The boy and I are pretty serious about our relationship and engagement ring shopping has been on our minds. I’m the money person in the relationship and so I felt I had to do some research to figure out the deal on what could be a really expensive purchase.
In our case, I’m happy that he asked me what kind of ring I wanted first. I know some people would prefer a surprise, but I’d rather have a say. So my first step was to do research on engagement rings. I found this post over at Get Rich Slowly really interesting, and there is more of the same here and here. Obviously it’s not good personal finance to go into debt to buy a ring, so I definitely wanted to keep things affordable and reasonable, none of this two month’s salary business.
First of all, it should be said that an engagement ring can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be a 1 carat diamond solitaire on a platinum band. For the band, there are other options like gold, titanium, tungsten, even wood. A stone is completely optional, but based on my research it seems like it’s best to stick to either diamonds or sapphires (a very traditional engagement ring stone in some cultures) because they are hard enough to not get scratched up by daily wear. Something like an emerald is very soft and just won’t hold up if you plan on wearing it every day. There are also some interesting options in artificial stones, like moissanite or lab created diamonds.
Obviously there are pros and cons to all the different options, and it’s important to do your research and figure out what works best for you. In my case, I was really drawn to the lab created diamonds because I’m put off by the conflict diamond issue, as well as the environmental impact of mining in general. Unfortunately, when it comes to lab created diamonds most of them are fancy colored stones because the white stones are more expensive to produce and natural ones are so readily available that it’s just not worth their time to produce cultured ones. Personally, I’m not partial to the fancy colored stones for a ring I’m going to wear every day, it’s just not my personal style.
As for the band, there’s a significant cost difference between the different options, and it’s best to do your research and find out what’s important to you. Platinum is supposedly more durable than gold (and definitely more expensive), but it will still sustain nicks and bumps and need to be polished at a jeweler every so often to regain its original polish and shine. The only truly maintenance free band is a tungsten band, it’s just so hard that it won’t get nicked and bumped and will retain its polish. I decided on a titanium band because I really like the look of tension setting bands. According to my research it can be done with some special kind of platinum alloy and there are few jewelers who know how to do it right (and those few jewelers with their innovative patented process rightly charge for it). Titanium will also work well for tension settings and bonus, it’s a lot cheaper than a platinum alloy.
Your choice of engagement ring should satisfy both of you, the person who will wear it for ever and the person offering it as a sign of their love. At one point I got really frustrated with trying to choose a stone and told the boy I didn’t even want a diamond, they’re too expensive and overrated and I just wanted a cheapo cubic zirconium. You’d think he’d be happy that I was essentially telling him I wanted a $250 ring, but he actually put his foot down and said he would not buy me a cz ring.
Basically, when venturing into engagement ring shopping it’s important to take some time to seriously think about what’s important to you and your partner, and to keep an open mind about the different options available. No need to be brainwashed by the diamond and wedding jewelry industry.
For those of you who are already married, how did you navigate the engagement ring thing?