19 Top Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring You Should Know

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Congratulations! You’ve found the love of your life, and you’re ready to take the next step. An engagement ring is a symbol of your love and commitment, and choosing the perfect one can feel exciting and daunting at the same time. But fear not! In this article from Viva Wedding Photography, we’ll provide expert tips for buying an engagement ring to simplify your search and ensure you find a piece that’ll leave your partner speechless (in a good way!).

How to Pick an Engagement Ring

1. Setting a budget for the ring

tips for buying an engagement ring - setting a budget
Engagement ring shopping tips (Source: Moissanite By Design)

Forget the pressure of spending two or three months’ salary on a ring. This tradition is simply unrealistic for many couples today. Instead, focus on what works for your unique financial situation.

Take a clear look at your finances by listing your monthly income and expenses. How much can you truly afford to spend without feeling the financial strain? Remember, an engagement ring is just the beginning. You might also be saving for a wedding, a honeymoon, or even a down payment on a house. Factor in these future goals when determining how much you can dedicate to the ring.

2. Keep your future partner’s style in mind

How to buy an engagement ring - consider your partner's style
How to buy an engagement ring (Source: Luxury London)

Picking a ring together is totally okay these days! But if you want to surprise your partner with the perfect ring, here are some tips.

You can ask their close friends or family for hints (sworn to secrecy, of course!). But if you prefer a solo mission, pay attention to the jewelry they already wear. Do they favor silver or gold? Classic styles or vintage pieces? Sneakily observe their taste for a few weeks and take note.

But here’s the thing – talking is always an option! There’s no magic lost in having an open conversation about what they like and dislike. Honest communication can actually make the proposal even more special!

3. Choose the source of the stone

tips for buying an engagement ring - choosing lab grown or natural diamond
Tips for engagement ring shopping (Source: Micheal Arthur Diamonds)

If you’ve set your heart on a diamond ring, there’s another decision to make: mined or lab-grown? This has become a big topic lately. Mined diamonds come from deep underground, where heat and pressure create them naturally. Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are created in a controlled environment and are often seen as a more eco-friendly option (though both are still made of carbon). There is also a difference in pricing, with lab-grown diamonds being more affordable.

4. Understanding diamond quality: The 4Cs

When it comes to tips for buying a diamond engagement ring, a key factor is understanding the 4Cs. Developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), these four characteristics – Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight –  are the universal way to evaluate a diamond’s quality. By knowing the 4Cs, you can easily compare different diamonds and make informed decisions about which one best suits your taste and budget.

Tips for buying an engagement ring - Consider The 4Cs
Tips for buying an engagement ring (Source: AMORIZ Jewelry)

In short, the 4Cs are:

  • Color: The color of a diamond is like a report card, graded with letters from D to Z. Diamonds with a D grade are the top scorers, completely colorless and the rarest. As you move down the scale towards Z, the diamond might have a faint yellow or brown tint. Generally, the less color a diamond has, the more valuable it is.
  • Clarity: The clarity of a diamond is determined by the presence or absence of inclusions (internal features) and blemishes (surface irregularities). The clarity of a piece is evaluated on a scale ranging from Flawless to Included.
  • Cut: The way a diamond is cut affects how it interacts with light. The brightness, scintillation, and fire of a diamond are determined by its proportions, symmetry, and polish.
  • Carat Weight: The apparent size of a diamond is affected by its carat weight. A higher carat weight indicates a rarer and more valuable diamond, assuming the other Cs are similar.
How to buy an engagement ring on a budget
How to buy an engagement ring on a budget (Source: Harold Stevens)

While color and clarity are essential, they can be less critical if budget is a concern. A diamond with a slightly lower grade might still look great to the naked eye. But when it comes to cuts, that’s a different story!

The cut is what makes a diamond sparkle brilliantly. Even a not-so-perfect diamond can become a showstopper with a fantastic cut. On the other hand, even the highest quality diamond can look dull if it’s poorly cut. So, prioritize cut over super high grades in color and clarity to get the most sparkle for your buck!

5. Determine the diamond shape and cut style you want

Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring - Choose A Shape
Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring – Choose A Shape (Source: VRAI)

Finding the perfect ring is all about finding the perfect look! Before you hit the stores, take some time to browse different engagement ring styles. The most important decision you’ll make is the center stone’s shape. Do you love the classic round cut, the elegant princess cut, or something more unique like the cushion cut and emerald cut?

Keep in mind that different diamond shapes have different price tags. The classic round cut is the priciest, while fancy shapes like pear and marquise can be easier on the wallet. If you’re looking to stretch your budget or want a bigger stone, consider going beyond the round cut. Familiarize yourself with the various options, and narrowing it down to one or two favorites will make your engagement ring shopping much smoother.

6. Consider the carat size

The carat size is a crucial factor to keep in mind when you begin exploring the market, regardless of whether you’re the one proposing or the one being proposed to.

engagement ring shopping tips - consider the carat size
How to buy an engagement ring on a budget (Source: VRAI)

Bigger or better? That’s the question! Does your significant other prefer a show-stopping stone or a flawless diamond? If size is key, consider a more budget-friendly diamond shape (like those we mentioned earlier). This will allow you to get a larger stone without breaking the bank. However, if a flawless diamond is more important, you can focus less on carat weight and prioritize clarity and cut.

No matter what size you choose, you can save some money by picking a diamond that’s not a half-carat or whole-carat weight. Prices tend to jump significantly at these marks (like 0.5 carats, 1 carat, 1.5 carats, and so on). Going for a slightly less common carat weight, like 0.4 carats or 1.2 carats, can save you some serious cash without sacrificing much in terms of size or sparkle.

7. Choosing a metal

tips for buying an engagement ring - Consider The Metal
Engagement ring shopping tips – Consider the metal (Source: Junebug Weddings)

Once you’ve narrowed down the center stone, it’s time to pick the perfect band metal! There are many popular options, like yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, silver, and platinum. To make your choice, consider your (or your partner’s) lifestyle. Some metals scratch more easily than others. One of our favorite tips for buying an engagement ring is to think about what will look best and hold up over time!

Don’t forget about your budget when choosing the band metal! While white gold and platinum look similar, platinum is much denser and rarer, so it comes with a steeper price tag. 

8. Choose the setting

The setting serves two essential purposes: securing the diamond in place and safeguarding it from any potential harm. Different settings provide different levels of protection.

Here are two common types of settings:

  • Prong: 
Engagement ring shopping tips - prong setting
Engagement ring shopping tips – choose the proper setting (Source: VRAI)

The tiny metal holders that secure the diamond are called prongs, and they come in sets of four or six. You can choose a classic look with rounded prongs or a more modern and edgy feel with sharp “claw prongs.”

Six prongs offer extra security for the diamond, especially round cuts, and can even make them appear more perfectly round. Four prongs, on the other hand, might make a round diamond look slightly square and showcase more of the diamond’s surface.

  • Bezel: 
tips for buying an engagement ring - Bezel setting
Tips for buying a diamond engagement ring (Source: Brilliant Earth)

If you’re looking for ultimate protection for your diamond, the bezel setting is a great choice. It uses a thin band of metal that wraps completely around the diamond, like a protective wall. While this means you can’t see the sides of the diamond, it also eliminates snags on gloves (perfect for professions like nursing) and shields any pointed edges. This makes it ideal for cuts like princess or marquise, which are more prone to chipping.

9. Think about side stones

Engagement ring shopping tips - think about side stones
Engagement ring shopping tips (Source: Gatsby Jewellery)

Want to add some extra sparkle and size to your engagement ring? Side stones are your friend! There are many ways to incorporate them, like a classic three-stone design, a halo around the center stone, or even a row of tiny diamonds along the band (channel, pavé, or bead settings). You can even add pops of color with gemstones or birthstones.

If you choose diamonds for the side stones, try to match their quality (the 4Cs) to your center stone. This is especially important for the color grade to ensure they appear to match seamlessly.

Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring

10. Bring a confidant when shopping for the engagement ring

engagement ring shopping tips - Bring a confidant
How to buy an engagement ring (Source: Rosie Clayden)

Feeling overwhelmed by engagement ring options? Don’t be afraid to enlist your friends’ help! Ask recently engaged friends for recommendations on jewelers they had positive experiences with. 

Another of our engagement ring shopping tips is to involve a friend who knows you and your partner well, especially someone whose taste you trust. There’s a good chance the person you’re proposing to has already dropped hints about their dream ring to a close friend (or maybe even pinned it on a Pinterest board!). This friend could be an invaluable secret weapon, guiding you toward the perfect ring, whether it’s a stunning cushion cut with a halo or a simple rose gold band with a classic round stone.

11. Make your way to the wholesale district

Tips for buying an engagement ring in a wholesale district
Tips for buying an engagement ring in a wholesale district (Source: Diamond Buzz)

After you’ve decided to start shopping, it’s crucial to think about where you want to buy your piece. Traditionally, you might visit a jewelry store. But for those wondering “How to buy an engagement ring on a budget?” there are other options! Wholesalers can offer steeper discounts by cutting out the middleman markup. This can also lead to a unique ring since they might not carry the same mass-produced styles as traditional stores.

Plus, both wholesalers and private jewelers often create custom rings, working directly with you to design your dream piece. Because they don’t have the same high expenses as big stores, they can often save you over 30%. This means you can get a more unique ring for a better price.

12. Look at diamonds under various lighting conditions

Engagement ring shopping tips - Look at diamonds under various lighting conditions
Engagement ring shopping tips (Source: Zazzle)

A diamond’s appearance can change dramatically depending on the light. Jewelers often use bright spotlights that make diamonds look extra sparkly and fiery, but that’s not how you’ll see it most of the time.  

To get a realistic idea of how the ring will look in everyday life, ask to see it in different lighting conditions. Try it on outside in natural light, both in the sun and in the shade. See how it looks under the fluorescent lights of an office or the warm, softer lighting of your home. This way, you’ll ensure you love the way the diamond looks in the situations where you’ll actually be wearing it.

13. Think about matching your wedding band

Tips for buying a diamond engagement ring - think about matching the wedding band
Tips for buying a diamond engagement ring (Source: FRIDA Fine Jewellery)

If you’re planning to stick with tradition, where the engagement ring is for the proposal, and the wedding band is exchanged at the ceremony, consider how the two rings will look together. Wedding bands are typically much simpler than engagement rings, even if they have some details like engravings or gemstones. An engagement ring is often the star of the show, so keep this contrast in mind as you choose the engagement ring design.

14. Measure the ring size 

Now that you’ve found the perfect diamond and ring design, it’s time to figure out the size! The most accurate way is to use a ring sizer – a tool jewelers have with various-sized rings to find the perfect fit.

Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring - Choose The Right Size
Tips For Buying An Engagement Ring – Choose The Right Size (Source: Brilliant Earth)

If you’re keeping the proposal a surprise, there are a few sneaky ways to guess the ring size. Borrow a ring your partner already wears and trace the inside circle on paper. Another option is to slide it onto one of your own fingers and mark where it stops. While not always foolproof (finger sizes can vary!), a jeweler can use these methods to estimate the right size.

Don’t worry too much if the size isn’t perfect at first! Most rings can be adjusted a little bit, usually up or down by one or two sizes. However, if you need a more considerable size change, it might be trickier depending on the ring’s design. Simple solitaire rings are easy to resize, but rings with tiny diamonds or intricate details along the band (like pavé or bead settings) are more complex and might be more challenging to alter.

15. Ensure it’s certified

Engagement Ring Shopping Tips - Get A Certificate
Engagement Ring Shopping Tips – Get A Certificate (Source: Brilliant Carbon)

Once you’ve found the perfect ring, ensure the diamond has a certificate from a reputable lab like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). Experts warn that some jewelers inflate prices by using lesser-known labs for certification. This can mislead you into thinking you’re getting a high-quality stone when it might actually be lower quality.

16. Make sure the certificate matches the diamond

Tips for buying an engagement ring - check the diamond carefully
Tips for buying an engagement ring – check the diamond carefully (Source: Beldiamond)

Most diamonds have a tiny inscription etched on their girdle – the thin rim between the top (crown) and bottom (pavilion) of the diamond. This inscription acts like a diamond fingerprint. To confirm the inscription matches the certificate, ask the jeweler to examine the girdle with a loupe (a special magnifying glass for gemstones). 

In addition, many diamonds also have tiny internal marks (inclusions). You can also try to see these imperfections yourself through the loupe and compare them to the detailed diagram on the certificate. This is a double-check to ensure the diamond you’re buying is the same one described in the certificate.

17. Check the store’s exchange policy before buying a ring

Engagement ring shopping tips - check the exchange policy
Engagement ring shopping tips – check the exchange policy (Source: The Independent)

Remember, while this is a big step towards marriage, the ring purchase shouldn’t feel like a permanent decision. Life happens, and in the unlikely event your partner isn’t thrilled with the ring, you want to be sure you can exchange it for something they’ll love. After all, you want your future spouse to love both you and the symbol of your commitment!

18. Check insurance policies on the ring

Tips for buying a diamond engagement ring - check insurance policies
Tips for buying a diamond engagement ring – check insurance policies (Source: Brides)

This is for the fiancées who frequently misplace things or have a job requiring them to take the ring off. It’s hard to imagine losing a piece of jewelry that holds so much sentimental value, but inevitably, it can happen. Engagement ring insurance isn’t the most romantic part of the process, but it does provide peace of mind. Use it as one of the safety tips for buying an engagement ring – financial protection covering replacing a lost ring, repairing a damaged one, or reimbursing you for the cost. It’s a smart way to safeguard this special symbol of your love.

19. Give yourself a minimum of six weeks

Engagement ring shopping tips - give yourself at least 6 weeks
Engagement ring shopping tips – plan at least 6 weeks (Source: Investopedia)

Don’t forget to factor in waiting time! Rings can take up to six weeks to arrive, especially for custom designs. If you want to add a special touch with an inscription inside the ring, be sure to mention it when you order. Keep in mind that engraving might add a little extra time to the process, so plan accordingly to make sure your ring arrives before your big moment.

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Choosing the perfect engagement ring for your partner can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By following our tips for buying an engagement ring, you’ll be well on your way to selecting a ring they’ll love. Remember, an engagement ring symbolizes love and commitment, and choosing one that reflects your partner’s style and personality is essential. Viva Wedidng Photography believes you can create the perfect proposal with our suggestions and start your journey together.

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