My Engagement Ring Selection Process

One of the main motivations behind why Jenny and I wanted to start this blog in the first place was so that this blog would (eventually at some point once there’s enough content) serve as a resource for those who are in marriage-bound relationships. While it’s only been just a little over 9 months since I’ve met Jenny and only a few days since we’ve been engaged, I can safely say that I’ve learned a lot so far and my guess (and hope) is that I will continue to learn as a result of being in this relationship with Jenny.

Well, one of the things that I absolutely had to learn (if I were to have any hope of getting Jenny to agree to marry me) was to how to go about selecting the engagement ring NOTE: I’m not going to go in-depth about this topic. Instead, I’m going to sort of graze over how I went about picking the engagement ring for Jenny.

In the beginning… I, being a typical guy, had absolutely zero interest in diamonds and rings prior to this experience. This also means that I knew absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g. I had no idea how to go about finding out what kind of an engagement ring Jenny would like. About the only thing that I did know was that I really wanted the proposal to be a surprise for Jenny, which also meant that I could not involve her too much in the ring-selection process. The moment she starts thinking I’m involving her too much in my search for the ring, the surprise element of the proposal would fizzle, or so I feared.

Very early on in our relationship (probably within about 4 months of meeting her), I asked her out of the blue what kind of an engagement ring she would like. If you are man, see any potential for marriage in your relationship with your significant other, and you would like to keep your proposal a surprise, I would suggest that you ask your lady about what kind of a ring she might want early in your relationship. Since it’s early in your relationship she probably won’t suspect you’ll be proposing to her anytime soon. Well, your mileage may vary, but all I can say is that it worked for me. :)

Going back to my story–when I asked her what kind of an engagement she would like all she told me was that she would like a diamond that’s squarish with rounded corners (i.e. cushion cut) and she wanted her ring to look “vintage” (FYI, I have no idea what that really means and I still don’t know). I replied, “Ok”. I now at least knew which shape of diamond I need to keep my eyes out for.

Fast forward some time and I had now decided that I was going to get serious about engagement ring shopping. I consulted my friend Silvia (who just so happens to be a very knowledgeable diamond fanatic and was so very helpful… thank you!) as well as a few others and they provided me with the following online resources:

  • pricescope.com – THE best website for information on diamonds according to my friend Silvia. You can read about all you’ll probably ever want to know about diamonds including the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, carat) and so much more.
  • bluenile.com – A huge selection of diamonds and rings. I’ve heard this website come up over and over again in various conversations with friends. You can do an online search on their huge inventory and you’ll get a decent idea on how much you’ll need to shell out for the engagement ring.

I honestly think that if you spend enough time on those 2 websites, you’ll be in a good shape to do some serious engagement ring shopping.

Now, a few additional tips and lessons I’ve learned along the way…:

  • Be sure to take a look at diamonds in person. In other words, don’t just do your shopping online without actually looking at diamonds in person. You don’t necessarily have to look at the diamond you’re purchasing in person. You just need to go look at some high quality diamonds in person. I went to Dimend Scaasi in Chicago and sat down with a lady named Sharon (she was extremely friendly and very helpful) who showed me a whole bunch of diamonds. Even though I ended up not purchasing my ring through her, I would highly recommend her for her helpfulness and friendliness. And best of all, she was not at all pushy. By the way, if you do plan on taking a trip out to Dimend Scaasi, be sure to call ahead and make an appointment with them in advance. One thing to keep in mind–I’ve been informed that you should NOT do your engagement ring shopping at department/chain diamond shops as they do not have very good quality (i.e. GIA certified) diamonds. While I have not verified this information myself, I figured I would avoid even the risk of wasting my time by checking out such shops.
  • Ring sizer: You will, at some point, need to find out the size of your girlfriend’s left ring finger. If you want to keep the proposal a surprise, asking her directly may not be the best idea. Perhaps you can try asking her mom. Or her sister. Or her close friends. In my case, no one knew Jenny’s ring size and since it was absolutely critical that my proposal had to be a surprise, I made up my mind to get Jenny’s ring size while she was asleep. I requested my free ring sizer on bluenile.com (go here) and they mailed it out to me (which looks very close to this) within days. I found an opportune moment where she fell asleep on me and I was able to successfully obtain her ring size in secret. Don’t drive yourself too crazy if you cannot get the exact ring size, though. I think pretty much any jeweler will resize your ring for free, at least the first time around. With that said, however, you will want to make sure that your guess is a pretty accurate one as you don’t want to be off by too much. From what I understand, +/- 0.5 is desirable.
  • As you get closer and closer to actually purchasing the ring, be sure to get a good idea of the kind of ring that your girlfriend wants. You want to make sure that your girlfriend (and NOT you) will actually like the ring since there’s a pretty good chance she’ll be wearing it for a very long time. It’ll be on her finger. Thankfully in my situation, I was able to talk to Jenny’s sister as well as a close friend of Jenny’s (again, I didn’t talk to Jenny directly about this since I wanted the proposal to be a surprise). They were able to point me in the right direction and I am SO glad I did because the ring that I would’ve picked out on my own would have looked pretty different from the ring, which would most likely have meant that Jenny would not have liked (LOVED) the ring as much.
  • Make sure the diamond you’re purchasing is certified. My understanding is that GIA is the industry standard. So yes, make sure your ring is GIA certified.
  • When you’re ready to make the big purchase, negotiate with your diamond/jewelry person to get the lowest price possible. Ask to see if you can get a discount for paying them in cash (or something equivalent to cash, such as wire transfer, check, etc.). Also, another way to get some extra discount is to purchase your engagement ring as well as your wedding bands from the same merchant. All the different merchants I spoke with provided me with a 10% discount off of the entire order (engagement rings plus wedding bands) when I told them that my intention would be to purchase all 3 rings from them.
  • Platinum Vs. White Gold? I did a lot of thinking on this and in the end, decided on platinum despite the added cost. My main reason for this was that with white gold, you need to get it replated periodically to prevent it from looking dull. I figured I’ll spend a few hundred extra dollars NOW and save myself (or Jenny) the pain of getting it replated and worrying about the ring becoming dull over time. If you have a few minutes to spare, read this.
  • Be sure to place your order at least a month before your planned proposal date. In my case, it took about 3 weeks for the ring to be made.
  • And lastly… you just might want to start saving some money n-o-w. :)

That is about all I can come up with for now. FYI, I purchased my ring from Mark Turnowski at Engagement Rings Direct and I think he did an absolutely fantastic job. Jenny also thinks he did an amazing job. I’ve never seen anyone fall in love with an inanimate object that fast. :)

Jenny's ring

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