We all like to think size does not matter. We tell ourselves that love conquers everything, including the little green monster.

I'm talking about the engagement ring, of course.

For many men, the concept of spending money on something that is going to cost a couple months' salary is a travesty, unless it's a big-screen television. My own husband sought the counsel of one of my friends, and after listening to her advice said "can not I buy her a piece of real property instead?" Yes, he's very romantic!

I'm not a big fan of a man surprising the intended bride with a ring that has been purchased. I know that's the big fantasy put out in society, but my personal opinion is that the purchase of an engagement ring should be a joint venture. Before you go shopping for that big surprise, take into consideration whether or not your intended actually likes surprises and how selective she is about the jewelry she wears.

Whether you make the purchase together or on your own, the first consideration when purchasing a ring is, of course, your budget. This will determine the type, size and cut of the stone you select for the ring, so shop carefully. You can often get a better deal on a stone if you buy it separately from the setting, and most jewelers will not have a problem setting a diamond you've purchased somewhere else.

Does it have to be a diamond?

No, it does not. Diamonds have become the first choice precious stone for engagement rings largely through an intense marketing campaign by the diamond industry. Prior to the 1930s, other gemstones were very commonly used; one good example of an alternative is the engagement ring given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles, the central stone of which is a blue sapphire. Other precious and semi-precious stones are just as beautiful as diamonds and some are even more rare. If your intended is a fan of being different, you might consider gemstones other than a diamond. You may also be able to get significantly more gemstone for your money.

So what about size?

All diamonds are graded on what is known as the Four Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat.

Each of the "Cs" have to be taken into consideration when buying a diamond for any reason. A poorly-cut stone will not have the refractive qualities of a well-cut stone and will lack brilliance. "White" diamonds are not actually white; they lack any color at all. However, that would indicate a perfect diamond color, which would be very costly. A colorless diamond allows more light through the tables of the cut and contributes to the brilliance. Clarity refers to the absence of flaws, which are called inclusions. These inclusions again affect the brilliance of a diamond.

Now we get to the carats, or size, of the diamond. A jeweler or a diamond dealer may refer to carats as "points." For example, a 101-point diamond is 1.01 carats. This is actually a measure of weight, not size. Up to 1 carat weight, diamonds prices are fairly reasonable. If you are being budget conscious but want to get the most for your money, you will get the most bang for your buck by staying just under 1 carat.

How do you decide?

You're about to ask a woman to share her life with you for a very long time. Hopefully, you know her well enough to know what kind of engagement ring she would appreciate. Look at how she dresses, the jewelry she wears, what kinds of things she enjoys. You may be nervous about proposing, so do not stress out over the ring. You can always make it easy on yourself and propose, THEN go shopping!

Source by Tiffany J. Wright