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How to Make Engagement Ring Shopping Fun and Painless

An engagement ring is one of the oldest socially-accepted symbols to represent two people committing to a lifetime together. Although women alone traditionally receive and wear engagement rings in different areas of the world, men can wear them as well. Whatever you and your partner's personal beliefs, rings play an important part in modern weddings. Whether you are frightened at the aspect of choosing "the wrong ring," or paralyzed in choosing "the perfect one," it's quite alright to have questions and conflicted feelings about ring shopping. After all, these are going to be on your hands for the rest of your lives.  So here are some tips on how to have a fun and painless engagement ring shopping trip:

Determine Your Budget Beforehand

Couples often shop for an engagement ring without thinking about the cost and then make an impulsive choice, overspend and put themselves into horrific debt before they've even budgeted for the wedding, honeymoon or any of the other next stages of life. It's also important that you're honest about your budget. No matter who's paying for the rings, whether you and your partner or someone else as a gift, you need to have realistic goals. Engagement rings can individually range in cost from less than a hundred dollars with engineered stones and appealing low-cost metals to several thousand dollars with high-quality materials. Never agree to max out a credit card or someone spending beyond their means. There are far more critical expenses that you both should think about when preparing for the future, such as the down payment on a new home.

Discuss the Shopping Trip

According to Jacob Mercari, ring shopping has evolved throughout the years. Some couples love shopping for their engagement rings together. They consider the effort put into finding the right ring as another expression of the depth of their love for each other. On the other hand, many people love to surprise their partners by popping the marriage question with an engagement ring in hand. If you plan to surprise your partner this way, always first research the type and style of ring that they would enjoy wearing by discussing their tastes. There's nothing worse for some people than receiving a ring that fails to match their personality or even the clothing that they wear on a daily basis.

Many people, for example, dislike gaudy or clunky rings, which means that it's important to discuss these possibilities and if they prefer a premade or custom ring. Also, it doesn't matter if you're planning to shop for real or as a "someday" engagement plan excursion: Discuss whether you want to shop together. You might want to look at rings with a friend or alone, take pictures and then talk to your partner. Also, always choose a sunny day for the trip. A bright sunny day can reduce natural stress and allow you and whoever goes with you, if applicable, the chance to relax outdoors between stores or while taking a meal break. Shopping on a sunny day can also help you establish the true colors of a ring's stones and metal in a store if you hold it near a sunlit window.

Learn Engagement Ring Terms

Most people wouldn't shop for a new car or home without first learning many of the industry terms that are important during decision-making and sales negotiations. A lot of people shop for engagement rings without first learning the terms that they need to know to even understand what a jeweler is telling them about a particular piece. For example, they don't know the difference between "carat" and "karat" or the different stone shapes, cuts or metals available. If you want a diamond ring, you need to learn the terms gemologists, and jewelers use to describe diamonds, especially when they begin to talk about how light reflects off of them. Modern jewelers usually offer extensive FAQs and glossaries online that cover all of this information. By exploring all of the terms related to engagement ring shopping, you can make your communication and negotiations with jewelers faster and easier. Perhaps more importantly, you can also help yourself better imagine the perfect ring.

Research Local Jewelers Online

Although you and your partner might receive jeweler recommendations from members of your family or social and work networks, you should never start shopping at physical locations without first performing a bit of jeweler background research. Sadly, some jewelers try to pass off low-quality wares for high prices or over priced high-quality pieces. You also need to take into account business hours and discounts and incentives. According to Jewelry Wise, you need to make sure the jeweler listens to you and your needs, that they have credentials, and that walk you through how to look at diamonds, among other things.

A lot of jewelers don't keep 9-to-5 or walk-in store hours. Before you visit any shop, use their websites or online directory profiles and distance mapping tools to find directions to their locations and determine if you can simply stop by without notice or need to schedule an appointment. Also, never forget that you need to comparison shop before you ever enter a physical store. Compare prices and sales for different jewelers and even call ahead to find out if each jeweler matches their competitors' prices on similar products. Also, ask each jeweler if they're willing to apply their online sale prices and discounts to transactions that happen in their store.

Use Smartphone Ring Apps

Plenty of jewelers now offer smartphone apps that make it possible for couples to get a rough idea of how a specific ring might look before they enter a store. You simply download the app to your phone or another portable app-capable device, take a picture of your hand and then explore the jeweler's products. The best part about ring apps is that you don't need to worry if a jeweler you plan to visit offers one. You can use the app to find a ring that looks great, and then shop in any store based on that particular style. Ring apps work well for couples who plan to buy an engagement ring in a style that's common in many shops or go with a custom option that's similar to a particular design. Of course, it's important to remember that an app can only provide you with a basic view of how a ring might look on your hand. For example, an app can't reveal the color and clarity of stones on a specific real ring.

Focus on Your Tastes

Many people pick a particular type and style of an engagement ring for themselves or their partner for the wrong reasons. They feel they must buy a ring that matches current popular trends or that their peers expect them to choose. Some buy a ring based on its value alone. They believe that they must make a financial investment since the sale of an engagement ring in the event of a failed marriage can stave off ruin or pay to cover an emergency at some later date.

According to Jewelry Shopping Guide, consider what metals and what styles you’ve always been fond of. An engagement ring should above all else look great on the hand of the person who wears it. In fact, by focusing on personal tastes and a ring's physical appearance, you can typically save money. For example, many low-cost synthetic stones look like real gems. If you still want high-quality materials, you can save money by accepting one material over another or slight imperfections. For example, semi-precious stones like jade and opal, polished other natural stones of any type, non-stones like amber and pearl and engineered or synthetic stones are less expensive than precious gemstones. A precious gemstone with less clarity can still look fantastic no matter the number of imperfections if it has been cut the right way. With metals, white gold is cheaper than platinum. Any gold that contains a high amount of copper and sterling silver cost less than white gold or platinum.

Final Tips

Never take a member of either family along with you when shopping for an engagement ring for yourself or partner. Even if you have a wonderful relationship with a particular family member, you might find yourself experiencing a lot of unnecessary stress because of familial expectations. A member of your own family might expect you to demand a costly ring from your partner, emphasize that they feel you're spending too much even if you're paying close attention to your budget, or compare your choices with those made by other family members in the past. A member of your partner's family might try to push you to spend a lot of money on their relative or choose a lower cost option for yourself. Additionally, consider choosing quality antique or vintage jewelry for your engagement. Many couples have managed to save thousands of dollars by converting high-quality family heirlooms, or thrift store finds designed in old styles into custom engagement rings and even wedding bands. Plus, it might just fit right in with some of the current bridal trends this year.

It's not difficult to experience a fun and painless engagement ring shopping trip. You merely need to understand the elements of this type of trip that can make it a costly and stressful hassle and prepare for them. You also need to communicate with your partner. After all, excellent communication is one of the key elements of a strong marriage. The journey you take to find the right rings to express your love with each other can help strengthen your relationship. Be sure to check out some more wedding and bridal tips at our blog here!

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