If you’ve made up your mind and decided to pop the question to your long-term partner, then November’s historic yes vote offers the perfect opportunity to do so. All around Australia, wedding bells are ringing for same-sex couples, and it could be well be time to add both of your names to the register. But before you can propose, there’s one big, shiny formality to get out of the way; the engagement ring.
Did you know that the average Australian couple spend an estimated $5000 on engagement rings? While that price tag might sound a little steep for your budget, nobody can deny the lasting appeal of a beautiful, custom-fitted ring; and regardless of how easygoing your relationship is, we’re sure your partner would appreciate the nod to tradition as well.
But even putting costs aside, finding a fitting ring can be a daunting proposition; after all this is an object that’s supposed to symbolize your union, and be worn for the rest of your life. Where does one even begin?
Here are a few handy tips to help you out.
Get the Numbers Right
Everything starts with your budget, without a firm cap on your spending limit you could quickly find yourself overwhelmed with the range of options available. Make sure to pick a number that’s actually affordable; the old adage about spending three months of your salary on your engagement ring, is nothing but an old wives’ tale. Your partner will be far more likely to appreciate a savvy, thoughtful purchase than a perfectly cut ring that breaks the bank.
Speaking of the right figures; sizing is a big deal. A well-fitted ring should fit well enough not to fall off; yet be loose enough to easily slide over the knuckle. If the cat is already out of the bag, you can simply measure your partner’s ring finger yourself. When you do, wait until the evening, because fingers grow imperceptibly over the course of the day. Don’t use paper or string to aid your measurement, as you these materials are prone to twist, and return inaccurate measurements.
If you want to leave your proposal a surprise, try snagging one of your partner’s existing rings while they’re not looking. Your jeweler will be able to copy measurements from this piece and present you with a perfectly fitting version of your own ring. That’s sure to earn you some extra points, when it comes time to pop the question.
What to Look for in a Ring
Of course, like any question of style; this is dependent on your partner’s tastes. While some like classic, understated fashions; others favor a more ostentatious look. You know your partner best, if they have a big personality, and their choice of clothing and jwellery reflects that, then your choice should be clear.
If you’re looking for some more, specific pointers try getting your partner into a jewellery store under some pretence. Make sure to let them hover around the ring section for a while, so you can make note of pieces that they particularly appreciate.
The 3 C’s
When examining the quality of the gemstone(s) on your engagement ring, you’re generally looking at three primary attributes: cut, clarity and carat.
Cut determines how light is reflected within the stone, and is perhaps the most important attribute for judging a good gem. While a poorly cut stone will appear, dull and glassy; a top of the range ideal cut stone will sparkle with what seems to be an internal fire.
Clarity dictates the smoothness of the gems surfaces; if your gem has any superficial dents, or blemishes then this will obviously detract from its appearance. In practice, most of these irregularities are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye.
Contrary to popular belief, carat refers to the weight of your stone, rather than the size; keep in mind that the higher your stone’s carat rating is the more obvious a poor cut will be. A good way to save a few dollars here is to, buy a stone that’s a few points shy of a whole carat rating, e.g. 1.9 vs. 2.0.
Traditional bands are usually found in either platinum or gold. Of these, platinum is by far the stronger, and durable (albeit more expensive) choice. Platinum bands are resistant to damage, difficult to dent or scratch, and provide a great setting for a high quality stone. Be warned however, if your stone is of lower quality, this will show up more clearly against a bright white surface.
In comparison 18k, or 14k yellow gold bands are less resistant to damage, and wear (although still quite hardy). However they’re also easier to have polished and repaired, so choosing them can provide great value.
A less vaunted option might be palladium. Rarer and less expensive than platinum this stark, white metal also offers great strength and durability; it’s also lighter than platinum, making it a better choice for everyday wear.
Do your Research
No matter which choice you opt for, make sure to shop around, and ask your shopkeeper plenty of questions. Once you’ve decided on a ring, get all the specific details written up in a receipt so you can do further research at home. If your jeweller is offering you a piece at a cut-price rate, without any certification, there’s a good chance you’re being taken in.