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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!

emily Written with love by Emily
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    Talented, professional, compassionate vendors are the backbone of every smoothly running wedding day. When you hire people who are great at what they do AND good people to boot, your only job on your wedding day will be to act as a gracious hostess, love your family and friends well, and say “I do.” What a blessing! That’s why we’re passionate about our Blue Ribbon Vendors – because we want y’all to be worrying about those three things, and nothing else. Here are a few we’d love to introduce you to!

    Name: Bows & Arrows
    Where you call home: Dallas, Texas
    How I got into weddings: Everything started out as a love of art and studying painting. Before I knew it, that passion fused with a desire to paint with different medium. Thus, floral and event design emerged.

    Name: Divine Light Photography
    Where you call home: New York City
    Things you’d write home to your Momma about: We have been in business for over eight years, traveled all over the world with our clients, and been featured in many amazing publications and blogs, but our greatest achievement by far is being married for almost eleven years. We have had our struggles and adventures, but still call each other soul mates and lovers.

    Name: Emerald Coast Convention Center
    Where you call home: Okaloosa Island, Florida
    Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Try to savor every minute. It goes by so fast!

    Name: EraGem
    Where you call home: Bellevue, WA
    Favorite part of a wedding day? Exchanging of the rings!

    Name(s): Good Earth Films
    Where you call home: Reidsville, NC (it’s a little town close to Greensboro)
    Things you’d write home to your Momma about: We feel blessed that we are able to work together. Starting Monday mornings with a warm cup of coffee, editing side-by-side, is something we never want to take for granted. We receive joy from the precious moments of ordinary life. We believe we create wedding films that encourage couples and their families to reflect on the joy in their own uniquely precious moments. And we hope that each film inspires folks to remember that this earth is a good place to be!

    Name: Ritani Jewelers
    Where you call home: New York and Seattle
    Things you’d write home to your Momma about: Ritani was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of America’s Most Promising Companies in 2014. We’ve also been featured in Brides magazine, Bridal Guide, Glamour, Fox Business, CNN Money, and more!

    Name: Sugar Bee Sweets
    Where you call home: Arlington, TX
    How I got into weddings: I’ve always loved weddings – even in college I worked at an event venue space as well as a bridal boutique. My passion for decorating cakes took it to the next level as I mustered up the courage to open my own bakery boutique seven years ago.

    Name: A&P Designs
    Where you call home: St. Petersburg, Florida
    How I got into weddings: I have always loved paper. I designed my own invitations but didn’t know where to print them. I went to a stationer and after going through the design process, and it opened my eyes to the realization that this is my dream job. I just love designing and playing with paper all day long!

    Name: Fritz Farm
    Where you call home: Cordele, Georgia
    How I got into weddings: In 2010, I started renovating the farm that my Uncle Fritz left in an estate upon his death in 1976. The locals started noticing, and a bride and her mom stopped by one day and asked if she could get married in our pecan orchard. Her wedding photos on Facebook and other social media outlets led to more inquiries and more weddings… thus the birth of The Fritz Farm Venue.

    Name: Kelsey Barnard Catering
    Where you call home: Dothan, Alabama
    Favorite part of a wedding day? I love being able to witness the giddy excitement of a bride and groom’s new marriage as we escort them to their private meal. It’s even better when we can hear the “yums and mmmmms” from the other room.

    Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at southernweddings.com!

    emily Written with love by Emily
    1 Comment
    1. avatar Alicia Rohan reply

      Yay!! Thank you for the introductions!! We are so happy to be a part of the SW family!! :)

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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