Decided to pop the question? Congratulations! Now all you need is a ring that expresses your love and will last a lifetime, not to mention shine in an envy-inducing ring selfie — but, hey, no pressure. Jokes aside, the engagement ring trend these days is all about individuality, which is both good news and bad news. Unique engagement rings abound and you have plenty of options, but too much choice can be overwhelming. So before setting out on this extra-special hunting expedition, read on to learn foolproof ways of picking the perfect engagement ring.

1. Take it Slow

The first thing you want to do is give yourself plenty of time to shop around. Picking an engagement ring isn’t the kind of thing you bang out on a lunch break. There are a lot of different factors to consider. Give yourself time to contemplate what you really want and don’t rush it.

2. Don’t Sweat the Details

You don’t need to have a particular ring in mind when you go shopping. In fact, you’ll have a better chance at success if you enter into this adventure with an open mind. Try not to get caught up in minutiae like grades and carats. You know what you like. Pick out a few that catch your eye, set them side by side and decide from there. Another common mistake is investing too much in the band. Settings can be changed, and an anniversary band can always be added. If you really have no clue and you want the ring to be a surprise, platinum is a safe bet. It’s durable and not over-the-top expensive.

3. Determine your Budget

While it’s good to be openminded about the type of ring, your budget plan should be solid. Emotions naturally run high at times like these, but it’s important not to get carried away. Unless money is no object, you set a budget because you needed to so stick to it. Also, invest more in the stone than the setting. As mentioned above, bands can be modified and the stone reset if that’s what you and your partner decide later on.

4. Think Outside the Box

Diamonds have been the standard for the last hundred years or so, but that doesn’t mean you’re tied to the same old thing. Other gems, including pearls, sapphires and other stones having been gaining in popularity for some time now, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Also, it’s important to remember that just like rings, hands come in all shapes and sizes. A gigantic emerald-cut diamond may be just right for JLo, but overwhelming on your beloved’s finger (not to mention a budget-buster). Also important to consider is your partner’s lifestyle. Active people who work with their hands may prefer a more minimalist style.

5. Size isn’t Everything

In this visual age it can be hard not to compare, but try not to get sucked in. The Insta-world is designed to make you feel envious, but the size of a gem is only one factor, and there are several others that contribute — or detract — from a ring’s beauty. Two jewels can have the exact same weight but look completely different. Again, it’s about finding the ring that speaks to you and your partner, not one-upping random strangers on the internet.

6. Learn the Four c’s

It’s a good idea to bone up on gem-speak before going shopping so you don’t get overwhelmed by sales jargon. The first C is carat, which means the gem’s weight (size). Cut refers to the craftsmanship that went into shaping the stone and how well it reflects light. Color is self-explanatory. The final C is for clarity, which means how few flaws a diamond has. Internal flaws (or ‘characteristics’ as the pros say) are called ‘inclusions’ and external ones are known as ‘blemishes.’ As you can probably guess, this one is the hardest to determine. Again, try not to get caught up in details if you can’t see them. Go with what appeals to you.

7. Take the Long View

It can sometimes be hard to see the forest through the trees. An engagement ring is a promise for today, but it’s also a future heirloom. Don’t pick a ring because it’s trendy. Choose it because it matches your partner’s taste and style, and will be beautiful for years to come.

One final tip: Try to relax and enjoy the experience. You’ve done the hard work of finding The One; picking a piece of jewelry is icing on the cake. Armed with these foolproof tips, you should be up to the challenge. Go forth and shop with confidence. Again, huge congrats!

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