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Robert Hensley on Proposing
Robert Hensley knows marriage proposals. He’s the president of Diamondhelpers.com, a site devoted to providing information on how people can buy a quality diamond. Hensley has more than 20 years of experience in the diamond and jewelry business and has advised hundreds of men on buying the perfect engagement ring and how to propose. Hensley shares his tips for crafting the perfect marriage proposal and finding the right engagement ring for the love of your life.
When is the right time to pop the question?
When your feelings between each other are strong and both of you have had time to let those feelings develop and grow. One major mistake some men make is proposing too early in the relationship. Find out if you have shared values. For instance, find out if you want to have children or not, want to live in the same city, prefer to save or spend money and enjoy going out or staying in.
Why is the engagement ring such an important part to the marriage proposal?
It’s important for a few reasons. First, it’s representative of something that’s really important in your life—possibly the single largest emotional commitment you’ll make. The ring carries that weight. It’s also a very expensive purchase and everyone is going to see it on your fiancée’s hand. Since none of us is educated about this in school or college, it’s important to educate yourself about diamonds to alleviate the stress and make your purchase with skill and confidence.
In general, how much should a guy put towards an engagement ring?
DeBeers has promoted a program where people suggest a man could or should spend two or three months salary for a ring. I suggest a man spend whatever he and his fiancée agree is a good representation of their current situation in life and a healthy representation of their love and commitment. This will vary widely depending on the couple.
What if a guy can’t afford the diamond ring that his girlfriend wants?
Get a feeling from her as to how she would receive an alternative ring. I’ve seen some men buy clarity-enhanced diamonds, but I don’t recommend them. Basically this is a lower-clarity-grade diamond that looks better than it is. I’ve seen men go with a manmade, or synthetic, diamond, which is sometimes a good alternative.
If you have to shop for an alternative, go for synthetic stones as opposed to a simulate like cubic zirconia or moissanite. My recommendation is to be realistic and get what you can reasonably afford in your life right now, realizing that you can always upgrade or purchase something else for a future anniversary when finances allow something more.
When it comes to diamond shopping, what should guys know about the four C’s of diamond quality—cut, color, clarity and carat weight?
You actually have to know more than the famous four Cs to make intelligent price comparisons between diamonds. If you’re going to compare two stones and you only know the four C’s, you might make a wrong decision. That’s exactly how the few dishonest jewelers can mislead you. There is a page on my web site that defines the four C’s and helps guide people to the right decisions about that. And there is another page that demonstrates why you need to go beyond that to compare quality and prices intelligently.
If a guy is still clueless about diamonds, are there any shortcuts to finding the right diamond?
There are two shortcuts. The first one is to find a jeweler you can rely on to tell you the truth from his level of expertise. This is tricky because you need to find a jeweler with that level of integrity and helpfulness. He can examine a stone with his trained eye and tell you which stones have the best value and best light performance.
The second shortcut is to compare the quality of two stones that have a full, independent cut grade given by Gemological Institute of America (GIA). GIA doesn’t give a price for the stone. They just tell you the quality; their grading is respected in the trade and by consumers. There is also the American Gem Society, which offers a grading report but doesn’t provide a numerical value either. Get the report from GIA or AGS that has a cut grade—that’s a shortcut for how a diamond performs.
How can guys find a reputable jeweler in the first 30 days?
If you’re a guy looking for a jeweler, you should find a store that has already sent its inventory to GIA, AGS or the European Gemological Society (EGL) in the U.S. and will show that paperwork alongside the diamonds. Then, verify the quality by looking at the diamond in the microscope. The jeweler should have been in business for a minimum of 10 to 20 years. The jeweler should have a microscope so you can look at the stones yourself instead of relying on what they tell you. Also, there should be a graduate gemologist on staff, which is someone fully trained by GIA so you are getting the full straight, direct technical answer. They should have a long-standing track record of honoring their guarantees after the sale. They should be willing to order whatever you want to see, rather than just sell what they have in stock that day. And they should give you whatever time you need and never push you to buy something before you are ready to make that decision by yourself.
Remember, it’s like buying a car for the first time. You want to know more than the fact that the car has four wheels and an engine. You want to know what shape and condition the car is in, including how it performs and every detail about it. The same thing is true for diamonds.
What are the trends you're seeing in engagement ring purchases?
Over the years, people are realizing the importance of good cuts in diamonds. So I see more and more purchases now made online based on the cut grade, or the light performance of a stone rather than just its color and clarity.
For the ring, over the past 30 years, it’s gone from everyone buying yellow gold rings to everyone buying platinum rings, and that’s loosening up again where people are choosing yellow gold a little more. Platinum and palladium and other platinum-group metals which are less expensive than platinum are popular. One of the larger online success stories, Union Diamond is doing palladium very successfully, offering all the benefits of platinum with prices closer to yellow gold.
I’m also noticing a trend towards more individual creativity. People are less afraid to create something unique and unusual. People are finding the joy of designing something that is uniquely their own. There are online stores as well as brick-and-mortar ones that are broadening their capacities to let people design their own rings.
What are the insurance options for an engagement ring?
There are two main insurance options. First, you can add the ring to a homeowner’s policy, which has its downside in that jewelry is the most common claim against a policy and it raises your premium. Second, you can get a separate policy independent of your homeowner’s policy. In that case, Jeweler’s Mutual Insurance is an excellent place to start.
What is the best way to make a marriage proposal powerful?
Here’s the kind of thing that I think is most important. Make the proposal very unique, because it’s special to you. Find that special meaning for the two of you. It doesn’t necessarily require the most expensive restaurant in town. Just find a situation that already has emotional ties for the two of you and fills your hearts when you’re there. That’s the main part of a good proposal.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
When one door closes it pushes me toward something better. And, every change is an opportunity to create something better.
The best thing about change is…
…the opportunities it brings.
What is the best change you have ever made?
I no longer think I have to save the world through hard work. But, now know that I can have the greatest impact on the world when I am following my passion and expressing my gifts to the fullest.
For more information on Robert Hensley, visit www.diamondhelpers.com.