What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands

The Goal
Every proposal is unique, but the goal is universal. You want to choose a ring that suits her and one she’ll love. This guide is designed to give you clear, useful information about engagement and wedding rings, diamonds, and hints for the proposal itself.

Engagement Ring Shopping Tips for Men

  • Most men shop to one to three months before buying the engagement ring.
  • A budget is key. The salary chart on below can help. Most men spend a bit more than they plan. But remember, the engagement ring and accompanying wedding band will be the most significant gift you ever give her.
  • Of the three rings that will be purchased, it is common to buy the engagement ring first, then the wedding bands.
  • Most couples prefer wedding bands that match the metal of the engagement ring and complement it in both look and fit.
  • The engagement ring and wedding bands are one of the only wedding-related purchases with long-term investment value, unlike the cost of flowers or the reception.
  • The Internet is a popular place to research rings; www.adiamondisforever.com and www.gia.edu are good sources for diamond information, while www.preciousplatinum.com provides platinum specifics and gives an overview of popular ring styles.

Anatomy of an Engagement Ring
ring anatomy What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsKnowing what to look for before you set foot in a jewelry store will make it much easier to walk away with a ring she truly wants. Start by knowing the basic components:

Center stone: The center stone typically accounts for an overwhelming majority of the price of the ring. The size, quality, clarity and cut of the gemstone determine the ring’s price and value.

Setting: Usually platinum or gold, the setting holds the stone/stones and gives the ring its unique design. The more durable the precious metal, the better protected your investment will be. That is why platinum is the ideal choice for protecting your diamond from daily wear and holding it securely in place.

Buying an Engagement Ring – the 4C’s of Diamonds

The gemstone is the centerpiece of the ring, and the first thing people notice. Eighty-three percent of all engagement rings have a diamond center stone, according to the Diamond Trading Company (DTC). Their status as the hardest gemstone makes them both precious and incomparably durable. Durability is critical because the engagement ring will be worn every day, under a variety of conditions.

The quality, value and cost of a diamond are determined by “the 4Cs”.

Cut. The cut of a diamond refers to the angles, shapes and proportions of each diamond. A nicely cut diamond with proper shapes and proportions optimizes the diamond’s natural radiance and brilliance by reflecting and refracting light back through the top of a diamond.

Carat. The “carat” is a unit of measurement used to weigh diamonds. Although a higher carat weight may increase its rarity and value, the cut, color and clarity of the diamond greatly impact the price. Small stones can be more expensive than large stones if the other 3 C’s, color, cut and clarity, rate highly.

Color. Diamonds are judges for their color, or lack thereof. In most cases, the whiter the diamond, the more valuable. Therefore setting a diamond in a naturally white metal is ideal for maximizing its brilliance. The color of a diamond is classified and rated using a color scale, the most popular of which is from GIA, which proceeds in alphabetical order from D to Z, with D standing for “colorless” and Z for near-colorless with slight hints of yellow or brown.

diamond color What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands

Clarity. A diamond’s clarity is rated by the number, size and position of inclusions (or flaws) it has. Inclusions, which give each diamond its uniqueness and are sometimes referred to as “nature’s fingerprints,” are usually not visible to the naked eye unless magnified. The fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone. Diamonds are classified according to their position on the GIA Clarity Scale, from IF (internally flawless, no visible defect) to I3 (imperfect, inclusions visible to the naked eye).

Clarity Chart What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands

Diamond Shapes

Diamonds come in six basic shapes, although your jeweler may carry asscher, radiant or cushion shapes.

cut asscher diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Asscher
cut cushion diamond2 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Cushion
cut emerald diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Emerald
cut heart diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Heart
cut marquise diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Marquise
cut oval diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Oval
cut pear diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Pear
cut princess diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Princess
cut radiant diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Radiant
cut round diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Round
cut trillion diamond1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Trillion

 


A solitaire setting has a single center stone or diamond. It can be surrounded by other diamonds or precious gemstones, called side stones. Side stones can take the same six basic shapes, as well as Baguettes (rectangular) and Trillions (triangular).

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Insider Knowledge
75% of all diamonds sold are round. Source: DTC
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Setting Matters

An engagement ring and wedding bands are subject to constant wear. These rings will be exposed to stress, chemicals, bumps and bangs. Therefore, choosing an enduring metal that holds stones securely and protects your investment is crucial.

Virtually all famous gemstones, from the Star of Africa to the Hope Diamond, are protected by platinum settings. Platinum, for example, is one of the most durable and densest precious metals.

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Rarity
Platinum jewelry is 30 times more rare than gold. If all the platinum ever mined was melted and poured into an Olympic-sized pool, it would barely reach your ankles. Gold would fill three pools.
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The Naturally White Metal Advantage
No matter what fine gemstone you choose as a center gem, color is one of the primary determiners of the rarity and therefore the cost. Diamonds with little or no color are typically most desirable. Consequently, the optimal setting is a white metal that won’t reflect color into the stone. Platinum is a naturally pure white metal that will keep its brilliant white luster. All gold is a naturally yellow metal. White gold is mixed with other alloys to make it look white, and over time it will lose its whiter shade and begin to yellow. In order to maintain its white look, it may need to be re-plated during its lifetime.

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Pure Platinum
Platinum is usually 90-95% pure, which means you are getting more of what you are paying for, as opposed to gold, which is generally 58.5-75% pure.

Stamp
Markings on a ring that denote platinum are Platinum, Plat or Pt, followed by the level of purity, I.e. Pt 900 or Pt 950. 900 denotes 90% pure platinum and 950 is 95% pure platinum.
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Personality of the Ring

Setting design and the shape of the center stone create the ring’s unique personality. Ultimately, individual taste decides which will be right for your fiancee. But to get you acquainted and comfortable before you shop, here are styles you should know and the personality profiles that generally match them. Personality profiles are sourced from Marie Claire and Allure magazines.

setting prong What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsProng: Tiny wires suspend the stone, making it visible from all sides for maximum sparkle.
Personality profile: A classic choice that appeals to a wide variety of tastes.
setting cathedral What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsCathedral/contour: Rising slopes protect the stone on two sides.
Personality profile: Timeless, elegant, for a stylish woman who favors the traditional.
setting bezel What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsBezel: A frame of precious metal surrounds the stone, keeping it very secure.
Personality profile: Clean and modern, especially suited to someone with an active lifestyle.
setting tension What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsTension: The stone is gripped by thousands of pounds of pressure and appears to hover in space.
Personality profile: If she cherishes the unique, this bold look will be a favorite.

Side stone settings

setting bar What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Bar: Thin metal bars separate each stone but leave the sides open to bring in light.
Personality profile: Appeals to the woman who appreciates the class and style of a bygone era.
setting channel What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Channel: Stones rest between two parallels of metal, highlighting both gems and the precious metal holding them.
Personality profile: Subtle, balanced, for a woman who appreciates understated beauty.
setting flush What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Flush: A high impact, low stress setting which secures small stones inside tiny holes.
Personality profile: Clean, simple, natural. For someone who believes true style is easy and real.
setting pave What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Pave: Minute metal beads hold each stone in its own discreet setting.
Personality profile: The woman who loves vintage, antiquities and all things rare will be drawn to this ring.

Remember, platinum settings offer the best protection for the stone. For this reason, many yellow gold rings feature platinum prongs to protect and complement the diamond.

Which Finish

In addition to diamond and setting basics, there’s another decision to be made — the finish.

finish polish What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Polished: A high shine surface.
finish matte What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Matte: A brushed finish that has a smooth, but less shiny, surface.
finish satin What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Satin: A brushed finished that is finer in texture than matte.

 


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The Scratch Factor
All precious metals scratch. It’s a natural part of everyday wear. However, one of the unique qualities of platinum is that when scratched, the metal is merely displaced, never lost. Gold, on the other hand, loses metal when scratched.

The Unique Look of Platinum Rings

Platinum is a naturally white metal that will stay white forever and never tarnish. As it is worn over time, platinum’s surface becomes harder and more resistant to wear. With wear, a soft finish develops called patina, which represents to the owner the history of a life well lived. However, if you prefer a shiny finish, a jeweler can polish your jewelry to bring back the original shine.
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What She Wants

Armed with the basics of gemstone, setting and finish, it’s time to create a blueprint for exactly which engagement ring will make your fiancee-to-be happiest. Obviously, the easiest way is to ask. But if you are set on surprising her, we’ve included some fool-proof ways to get measurements, preferences for stone and ring styles, and ideas for the overall design.

Most Women Want Platinum Rings
Independent research found that 79% of women feel that qualities of platinum best reflect their own style and taste, 81% of women looking for an engagement ring say platinum is their first choice, and 89% consider platinum the highest quality metal. [Hall & Partners, Conde Nast Bridal Group]

How to Determine Your Girlfriends Ring Size
If you don’t know and don’t want to ask, try these suggestions.

  • Trace the inside of one of her rings onto paper.
  • Borrow one of her rings.
  • Put one of her rings on your finger and mark where it rests with a pen.
  • If her family members or friends can be discreet, get one of them to ask her.

A jeweler can calculate ring size from any of these methods.

Talk to Friends & Family

  • Women notice what other women like. Female friends and relatives are a good source for suggestions. If you are wary of discussing rings, ask about her general taste in jewelry.

Watch for Hints

  • Women often give clues about their preferences.

Does she:

  • Admire someone else’s ring while you’re in earshot? (Or alternatively, does she dislike a specific style?).
  • Linger in front of certain jewelry store windows?
  • Leave magazines with jewelry pictures lying around?
  • Draw your attention to a ring in some off-handed way?

Chances are, she’s subtly communicating what she has in mind.

Consider Her Taste

  • Is she more traditional or modern?
  • Is she more “girly” or outdoorsy?
  • What kind of jewelry does she already own?
  • Are her clothes mostly sexy, bohemian, sporty or business-like?

Putting together a quick style profile and discussing it with a jeweler is a great way to focus on the right choices.

Planning the Proposal

For a woman, the proposal is a moment she’s dreamed of and imagined. For a man, it is important to give her the proposal she will always remember. Whether you plan something spectacular or something quite intimate, the following tips will help you craft a very personal engagement.

  • What is most memorable about your first date? Use your first date, your first kiss or the first time you spoke as a basis or theme.
  • What are her favorite things? Think of places, foods, colors, flowers, activities, music, movies she loves, and incorporate a few special touches to show how well you know her.
  • Include loved ones or close friends.
  • Keep it simple, make it fun. Some of the best proposals aren’t elaborate. They involve an inside joke, a past experience or a private memory that is meaningful to the couple.

Determine a Budget

Most men research online. This allows you to cover a lot of ground, select styles and get a good idea of what your budget will buy. When you have something specific in mind, visit a local jeweler or email the Platinum Concierge at platinum concierge!pgiglobal.com for recommendations about jewelers in your area.

Generally, men spend about two months of their current salary (see chart).

Engagement Ring Budget Tips

Annual Income Spending Estimate
$30,000 $5,000
$40,000 $6,667
$50,000 $8,333
$60,000 $10,000
$70,000 $11,667
$80,000 $13,333
  • The diamond represents a significant portion of the overall total cost.
  • Size, brilliance and number of stones affect price.
  • You’re getting more of what you are paying for with platinum (generally 90-95% pure), and over time it is a better value for your money.

Shop Wisely
Ask questions. Handle the ring. If you want technical information, speak with a certified gemologist. Don’t worry about being pressured or taking up a salesperson’s time. The only rule is to feel comfortable and confident about what you are buying.

Financing & Warranties
Most retailers provide financing. Ask what plans they offer. Or investigate specific loans for wedding and jewelry purchases offered by banks or credit unions.

Your jeweler should provide warranty information. Generally this includes a guarantee that the ring will maintain its shape and is free from any manufacturing defects, as well as a regular cleaning schedule.

Guide to Buying Wedding Bands

Ring decisions don’t end with the engagement. Start thinking about the wedding band early, approximately six months in advance, and how it fits with the engagement ring. You’ll save yourself some last minute stress.

Both of you will be wearing these bands for a long time to come. Choose something that reflects your taste and will endure over time. Next time you’re at the jewelry store, try holding two similar me’s wedding bands in your hand, one platinum and one white gold. You’ll be able to feel the difference in terms of weight. This weight, due to platinum’s density, is part of what makes platinum extremely durable and perfectly suited for a lifetime of wear. To view a wide range of platinum wedding bands, visit the wedding band gallery at www.preciousplatinum.com.

Band Styles
Wedding bands have increasingly become individualized as new designs, personal touches, and creative possibilities are made available. Here are some elements you may want to consider.

Profiles
The most common profiles are round and flat. Round profiles are also called “classic” or “domed.” Flat profiles are flattened on both interior and exterior surfaces of the band. Either style is available in Comfort Fit, which curves to fit the finger and reduces the chance of skin abrasion or irritation.

band profile flat What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Flat Profile
band profile round What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Round Profile

 

Band Size
The width is the horizontal measurement of the band. The choice in band size is up to you and what works best for your fingers.

Standard widths are between 2mm and 6m; however, bands up to 12mm can be ordered. Wider bands allow for more design details, gemstones and/or engraving.

Ring Finishes
A variety of finishes can be applied to the band surface. Combinations of several finishes are used to create unique textures and looks. Six basic finishes to consider are:

finish polish What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Polished: A high shine surface.
finish matte What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Matte: A brushed finish that has a smooth, but less shiny, surface.
finish satin What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Satin: A brushed finished that is finer in texture than matte.
finish stone What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Stone: Coarse brush finish with a more rugged look than matte or satin.
finish hammered What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Hammer/Repouse: A hand wrought appearance achieved by using the round end of a ball peen hammer to texture the band surface.
finish florentine What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Cross Peine/Florentine: An engraved finish where lines flow around, across or diagonally.

 

Design Details
You can also further personalize your ring with designs, engraving or diamond accents.

Band designs

detail weave What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsWeave/Braid: A raised design that resembles strands of metal woven together. detail beveled What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding BandsBeveled Edge: An angled edge with a contrasting or complementary finish.

 

Diamonds in the Wedding Band

A beautiful option which enhances both value and presentation. The two most common setting styles are:

setting flush1 What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Flush: A good choice for someone who uses their hands a lot in their profession. The diamond is sunk into the mounting and is well protected from impact in daily wear. setting channel What You Need to Know When Buying Diamond Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands Channel: Several diamonds are set in a row without metal between them either horizontally, vertically or diagonally in the band.

 

Engagement Ring Shopping Checklist

Finding the Right Ring
Now that you know the facts, you can go out and find the perfect ring for her. Email the Platinum Concierge at platinum concierge@pgiglobal.com for help finding platinum retailers near you.

Use this diamond engagement ring buying checklist to help remember important details. This will help the retailer find you the right ring.

Pre-Homework
Her ring size: __________________________________________________________________________
Budget range: _________________________________________________________________________
Style preference: _______________________________________________________________________

Ring #1 Description: ____________________________________________________________________
Ring Style Number: _____________________________________________________________________
Setting Price: __________________________________________________________________________
Diamond Price: ________________________________________________________________________
Carats: __________________________________________________________________________
Precious Metal: ________________________________________________________________________
Sales Associate / Store: __________________________________________________________________
Notes: __________________________________________________________________________

Ring #2 Description: ____________________________________________________________________
Ring Style Number: _____________________________________________________________________
Setting Price: __________________________________________________________________________
Diamond Price: ________________________________________________________________________
Carats: __________________________________________________________________________
Precious Metal: ________________________________________________________________________
Sales Associate / Store: __________________________________________________________________
Notes: __________________________________________________________________________

Things to Remember
{The Short List}

The diamond’s value and price are determined by the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat.

The setting protects the diamond and your investment. It also determines the design and personality of the ring.

Diamonds look best in white metal. Women overwhelming prefer platinum.

Choose the ring to match her style, and you will both be very happy.

The engagement ring and wedding bands are symbols of love. Years from now, you will appreciate the thought, time and investment that went into choices you make today.

The strength of your vows is reflected in the rings you exchange. Choose a ring that endures, and you create an heirloom for future generations.

About Platinum Guild International

Platinum Guild International is a not-for-profit organization, whose purpose is to raise awareness about the qualities of platinum. Platinum Guild International has free resources available to help you through this search. You can email the Platinum Concierge at platinumconcierge@pgiglobal.com or visit or website at www.preciousplatinum.com.