In my previous post, I shared information regarding the 6C’s of engagement ring shopping. Well in addition to the 6C’s, you must also make a decision on the ring style that encompasses the 6C’s. I’ve had fun researching and shopping for rings; take a look at the various options that are available to choose from.
If given the choice, which ring would you choose? I’ve already made my decision…
Over the weekend I had an opportunity to sit and chat with a number of different people and of course the topic of relationships came up. Not surprising, a number of questions were directed to me because of the transition I’m currently making from being unmarried. I don’t know why, being someone who has shared information about relationships for years, I feel even more certain about the perspectives I’m now able to share.
Over the past couple of months I’ve learned far more about engagement rings than I ever wanted to learn. Being the financially conservative (frugal) person I am, I took the engagement ring purchase process way deeper than others would. However, my experience will serve as an educational tool for a lot of you guys out there going through the same thing.
Let me get this out of the way before I proceed, SIZE IS NOT THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS WHEN CHOOSING AN ENGAGEMENT RING!
I’ve previously written about this topic for BlackEnterprise.com (http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/the-engagement-ring-a-gift-from-the-heart-or-jewel-for-the-ego/), but have a new-found respect for the process now that I’ve immersed myself in the details.
Most people refer to engagement ring decisions as the 4C’s, but I’ve added two to the list. Here is a brief summary of each C, along with how it impacts your overall decision…
1. Cut – A diamond’s cut is the measure of a diamond’s light performance, better known as sparkle. No other characteristic has a greater impact on a diamond’s appearance. If you want a diamond that blings, please don’t take for granted the importance of a diamond’s cut. Try to avoid anything less than a good cut, but opt preferably for very good or excellent if your budget permits. You can buy a huge diamond, but if it doesn’t shine, its value is diminished.
2. Clarity – Measure of the number and size of tiny inclusions (imperfections) that exist in almost all diamonds. These are also referred to as flaws. Most inclusions aren’t visible to the naked eye. However, magnifying glasses will allow you to view the size and number of inclusions within a diamond. Since many of the inclusions are microscopic, they generally don’t affect a diamond’s value. However, if you can visibly see the inclusions, you should avoid purchasing that diamond.
Here is a breakdown of the categories:
- FL (Flawless): Very rare diamond with no flaws.
- VVS1, VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included): Very difficult to see the inclusions even when magnified. An excellent quality diamond.
- VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included):Imperfections are not typically visible to the naked eye. Less costly than VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds.
- SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included): Usually requires magnification to see inclusions. This grade level provides good diamond value.
- I1, I2, I3 (Included/Imperfect):This grade of diamonds will have minor inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye.
3. Color – Refers to a diamond’s lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond. The range is from D (highest possible grade) to Z (lowest possible grade). After cut, color is typically considered the second most important characteristic when selecting a diamond. What this means to you…most eyes identify the sparkle first, and color second.
4. Carat – Probably the most overemphasized component of a diamond. Now don’t get me wrong, carat weight has a place in the process of purchasing a diamond. However, it’s very challenging to see the difference between a 2 carat ring versus a 1.75 carat ring. Not to mention, you’ll see a noticeable price increase every .5 carat or so. If given the choice for value, I recommend dropping just below the .5 carat limit to avoid the price bump. (examples, buy a 2.49 carat diamond instead of a 2.5 carat diamond, buy a 1.9 carat diamond instead of a 2.0 carat diamond, buy a 1.4 carat diamond instead of a 1.5 carat diamond).
5. Certification – I won’t spend too much time focusing on this area, but be aware of the certification types. The two major certification systems are GIA and EGL. I’ll refer you to google and other diamond education sites in order to assess which system(s) they use. Just be aware that you want to purchase a diamond that’s certified because it protects a buyer from unscrupulous jewelers who may not have the buyer’s best interest in mind.
6. Cost – Let us not forget that money is a major factor in trying to determine what kind of ring to purchase. There are two aspects to consider, the diamond itself along with the setting to mount the diamond. Please be careful on how you allocate your budget. There are a number of different settings to select from. I’ll be honest…this is where I truly became overwhelmed during the process. A setting can significantly impact your budget if you’re not careful. My advice is to set your budget, spend the core on the diamond and complete the purchase with a setting that keeps you within your budget.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to purchase a ring solely based on carats.You could find yourself with a huge, unattractive diamond. Focus on cut and color first, then turn your attention to carat and clarity. I also recommend seeking out a diamond jeweler who provides the best value. I scoured the internet doing research and found there are a number of options to consider.
1. Online Jeweler – BlueNile.com is the online source I recommend because they specialize in providing high-quality diamonds without the overhead that many traditional retailers have.
2. Retail Jeweler – Solomon Brothers and Luxor Jewelers provided me with a great experience when shopping at their showrooms. All of their sales people were very knowledgeable and were able to answer ALL of my questions. Having an opportunity to see the diamonds in-person is an added benefit that online sources can’t offer.
3. Private Jeweler – Some people opt to use private jewelers. They typically specialize in diamonds and can offer you wholesale prices. You have to be careful though, because you could be taken advantage of if you aren’t careful. Be willing to have the diamond appraised prior to finalizing the purchase.
There is so much more I could write about this process. However, at the end of the day, don’t get too intimidated by the 6C’s of the ring process. Set a budget, focus on a quality diamond, select a setting and prepare to present it to your future bride.
Remember…the ring is the external symbol of the inner commitment you’re making to your future bride. You can buy the most expensive ring in the store, if the commitment isn’t present…the marriage will eventually fail!
As I continue my transition from single to married, I’m trying to cover all of the foundational items before saying “I do!” One of the areas people sometimes neglect is the topic of family. No matter the love that exists between two people, it’s still VERY important to understand where a person comes from, along with the potential challenges associated with their upbringing. As I have mentioned many times, marriage is merging the histories of two individuals. This includes their goals, dreams, desires, appearance, health, finances, credit, debt, spiritual beliefs, children, nightmares, educational level, character, accountability and more.
When it comes to family, you get a chance to see the DNA of the person you say you love so much. This includes both the good AND the bad. You have to ask yourself the difficult questions like…
1. If the person I claim to love turns out like his/her mother/father, will I be okay with it?
2. Has the person I desire to be with learned from the negative experiences of his/her past?
It’s important to take a look at these questions because you don’t take someone to the altar with the intent of altering him/her. The reality is the person you marry will most likely remain who he/she is at the core, and there isn’t anything you can do to modify him/her. To make it clear…we call that unconditional love, something that is missing from a lot of today’s marriages. I digress!
Tamiko and I have had pretty deep conversations about family including both the good and the bad experiences. We both realize that our family foundations are totally different. She has documented some of her life’s challenges in her book Wounds to Wisdom…I’m Still Standing. I appreciate her so much for addressing the challenges of her past and expressing an intentional desire to provide something different for her family. I truly see manifestation of her desires in her children Destiny and Michael. They are awesome young adults who have respect for adults, love for their mother and desires for their future. This is one of the many reasons why I learned to love Tamiko so much.
Also, I had to be honest with myself when it came to my family. I grew up in a two-parent household that was pretty conservative and filled with structure. Many see this as a positive experience, which is true. However, I had to ask myself if there is anything I would do differently? My answer…be flexible and not rely solely on the basis of MY experiences. I believe we all have something to learn in life and family and must be open to the ideas of others.
Marriage isn’t the process of imposing YOUR will upon the life of your spouse. It’s about creating a foundation and environment that is in the best interest of your family.
No matter what people tell you…family matters when it comes to understanding your spouse/future spouse.
First, I would like to say I’m totally blown away by the amount of responses my initial ‘Transition’ blog created. I never fathomed it would create such a response, but it’s definitely a pleasant surprise. I want to allow people to be a part of my transition from a single, celibate man to the next leg of my life journey. People have witnessed my public journey since 2005 and it’s only fair that I show what happens when God moves in your life.
One of the major struggles I continue to experience in preparing to transition into engagement, and subsequently marriage, is dealing with shifting my bachelor mindset. As I received confirmation about Tamiko being the woman for me, I had to break out of my comfort zone of being a bachelor mentally. For the past several years I’ve been able to come and go as I please, talk with whomever I please and go out with whomever I please. This may seem trivial to you, but I really believe that when you identify ‘The One,’ you become motivated to take on even more of a sacrificial mindset and change your behavior. I don’t want to follow the footsteps of so many others who live a single life within the covenant of marriage because that’s one of the issues with marriages today!
I also believe that marriage is a covenant that shouldn’t be taken for granted when God sends you someone special. I asked God for a God-fearing, beautiful, purpose-driven, nurturing, compassionate and fun woman who can come alongside of me for a greater combined purpose. Tamiko embodies these traits and so many more. The last thing I want to do is mess that up because I wasn’t willing to give up my bachelor mindset.
I will admit that it’s difficult changing ways that have become so very familiar. I once spent my time conversing, hanging-out and sharing special life experiences with a number of women who I considered to be friends. However, I am a believer that when you find ‘The One’ she becomes the vessel you pour all of those fun, challenging and special moments into. Fortunately, I have found her!
The hard part is seeing the distance begin to mount between yourself and the others who have been a part of your life. I know many may say it’s okay to retain friends, which I agree. However, I don’t think it’s wise to entertain a lot of CLOSE opposite-sex friends. Think about how you would feel seeing your husband or wife hanging-out with his/her opposite-sex friend(s)? I have willingly taken a step back from my opposite-sex friends’ lives once they’ve gotten married. I believe it’s the right thing to do. I also believe you have to release familiarity in order to experience what is deemed extraordinary by God. It’s tough to hold onto and catch something at the same time.
I have learned over time to be open to change and I look forward to seeing how my mindset matures and develops as I transition into a loving husband and prayerfully a loving father.