Ring Buying 101
Your Complete Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring
This is your go-to comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring. From budgeting, to style, to everything in between, read on to learn how to make this intricate process a breeze.
Ring Style Considerations
Determine Overall Style
A great place to start is to think about your overall style (or her style if this is a surprise). Are you into more modern, sleek lines, with a more minimalist look? Or do you prefer a more intricate aesthetic with ornate detailing? Do you lean more toward antique-inspired looks, or something more edgy and alternative, or perhaps even nature-inspired? If you’re unsure, a great place to get inspired is to cruise Pinterest. Let yourself get lost scrolling and looking at options. Trying on rings at local stores can also be helpful, but know that you’ll find even greater variety online, so there’s no need to be limited by your zip code.
If you’re picking out a ring for your partner, she may even have a Pinterest board with some ideas saved to it so you can get a sense of her preferences. If she doesn’t have a Pinterest board, then take note of other jewelry she wears by looking at her collection, or cruising photos of her on social media. You can also talk to her close friends or family who might know her taste well.
Most Common Types of Settings:
Now that you’ve determined your style, you’ll have a better idea of what style of setting to go with. Here are the most common types of settings:
If you prefer more intricate detailing or a vintage-inspired look, then you might love a halo ring. A halo ring features a larger center stone, surrounded by smaller accent stones.
This style features a center stone with a stone on either side of it, creating a trio of stones. Three-stone rings are great if you love a more modern styling with some extra wow factor.
A cluster style ring refers to a grouping of stones which can be in any shapes or sizes. Sometimes cluster rings are similar to a halo, but with larger accent diamonds. We love cluster rings that are more alternative and play with shape and asymmetry.
If you prefer something more sleek and minimalist, then you might prefer a solitaire. A solitaire style is meant to showcase the center stone. It features a single larger stone on a band, which may or may not have some smaller accent stones set into it.
White vs. Colored Stones
Gone are the days when diamonds were the only option. If you know you want a white stone, then that’s wonderful! But white stones aren’t for everyone, and we’re lucky to live in a time with the most amazing colored stone options. Opting for a colored stone can be a great way to stand out and have something truly unique. We recommend sticking with colored diamonds, moissanite, or sapphires, since those are the top 3 most durable gemstones on earth. (Learn more about gemstone durability here.) Those stones are available in so many gorgeous colors, and even in greys in champagnes if you want something with a little color that’s still a goes-with-everything neutral.
The most common stone shapes are round, oval, pear, emerald, radiant, princess, asscher, cushion, and marquise. Not only does each of these cuts have a different overall shape, but each has a unique faceting pattern as well, which means different levels of sparkle. If you’re concerned about the brilliance of a certain shape or cut, Feel free to reach out to Kristin for her expert option.
Choosing a Metal Color:
The most common engagement ring metals are rose, white, and yellow golds, and platinum. Each metal color creates a different overall look. Our advice: consider what metal you wear most often, and also how that metal will look with the setting and stone you choose.
Rose gold is an earthy hue and lends a bohemian, feminine feel to the ring. Stones really contrast against rose gold, making them pop.
White Gold & Platinum
White metals blend in more with white diamonds, creating an allover, sparkling look. They create a sleek, modern look, but can also feel very Art Deco with an antique-inspired design.
Yellow gold feels regal and reminiscent of ancient gilded times, and looks gorgeous with most gemstones.
How to Buy an Engagement ring
Surprising Her vs. Shopping Together
As you read above, there are a lot of style considerations when it comes to picking out the perfect ring. Though there’s certainly some detective work you can do to find a style she’ll love, the most foolproof plan is to get her direct input, or better yet, pick out the ring together. The vast majority of our clients actually ring shop together, so you’re in very good company. Times they are a changin’, and our generation is just doing things differently.
If buying the ring together just isn’t for you, then be sure to pay close attention to her style and get input from her close friends or family. When in doubt, reach out the jeweler directly for their opinion, as they can guide you toward bestsellers based on her overall vibe and taste.
The vast majority of our clients actually ring shop together, so you’re in very good company. Times they are a changin’, and our generation is just doing things differently.
How to Buy an Engagement Ring
Budget & Who Pays for the Ring
Forget the old rules around how much you should spend on an engagement ring and who should pay for it. Don’t worry about those old norms around spending a certain percent of your salary, or only having your partner pay for the ring. (Those “norms” were actually just a marketing ploy by the DeBeers corporation anyways.) Do what feels right for both of you. Want to pay for the ring together? Perfectly okay. Want to save your money for an incredible honeymoon and spend less on the ring? Go for it! Have a big ring budget and want to max it out? Also awesome. Do what’s right for you, and forget what you’ve heard.
There are so many incredible budget-friendly options available now that weren’t available in past decades. Between lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, and other alternative gems, you can have your dream setting in nearly any budget. Just remember that not all rings are created equal – be sure to read reviews and go only with a reputable designer, and not just the company offering the cheapest price or a knockoff of an original design.
How to Buy an Engagement Ring
If you end up falling in love with a ring that’s out of your budget, or if you’d just rather save some cash to use on other things, then financing might be a great option or you. Most reputable online jewelers will offer some type of financing integrated into their website, so you can easily see if you prequalify within minutes with the click of a button. We offer financing via Affirm, but other common financing options are Bread, Klarna, Afterpay, etc. Some even offer interest-free options for the first year, but be sure to read their full terms.
Shopping Online vs. In-Store
Benefits to Ring Shopping Online
Better selection: We're in a time where even the most intimate or high-end items can be found online, and there's a much better selection than you'd find locally. For example, you can’t find colored moissanite, or even lab-grown diamonds in most jewelry stores. Plus, many designers sell online-only and not in any stores.
A more comfortable & personalized experience: Shopping online also allows you the time and space you need to make such a big decision. You won't have the pressure of a salesperson looming over you, so you can weigh the decision without the stress of being put on the spot. Buying online allows you to comfortably shop within your budget, look at thousands of designers online, and even interact directly with the designer of your ring. In contrast, you likely wouldn't have a chance to work directly with the designer when you buy from a larger brick & mortar store. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, it can often be a more intimate experience working directly with a designer online than buying something in-person these days.
A generational shift: Jewelry stores are notoriously closing across the globe as they face a generational shift: older generations only purchased jewelry in stores, but today we’re just not buying in stores at the same rate. Because of that, brick & mortar stores are closing worldwide, whereas online jewelers are thriving due to their vast offerings, competitive prices, and exciting shopping experience. That certainly doesn't mean you have to follow the trend of the jewelry industry, but perhaps it's nice knowing that you're in good company.
Take Your Time
Research & Plan Ahead
Read reviews: We live in a time when shoppers are eager to review all online purchases, rings included. Doing a quick Google search will give you an overall idea of how past clients have enjoyed working with a particular jeweler. Also be sure to check out any "Press" or "Featured In" pages on their website, since that’s a great way to see publications they’ve been featured in.
Check their social sites: Head to the jeweler’s social media to see the ring in action. It’s important to see your ring sparkle in various lighting, and on clients’ hands and not just a model’s hand. This is a great way to see the ring out in the world, and you’ll gather more than you can from just standard product photos on their website. We even offer to-scale printouts of all of our halo styles that you can try on at home! Just contact Kristin.
Plan ahead: Handcrafted rings take time to make, and so can the decision-making process. Start ring shopping well in-advance of your engagement date to make sure that nothing is rushed. This is a ring that will be worn for the rest of your lives, so take your time and get it right!
How to Determine Finger Size
Determining your own or your partner’s finger size is extremely important, since rings can only be safely resized within a certain range. All of our rings are resizable by about 1 full size in either direction. For example, a size 6 ring could safely go up as far as size 7, or down as low as size 5 if needed. But it’s important to get within that safe resizing range, otherwise the ring may need to be completely remade. Visit our Finger Sizing page for full tips and considerations when getting sized yourself, or for trying to discreetly determine your partner’s size. When in doubt, contact the designer directly to get another opinion before ordering.
The Grading Report
The 4C's of Diamond Grading:
The carat is the unit of measurement for a diamond’s weight. The price of a diamond increases exponentially instead of linearly as weight increases. For example, on average a diamond twice the weight will cost about 4 times the price. This drastic price increase has to do with the rarity of larger diamonds.
The clarity of a diamond describes how visible a diamond’s natural inclusions are. Diamonds with fewer inclusions or inclusions that are hard to spot even with a jeweler’s loupe are rarer and therefore more valuable.
The color grade of a diamond refers to how white or colorless the diamond is, vs. how much faint yellow tinge the diamond has. We only sell diamonds which grade in the colorless or near-colorless range, which are the most valuable.
The cut grade of a diamond determines the quality of its symmetry, polish, and overall proportions. The cut is very important in determining how successful the diamond is at reflecting light back up to the eye, and therefore how sparkling it is.
You're Engaged! What's Next?
You did it! Now find that perfect time to pop the question and announce it to your friends and family. In the midst of all this excitement, it can be easy to forget a key step: insuring your cherished and valuable ring. Insurance can often be added as a rider on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Or you can purchase special insurance through a company such as Jeweler’s Mutual.
Care & Cleaning
Caring For Your Ring
It’s hard to think about ever wanting to take off your ring, but you really need to give it the proper maintenance and routine checkups if you want your piece to become an heirloom. We recommend having all settings looked at bi-annually, and having your ring cleaned just as frequently, if not more often. Be sure to read our full Care & Cleaning guide for full recommendations as to when to remove your rings, and how to maintain them in the coming years.
Here to Help You Find the One
We hope this complete guide was helpful, but we realize this is a new arena for most of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you still have questions, as we’re always here to help you find the one!