With one track title, Pink Floyd perfectly described my ideal engagement ring: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Yes, I would like a large, shiny diamond. Yes, that is admittedly unspecific. And yes, that is because I'm not near engagement. To borrow yet another iconic phrase from pop culture (namely the early aughts series MTV'sDiary), "you think you know, but you have no idea" ...how to pick out an engagement ring.
Lucky for you (and for me), I was able to speak with Stephanie Gottlieb, Instagram's favorite ring designer and owner of Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry. There are a lot of considerations to make when choosing an engagement ring that I hadn't even considered prior to reaching out to an expert. I spoke to Gottlieb about everything from prices to shopping tips to ring styles, and even asked her what the number one mistake people make when picking out an engagement ring is. Whether you are in the midst of dropping hints to your SO about what kind of rock you're hoping for daily, or you simply love talking about shiny diamonds like me, Gottlieb's insight was incredibly informative.
1. The Number One Piece Of Advice For Couples Starting To Shop For A Ring
"I think it’s really important for the couple to get on the same page about budget and style," says Gottlieb. I love that this advice is entirely pragmatic. Considering how often pragmatism gets thrown out in wedding planning, why not start the first step in the process from a communicative, cooperative place?
"A lot of girls have unrealistic expectations for the carat size of their ring, and vice versa, a lot of guys are head strong about 'not liking' certain stone shapes [and] ring styles and, therefore, refuse to buy what their future fiancée wants," explains Gottlieb. "I think it makes sense to have an open and honest conversation to manage expectations so that each party is happy with the end result." Nobody wants to feign excitement over a ring, so this advice seems wise to heed. (Pro-tip: Communication is great for all relationships in general.)
2. How To Choose Your Budget For The Ring
"This is the trickiest part, but I’d say to go with a price point that feels comfortable to you," says Gottlieb, "And something that will allow for future spending on wedding bands and all of the other expenses that come along with a wedding." This brings us back to Gottlieb's first piece of advice: Get on the same page with your partner about what you'd like to spend on all aspects of the wedding, from rings to venues to flowers and beyond.
"That being said, it helps to get an understanding of what your desired budget translates to in terms of carat weight, and to then decide if you want to go up in the budget to achieve a larger carat weight and/or higher quality," adds Gottlieb. Starting from a budget and then looking at options — another logical step in an otherwise crazy process.
3. How To Choose What Style Ring To Get
"I would definitely suggest trying on different styles because you might like something in a picture, but then dislike it on your hand," explains Gottlieb. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beauty might be held differently once the ring is on your actual hand. This makes me think about online shopping and how often what looks great on the model looks like a sack of potatoes on me. It makes sense to try on many different rings.
"You also might be in love with a certain style because you’re looking at a 5-carat version of the ring, but in smaller carat sizes, the design may not translate as well," says Gottlieb. "I would suggest visiting the jeweler you plan to work with and asking them to show you a variety of styles." Remember how you visited college campuses before committing to a school? Remember how you looked at apartments before committing to a lease? Do your research, because this ring might almost be as expensive as college!
4. What Part Of The Ring To Choose First
Do you start with the diamond? YES! "This is the biggest piece of the financial commitment, and the setting really can be changed over time," says Gottlieb. She adds that it's important to establish the diamond's shape before choosing or adding anything else. (This may have been a dumb question on my very single, unengaged part...)
5. How To Decide Where To Get The Ring
Gottlieb's advice was simple: "Find a jeweler whose style resonates with you." She added that online resources have closed the diamond pricing gap, and that jewelers are being held accountable for the prices they quote. "While any jeweler can sell a diamond at a fair price, NOT every jeweler can create a beautiful ring," says Gottlieb. She explains that when you are looking for a designer, keeping style at the forefront of your search is more important than you might think.
Gottlieb adds that she thinks shopping around the diamond market is an important step in the process so that you and your SO can get a feel for what is out there and at what price. However, she adds, "Once you’ve found a jeweler you like, I think it’s important to 'call it quits' with the others." Sort of like you did when you met your future spouse, no?
"You really can drive yourself crazy thinking that there’s always going to be something bigger and better out there," says Gottlieb. "When you find a stone you like at a price you feel good about, commit to it."
6. The Most Common Mistake People Make When Choosing A Ring
"A lot of people don’t think about the longevity of the piece," says Gottlieb. "You want to make sure that you’re picking a stone that you’re going to love for a long time." This is a great point. While the setting of a ring is changeable, the stone itself is not. Gottlieb also says that many couples don't consider the quality of the stone in relation to the size of the ring.
"Some clients select the biggest size possible, compromising on quality all together because they’re concerned about how big the stone looks," says Gottlieb. "But once you see the yellow in a stone, or an imperfection becomes visible to you, those things will never go away." She adds that on the flip side, some couples become so consumed with the quality of the stone that they compromise on the size of the diamond, leaving the wearer feeling like the ring is inadequate.
What I gathered from Gottlieb's advice was that it's the most important to get on the same page with your partner when picking out a ring. Then, it's important to consider your own style and what design speaks to you. Finally, it's important to think about the quality and size of the diamond, and choose the "fit" that's best for you and the wedding and life expenses you plan on having in the coming years.
Oh, and if Gottlieb's Instagram taught me anything other than that I actually want FIVE engagement rings — one for each finger — it's that you should 100 percent keep up a consistent manicure during your shopping!
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