What makes something classic? Whenever you experience a classic car, a classic movie, or a classic novel, you’re usually left feeling like you’ve come across the gold standard in quality. But does this universal sense of the classic hold up when it comes to finding the right engagement ring? The right ring has changed over the years as fashion and style has evolved. For example, in the 1960s Elizabeth Taylor made emerald engagement rings a must-have, but does that still hold true today?
A Personal Sense of Classic
Why would you buy a classic car? Is it the color that draws you in or the body style? Perhaps the rarity or sentimental value is what pulls you closer. A 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra, for instance, is lauded for its design and workmanship—a mere replica of the car can be worth up to $250,000! But not everyone considers the Shelby as the best classic car. Similarly, not everyone thinks a single, round cut diamond in a gold band is the best kind of engagement ring. Some prefer the verve and vitality of emerald engagement rings.
An Investment in Who You Are
Women view engagement rings how men view cars: an investment and symbol of who you are and what you love. Their color, shape, rarity, and sentimental value all contribute to each woman’s ideal ring or each man’s ideal car. You can’t ignore a woman’s tastes when trying to find her a ring. In fact, sentimental value and history together play a crucial role in finding the perfect diamond. When you start your ring hunt, consider the following:
- What is your budget?
- What is her style?
- Are custom rings for you?
Many people still go by the three month salary rule, which states that you should spend three months’ worth of your paycheck on an engagement ring. Unfortunately, many young couples live paycheck to paycheck, making the equivalent of three months’ salary a difficult standard. You may think that you should be going out and buying seven carat ruby or emerald engagement rings.
However, finding the right ring doesn’t always mean purchasing the most expensive one. Instead of glowing with pleasure at how much you spent, your fiance may consider future debt and budgeting issues.
With frugality in mind, consider the four C’s of diamonds: cut, color, carat, and clarity. Each has an impact on the value of the diamond. You can compromise one factor subtly in favor of another to save money. For example, you can sacrifice the clarity of the stone for a larger carat or opt for clarity over color. The following is a quick guide on the four C’s:
The Cut is used to describe the shape of the stone and its reflective quality. A premium Cut is what gives a diamond that brilliant shine. In a well Cut diamond, light enters and is reflected internally before glimmering externally. On the other hand, in a poorly Cut diamond, light will enters but will leak out at the sides and bottom of the stone, leaving less brilliance. Modern stones are cut by lasers, whereas vintage stones were cut by hand, often by candlelight. It’s important to know what type of stone—vintage or modern—you are looking at when considering the Cut of a stone.
Even colored stones—like those in emerald engagement rings—benefit from a premium cut. The grading methods for diamonds are ideal, excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. Usually, fair and poor cut diamonds are cut to maximize carat size.
When referring to color, jewelers are speaking of the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. As color can stem from the composition of the diamond, it never changes over time. Diamond colors are rated D, completely colorless, through Z, having a slight yellowish tinge. To the untrained eye, the difference in color isn’t discernible until the I grade.
Tip: Yellow gold tends to hide color defects in diamonds, so if your lady prefers white gold or platinum, a higher color grade is the better option.
A diamond’s clarity is all about the flaws—blemishes, including scratches and pits, are found on the surface of a diamond, while inclusions are found inside the diamond. Many times, blemishes are caused during the cut and often reveal substandard jewelry making.
Diamond clarity is graded F-I3. F-VS are expensive diamonds with flaws invisible to the naked eye, while VS1 and VS2 are slightly more affordable options with flaws visible under 10x magnification. To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to see any flaws in a diamond, so it’s important to consider how important clarity grading is to you when choosing a stone. You can save a little money by purchasing a stone with a lower clarity grade.
A carat is the unit of measurement used to weigh diamond and is equal to 200 milligrams.Carats are also the unit of measurement for precious stones used in sapphire or emerald engagement rings. The average diamond size for an engagement ring is 1.1 carats, but Trumpet & Horn carries sizes up to seven carats.
Note that ‘karat’ is a different unit of measurement used to describe the purity of gold.
Tip: If your lady has petite hands, a smaller carat size is often more appropriate. Even one carat stones can appear large on her hand, while a two or three carat stone could dwarf her.
The next important thing for a man to consider is his woman’s style. Many men love certain styles of clothing, shoes, or jewelry that a woman wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves. Keep that in mind while shopping and pick a style she loves, not just a ring you think will look good on her.
If you’re at a loss because you know nothing about fashion or your girl’s style, you may want to rummage through her jewelry drawer. Take note of the rings she wears most often. Are gold and bronze featured more? Does she wear a lot of colored stones? If green is her choice of color you may want to consider an emerald engagement ring. You can even ask her friends and family. They’ll have lots of valuable insight.
Maybe you should point out a piece of jewelry in a store window and gauge her reaction. If she loves it, you’ll know where to start; if she hates it, she’ll be sure to tell you exactly why.
You can also make a ring more special by tying it into your history together or connecting it with her family.
- Is there a family heirloom or ring that can influence the design?
- Is there a color or place meaningful to the two of you that can be expressed in the ring?
- Can any of your history be expressed in a custom or antique band?
You can almost always tell if a woman will prefer a more mainstream wedding ring or one that conveys individuality. Does your girl carry Elizabeth Taylor’s persona or the powerful presence of Cleopatra? Both these women preferred emeralds to any other stone. Maybe your lady will prefer an emerald engagement ring as well.
For a woman who wouldn’t be satisfied with a simple diamond, you may want to consider creating something just for her. For many, individuality is important and expressing a personal sense of style on a daily basis often extends to engagement rings as well.
While the round cut, single solitaire diamond ring is still considered a classic, vintage rings are gaining popularity. If customizing isn’t something you’re interested in, a vintage-inspired ring can fulfill the individuality your woman may crave. A bold piece like Trumpet & Horn’s vintage Marcelle emerald engagement ring will satisfy her sense of drama, or maybe the Edwardian style Platinum Peachtree is more her speed.
The benefit of a slightly customized ring is that you get to create something she’ll really love and know you put some thought into. At Trumpet & Horn, we allow some customization on our vintage-inspired pieces so we can help achieve a certain look or stay within your budget.
Return for a moment to your own perspective and consider why people customize their cars— in many cases, they want better handling or have a certain aesthetic preference. The same goes for engagement rings. If a woman prefers more color in her wardrobe, maybe she’ll want a colorful emerald engagement ring. If she does a lot of work with her hands, maybe a smaller carat size is better for her. Regardless, when shopping for her ring, consider her lifestyle, fashion, and personal preferences.
Many men don’t take the time to consult a ring buying guide when preparing to propose, but it’s important to avoid the major pitfalls of engagement ring buying:
- Don’t spend more than you can afford
- Understand her taste
- Don’t spontaneously buy something off the shelf
Treat your ring buying experience seriously and consider your options. Though having a general idea is great, don’t be afraid to let your idea evolve. You might have thought you were going to buy a simple princess cut diamond, but you might end up with a pear shaped, emerald engagement ring.
Whether surprising your girl or taking her along for the ride, start your journey at Trumpet & Horn. While this guide provides basic ring buying knowledge and tactics to get you started, Trumpet & Horn will help carry you to the end. Once you’ve done your research, bring us what you know about your lady and we’ll help you find the perfect ring that speaks to her. Trumpet & Horn has rings for any style and taste and they’re all as unique as she is!