How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Rings

"If you like it put a ring on it... " Beyonce certainly knew what she was singing about, seeing as how she now wears the most expensive engagement ring known to man. Getting engaged is one of the major events in a woman's life and it is no surprise that she looks forward to it very much like a soldier looks forward to crushing the enemy at battle, intensity-wise at least.

Engagement rings go back a long way, which means women have practically been lusting after diamond engagement rings for so long it's become part of our makeup. We all know the story of how Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to his lady love Mary of Burgundy with a ring set with flat pieces of diamond in the shape of an "M" in the 1800s but engagement rings actually go further back.

During the pre-historic era, a caveman got engaged when he tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate's wrists, ankles and waist to be able to control her spirit. While it may not be true that he hit her over the head with a club, bondage was certainly something they were big on those days.

Fast forward to circa 2800 BC at which time Egyptians wore engagement rings of solid gold and silver wires on the third finger of their left hand, believing it to contain a vein connected directly to the heart, known as the vena amoris. During the 1st Century BC, puzzle rings were invented and started circulating around Asia, quite popular with sultans and sheiks who used them to tag their multiple spouses. During the 2nd Century BC, men gave their wives two rings - a golden one to wear during the wedding ceremony and special events and an iron ring to wear at home to signify her binding agreement to his ownership of her.

While the engagement ring certainly seemed to be more of a symbol of binding commitment than a loving one in the beginning, it has certainly evolved to something better as time passed, particularly with the advent of the many engagement ring trends that often did away with what was traditional and instead, encouraged individuality in styles and designs. To be able to choose the ideal betrothal bauble for your beloved, you must first familiarize yourself with the different cuts and shapes as the little details on each one is what makes your ring a cut above the rest, no pun intended.

First off you have the marquise cut, which is oval, with pointed ends. Then there's the cushion cut, which is also known as the "antique cut" because of its vintage quality and one that is easily distinguished by its pillow shape. There's also the emerald cut with its rectangular corners and long, stair-like facets and its cousin the asscher cut and so square it looks almost octagonal.

Of course, let's not forget the most popular of them all, the princess cut which is a brilliant square stone and the second most popular, the round cut which has 58 facets, making it the most sparkling of the bunch. For the ultra-romantic at heart, there is the heart-shaped that is literally a diamond in the shape of a heart and last and certainly not the least, the pear cut, which has the added bonus of making your finger look long and slender when you wear it with the point facing away from your body.

The next thing to consider when choosing your diamond rings is the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat. Contrary to popular belief, a diamond's cut doesn't just refer to the shape of the stone, but to the diamond's reflective qualities. Ideally, the light that travels through the diamond should be reflected upwards to create the most brilliant sparkle. Deep-cut diamonds are not what you should choose if sparkle is what you want because these cuts don't allow the light to reach back and up to the top and reflect back to the eye which means it has the least sparkle.

Clarity on the other hand, refers to the blemishes (flaws on the stone) and inclusions (flaws within the stone). Each diamond is given a clarity grade by the GIA, from FL (Flawless) to Imperfect Included (I1, I2 and I3). While you can opt for flawless diamonds, they are incredibly rare and small inclusions can actually be a good thing because it helps identify your stone and makes it unique. Stones in the I range, however, should be avoided altogether.

Carat is of course, the diamond's weight and not its size. This is only a minor consideration as there are other more important attributes of the diamond that you should consider like color. Color is the actually the absence of tints in the diamonds, enabling more light to pass through the stone, making it sparkle more. It is important to remember that carat weight, along with a low color grade is not a direct reflection of cost. If you are shopping on a budget, you can opt to downgrade in quality especially if size is a concern. Buying a 95-point diamond will cost you less than buying a full carat but when the stone is set, you won't be able to tell the difference. The same goes for when you buy a large stone with a low color grade. It's all basically just a matter of personal preference.

And last but not the least, you will need to choose the perfect setting for your ring. Traditionally, many go for the classic solitaire, which is a single diamond set in plain mounting, usually with four or six prongs. Most women prefer this setting because it shows off the diamond prominently, without too much distractions. In addition, there is the bezel setting, where gemstones are surrounded by a thin metal band, the pave setting, which is where a central stone is surrounded by smaller gems set very close to each other and the prong setting which raises the stone to allow more light in.

Other newer settings include the cluster setting, where the central diamond is flanked by smaller ones, the gypsy setting where the stones are sunk into holes so they are flush with the ring's surface, the bar setting, where each stone is separated by metal bars and the shared prong, where the adjacent diamonds share prongs.

The most important things to remember when choosing your engagement rings is that one, you don't have to limit yourself to brick and mortar jewelry stores, you can opt to design your own ring and third, your major consideration should be what your lady love likes. The good news is that you can do all these online, which not only offers you the widest range of options to choose from, it also encourages your creativity the point that you will be able to create unique, engagement rings that not only promise to give you the best memories, but will also last a lifetime and more.

The whole point after all, is to give her something that will make her remember you and how much you love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her.

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