4 C's — color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Surprisingly enough, if you know the shape of the diamond off the bat, that helps narrow your hunt immensely.
Every shape (or "cut") is priced differently — and each has a different price per carat. Round cuts are the most expensive, because they are classic and in demand, whereas pear and marquis are less expensive. So if size is important to you, you can get a better price knowing if you like the less expensive shapes.
2. Don't overlook the metal
Platinum settings may seem to be the norm these days, but they are also the most expensive.
My grandmother loved to tell me her engagement story — and it wasn't about how he asked. It was about how naively stubborn she was. She pretty much insisted my grandfather buy her a platinum ring... She never told him why, but it was actually because she thought it was less expensive than white gold, and she didn't want him overspending.
My grandfather, a train conductor, clocked a lot of graveyard shifts to make sure she received the sparkly platinum ring she "wanted" but ultimately, this misunderstanding all boiled down to lack of knowledge.
So here's the DL on what's going on beyond the diamond — Platinum is a high maintenance metal. It's pricier because it has more weight to it, but it's a soft metal and will scratch easily. Definitely consider your lifestyle and budget before deciding if metal choice is an important part of your decision.
3. Size does matter (and that's okay)
The age old question of quality versus quantity applies to engagement rings as well, some people prefer a larger stone to a whiter stone, while others want the absolute clearest possible diamond, despite the carat count.
"The bride-to-be should definitely have an idea of her stone size," says Jaclyne Kirkorian of diamond district mainstay Jupiter Jewelry. "As much as people say size isn't important, it's always the kicking off point, because color and clarity can always be tweaked to find something within your budget."
End goal: If size does matter, keep your ideal carat size in mind when shopping together, and be flexible on the other elements to suit budget.
4. Be subtle
The toughest part about shopping with your guy versus having him pick the ring himself, is that you will have to weigh in on the options. While this sounds ideal at first, it can be tricky to strike a balance between fantasy and reality.
Our friends at Jupiter Jewelry have a great tip: "There are ways to be discreet without sounding unrealistic. I think the best thing is to bring some pictures along, and give him a few options: One photo of something modest, and one photo of your dream ring," says Poliseno. "The dream ring will always stay in his mind... He will always try to get it for you, to the best of his means."
5. Get measured — correctly!
This may seem obvious, but before you go shopping, be sure to get measured! More importantly, make sure to have the right finger measured since one hand is larger than the other. (Most people wear their engagement rings on the left hand). There's nothing worse than being on top of every other engagement ring element except fit.
6. Think about your wedding band while shopping for the engagement ring
While it is easy to get caught up in the perfect diamond, the engagement ring is only one half of the equation — your wedding band, (you know the actual symbol of your marriage) is the oft-overlooked other.
Definitely think about what style of wedding band would go with your ring. Some engagement rings don't allow a band to fit flush against them, so it's important to consider the "full package" of prong versus pave and channel-set stones while shopping for your engagement ring with your sweetie.
7. Buy certified
Don't let the romance of the day take over — an engagement ring is one of life's most expensive purchases, so take your time to shop smartly together. When you both finally land on a dream ring, make sure you buy a certified stone from a credited laboratory such as GIA or EGL.