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What to Know When Picking an Engagement Ring

Marriage Proposal

Man surprising woman with engagement ring at restaurant table

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, congratulations! You’ve found the one and now you’re on the hunt for that perfect engagement ring. If you’ve never bought an engagement ring before, the shopping process can be a bit overwhelming. But we’re here to make the process easier with some helpful tips on engagement ring shopping. Here’s what to know when picking an engagement ring.

Diamond Shape is Key

When you begin shopping for an engagement ring, where do you start? A good place to start is by selecting your center diamond’s shape, which will set the tone for the style of your engagement ring.

Diamonds come in many different shapes. The most popular shape for diamonds is the round diamond. Then, there are “fancy shaped diamonds,” which is a category that covers every diamond shape other than round. Among fancy shaped diamonds, you’ll find princess cut, oval shaped, cushion cut, emerald cut, marquise, pear shaped, and radiant cut diamonds. When you browse diamond shapes, consider which shape would work best with the style of ring you’re looking for.

diamond shapes

Understand Engagement Ring Settings

If you’ve never bought an engagement ring before, you may not know that engagement ring settings are often sold separately from their center diamonds. While you can find many pre-made engagement rings that include the center stone, know that an engagement ring setting doesn’t always include the center stone its shown with. So when you shop, be sure to check to see if you’re browsing pre-set rings or shopping settings alone.

As you shop for your engagement ring setting, you’ll also want to think about its style. Next to diamond shape, your engagement ring’s setting will have the biggest impact on its style. There are dozens of different styles of engagement rings, like classic rings, vintage-inspired rings, and contemporary rings. Then, within those style categories, you’ll find thousands of different designs. Before you start shopping for an engagement ring, it’s a good idea to decide which style of ring setting you’re interested, then start browsing within that category.

Engagement Ring Settings

Think About Style

In these last sections, we mentioned that you should think about how your diamond shape and ring setting will affect the style of your engagement ring. But do you know what style of engagement ring you’re looking for? If you’re shopping for yourself, you probably already have a clear idea of what you like. But if you’re shopping for your partner and would like to surprise them, you’ll need think about what style they would like most.

There are multiple ways to scope out what type of engagement ring your partner might like. One of the easiest ways to determine their style is to ask their friends and family. If you’re getting close to engagement, it’s likely that your partner has talked to their close loved ones about engagement rings and dropped some hints you can pick up. If asking your soon-to-be fiancé’s loved ones turns up nothing, you can move to other strategies. One thing you can do is to look at their wardrobe and existing jewelry collection. Do they always wear classic pieces? Do they love the vintage look? Or is their style perhaps more bold and edgy? Think about their personal style and how that might translate to their taste in engagement rings.

engagement ring style

Set a Budget Early

It would be lovely if we all had an unlimited engagement ring budget but, unfortunately, that’s usually not the case. But what should you spend on engagement ring? Only as much as you can comfortably afford. You’ll often hear a myth told about engagement rings: that you should spend the equivalent of three months’ salary on the ring. But, in reality, there are no rules about what you need to spend on your engagement ring. You can spend the equivalent of three months salary on your engagement ring if that works for you but you certainly don’t have to. The opposite is also true: if you can afford it and would like to spend more than three months’ salary, do so.

No matter what your budget is, it’s important to set one before you start seriously shopping. Knowing your budget in advance will help you understand your options and help you avoid falling in love with something far outside your budget.

There Are Ways to Save

If you want to maximize your budget, we have some tips on how you can save money on your engagement ring.

One of the best ways to save money on your diamond is to buy a diamond with a carat weight that’s just under a round number. In the diamond industry, certain carat weights are called “magic numbers,” at which the price of a diamond jumps up. Some magic carat weight numbers are 1, 1.5, and 2. How can knowing this save you money? To give you an example, say you want a 1 carat diamond. You can get a diamond that looks almost exactly as large as a one carat diamond, yet is much less expensive, by selecting a 0.9 carat diamond.

Another thing that can help you save money on your engagement ring is to buy a gold ring setting, rather than a platinum one. Platinum is a very durable precious metal but it’s also the most expensive. If you want a white precious metal but are on a budget, go with white gold for your engagement ring.

Shop Safe

diamond 4cs

If you’ve never bought a diamond before, you may not know that a diamond should always come with a grading report from an accredited organization. Grading reports are issued by grading organizations such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). On these reports, you’ll find the grades for the 4Cs: diamond color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.

You should only buy diamonds that come with grading reports from reputable grading labs like the GIA. These grading reports are important because they give you a certified record of the qualities of your diamond. They also give you extra assurance that you’re actually getting what you’re paying for.

Order Early

Once you’ve selected your engagement ring it’s time to place your order. But ordering an engagement ring isn’t like buying most items. It takes quite a bit of time for an engagement ring to be made, so give yourself plenty of breathing room. A good rule of thumb is to order your engagement at least six weeks in advance. If you’re going to place a more complex order, like a custom designed engagement ring, order even earlier.

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