The engagement ring - one small piece of metal with a decorative gemstone to match - who would think that such a simple object could cause so much confusion and cost so much to boot! But because this this liekly to be the most expensive purchase made to date and one of the most important and symbolic items you'll ever buy, it's essential you get it right and cover all the angles before jumping straight in - this article will set you on your way to doing just that.
The engagement ring is traditionally seen as the man’s domain. He would go out, choose and buy a ring with little or, more often, no input from his wife-to-be. Often the whole concept of marriage would be a surprise to his girlfriend - and not always a welcome one at that!
However these days, the decision to enter into marriage is sometimes made together and a small percentage of couples each year will even head out and select the ring together. That said, in the bulk of relationships it is still the man who will take the lead when it comes to marriage and the all important engagement ring.
But regardless of who will be buying and choosing the ring, it is essential that all the bases are covered and that you have a full comprehension of all the nuances of engagement rings before jumping straight in.
When it comes to a gemstone for an engagement ring, thoughts immediately turn to a diamond.
Varying in size, shape and colour, choosing the perfect diamond may seem simple on the face of it, but in truth it's actually a little more complex.
If you're planning to purchase a diamond and haven't heard of the '4 C's' yet, don't worry, you will do! Carats, colour, clarity and cut are the 4 main variants of diamonds, and along with the shape you opt for will determine the appearance of the stone as well as the hole in your pocket! There's a whole host of in-depth information you could do with knowing on this front, so you'd be well advised to take a look at our detailed article on The Diamond to help you on your way.
Of course you aren't contractually obliged to buy a diamond engagament ring and there are a host of other beautiful gemstones that you may wish to splash out on. From rubies and sapphires to emerables and aquamarines, they're all covered in detail in our Altermative Gems article.
You may think that picking the band would be pretty straightforward, and compared to choosing the gem it is, but there are still decisions that need to be made - particlualrly around the metail that will be used.
Gold, white gold and platinum are the most common options but there are more modern alternatives such as titanium and white gold to consider.
To help you on your quest to make the perfect choice, our we do have a dedicated engagement ring band article.
The most commonly overlooked element of the whole engagement ring is the setting. From prong and gypsy to flush and pave, there are a whole host of ways that a gemstone can be 'set' in order to make it look it's best whilst still being suitable to the wearer. An in-depth guide to all of the various settings available along with some essential tips on how to choose the most suitable one can all be found in our engagement ring settings guide.
When choosing an engagement ring, the most important thing to remember is to do what is right for you as a couple. Just because your friend bought a 1 carat diamond ring in bezel setting on a platinum band, doesn’t mean that you need to do the same, but likewise that option may be preferable to a ring that you won on ‘Hook the Duck’ at the local fair!
The engagement ring you choose will last a lifetime, so take the time it deserves to choose the right one to suit the wearer's individial taste and the purchaser's budget.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other engagement articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with jewellers, bespoke ring makers and more.
For friendly tips and helpful advice, take a look at our engagement forum and engagement Q&A's or check out the rings for sale and the 'links to pages & websites you may like' below.