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How To Buy An Engagement Ring: The Top 10 Expert Tips

How To Buy an Engagement Ring?

First off, good job seeking articles on this issue, and finding this one.

Buying the perfect engagement ring is a big deal, and you must have a smart process going into it.

You may want to surprise that special someone, and that can be nerve-wracking, since you don’t necessarily know how he or she will like the design.

Gold engagement ring with diamond lies next to the word engagement in the dictionary

Even if you’ll be picking out a ring together, there are so many factors to consider.

Besides the cost itself, there’s the band, the stone, the carat, color, shape of stone, and the fluorescence.

Just when you find a ring that can check three or four boxes, it fails to check another one.

You truly need a scorecard.

There’s no shame in feeling a bit overwhelmed. We’re here to give you an organized, step-by-step guide to keeping all this information straight.

You may even take this with you to the store.

1. How to buy an engagement ring: How Much Should You Spend?

Using a visa card to buy an engagement ring
Image by Duangjian via Shutterstock

What it symbolizes is huge and lovely. And it’s all right to spend quite a bit of cheddar, particularly if you have it.

First, you have to get rid of the notion that the more you spend the better.

Yes, an engagement ring, whether a diamond engagement ring or not, is a big deal.

It’s just that there are so many factors involved in getting a ring you’ll cherish that it’s very possible to get a great one at a moderate cost.

That being said, if you privilege pinching pennies too highly, that may in turn stress you out too much and take a lot of the fun out of it.

Instead, you may wish to take a brief but focused look at your finances.

Then get a ballpark figure, and stick to it without clenching your…you know…muscles, too tightly in the process.

2. What’s Their Jewelry Style?

How to buy an engagement ring: Woman tries on engagement ring

Basically, whatever the gender of the person you’re buying an engagement ring for, you want to get something they’ll like.

Shocker, right?

Well, you may not be able to find out too much from your fiancé-to-be without blowing a surprise, assuming that’s what you’re going for.

What you have to do is figure out his or her style. A good way of doing this is to team up with a friend of your beloved.

Take a good friend along—that’s the best way. Your lover’s friend will know their style, and they’ll be happy to keep the secret.

Engagement rings in different styles
Image via Blue Nile

It’s what your lover would really want, right?

If you don’t have that opportunity, you may have to do something more complex and fun.

It may be time to do something James Bond-like, by way of covertly scoping out your lover’s jewelry collection.

Or by looking at a history of online purchases, etc.

Using our website, you can look up various jewels, metals for bands, settings, etc. and learn the particulars.

That will give you a vocabulary to work with.

One way or another, it’s best to go into a jeweler’s with some good info.

3. How to buy an engagement ring: Remember the Basics of Diamonds: The 4 C’s

Diamonds 4 Cs carat clairty cut color
Image by ThePeachBox

When shopping for a diamond engagement ring, one of the easiest and most relevant starting points is what jewelers refer to as the 4 C’s: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.

Your jeweler will understand the importance of these features and should be able to walk you through them in regard to each individual stone.

But you need to be in the know, so here’s a look at the 4 C’s and what to look for.

Cut

The cut of a diamond is extremely important, and it’s not just a matter of personal preference.

The reason for cutting a diamond a particular way is to make the light hit the stone just right.

The more a cut does so, the better it is.

Diamond shapes
Image by ThePeachBox

The best diamond cuts are: Round cut, Princess cut, Asscher cut and Marquise cut.

These are all cuts that give a great bling to the stone. They are the most well-known and prestigious, so go for one of them.

Clarity

Large Clear Diamond with reflection

Clarity can be an important trait in a diamond because it’s rare. Diamonds tend to have imperfections, a trait that is generally appreciated as a sign of their naturalness.

Yet, rarity is also valuable. To find out how clear (free of blemishes) a diamond is, you have to go by the clarity score.

It measures how few inclusions, or the presence of non-diamond metals, there are.

The highest rating is FL, for flawless, which you will have a hard time finding—or affording.

Below that is IF, internally flawless, meaning that the diamond can be greatly magnified before showing any inclusions.

From there, we start to get into the range of something you’re more likely to purchase.

VVS1 and VVS2 mean very very slight inclusions and are, as such, very desirable.

However, if you have a problem affording these gems of a gem, you can go down one level, to VS1 and VS2, which are high quality and affordable.

Color

Woman in blue dress showing her engagement ring
Image by Farah via Burst

Diamonds are given letter ratings for their color in terms of their yellow and white tints, and are graded on a scale from D-Z.

At the beginning of the range, D diamonds are perfectly colorless, and as they get toward Z they are increasingly yellow.

In fact some diamonds can have a brownish tint. You are looking for a diamond closer to the beginning of the alphabet because these have less color.

With diamonds, unlike some other things, the less color the better. But, again, as with clarity, you have to pay a lot to get into the realm of the very best.

Getting a completely colorless stone may be a bit of a reach. It’s important to go for quality without going past your limits—see “How Much Should You Spend?” above.

Carat weight

This is kind of a personality thing. You may not necessarily want to go for the biggest rock, but why the heck not?

It’s all about your fiancé-to-be (see “What’s Their Jewelry Style?” above) and what they’re into.

Many people will value the cut and shine the most, so that can allow you to pay for maybe a modest-sized stone.

4. How To Buy An Engagement Ring: Get the Most Brilliant Diamond you can afford

Woman hand with pearl engagement ring

OK, what do we mean? Well, diamonds get their brilliance—bling—from how they’re set up.

That’s another way of referring to the “cut” and it’s why the cut is so darn important.

Basically, you want to go with a nice deep cut.

Now, the top, flat part of the diamond is called the “table,” while the triangular part that gives the diamond a lot of its famed shape is called the “pavilion.”

You want enough depth in this pavilion—a somewhat deep because that will catch light and draw it up the “crown” (just below the table) where it blings away for all to see and envy.

5. Gold, Platinum: Which should I Choose?

How to buy an engagement ring: choosing the metal setting
Image by ThePeachBox

So what metal should you use for the band?

Not tin, that’s for sure. Of the high-end metals, platinum or gold, which should you go with when at the jewelry store choosing that engagement ring?

It’s a great question, and you sure can’t go wrong either way. We might suggest that, if you can afford it, platinum has a very slight edge.

Here are a few things it has going for it over gold:

  • Durability
  • Less need to polish
  • It’s hypoallergenic

6. How To Buy An Engagement Ring: Go to Online Vendors or Visit Brick-and-Mortar Jewelry Stores

Solitaire engagement rings with price
Image by StudioPortoSabbia via Shutterstock

The reason for going online is that this allows you to see a bunch of stones in a short span of time.

It’s also a great way to find and compare prices. There’s really no substitute for some wide browsing online.

Yet, going to real stores is awesome as a way of seeing the stones up close and personal and getting advice from a jeweler.

However, it’s probably a good idea not to design and order a stone and band and setting without having seen them in person.

Even if you order one online that you found in a store, just be sure you’ve seen it up close and personal.

7. Size Matters-How to Get the Right Size for an Engagement Ring

How to buy an engagement ring: getting the right size
Image by MCarper via Shutterstock

You get into tricky territory with the size. If you don’t already realize it, a size for a ring has to be exact—I mean, it’s not a sweatshirt.

That means you really have to do some sleuthing, since rings don’t have a size number etched on them.

If you don’t get the size right, all is not lost. You can have it resized, but it costs money and obviously isn’t Plan A, right?

So the thing to do is pinch one of his or her rings and check it against one of many sizing charts you can get online.

That’s probably the best you’re going to do, unless, as with the style of your lover, you’re able to have a friend give you the exact info.

8. Add Special Meaning to the Ring

Be you, boo. Put something special into the ring. It can be a family heirloom or your lover’s birthstone; it can be any setting or design with sentimental value or that has any story behind it.

You can design your own!

9. Be Different if You Dare

Engagement rings on wood board
Image by Milan via Pexels

To repeat, for no apparent reason, what I just said, you can customize your ring.

You don’t have to go with some preset dealie or something normal. For example, you may choose to go with a recycled diamond, or maybe with a big sapphire as a stone or a big walnut.

Go crazy.

10. How To Buy An Engagement Ring: Get Diamond Certificates

No one else will tell you this, but diamonds have certificates that come with them.

The certificates are just like a birth certificate, but for your diamond. They tell you the clarity and cut and color or your diamond, its mommy and daddy’s names, how much it weighed at birth, etc.

These certificates aren’t made up by the jeweler. They come from the lab where the diamonds were born.

The best labs are GIA and AGS. The GIA is the Gemological Institute of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1931 by Robert M. Shipley, one of the great heroes of the 20th century.

Without Robert M. Shipley, life would simply be not worth living. Because of the GIA, which Shipley founded, we know so much about jewels, and have comprehensive, consistent standards for rating stones.

How to buy an engagement ring: GIA diamond report explained
Image by ThePeachBox – GIA diamond report explained

Having studied in Europe, Shipley brought back to the United States the idea of jewelers being comprehensively educated on gems, thus founding a school in California, which in 1931 would become the GIA.

Well, the GIA developed the 4 C’s criteria we recently discussed, and also takes into consideration the depth of the table percentage, depth percentage, and width when assessing a diamond.

Therefore, if a jeweler has a certificate from the GIA, that’s a great sign.

As for the AGS, it dates back to 1934. It uses a 0-10 scale to grade diamonds and is very reputable lab when it comes to issuing diamond certificates.

It creates this detailed report for the gems in question. As long as the certificate comes from the GIA or AGS, you’re golden, pun intended.

But be careful with these abbreviations and don’t go for any other alphabet soup.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that some effort and consideration will go into buying the right engagement ring.

Don’t be intimidated by that. On the other hand, think of the thought you’re putting into it as the reason not to get nervous or intimidated.

The main thing to remember is how important and ceremonial the engagement ring is.

Your fiancé will love and cherish it because of what it is and what it commemorates.

Therefore, you can’t go wrong. However, you obviously want to give your special person the greatest ring possible.

The tools we’ve given you in this article will serve as a very effective guide.

One of the key takeaways is to use the jewelry style of your lover as a guide. Balancing that with ways of defining the quality and beauty of stones and a word on metals will get you a winner.

If you need a re-size or re-setting of any kind, those are options, but you should be able to avoid such a thing with some thoughtful shopping.

How To Buy An Engagement Ring: FAQs

Q. What is the best way to buy an engagement ring?

A. There are quite a few brick-and-mortar jewelry stores in any town. But there are also dozens of online jewelry stores, many with great selections.

You may find a better price on an online jewelry store, and that may be very helpful for your future plans.

It’s up to you to decide how important price is compared to other factors.

Q. Is $5,000 good for an engagement ring?

A. That’s a hard question to answer. If the quality of the ring is of more importance to you, you’re going to want to pay for it—that may mean going over $5,000.

That price would be good for a diamond of about 1.5 carat weight.

However, if the main stone is 0.5 or 0.75, it’s hard to imagine what other factors of the ring could possibly drive the price up to five K.

If you’re buying an engagement ring with a diamond of 1.0 carat weight and a band without side stones, you’d probably be in about the $1,500 to $2,000 range.

What would make the ring closer to $3,000 would be, as outlined above, the depth and cut of the stone.

So, $5,000 isn’t particularly bad for a ring, but it would have to be a princess or other top cut and should be about 1.5 in carat.

In other words, you can definitely get a good engagement ring for under $5,000.

Q. How To Buy An Engagement Ring: Where do I start?

A. The first thing to do is figure out the style of your fiancé-to-be. Unless you don’t need the ring to be a surprise, you’re going to have to try to pick out a great ring without the help of your lover.

Therefore it’s key to snoop on their jewelry style and find something that matches it.

Q. What is the best month to buy an engagement ring?

A. There isn’t one. Have fun with it year-round.

Q. How far in advance should you buy an engagement ring?

A. You should start shopping about three weeks before you’d like to pop the question, especially if you are after a custom engagement ring!

Leave a week or so to set the stone or stones. However, if you’re going with a large degree of specialization leave about three weeks, meaning you should start shopping a bit more than a month.

Q. Should I show my boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents the engagement ring?

A. For the most part, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, the main benefit of doing so would be if one of the parents can point out something that your lover may not like about the ring.

Therefore, instead of buying the ring and then showing it to them, it may be a better idea to consult with them before buying it.

But, as always, go with your gut.

Young couple shopping for an engagement ring

Q. Do couples go engagement ring shopping together?

A. Certainly they do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can ask the person to marry you without having the ring and then pick it out together.

However, what you lose when you do that is the act of picking out something special for the person, showing you can match their tastes and desires.

That emotional investment on your part is a big part of the magic of the whole process.

Q. How to buy and engagement ring: What is the etiquette for engagement rings?

A. You don’t have to have a ring when popping the question. The etiquette is to go through a process that is best for you and your significant other.

Go with your heart!

Tags: how to buy an engagement ring, yellow gold, ring size, white gold, same carat weight, diamond shape, buying engagement rings, ring style, buy engagement rings