You’ve finally got the perfect girl, planned a kick-ass proposal and even asked for her parents blessing, now all you have left to do is actually buy the ring. Yes, it can be overwhelming; for many men, buying an engagement ring is their first experience in jewelry world. While some men decide to sport necklaces, earrings, or expensive watches, the realm of rings isn’t usually the most familiar to men when it comes time to pick one out for his loved one. As a first-time ring buyer, there are a few things you shouldn’t forget.

Decide on a budget

Choosing your ring budget is essential before going into a jewelry store. This will help your jeweler be able to show you options that are within your price range. There’s nothing romantic about going into debt because of a ring. The thought of purchasing the ring matters way more than the price of the ring itself. Many women would rather begin their marriage debt free or spend that extra money on their honeymoon.

Also, do not be afraid to tell your jeweler your limit and remain firm in your price. You are in control when buying the ring. It is your money, not the smiling sales person across the counter.  Make the most of your moment, time and money by shopping around for the best option. There’s no need to postpone your engagement to buy a better rock later. If the love is real, she’ll love whatever kind of ring you can afford for her.

Make it a surprise

        Many jewelers are saying that they are seeing more and more men come in with their girlfriend to choose a ring. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to show the love of your life how thoughtful and romantic you are. It might be a little more work to do it all on your own, but imagine how blown away she’ll be when you propose to her with a ring that fits and is the exact ring she’s been dreaming about.

At the end of the day, consider what works best for your relationship. Many couples talk about marriage many times beforehand so choosing the engagement ring together seems totally normal. The engagement itself can still be a surprise even if your girlfriend helps choose the ring! Think about what your significant other would want. Would she want a say in the ring or would she rather be completely surprised?

(Photo by Lisa Hammond Photography)

Talk to guys who have gone through it before

        This is a huge purchase, so it is definitely worth it to get others opinion on it before buying. Even if you are typically a private person, buying an engagement ring is the time to open your circle and invite some experienced people in. Ask your engaged or married friends for good jewelers or shopping tips. It could even be a good idea to bring someone with you the first time you go out looking at rings.

Research her favorite style

        In order to keep this a surprise, you’ll have to be extra sneaky and observant to figure this one out. Begin by paying close attention to the type of jewelry she wears. Does she wear silver more than gold? Or is there a certain stone she wears a lot, like her birthstone, that she might like more than a diamond? Also, think about her personality. Is she super outgoing and want to show off her ring to everyone she knows? Then you might want to get a bigger, flashy ring. Maybe she’s more relaxed and hardly wears jewelry at all. In this case you might want to get something more simple yet still beautiful.

        Another way to learn more about what she likes is to take her to the store with you. Before you stop reading because that will “ruin the surprise” hear me out. I love surprises so I would never want to ruin one of the biggest and best surprises of your girlfriend’s life. You could casually ask her to go to the mall with you because you need to get a new pair of shoes, pants, socks, underwear, etc. and would like her opinion. Then, you walk by a jewelry store and ask to stop in so you can look at watches. Out of the corner of your eye keep a lookout for what she is browsing while you pretend to look at watches. You could point out a ring and say something like “that’s a pretty one” and see her reaction. Bam! Mission Accomplished! & your surprise is still good.

Want to buy a diamond? Study the 4 C’s

        For those couples considering your typical engagement ring, next, we move on to the focal point of the ring: the diamond. I know the feeling of walking into a jewelry store and thinking that all of the diamonds look the same, but they are not the same at all! Shop around, ask questions and take your time. Know the 4 C’s: cut, carat, clarity, and color.

       Cut: The cut is not referring to the actual shape of the diamond, but the angles and proportions of it. A well-cut diamond will reflect light from one facet to the other and project the light through the top of the stone. That’s what makes the diamond sparkle. If light leaks through the bottom or sides of the stone then it will not shine as bright and it is not cut well. Cut is the most important of the 4 C’s because if it is not cut well then the diamond will not look good.

        Carat: This refers to the weight of the diamond. The more the stone weighs the more expensive it will be. There is no need to worry too much about the carat. A good jeweler is able to make a diamond look like it weighs more by the mounting and shaping of the ring.

        Color: Surprisingly, diamonds come in many different colors. The color of diamonds is graded on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). Colorless diamonds are hard to find and very expensive. White diamonds are the most popular, but the color of the diamond all comes down to preference. Pay attention to what your girlfriend already wears to see what color diamond she likes.

        Clarity: The fewer imperfections your diamond has, the clearer it is. This also makes the diamond more expensive. When a jeweler talks about the clarity of a diamond, he or she will probably mention the diamonds “inclusions” which are the other minerals or fractures that are in the diamond. The fewer inclusions the diamond has, the clearer it is. When choosing a diamond avoid ones with inclusions on the top or middle because this can affect the light reflecting off of it.

And Finally… Do What’s Best for You

At the end of the day, buying an engagement ring is a huge decision. There’s no need to do something just because everyone else is. Not many people know your soon-to-be Fiancé  better than you do,so don’t overthink it! She’ll love whatever you pick out and she’ll be so excited to begin planning the wedding and the rest of your life together.

This post was written by Bailey Berberich, Ring Cam blogger