So you've been in that perfect relationship for some time now. You've been dropping hints about future and he is receiving you loud and clear. It's time to do a little "window shopping." After all, you don't want to leave one of most important decisions in your life entirely up to him, do you? He WILL lose sleep over finding that perfect engagement ring, even though he will not admit it. So why not help him out a little, give him some guidance and direction.
There are so many choices when it comes to shopping for engagement rings and you and he will hear a lot of advice from a lot of "helpful" people. His "Uncle Charlie" will know a guy who knows a guy. Your sister will tell you that you have to get your ring where she got hers. Your co-worker will tell you about this really cool website. And on and on, there will be advice around every corner.
Let's go through some of available options and identify pros and cons of each. This should help you both figure out what best option is for you.
Your Local Jewelry Store: Definintely a great place to start. A jewelry store will have a small selection of pre-set engagement rings for you to see in person, and try on. If you run into a helpful sales associate that is willing to spend some time with you and explain all of nuances of buying diamonds, it will be well worth your time.
PROS Seeing diamond in person. Nothing beats feeling of seeing diamonds sparkle on your finger!
Talking to a knowlegable human being and getting answers to questions face to face.
CONS Limited selection. Most local jewelry stores do not have financial resources to carry a large inventory of diamonds. However, many stores do work with suppliers who are able to send them goods on memorandum (like consignment) if they have a customer who is looking for a particular diamond.
Price. You will pay more at a jeweler, period. Sure you can try and negotiate and feel like you got a better price, but a jeweler will not sell you that diamond for less than a substantial profit. Most jewelers need to make a "keystone" markup on every item, which is double what they paid for that diamond. This markup covers high overhead costs of running a store including insurance, rent and sales commissions.
Antique Shops: If you are looking for a ring that is truly unique, this is place for you. You'll need to do some leg work and visit many different stores to see what's available, but it could be worth it in long run.
PROS Most likely to find a one of a kind ring. If you have need to be an original, stick to your search and you will find that proverbial "diamond in rough."
CONS Unless you get lucky, expect a long search. You may only find a handful, if any rings in shops you visit.
Most rings will not have any type of certification or appraisal. Unless you know a great deal about diamond grading, it is possible to get taken advatage of very easily.
The Internet The Holy Grail and Bottomless Pit of information, all wrapped in one. By far, you will find largest selection of diamonds and engagement rings here, but that can be quite overwhelming. Start with basics and work your way through this checklist.