Los Altos dating service

Put a ring on it: Engagement ring shopping 101

As you can imagine, the engagement ring will arguably be the biggest part of any proposal- besides her saying “YES!” To help all my favorite bachelor clients blossom into confident grooms, I’ve put together a little cheat sheet.

Finding the perfect stone, band and setting can be tricky, especially when you’ll probably end up shopping alone—WeddingWire’s 2019 Wedding Report shows that only 20% of couples pick out a ring together. So, how can you find the right ring to symbolize your forever commitment? 

Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend

Although any stone can be used for an engagement ring, WeddingWire’s 2019 Wedding Report shows that 71% of engagement rings have a diamond as the main stone. According to the American Gem Society, diamonds have signified union since the 1400’s when Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy

Sizing

If you’re planning a surprise engagement, purchasing the right ring size will require a little finesse. To save yourself the headache and extra expense of resizing, simply steal a ring that you’ve seen your partner wearing on a ring finger and bring that to the jeweler to measure. Remember, some settings won’t accommodate a change in band size, so do whatever you have to do to make sure you get the size right.

Shape

Most diamond rings are one of ten unique shapes. Although most women prefer the traditional round shaped diamond, others may enjoy something more unusual. According to The Knot, different shapes can represent different personalities.

For example, an emerald cut tends to be more glamorous, the asscher cut suited to a vintage lover, and the marquise more romantic.

In addition to shape, consider the size of your partner’s hand. Pear, marquis, or oval shaped diamonds tend to suit long, slender fingers, whereas round or princess shaped diamonds are better for smaller hands.

Although shape is important, the cut will impact the quality of the diamond the most. Whereas shape is about the geometry of the stone, the cut is about the angles of the facets. 

The 4 C’s: A Matter of Quality

The Gemological Institute of America created the 4Cs to assess diamond quality. Those 4Cs include:

Cut describes how well a diamond’s facets interact with the light. A well cut diamond will sparkle through the top of the stone. Of all the 4Cs, cut is the most complex to analyze since it’s based on 7 factors: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, polish, symmetry, and durability. Cut is also the most important “C”; even if the remaining 3 C’s are perfect, it won’t matter if the cut isn’t right. 

Clarity describes the cloudiness of the stone. Naturally occurring internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes” can lower the value of the diamond. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value. 

As a general rule, try to avoid stones with inclusions on the top and in the middle. These areas have the biggest effect on the way the light passes through 

Color is graded based on how little of it exists. The grading system ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow); white color diamonds are the most popular (and tend to carry more value) but yellow diamonds and even black diamonds have grown in popularity.

Carat describes how much a diamond weighs. Diamond price increases with carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on the other 4C factors.

Settings and Metal

The setting, which describes how the diamond is placed on the ring, plays a big role in the look and feel of the ring. According to WeddingWire, the setting is the most important feature for women, whereas the quality of the stone is most important to men.

Just like the shape, there are a variety of different settings:

As you can imagine, different settings offer different benefits: The Halo is ideal for those who love a bit more sparkle, the Bezel setting offers a clean and modern look, and the Prong setting can really highlight the beauty of a main stone. 

When it comes to the metal for the band, gold and platinum are generally the most popular choices. Platinum is the most expensive given its purity. It’s also a great hypoallergenic choice for those with sensitive skin. Gold offers more flexibility with colors, including white, yellow, rose and even green.

Get your certificates

Before purchasing, ask to see the grading certificate from a recognized gemological lab like the American Gem Society or the Gemological Institute of America; it’s the best way to ensure that you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. And, please, please, please insure your ring as soon as you get home!

Romance and Dining in Silicon Valley

Couple Enjoying Meal In Restaurant

Anyone can book a table for two at the hottest restaurant in town, so what is the #1 key to impressing your dinner date and setting the stage for an unforgettable romantic evening?  Location, location, location!

Far too many Bay Area diners excitedly book prime time dinner reservations at expensive restaurants only to be seated at less than desirable tables for romantic meals.  Your $200+ dinner is well worth it when you’ve scored a private table with a view and feels like a horrible mistake when you’re seated next to the bathroom or an inch away from the couple seated next to you.

Think about it – would you ever spend the same amount for a middle seat in Economy Class on a plane as you would for a window seat in First Class?  Of course not!  In the restaurant business, why should you pay premium prices if you’re sitting at a lousy table? You shouldn’t.

There are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances for a successful dinner date.  Obviously, showing up on time and dressed in a manner that shows that you care about your appearance and that you respect your date’s time and attention are top priorities.

However, if you’re in charge of choosing the restaurant, you’d be well advised to also follow my maxim, “You don’t want a romantic restaurant.  You want a romantic table.”  Our new website, mostromantictable.com, helps diners find and book the most romantic dinner tables at restaurants around the world.  We’ve launched in New York, Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

Here in Silicon Valley, Chez TJ, is well known as one of the most romantic restaurants in the area.  For over 30 years, the restaurant has been the preferred location for innumerable proposals, engagements, and birthday celebrations.  All tables at Chez TJ are great, but dining at either Table 42 or Table 43 will transform your dining experience.  Both tables are located in the quiet, comfortable, tastefully decorated front parlor room of the Victorian mansion that houses the restaurant.  Both are next to windows that will provide you and your date with plenty of conversational fodder as you watch the world go by.  The food at Chez TJ is exceptional, as evidenced by the Michelin stars it consistently earns for its outstanding contemporary French cuisine.

Perhaps the most romantic dinner experience in the valley is in The Champagne Room at Saratoga’s The Plumed Horse Restaurant.  The Champagne Room holds a table for two in a curtained alcove off of the restaurant’s lounge.  Piano music greets you as you sit down at your table while candles and light from a stained glass window illuminate the room.  The Champagne Room offers privacy and an ambiance conducive to an intimate meal.  The Plumed Horse is celebrated for both its food and wine – it’s food has been recognized by Michelin with at least one star every year since 2008, and the Wine Spectator has given The Plumed Horse 1 out of only 81 worldwide Grand Awards for its wine program.

According to OpenTable, almost 70% of their diners wish they could have table specific information when making their dinner reservations.  In general, it’s good advice to call a restaurant either before or after making a reservation to ensure that you’ll be seated at a table appropriate for the occasion.  You can significantly improve your chances for a successful date by choosing your restaurant and your table from the incredible selection available at www.mostromantictable.com.

Guest Blogger Jay Ward, founder of MostRomanticTable.com. After taking his girlfriend to more than 160 restaurants in the first two-and-a-half years of their relationship, Jay conceived of the idea for MostRomanticTable.com.