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The JAA provides 12 simple steps to ensure you find the perfect ring.

The engagement ring is the one item she will most likely wear everyday for the rest of her life. How do you know if you are buying the right ring? Follow these simple tips before heading out to your local JAA jeweller to ensure you get her the ring of her dreams.

Tip #1: Determine a budget. How much to spend on an engagement ring is a personal matter. You will be confronted with a dazzling array of choices when it comes to engagement rings. Have a price range in mind. Going in with fairly specific parameters will help your jeweler find the right engagement ring to fit your budget. The commonly accepted guideline of two-three months’ salary was developed to be a directional tool to help establish a budget. Once a budget is established, it is important to select the finest quality stone available at that price.

Tip #2: Understand the 4C’s. One of the most wonderful lures of diamonds is that no two diamonds can ever be exactly alike, even though they may sometimes look identical. Determining the quality of every diamond is the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. For more information on diamonds and the 4 C’s, click here.

Tip #3: Look at her existing jewellery wardrobe. It will give you a lot of hints about her personal style. Is she more classic or modern? Feminine or sophisticated? Her pieces tend to be more delicate or chunky? Simple or ornate? If she has a lot of sterling silver or white gold, then she is a cool metal person, making a white gold or platinum ring an ideal choice. If she has more yellow metals that she is a warm metal woman so stick to yellow gold or rose gold. Have these preferences in mind when you set out to shop. If you buy something similar to what she already likes, you can't go wrong.

Tip #4: Take note if she is traditional or non-traditional? If she has jewellery that is bold and funky, then she most likely wants a ring that is different from all of her friends. Taste in shape is often reflected in other tastes a woman has. If she prefers clean, modern lines in furniture, for example, it's likely she'll react well to the same aesthetic in Emerald or Square shapes. If she tends towards the traditional, a round shape rarely misses. More bohemian types tend to favor more unusual shapes, like Trilliant or Marquise.

Tip #5: Setting makes sense. While there are an unending variety of patterns, details and metal choices, there are four basic types you are likely to encounter:

Solitaire: A single stone. Still the most popular choice in engagement rings. Claws allow the diamond to catch the most light. A four-claw-setting shows more of the diamond, but a six-claw setting is often more secure. A bezel setting provides more protection to a diamond.
Side stone: Diamonds or other gemstones, flank the main stone for additional sparkle or color. Popular sidestone settings include 'channel', which protects stones by keeping them flush, and 'bar-channel', which allows more light to enter the sidestones.
Three Stone: One diamond for the past, one for the present, and one for the future. Typically, the center diamond is larger than the two side stones.
Halo: The main stone is surrounded by tiny diamonds to add sparkle and the illusion of greater size.

As to actual setting design, consider her lifestyle, and how well a certain setting will fit into it. If she's more active or outdoorsy, look for lower profile, less ornate, more sturdy choices, which are less likely to get knocked or caught on things. If she's more of a glamour girl, look for statement settings, with a higher stone profile and more intricate ring detailing or unique motif.

Tip #6: Her preferences hard to pin down. Consider buying an unset diamond. If you choose the diamond first and have the setting made later, you can include her in selecting the style and final details of the ring (always a good idea) and avoid the awkwardness of choosing a ring that's more to your taste than hers.

Tip #7: Pay attention. Note her reaction to other women’s engagement rings. The best clues can be found this way. When in doubt, ask a friend. Find a trustworthy friend or relative who knows her style. They will be able to get a lot of information that you might be able to obtain without being suspicious. Just make sure to swear them to secrecy.

Tip #8: Shop with her. More and more couples are shopping together for their engagement rings and wedding bands. Want to surprise her? Narrow down the choice between two or three rings so she won’t know exactly which one she will be receiving. Then, plan the date, location and a memorable style.

Tip #9: Get the size right. If you can, sneak a ring that you know fits her ring finger, take it to a jeweller and have them check the size. If you only have a few minutes with the ring before she notices that it is gone, put the ring on your finger to check the approximate size. Note the thicker the ring, the tighter it will fit so be mindful of measuring a like for like ring.

Tip #10: Shop with a JAA member. At the end of the day, where you shop is the most important factor. Shop with a jeweller you trust. Shopping with a Jewellers Association of Australia member will give you confidence by knowing they agree to abide by a Jewellery Industry Code of Conduct, which sets the highest standard within the Australian jewellery industry – learn more by clicking here. You can find a JAA member in your local area by using our search directory - click here.

Tip #11: Make note of the exchange or return policy. If she would still prefer a different ring, you will need to make sure you can exchange or return the ring. Make sure you have this in writing as retailers are not obligated to provide a refund for change of mind. 

Tip #12: Get it insured. After you find the right ring, make sure you get it insured properly. Look into getting adding to your home content’s insurance or a standalone policy. Find out more about jewellery insurance by clicking here.

Source: Jewelers of America and GIA

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