Alright gentleman, the next few posts are for you and this one is all about the engagement ring!  Ladies reading this, you may want to share these posts with a certain gentleman in your life... *wink wink*

You've found that special woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with and now it's time to find the ring that she will wear for the rest of her life.  Wow, huge moment!  I went through this with a lot of help from my family, a good referral from a friend, and a ridiculous amount of research online!  Definitely learn the Four C's of Diamond Quality, but there's a few things that every guy needs to do right away!

Talk to her.  Get help.  Find a jeweler through a trusted referral.

If you haven't already talked about what sort of ring she likes, then you better start dropping little questions now.  This decision is huge and she should be a part of it.  I understand the desire to have the whole thing a surprise, and you definitely still can, but if you're comfortable enough to talk together about marriage, then you should be comfortable enough to talk together about what type of ring she wants.  She's the one that will be wearing it for the next fifty or so years!

Mine was a bit easier because I got a huge hint early on!  Just a few months into dating, Morgan and I were at the mall and dropped into a few jewelry stores (avoid these stores when you buy).  We obviously weren't seriously looking and just sort of having fun, but then Morgan saw it... the one... her dream ring.

Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring David Manning Photographer

About three months into dating, Morgan and I visiting a jewelry store for fun

It was so amazing to watch her light up and her jaw absolutely dropped when she put it on.  This dream ring came at a price though; like I could buy a pretty sweet car for that kind of price.  Then my jaw dropped.  I knew and she knew that I would be getting her something quite a bit smaller and not quite so nice for when that day finally came, but we were totally wrong...

I got help, and I found a great jeweler through a trusted referral.

Help came in the form of my mom talking me through a lot of info on buying a diamond and help came in the form of a great referral from my good friend Jeff.  Through him, I found The Diamond Source in Old Town.  Jeff always said that when I was ready, that we would have lunch, eat tacos, drink tequila, and visit his diamond guy.  Best choice ever!

David Manning Photography San Diego Engagement ring
David Manning Photographer San Diego Diamond

Looking at raw diamonds with Jeff that first day at The Diamond Source

The Diamond Source is an incredible family owned business that creates all sorts of custom jewelry.  They made me feel completely comfortable and walked me through everything.  Another huge point was how upfront they were with me.  I found out that buying jewelry can be like buying a used car with negotiations going back and forth (you'll find this a lot at those mall jewelers).  Fanny at The Diamond Source was totally upfront, I told her my budget and she told me what they could do for me. Easy and comfortable.

Months after we had seen it, I went back to the original jeweler that had Morgan's dream ring, took some photos of it on my phone and brought them The Diamond Source.  They then custom made her ring with the raw diamond that I picked out.  Long story short, not only did I get Morgan's dream ring for HALF the price, but Morgan's is slightly larger and more importantly, a higher quality diamond!

Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring
Morgan Leigh Boberg seeing engagement ring

And here's the reaction every guy is hoping for when she sees the ring

I wanted so badly to give Morgan her dream, but I thought it was completely out of my reach.  By figuring out exactly what she wanted, by getting help, and by getting a great referral from a trusted friend, I was able to get Morgan her perfect engagement ring.  Your story will be different and your lady's dream ring will be different, but with these three tips, you can make sure that she gets her dream too!

PS- INSURE THE RING IMMEDIATELY!  As soon as you have that thing in your hands, get it insured.  I went through Jeweler's Mutual and they gave me a great rate.  The Knot has some good info too so you can learn more about it.

David Manning Photography Morgan Leigh Boberg engagement ring

Morgan's dream come true