If you are like a lot of men, you attack shopping with a “get it done” mindset: you arrive, you choose, you pay and you are out of there! But shopping for an engagement ring is not like shopping for new underwear or a set of tires. Think of it as more like investing in the stock market. Before you gamble your hard earned money, you are going to do some research to make sure you get a return on your investment.

Getting engaged is perhaps the biggest investment of your life. You are investing in your entire future, trusting that you are making a wise decision that will reward you with a rich and happy life. You are also investing in the lives of your bride-to-be and your future children. To put it bluntly, you are making the most important decision of your life, so don’t mess it up!

It All Begins with the Ring

To get the rest of your life off on the right foot, there are a few things you should know before going engagement ring shopping:

  1. The ring is for her: She will wear her engagement ring for the rest of her life, and will likely pass it down to the next generation. It will tell the world that she is married to a man who had the good sense to buy her the ring she wanted. Don’t blow this one…get her what she wants, not what you want.
  2. Pay attention: If the proposal is a surprise, pay close attention to her taste and style. What type of jewelry does she usually wear? Does it make a loud fashion statement, or simply add a subtle accent? Does she tend to wear yellow gold, or is most of her jewelry silver-toned? When choosing a ring, try to imagine what it will look like on her hand.
  3. Recruit a co-conspirator: If you can trust one of her close friends or siblings to keep a secret, ask her opinion. She may know exactly what type of ring your beloved is hoping for, down to the minute details.
  4. All diamonds are not created equal: They may all look the same at first glance, but natural gemstones each have unique qualities. Learn about the four Cs of diamond quality: color, clarity, cut and carat. Knowledge is power, and knowing what to look for can help you get the most stunning ring at the greatest value.
  5. Set a firm price limit: Letting your jeweler know what you intend to spend will help them show you the best rings in your price range.
  6. Do not shop online: To ensure you get the best ring at the best value, you will need the advice and guidance of a jeweler. You will also want to inspect the ring up close, to verify its color, clarity and cut.
  7. Talk to your wing man: A close friend who has been through the engagement and wedding cycle can be an invaluable source of information and advice, from recommending a jeweler to giving a nod of final approval to your ring choice.
  8. Mix and match: You may be shown only rings that are preset, but your jeweler will be happy to match the diamond you prefer with the setting you know she will love.
  9. Take charge: It is your engagement, your money, and, well, her ring. Do not allow anyone, including friends and family, to talk you into a ring you don’t want or cannot afford.
  10. Make it a big deal: When it comes time to pop the question, make it a memorable occasion. Even if you are not one for pomp and fanfare, step out of your comfort zone. She will want to tell her proposal story to her friends and family, so give her a story to tell!