How to Pick the Right Engagement Ring (in Terms Men Can Understand)
The epic journey to matrimony starts with finding that perfect engagement ring, which, like it or not, is the sole responsibility of, you, the groom.
The engagement ring isn’t simply a romantic proposition or an ode to lifetime commitment. It also represents a woman’s standards for a suitable spouse: financial stability, generosity, and impeccable style. Mess this up, and it could spell doom for your “happily ever after.” Newly engaged Nisan Simbulan of Spectrum Handcrafted Jewelry and Maricar Milan-Espiritu of Lourel Custom Jewelry and Gallery have gone through the trouble of figuring out how to make the perfect choice for the most important merger in your life.
“Most of the guys are brainwashed regarding diamond rings,” Simbulan says. As early as 1477, Archduke Maximillian of Austria sparked the trend for diamond engagement rings among European aristocracy when he commissioned the first of many for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. De Beers further cemented this in mass culture by declaring “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947, making it the only stone worthy of eternal love.
But with the emergence of conflict mines and lab-grown diamonds, and as millennials become more discerning and frugal, the diamond is starting to lose its brilliance. “Women now don’t limit themselves to diamonds. They are more non-traditional and open in using other stones like pink sapphire or blue sapphire—like Kate Middleton’s, for example,” Milan-Espiritu says.
The sapphire is the second most common engagement ring gemstone next to diamonds, and it also is the second hardest, but since it costs less, choosing a sapphire allows you to get a bigger gem for your budget.
Simbulan offers more advice: “When it comes to choosing a gemstone other than a diamond, you have to consider the following: her favorite color, her birth stone, the stone's meaning, and the stone’s symbolism to your relationship.”
“It also depends on the personality of the girl you are proposing to. A very traditional woman would opt for a diamond, but there are others that are open to a more modern and streamlined design. Light pink sapphire and morganite are a type of pink stone almost similar to pink diamonds. They are also growing in popularity due to their color. Emerald stones and aquamarine are also our favorites,” Milan-Espiritu adds.
One more thing to remember: There is a fine line that separates a gemstone that symbolizes romance from something only a mystic would appreciate. When in doubt, always opt for the clear options such as white emeralds or white sapphires.
“Women, if given the choice, would always want it sparkly and it big,” Simbulan says. Choosing the ideal shape—whether you choose the safest bet, diamonds, or go out on a limb with other gemstone options—isn’t exactly a geometric equation. It’s a practical one. The round-cut stone makes up for 75 percent of all diamond purchases, thereby driving the prices up, so if you’re pressed for budget, this is one to avoid. In fact, choosing a non-round can bring your savings up to 40 percent.
If you prefer something traditional, opt for other popular cuts such as the princess (square) or the cushion (square with softly tapered edges). If your bride is a bit on the modern side, the emerald (rectangle with tapered edges), Asscher (octagonal), or trillion (triangular) cuts are exceptional choices. However, avoid the pear cut (tear-shape) at all cost, for obvious reasons.
“For the best choice, choose stones with GIA certification (Gemological Institute of America). They have a serial number that guarantees stones are of good quality. However, GIA-certified stones are more expensive compared to stones without certificate,” Milan-Espiritu says.
Since an engagement band is something you wouldn’t want your fiancée to take off, it is also wise to choose a timeless color and setting that can match well [with her clothes] whether she decides to dress up or down.
“For the ring's setting, my choice will always be gold,” declares Simbulan. Gold remains as one of the most secure commodities, and will always be a sure deal. “White gold brings out more shimmer to diamond stones, while yellow gold gives a more traditional and classic feel,” Milan-Espiritu adds. To get a clearer sense of what type of precious metal your girlfriend prefers, pay attention to the jewelry she currently wears.
“For its shape or design, I suggest keep it simple. Remember the ring is not the star of the show. It is the stone. Pick a design that would elevate its beauty even more,” Simbulan stresses.
Finally, just like any wearable item, it would be wise to choose an engagement ring that is timeless and original. An heirloom piece, which can symbolize a continuation of a generational legacy, is a fine choice. “When it comes to vintage rings or family heirlooms, the only thing you should change is the size. Just have it resized and cleaned. If you want to change the ring's design, then you might as well get a new one that fits your taste better,” Simbulan says.
Consider, too, the customized ring. “Custom-made jewelry is actually cheaper than ready-made ones. The benefit of having a bespoke ring is that they can choose what kind of gold and stone they would want to use depending on their budget,” says Milan-Espiritu.
Just like a couture dress, a customized ring also feels more exceptional. “It makes the woman feel more special simply because the ring was made especially for her, and not picked out from a store, where it could most likely have been rejected by other men who were also looking for the perfect ring,” Simbulan says.
“For men who don’t want to go through all that trouble and opt for a ready-made ring instead, I suggest you get one from a respectable store, but not a popular one,” Simbulan says. You can get the same ring at a lower price at a less popular store.
At the boutique, Milan-Espiritu offers this advice: “For diamonds remember the 4 Cs: carat weight, color, clarity, and cut. The whitest color diamond is Color D, but a Color I-J is already a good choice.”
After all these precious considerations, keep in mind that an engagement ring is, above all, a symbol of your commitment to a shared life of permanence. “A nice engagement ring would really make a girl feel blissful, but the ring will never enhance a relationship. At the end of the day, the ring will always be just a ring. The ring will symbolize your love for her, but it is our job to show her that we, future husbands, are much more than the ring. The best gift you can ever give a woman is love and respect,” Simbulan says. You can’t put a price on that.
Engagement Rings as Expressions of Love
PRAGMA/LONG-STANDING LOVE: 2.51 ct round-cut diamond with brilliant cut side diamonds in 18k white gold, Hans Brumann, G/F Legazpi Park View Condominium, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
EROS/SENSUAL LOVE: Alessandria marquise-cut diamond with side tapered baguette diamonds, by La Collezione Promessa x Maureen Disini, Denovo Diamonds, S'Maison, Conrad Hotel Manila, Pasay City
PHILIA/INTELLECTUAL LOVE: Vittoria emerald-cut halo ring with petite pave band and micro milgrain details, by La Collezione Promessa x Maureen Disini, Denovo Diamonds, S'Maison, Conrad Hotel Manila, Pasay City.
LUDUS / PLAYFUL LOVE: Emerald-cut Morganite solitaire in 18k rose gold setting by Lourel Custom Jewelry and Gallery, LPL Condominium, Eisenhower Street, Greenhills, San Juan City.
AGAPE/LOVE OF THE SOUL: Emerald cut diamond with side princess cut diamonds in 18k white gold setting by Lourel Custom Jewelry and Gallery, LPL Condominium, Eisenhower Street, Greenhills, San Juan City.