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When looking at engagement rings there is a dizzying array of options to consider, and it's hard to know what most important. Will your girl expect a Tiffany's box? Does it need to be a diamond? And does it have to be a particular size? Will she be upset if you don't spend a certain amount of money.
The table overleaf shows the outcome of a survey of over 2,700 men and women by theknot.com. They were asked to rank in order of importance eight key factors of engagement rings. It makes for pretty interesting reading especially because there are some clear differences in what women want and what guys think women want.
As with all survey results, you'll need to filter it through the lens of your own knowledge about yourself and your other half, but there are some interesting things to note.
|Stone Quality||1||Style / Setting|
|Style / Setting||2||Stone Cut / Shape|
|Stone Cut / Shape||3||Stone Quality|
|Price / Value||4||Metal|
|Stone Size||5||Price Value|
Here's what I take out of this:
Designer comes lowest for both men and women
Unlike with clothes where a designer may have a signature style, silhouette or just a whopping great logo printed all over it, with engagement rings the designer is much less obvious. Many of the most popular rings are classic styles that are unchanged since the early 20th Century and any innovation in design often ends of becoming a trend, which is then copied by lots of ring makers.
The exception to the 'the designer doesn't matter rule is if you want a custom ring. Here, the choice of designer is vital you want to ensure that you are working with someone who has the technical skills to produce what you are looking for, but also that you get on with to ensure that you have a good working relauonship with them.
Retailer is second lowest for both men and women
Equally, it's interesting to see that the retailer is given the second-lowest level of importance for both men and women.
There are of course a few big name jewellers that sell engagement rings- these will vary from country to country, but the most famous international retailer is probably Tiffany's.
As with all premium brands, jewellers can leverage the goodwill that surrounds them to charge a higher-than-market price. The brand increases the perceived value, without adding any real value. A Volkswagen Golf has the same underpinnings as an Audi A3. They have the same chassis, they share engines, but people are willing to pay a premium for the Audi over the Golf not because it's a better car, but because of the association with the Audi brand.
It's easy to tell an Audi from a VW - the extra money invested has a noticeable result: a different body and badge which elicit different emotions. They may even get you a little more acceptance in the country club car park. But with engagement rings, the difference between a branded ring and an unbranded one is much less noticeable. It's almost impossible to tell the difference unless you are a trained jeweller.
So don't spend your money on a branded ring where the difference will be lost as soon as it is taken out of the box. Instead, invest in the attributes of the ring that people will actually notice and value.
Groom's number one is stone quality
Like a lot of guys I know, I obsess over details when I'm doing research before buying something. I want to know that my mountain bike has the most suspension travel in its class, my phone screen has the most pixels and my food mixer has enough power to blend an iPad (it can and there's a video on YouTube to prove it). We like to go for the best of breed' of everything. Really though, these requirements are excessive. Although I have six inches of suspension travel, I'm lame enough at mountain biking that four would do. It doesn't help me stay on my bike any more than my friends. My phone has a 2k screen which means that I can watch HD movies on the toilet, but it's way beyond what I need for Facebook and grainy YouTube videos of squirrels on waterskis. And though it's useful to know that I can destroy all the household electronics I please, all I really use the blender for is making short work of the odd kumquat.
With each of these, I could have saved cash by settling for the best of need', rather than best of breed'. Things that take care of what I need, without excessive capabilities and the hefty price tags they bring.
With engagement rings, it's important not to get carried away with stone quality, especially when the differences between gradings can't be seen by naked eye, even by a trained jeweller. We'll look at this in much more detail later on. I'm not suggesting you opt for a cheaper or 'worse' ring, but you should consider spending some of the budget that could go on stone quality on some other things instead- such as size of rock or quality of band.
Bride's number one is Style/Setting
Brides rated the style and setting of a ring as their top priority - the thing they care about most, so it's the one thing you need to make sure you get right.
If there is one main objective for this article, it's to help you find a style and setting that your girl will love. Style and setting incorporate a range of factors:
1. What stone or stones are used
2. The way they are set on the band
3. Any design that is incorporated into the wedding band itself
To make sure that you get the setting right, in my later articles I'm going to look at whether you should get your girlfriend involved in the buying process, how you can go about finding out what she wants without her ever knowing what you're up to and also an in-depth look at ring settings.
Stone cut and shape rated highly for both men and women. Along with the style and setting, they are one of the most obvious visual markers of an engagement ring. There are a wide range of cuts and shapes, all of which go in and out of fashion. This means that certain cuts demand a premium over others, even if the diamond itself is the same size and quality. This means that if your girl is looking for an unusual or older cut found in a vintage ring, you may be able to pics up a bargain.
Generally, women prefer either gold or silver-coloured jewellery - seldom both. Unfortunately, even in this enlightened age segregation by colour is still very much alive in most jewellery boxes. I'll write a another post to look at how to choose the right metal for your ring later.
There are clear differences between men and women's priorities, and also some similarities too. Retailer and designer are both bottom of the pile for both, thať's clear. But men put much more focus on stone quality - it's their number one, while women only rank it number three. As the ring is really for her, make sure you take note of this and focus on the setting - it's the most important thing to get right.