I remember when John and I first started to think about getting engaged, I was really excited – but also completely overwhelmed.
Excited, of course, because I was inching closer to marrying my best friend! Overwhelmed, because though I’ve been a wedding expert for most of my life, it seems, I was extremely nervous about making such a large purchase when I felt so uneducated on what I was buying (well, what John was buying ;)).
I don’t want anyone else to feel that way, so today, we’ve teamed up with the jewelers at Ritani to offer some engagement ring shopping tips! Whether you’re two months or two years away from getting engaged, I hope you feel more equipped for this big step after reading our Q&A.
P.S. Don’t miss the part about their in-store preview program – such a great opportunity!
Southern Weddings: What do you recommend couples do to prepare before they go ring shopping, if anything?
Ritani: If you’re in the market for a diamond, read up on basic diamond and ring education, including the differences between diamond shapes, the 4 Cs (see below!), and the differences between the most popular ring styles and metals. Before you go shopping, try to narrow down a few basic choices like what diamond shape you like and what style ring. But, know that just as with your wedding dress, you might like a totally different style of ring on your finger than in photos! A Pinterest board can help you gather ideas.
Consider how a certain ring will mesh with your existing style — if you go for a more classic look, try a solitaire or classic setting; if you love vintage-inspired jewelry, explore shapes like cushion, pear, or marquise.
Finally, get a sense for pricing by comparing diamonds and rings on a few different websites. It’s important to remember that diamond shopping is not about finding the “best deal”–rather, you should think about getting the best quality for whatever your budget allows.
SW: How many stores should couples visit when looking for an engagement ring, and how should they decide which stores to go to?
Ritani: We recommend visiting two or three stores in addition to your online research. It makes a big difference to see different types of diamonds in person, as well as try on a few rings. You’ll be able to get a feel for engagement ring styles while also learning about the differences in diamond grades.
If you prefer browsing in-store, plan to visit a handful of independently-owned jewelry stores. Independent jewelers will have more unique designs and be able to design custom rings. Ritani has a network of more than 200 independent retailers throughout the country, so if you need help finding a reputable store, head to ritani.com/stores to find a certified partner.
That said, companies that offer both an online and in-person experience can provide the best value; you get the selection and pricing of an online store with the value of talking to a professional in-person and seeing the diamond first-hand. Ritani offers a free in-store preview option, which lets customers make sure their rings are perfect before they buy.
With our free in-store preview program, you can pick out your engagement ring and diamond online. Our expert jewelers set the ring (with the diamond you picked and in your size), then send it to a local store for you to see it in person before you decide whether you’d like to buy. If it’s not perfect, there’s no pressure to buy. It’s a great way to test out your investment before “driving it off the lot.”
SW: Tell us about the four C’s and what couples should know about them.
Ritani: The 4 C’s of diamonds are cut, color, clarity and carat weight.
Cut refers to the quality of a diamond’s proportions and symmetry. It is angles which allow a diamond to capture light and reflect it, the key ingredient for sparkle. For a truly brilliant diamond, consider those with grades of Very Good or Ideal.
Color refers to the “whiteness” of a diamond, or its lack of color. The less color in a diamond, the higher the value. The GIA grades diamond color using letters to represent the absence of color, beginning with D (colorless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown).
Clarity is how clean a diamond is, inside and out. “Flawless” diamonds are perfectly clear and smooth (and extremely rare). “Included” diamonds have noticeable scratches or internal markings that make them look dirty and dull. Clarity is generally a less important characteristic because most imperfections can’t be seen unless under professional magnification. Many customers choose a diamond in the VS2, VS1, VVS2, or VVS1 categories.
Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. Unlike the other 3 Cs, carat weight is not necessarily a reflection of quality: you can often find diamonds with low carat weight that are more brilliant and sparkling than their larger cousins. For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. While there is no “perfect” carat weight, the average carat weight sold in most U.S. states is around 1 carat.
For the most sparkle, the most-desired combo is a 1-carat Ideal Cut, Colorless (D), Flawless diamond.
SW: Tell us about the different metal options that couples will be presented with. Are there pros and cons to each?
First, take personal preference into account. Take a look at the jewelry you wear regularly to pick the right metal color. Do you go for classic yellow gold, on-trend rose gold, or timeless silver? From there, consider durability, how sensitive your skin is, and budget. Our most popular metal is 18k white gold.
If you’re really active and work with your hands, you will probably do best with a high-durability (and hypoallergenic!) ring setting like platinum or palladium. Platinum requires very little maintenance and will not need to be replated over time, but it does cost significantly more than other metals. If you don’t do much with your hands and don’t require a super-durable metal, go for a more affordable metal like yellow gold or even sterling silver.
When you’re ready to start browsing for your own heirloom, head over to Ritani’s site. Wishing you all the best in this exciting process! xo
This post is sponsored by Ritani, a company we’ve worked with for years. Thanks for your support of the brands who support Southern Weddings!