Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Article - 5 tips on finding the best wedding ring for your money

5 tips on finding the best wedding ring for your money
From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense

By Lynda C. Corpuz
First Posted 09:50:00 04/28/2008

“WILL you be part of my life?”

I resoundingly replied, “Yes, I will spend the rest of my life with you.”

While it was a breeze to say “Yes” to a life-changing decision, looking for the engagement ring that I wanted was not.

Even if you’re not a big fan of jewelry like I am, you still need to do your homework. Here’s what you need to know when shopping for an engagement or wedding ring:

1. Set a budget. Your soon-to-be bride may not be too keen about wearing an expensive ring but as Robin said, from centuries back, a ring (usually a diamond ring) traditionally serves as a betrothal gift to the bride and that traditionally, the price tag is equated to the kind of love he has for his bride.

I ended turning down most prospective rings because they were too pricey even if discounted. There is a rule of thumb that says an ideal budget for a ring is worth two months’ salary. Eventually, though, the guy will eventually determine how much he is willing to shell out.

2. Know the 4 C’s. Know the basics if you’re planning to get a diamond ring: cut, color, clarity and carat. According to Tiffany and Co., the diamond’s cut will determine its defining characteristic – so check for angle and size and the shape; round remains classy, but for variety, you may opt for emerald, heart, oval, marquise, pear, or princess cut).

The most valuable color is white or colorless, and graded “D” by jewelers. To check the clarity, examine the ring through a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, and when the stone is graded SI1 [Slightly Included 1] or better (best and most expensive is IF, or Internally Flawless; worst is I3 or Imperfect 3], then your pick is fine. Finding the right carat for your budget is important so ask for stones than the next carat [example: 0.9 instead of 1], since this almost indiscernible difference can lead to significant savings.

In our case, Robin was on the lookout for a simple yet classy ring. He was first considering a round cut diamond. When I later became pro-active in our search, I leaned more toward a princess cut.

3. Pick the band. According to Suarez Wedding Rings Web site (www.suarezweddingrings.com), white gold is trendier than the traditional yellow gold and not as rare looking as rose gold. It is more affordable than platinum, an extremely white metal that is harder and more expensive than gold or any other metal at that.

White gold is recommended for stone settings other than yellow. You may opt for 24-karat gold, but you can save more by opting for gold of lesser karat. Since gold by nature is soft and malleable, generally losing its shape over time, cleaning and maintaining your engagement and wedding ring might eventually become a real expense. While we had different ideas regarding the stone, Robin and I settled for an 18K white gold band.

4.Shop around. Don’t settle for just the popular jewelry stores. You have to search both mom-and-pop jewelry stores and jewelry chains. The latter, of course, command higher prices because of their name and years in the industry. We found our ring at a less popular store, which has the accreditations required and follows global guidelines (the Philippines follows the International Gemological Institute guide on diamond clarity). Most stores we checked also offered discounts, but the smaller—and more eager—stores will give in to the customer’s (reasonable) demands.

When we got the discounted amount, I asked if they could just waive the excess P2,500 since it’s the only ring of its kind left and we truly came back for it after checking out all the other stores. So they waived it and my fiancé gave me an approving smile for sealing the sale at a more reasonable amount.

5. Don’t buy alone. For men, bring a companion when buying jewelry – someone who knows your ladylove’s preferences. If you decide to go with your fiancée, you may lose the surprise element and the romanticism, but it can be worth it. Looking for a ring together is an exercise in mutual decision-making, involving money at that. Buying the engagement ring gave us an idea how we are going to work together as a couple in the near future.

(This article is from MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.)

NOTE: Also posted at Sale Duplito's Money Smarts

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Mahal, I'm home"

Tired from our cover and editorial shoot, still, I made sure all people are clearing up and getting ready to leave, when they said they were OK, I exited the studio, dropped by the ladies' room to change to another pad (I was heavily menstruating that day - it really sucks when it happens on a busy day for me), and off I went to find my way out of the building.

What a very tiring day. I fumbled through my big, black, shoulder bag, and checked my phone - finally it was all quiet, after a week it rang and busy receiving SMS about coordinating for that Thursday shoot. It's nearing 7pm, and after all the madness that day, I thought again of my mahal, who I knew just came also from work, and was probably at home, either chatting with his mates Tim and Ella, or playing PC games. I've been wanting to hear his voice, something that would cheer me up after such a tiring day, so I dialed.

About three rings and he picked up - Robin's perky "hi, baby" greeting instantly put a smile on my face. The usual, I asked him about his day (they loaded half of the ship already, and that he was at home), and I updated him about a bit of what happened in the shoot. Told him I'm still in Makati - it was almost 9pm in Cairns, and he said, it's quite late for me working. "I'll play games for now while waiting for you to come home. I'll wait for you." That really cheered me up, and I said, I'm heading straight home.

But the Ayala traffic, the delays in MRT, the long queue in the FX terminal in Quezon Avenue, the bad traffic along Commonwealth Avenue, took me longer than I expected. I sent him a SMS, telling I was still on the way, that if ever he couldn't wait for me (since he had to report to work by 7am), I'm sorry for that....

When I got home almost 10pm, I wasn't able to connect instantly to the Internet - it said limited connectivity. So I sent him again a SMS, informing him I'm home but my SmartBro connection was giving me headaches. After several tries, I finally got connected, and off Robin and I chatted for that night, he said I was home very late and that I should get some spanking, duh, hahaha.

I was really touched when Robin said he would be waiting for me to come home - as if we're really together and that my "husband" is waiting for me. Imagine how I was excited to come home that night, even though we would be just together via MSN Messenger - something that connects us most of the time.

Now, it's my turn to wait for my mahal to come home, since he's out to sea again for work, and will be back this Wednesday. I'll anticipate his SMS saying he's back in Cairns and that we'll see each other online that night...of course, better if he actually comes home and I'll definitely, lovingly welcome him back.

We truly hope this great distance separating us now will be gone soonest. We're both really looking forward to be together, and whether it's him who will be waiting for me, or me waiting for Robin to come home, it is truly great to be with your loved one after a tiring day, and call out from the door, "mahal, I'm home" and ease your day by greetting each other with hugs and kisses, and exchanging meaningful "i miss you so much, mahal, glad I'm home now. I love you".

We both really looking forward to that, we both want a loving, monogamous relationship, and we're truly hoping we stay this way, forever....

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Crying over roasted chicken; cleaning the bathroom this midnight

Earlier tonight, I slumped on our old sofa and found myself crying, and repeatedly asked the One Up There to make me stronger, stronger, stronger.

Then I went to prepare dinner - and put on serving plate the leftover adobo and those I bought on my way home - roasted chicken and an assortment of delicacies - I prepared dinner teary-eyed at that.

I sat on the table and slowly, slowly ate my dinner. Through little lumps of rice and of roasted chicken and adobo, tears fell down. They just fell down and I continued to eat still. Over the dessert of sweet sapin-sapin, ube, and cassava, I was still crying.

Washed the dinner plates and still low. Didn't help I thought of my mahal and that he's out there at sea to work. And I cried again.

Then I thought of the bathroom, and dosed it with cleaning solution and water and brushed everything there. The sudden activity was somewhat cathartic. I finished cleaning the bathroom about 20 minutes ago. Back's hurt a bit, but I'm a little better than earlier tonight.

I don't like myself when I'm crying because I feel so down - proves to be I'm weak. I've always been branded as determined and strong in character - it's so contrasting to those adjectives labeled to me when you get to see me quietly crying. But the lowly feeling hit me again - I'll not go into details since lowliness might hit me again. I deserve some rest now, and I just have this lowliness be out a little bit here.

Before I take my deserved sleep to freshen myself to tomorrow's tasks, I'll ask again to the One Up There, to make me stronger, stronger, stronger, and be more patient, and more understanding. I don't want to be so extreme again like what am I tonight - crying over roasted chicken and cleaning the bathroom this midnight....