What to consider when shopping for rings E ngagements precede wedding dresses, flower arrangements, limousines, and even a couple’s wedding vows. And no proposal is complete without a ring. Knowledge of rings and stones is essential for those who plan to propose in the near future. A recent survey from the wed- ding resource The Knot in which 12,000 brides and 1,200 grooms in the United States were asked about their rings, found that people spend an average, of $5,978 on engage- ment rings. Recognizing the poten- tial cost of engagement rings can help ring shoppers prepare for their purchases. In addition to considering costs, couples can employ the following tips to shop with confidence. • Cut costs with style. Engage- ment rings can be costly, but many couples feel they are worthwhile investments. According to In Style magazine, a ring with a classic soli- taire of one carat weight can cost thousands of dollars, while a band covered in just under one carat of tiny pavé diamonds will offer plenty of sparkle for a lot less money. • Know your settings. How the diamond is framed can affect how big it looks and even how much it sparkles. Gems framed with a bezel can give the illusion of a larger stone. • Get the desired cut. A skilled jeweler knows how to properly cut a stone to bring out its best radiance. From round to princess to emerald to marquise cut, cut styles can affect how the stone looks as well as the price. • Know ring metals. Platinum and gold are some of the most popular ring setting metals. Platinum costs considerably more than gold or silver, but is long-lasting. Couples should weigh the cost versus benefit of splurging on a more expensive metal, or speak with a jeweler about a suitable substitute. 10 Dream Weddings • Investigate personal style. Men should pay attention to the jewelry their girlfriends wear so the engage- ment rings complement their style. Some women love modern jewelry, while others gravitate toward vintage pieces. • Come in under carat. Buying just shy of the next carat weight can save between 20 and 30 percent, offers The Knot. Plus, the size discrepancy probably will not be visible to the naked eye. • Think about trading up. Some couples like to replace engagement rings with a more elaborate ring for a big anniversary. Some jewelers will accept the purchase of the engage- ment ring toward the price of a future ring. Jewelry stores are in the business of developing relationships with their customers. When purchasing en- gagement rings, couples can discuss their desires in regard to a ring, as well as their budgets.