20 Years of Wedding Wisdom: Shopping for Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands
Timeless advice for picking future heirlooms.
After two decades, we have learned a few secrets to narrowing in on the engagement ring and wedding bands you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re sharing our favorite pointers to help you decide on the ones that are ideal for you.
When it comes to picking a ring, focus on what would complement your personal style. Have a favorite ring you already wear? Consider something similar that you know will be your new go-to classic.
“Wear what you love, not what is trendy…you will feel comfortable and shine!” —Claudia Kretchmer, President, Steven Kretchmer
It doesn’t hurt to browse; in fact, it can help you make your choice. Visit jewelry and antiques stores and try on different styles to learn what suits your hand and reflects your personality.
“Think of creative ways of hinting to him about the ring you want; make sure your jewelry style is noticeable to him at all times.” —Benjamin Javaheri, President, Uneek
Clip photos from magazines or make a Pinterest board, and approach your jeweler with a very strong point of view when it comes time to make a decision. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
“Technology is playing a major role in the jewelry business. We’re seeing many brides using social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to find and share their engagement rings like never before.” —Jeff Loots, President, Henri Daussi
Drop a Subtle Hint
These days, a woman can have plenty of input, whether by opening a magazine to a certain page and placing it just so in a well-seen spot (hint: try under the remote) or by outright volunteering to go shopping.
“There are the 4Cs in diamonds—cut, clarity, color, carat—but the most important C is the fifth C. The fifth C is communication and I always recommend that our guys communicate with their girl and find out exactly what she wants. I know that the element of surprise is so important, but keep the surprise for the proposal and make sure you are getting her something that she loves. She is going to be wearing this ring on her finger for the rest of her life and you want to make sure that it fits her individual style.” —Paul Taccorian, President of Sales & Marketing, Tacori
Design Your Own Ring
Do you want an engagement ring as multifaceted as you are? The most personalized option is hiring a jeweler or goldsmith to create a ring from scratch, which typically takes about a month. There’ll be a small design fee, but a good pro should be willing to work within any budget.
“The 4Cs—cut, color, clarity, carat weight—are only four of the many characteristics of a diamond. Two diamonds with the same 4Cs may actually be very different.” —Forevermark
Think Beyond the 4Cs
When shopping for an engagement ring, look for brilliance (it reflects light), fire (it flashes colors), and scintillation (it sparkles). And be sure to examine stones in a variety of different lighting environments.
“The biggest challenge, when it comes to jewelry, is to make sure that what you buy is the best deal you can get without compromising quality. A smart solution is to buy from a company that has a good reputation and integrity.” —Ursula Piekut, Director of New Business Development, Christopher Designs
Play Up the Cut
If size matters most to you, but budget is a concern, you’re better off selecting a diamond with a lower carat weight that’s cut to maximize its size.
“The size of your diamond is not permanent. Don’t feel pressured to buy a carat weight that is outside of your budget. An upgrade ring purchase is always an option in the future.” —David Wiener, President, Harry Kotlar
Negotiate the Price
Everything in life is negotiable, and that includes fine jewelry. Ask for a discount. It won’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
“There are ways to make your center diamond look substantially bigger without breaking your budget. Creative engagement ring designs are perfect for this. Look for an engagement ring with a diamond halo around the center diamond and your diamond will look much bigger.” —Varna
Add Some Color
If you’re not the type to have a closet full of neutrals, why would your engagement ring be plain? Colorful stones are gaining popularity so don’t be afraid to reflect your penchant for bright hues in your engagement ring.
“The most exciting change in jewelry is the growing interest in alternative center stones. We’re moving away from the traditional white diamond to anything from sapphires to meteorite, which opens up so many options for a truly unique look and statement of self-expression.” —Jeffrey Feero, Managing Partner, Alex Sepkus
Play With the Setting
Want a modern, more minimalist look? Choose a bezel, gypsy, or tension setting. If you love a vintage vibe, opt for an Art Deco die-struck or three-stone setting. And if you really want to stand out, try an east-west setting, which displays a diamond horizontally.
“In the past the trend has either been yellow gold, or white gold or platinum. One was in favor while the other was not. Today, brides embrace both shades, opening up more options for them to find their unique style.” —Josh Holland, Spokesperson, Blue Nile
Get the Ring of Your Dreams
An engagement ring is something you’ll be wearing every day, so it doesn’t make sense to wear one that doesn’t fit your character. If you receive an heirloom or family ring that is not right for you, it’s completely possible to reset it.
Hearts of Fire
“Take care of your jewelry! Have it cleaned and checked regularly. Your jewelry is an extension of you, so you want to feel comfortable wearing it daily.” —Danielle Daugsiewicz, Perfection Stylist, Hearts on Fire
Keep It Shiny
To keep your ring sparkling, clean it often to remove lotions, skin oil, and everyday dirt, which cloud it. You can soak the ring in warm water and mild dishwashing liquid, and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Or soak your diamond ring in equal parts ammonia and cold water for half an hour, and let it air dry. (Note: use this method with diamonds only; ammonia can damage other stones.) Any brand-name jewelry cleaner is another good option.
Simon G. Jewelry
“It is important to choose a wedding band that complements your engagement ring, but one thing that often goes unnoticed is that sometimes you will want to wear your band alone—especially when traveling. Make sure that your band looks as beautiful alone as it does when worn with the engagement ring.” —Simon G. Jewelry
Don’t Worry About Matching
There’s no need for wedding bands to look like one another. The groom should love his band as much as the bride loves hers.
Furrer Jacot US
“It’s better that a band is tighter rather than looser for males; it just takes time to be accustomed to wearing a band on his finger. Also, since so much is spent on the female’s band, oftentimes the band for males does not receive a similar band of high quality and material.” —Furrer Jacot US
Consider a Gift for Him
An elegant timepiece ticks off all the right boxes for a wedding present for the husband-to-be: It shows off his style, it lasts a lifetime, and then there’s the added bonus that he won’t be late for very important dates.
Baume & Mercier
“Purchasing a watch as a gift for your groom is certainly challenging as there are many choices and factors to consider. By selecting a Baume & Mercier, you can be assured that you are buying a watch of the utmost Swiss-made quality from a brand that has been producing watches for nearly 200 years. Baume & Mercier continues to be part of our customers’ lives as they gift our watches to commemorate so many of life’s special moments.” —Rudy Chavez, President of Baume & Mercier North America, Baume & Mercier