1. Listen intently anytime she talks about jewelry.
Once you’ve made the decision to propose, conversations about jewelry will become instantly interesting. I’m talking about any hint you can get — from whether she likes the vintage style of her friend’s engagement ring to what she may or may not have so subtly pinned to her inspiration board. If you don’t have enough info, but you’ve both talked about marriage (which hopefully you have), you might even want to take a day to browse rings together. It doesn’t mean you should walk into the nearest jewelry store, pick one out, swipe the credit card, and propose right there. Although it may sound a little unromantic, it’ll definitely help ensure you end up giving her something she really likes.
2. Asking for permission may feel awkward.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve known your partner’s parents for five months or five years, formally asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage isn’t entirely comfortable. It’s kind of like jumping off the high dive. You’re pumped until you’re at the edge of the board looking down into the pool. My advice? Just do it. Now is not the time to be secretive or discreet with her family. If you’re the traditional type, you’ll agree that the act of asking shows respect and appreciation for the other person’s family. They’ll love you more for it.
3. You’ll want to talk to other guys who’ve gone through it before.
This is just too big of a purchase not to get a few opinions on. Even if you are a private person, ring shopping is the time to open your inner circle and invite in someone with experience. Ask previously engaged friends for great jeweler recommendations. Realize that in a retail setting the person behind the counter is simply a salesperson and does not have the same expertise as a designer or a goldsmith like Stephen Kris Designs who actually makes your ring or sources your perfect diamond.
4. You’ll also feel the need to consult her friends.
Sure we get gift-giving right from time to time, but for the most part we rarely hit a home run. Now is the time to knock it out of the park. To be sure you score major points, confide in someone close to your partner to see if they can gather some feelers as to what she’s been thinking about, or if there was something she saw in a magazine that really caught her eye. You can also bring them with you to make the purchase, as a second opinion. Your girlfriend’s girlfriends will probably love nothing more than to come with you, do research for you or even help you plan the proposal. They are your best allies in this venture, hands-down. Just don’t tell too many people. (The more who know, the more likely it is that someone will accidentally let it slip.)
5. You might not want to buy her exactly what she wants.
When guys shop for their ladies, they tend to think it’s only the effort that counts. Not true. This is not a present where only credit counts. This is the time when you ditch your tastes or favorite stores, and think, “What would SHE really like?” You may love gold but she prefers platinum. You may like one cut, but she prefers another. It may be your wallet but remember it’s HER ring. You don’t have to wear it for the rest of your life, she does. So always, always, always (did I say always enough times?) think about what she would buy, not what you like.
6. All diamonds look the same at first.
When you see you see your first diamond, you will probably be awestruck. It’s shiny, sparkly and looks perfect. At this point you might be tempted to whip out your wallet and call it a day. Don’t do it! Diamonds are not all the same. I always encourage my customers to shop around, ask lots of questions, take your time, and find a jeweler or designer you can trust.
7. Learning the 4Cs is like studying for an exam.
If you’ve ever bought a car and thought it was stressful, multiply that by nine. Ring shopping is the World Champion of Stressful Moments in a man’s life. But if done properly, it can also be one of the most memorable purchases you’ll ever make. I’m talking specifically about learning the 4Cs — that is the diamond’s cut, carat, clarity, and color. Put it this way: If you buy a ring without considering the 4Cs, it’s like buying an expensive car because of the price, and then finding out it has a crappy engine, a rust-filled body, and won’t last you a week. So take the time to study up before you shop and work with a jeweler you can trust.
8. Going custom will sound complicated and expensive (but it’s not).
One thing you’ll find out is that the diamond and the setting do not always have to come as one package. Yes, it may be easier to buy a generic ring as you see it, but for something truly personal have a unique setting created with the help of a designer like Stephen Kris Designs and give her a custom one-of-a-kind hand made ring. Don’t let the word “custom” overwhelm you; this does not have to mean “expensive”. It means you took the time to give her a ring that is unique as she is. Too often people spend a lot on the ‘little blue box’ for a ring that is generic and still not hand made.
9. Your budget doesn’t have to be tested.
Let’s face it: Regardless of your budget, buying an engagement can be expensive. You will not find a Groupon or Living Social deal for the perfect ring. Don’t be afraid to tell your jeweler your limit. If upping the carat size means you skipping out on a few month’s rent, then it’s time you put the breaks on. While a diamond is the obvious choice, don’t disregard a gem quality sapphire which can give you more carats for the dollar. Blue is the choice of the royal family but sapphires are also available in every every shape and every color of the rainbow. Believe it or not, when you go to buy an engagement ring, you are in the driver seat, and not the smiling retail person across the counter. It’s your money, your time and your moment, so make the most of it by shopping around for your best option. I’m often asked the question ‘How much do I need to spend on her engagement ring?’ My stock answer is to buy a ring that you will be proud of on your 25th wedding anniversary. Remember the adage: The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten. Stephen Kris Designs is at your service and can help you get the most carats and quality for your budget.
10. You don’t need to be exhausted by the time it’s time to plan the proposal.
After it’s all over — you did your homework, talked to her friends, shopped around and finally picked one out, the next next step is planning the proposal. It is just as important as buying the ring, so make it count. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, or over the top but it should go beyond a text saying, “Oh, by the way, I bought you an engagement ring.” After all, you only get once chance to pull off an amazing proposal. So just like you did with the ring, come up with a plan that you know she’ll truly love.
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