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4 steps to finding the perfect engagement ring

Published On: Jul 27 2013 07:15:57 PM CDT
Engagement ring

(NewsUSA) - There are a few big purchases in life that you really don't want to mess up -- a first house, a health care plan, a new car, and especially, the engagement ring for your loved one.

According to The Knot, a popular wedding inspiration magazine and planning website, the decision is so important it takes consumers more than three months to find the perfect ring, and the average cost is $5,000.

If you're starting to sweat under the pressure, here's a step-by-step guide to make your decision easier:

1. Determine the Metal

* Platinum is a naturally white metal, meaning it will never fade, change color, or need to be re-dipped or re-plated.

* White gold, on the other hand, is a created by adding an alloy mix to yellow gold. As the white color fades, the ring will need to be re-dipped a few times each year.

* Platinum pairs well with all stones because its natural color will not cast any unwanted color onto the gem, plus its density makes for an extremely secure setting.

* If you want matching bands, be sure to consider what your partner likes before deciding on a metal.

2. Determine the Cut of the Stone

* Traditionally, round and princess cuts are the most popular.

* Recently, celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Sofia Vergara and Drew Barrymore have brought attention to less common cuts such as emerald, cushion and radiant.

3. Determine the Style of the Ring

* Vintage: Offering a traditional look, these settings can either be an actual estate piece or a new ring with a vintage style.

* Modern: Tension settings, where the diamond is held without prongs, are a popular style. Rough diamonds also offer a modern twist to a ring.

* Classic: Three-stone and solitaire settings offer a timeless look. Other classic styles include pave and halo settings.

4. Determine the Budget

* According to a jewelry study by The Knot, the bride views setting, stone cut and quality, and metal used as the most important aspects of a ring, whereas the groom focuses on stone quality, style and price. Each of these attributes factors into the price of the ring, so it helps to make sure the couple is aligned before shopping.

* Platinum rings come in a variety of price points -- with many costing less than $1,500 -- so couples are sure to get the best value for the ring.