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
MoneySense
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
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