The Proposal Puzzle

Professional Advice on the Perfect Ring for Popping the Question   

Written By: Star Sosa

So you’ve found the “one” and are preparing to propose. What an exciting and terrifying time. You’ve already won her heart and now you’re looking for the perfect ring to seal the deal; a daunting task, no doubt, but one that has been successfully undertaken by many men before you. I’d like to offer these words of advice in hopes that they will smooth the way as you venture down the path to matrimony.  

  1. Start listening. She has opinions, even when she swears she loves surprises. Most girls have been dreaming about this for years. This is a test to see if you’ve been paying attention. Play detective.  Check her Pinterest account (maybe ask her best friend if you can’t find it). She is likely to have a couple of photo boards devoted to her favorite bridal images. These may be your best source of information and inspiration regarding what shape, style, designer and precious metal she prefers.
  2. Keep in mind her attributes. Remember that she’s the one who’s going to wear it, so her taste trumps yours on this particular purchase. At the same time, consider her lifestyle and activities. That ring with tiny diamonds on every surface is gorgeous, but it could be too fragile for an active lifestyle.    
  3. Get educated. Arrive prepared with some knowledge of the 4 C’s: clarity, color, carat weight and cut. Remember Mother Nature doesn’t always produce the exact combination of attributes in the shape and price range you want. Diamonds will probably look alike to you initially, but once you’ve examined a few under magnification you’ll see just how amazingly different they can be.   It will be a dance to find the perfect stone to meet your needs.  
  4. Find someone you can trust to guide you through the process. A local jeweler can be your best ally. Check out online reviews or ask your family, and then pay a visit to the store. Your mom can be a great resource here. Just be sure to find someone you feel comfortable with and who answers all your questions. Buying a diamond or ring online can be convenient and might even seem like a great deal, but having a local partner help you in your search will really set your mind at ease. When working with a local store, expect to compare diamonds side by side before deciding on the best option, and then move onto selecting your favorite ring mounting. Then you have a relationship with someone who will handle ring sizing, insurance and wedding bands.
  5. Start with a budget with a basis in reality. Each step up or down of the 4 C’s can dramatically affect the final price. Holding out for a great price on something that has exceptional clarity, color, cut and size is just unreasonable. Decide which attributes are most important to you and which ones you can be flexible on. Based on my experience, I find that guys would rather get a smaller stone of higher quality, but what I hear most from the girls is that they’d prefer a bigger diamond even if it means having lower color or clarity. My advice is that after you pick the shape and target size, choose the diamond with the best cut first, then get the highest clarity you can afford, and finally factor in the color.    
  6. Does it have a diamond grading report? The industry standard is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Another great one is the American Gem Society (AGS). There are many reporting agencies, but when people in the industry sell diamonds among themselves, they request a GIA grading report. They have a reputation for the strictest standards. That tells you that the experts trust the GIA reporting, so you can too.  
  7. See it in person. Seeing is believing. A report isn’t everything. Two diamonds can look very similar on paper, but yet they can be vastly different in person. The proportions of the cut set a great diamond apart from an average one. Look at as many diamonds as you can with magnification. Once you pick your diamond, learn its unique fingerprint of clarity characteristics (unless it is a VS or better, in which case you may not be able to detect any). If it has a grading report, those attributes may already be mapped out. Plus, it may have a laser inscription on it that will serve as a permanent identifier.

Everything I’ve told you here is actually the easy part. The most important work comes after you become engaged and as you and your beloved prepare to build a life together. Good luck as you progress down this path. It’s not nearly as puzzling as it may seem at the outset. Call on the right allies and all the pieces will soon fall into place.

About the Writer: Star Sosa has been designing, selling, and writing about fine jewelry for over thirty years. She has had a lifelong fascination with gems and all things sparkly and colorful. Originally from California, she found the relaxed coastal lifestyle in Wilmington to be a perfect place to call home for the past twenty years. A self-described Maverick, Star seeks out the unusual, quirky and exceptional in her associates as well as in her art and jewels. Her training includes a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, various professional certificates from the Gemological Institute of America, as well as decades of self-study in a myriad of disciplines believing that a well-read person can do anything they set their mind to. Star spends her free time playing with her dog, Bisbee (named after a turquoise mine), and at the beach.

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