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1. Know what you want to spend. You will be confronted with a dizzying 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.
2. Know her ring size. If she wears rings, borrow one she already owns. Trace the inner circle on a piece of paper, or press the ring into a bar of soap for an impression. You can also slide it down one of your own fingers and draw a line where it stops. A jeweler can use these measurements to identify her approximate ring size. If she doesn’t wear rings, estimate in the following manner: The average ring size in the US is 6 (based on the ‘average’ US female being 5’4” tall and weighing 140 lbs.) If she’s more slender, or fine boned, her ring size is probably in the 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 range. If she is heavier, larger boned or taller, her ring size is probably in the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 range. It’s always better to buy a ring a bit bigger than you think she’ll need, because sizing a ring down is much easier than increasing its size.
3. Know what diamond shape suits her. She will be wearing this ring every day of your married life. It will need to go with everything from jeans to eveningwear. If you’re uncertain about her shape preference, it’s sensible to stick to the classics. They became classics because they appeal to most people most of the time. Certain shapes pair more successfully with other gems in multi-stone rings. Round, Oval and Marquise all work well. If she prefers clean, modern lines in furniture, for example, it’s likely she’ll react well to the same aesthetic in Rectangular or Square shapes, like the Emerald Cut or Princess Cut. If she tends towards the traditional, a round shape rarely misses.
4. Know what setting makes sense. There are four basic types you are likely to encounter: solitaire, side stone, three stone and pavé. 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.