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Choosing the Perfect Engagement Ring
By: Anita Marks on Sun May 25, 2008
Guys, this guide’s for you! So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and propose to your sweetheart. Now comes the hard part: choosing her engagement ring.

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An engagement ring is probably the second-most important purchase you’ll ever make (your house being the most important), so you need to choose wisely. This guide will help you make that choice and will hopefully result in you wooing her with the perfect engagement ring.

One word of caution before we begin: The perfect ring is probably the one she chooses herself. Who has a better idea of what she’s looking for, than her? I know what you’re thinking, it’s not very romantic to give her an “IOU for 1 engagement ring” when you propose, but buying a ring together can be just as romantic as surprising her with one. It’s all in the delivery.

One way to get around this problem is to present her with a stone when you propose. Then once she accepts she can choose the engagement ring setting herself. For more information on choosing the right stone, see our handy guide.
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For those of you who’ve decided to do it the old-fashioned way, with a ring on bended knee, the following tips will put you on the right track.

Determine Your Budget: Before you go shopping, figure out how much you can afford to spend. The standard used in the diamond industry is two months salary. Depending on your situation, this may be a reasonable place to start.

Do Some Reconnaissance: Like all good soldiers you’ll need to do some reconnaissance before you go into battle. What color metal does she like? Yellow (gold) or white (silver)? What’s her style of jewelry? Is it modern or classic, flashy or understated? If you’re uncertain, note down the designs of her rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. You’ll be able to use these designs to determine her favorite style later.

A creative way to find out what she likes is to go window shopping together. Tell her you’re looking for some earrings for your mom or a new watch and steer her through the engagement ring aisle. But be discreet! You don’t want her to steal your thunder.

Choose the Metal: If she prefers yellow metals, yellow gold is the ideal choice for her. If she prefers silver metals, you have a choice between white gold, platinum or titanium.

If you’ve chosen gold, you’ll need to choose the purity or karat (kt). Gold comes in three purities: 10kt, 14kt and 18kt. 10kt gold contains 41.67% pure gold, 14kt gold contains 58.33% pure gold and 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold. The higher the purity, the more expensive the ring, so you need to factor this into your budget.

Platinum and titanium are 95% pure, so you don’t need to make any choices about the purity of these metals. For more information on the different metals, check out our Guide to Choosing a Metal.

Choose the Stone: A diamond seems to be a no-brainer, but some women these days prefer other gemstones in their engagement rings. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, tanzanite, tourmaline, and aquamarines can be just as stunning as diamonds and they have the added benefit of costing less. If you're set on diamonds, make sure you check out our Guide on Choosing a Diamond.

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