Buying an engagement ring is the ultimate romantic act — but there are a lot of practical considerations that go along with it. Whether you’re a by-the-books pragmatist or a die-hard romantic, an engagement ring purchase will take you out of your comfort zone.
The engagement ring purchase intertwines pure emotion with plain ol’ practicality. You’re choosing a symbol of love and commitment for the woman who has transformed your life. But you’re also spending a lot of money on an object that you don’t understand, and it has to last forever.
Engagement ring shopping is exciting! You’ve finally found the one, and now you’re on the hunt for the perfect ring to pop the question with. While engagement ring shopping is a lot of fun, it can also be a little confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. To help you get educated before you say “I do” to a ring, here’s our list of things to know before buying an engagement ring. Check out our store at Temple&Grace for our excellent selection of engagement rings!
Engagement Ring Buying Guide
Choosing to spend forever with someone is probably the easiest decision in the world, but finding the perfect engagement ring that expresses your love and complements their style might be another story. Between the nerves and making your proposal a wonderful surprise, you might be feeling a little lost when it comes to choosing a ring. We’re here to walk you through the process step by step so you can buy an engagement ring that is just as dazzling as they are.
Set Your Budget
There are endless engagement ring options out there, and a sure way to quickly narrow down your search from the start is to set a budget and stick to it. Factors such as gemstone type, metal, gemstone size, and custom features will affect the price of the ring. As you make your budget, decide whether you plan on paying for the ring in full, or if the retailer offers a payment plan or a store credit card that would allow you to pay it off over time. In addition to the ring’s cost, make sure you take the warranty and insurance into account.
Before you begin perusing designs online or head to the jewellery store, you need to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a ring. Typing “How much should I spend on an engagement ring?” entering your browser’s search bar will yield arbitrary rules such as spending the equivalent of one to three month’s salary—so don’t do that. In reality, the “right” amount to spend on a ring is whatever you feel comfortable with. While you may be tempted to go overboard, your betrothed-to-be surely wouldn’t want to begin your life together under a pile of credit card debt.
Find an Engagement Ring Style
The right ring is an extension of your loved one’s style and is both a symbol of love and individuality. Figuring out the perfect engagement ring style is as simple as paying attention. Notice the jewellery they already wear and the way they dress — is their taste classic or eclectic? Are they an old soul who loves antiques, or are they drawn to ornate accessories? All these things can help you pick a ring that complements their style.
Throughout this entire shopping process, keep one thing in mind: Your partner will most likely wear this ring forever. (No pressure.) Therefore, you need to make sure you keep your significant other’s taste in mind. You might prefer yellow gold or may have read that colourful diamonds are trendy, but neither of these matter if your love’s heart is set on a white gold vintage art deco ring. If you haven’t been blessed with a trail of ring breadcrumbs to follow, try asking one of your partner’s close friends—one you can trust not to spill the beans—for a second opinion.
Your Metal Options
All that glitters is not yellow gold: When choosing the metal for your beloved’s band, you have a bevy of options. Yellow gold may be the most traditional, but many consider white gold to be more versatile; since white gold is mixed with an alloy such as nickel to give it its signature colour, white gold is also stronger than yellow gold, which makes it more durable and less prone to scratching. Stronger than both, however, is rose gold. The trendier rose gold, which gets its pinkish hue from copper mixed with the gold, maybe the right choice if your love is fashion-forward. If you have room in your budget—and if your partner prefers a silvery-white colour—then you may want to consider a platinum band. Platinum is harder still and hypoallergenic, although it needs frequent polishing to maintain its sheen.
Pick the Perfect Stone
The precious stone is the focal point of an engagement ring. While diamonds are classic and stunning, they are not the only option when it comes to an elegant and affordable engagement ring. Coloured diamonds and other precious stones like emeralds, rubies, and sapphires have become increasingly popular stones for engagement rings. It’s also important to factor in price. For example, if you are looking for a larger stone on a smaller budget, you might consider gemstones such as Moissanite and White Sapphire, which offer the same sparkle as a diamond for a fraction of the price. A general rule for finding a beautiful precious stone is to abide by the four C’s, which set the standard for quality.
Choose a Stunning Ring Setting
An engagement ring’s setting determines the overall ring’s style and keeps the gemstones secure and in place. Start by exploring popular metals like silver, platinum, yellow gold, and rose gold. Then, decide on the details that will make the ring special — such as accent stones set into the band, filigree details, or engravings.
Determine Ring Size
This is the trickiest part of engagement ring shopping — finding the perfect fit. If you’re trying to keep your proposal a complete surprise, getting the ring size right might be hard to do. While it’s most accurate to have a ring professionally sized
Things to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring
Settings and Diamonds are Often Sold Separately
Let’s start with something many people don’t know: settings and centre stones are often sold separately. So when you shop for an engagement ring, you’re often shopping for two things, your centre stone (usually a white diamond) and your setting (the metal framework that holds your centre stone).
Some rings do come preset with a centre stone. For example, pretty much all antique engagement rings will come fully complete, and many modern jewellers make preset rings. However, it’s more common today for jewellers to separately sell settings and centre stones, so be aware of this when you’re shopping.
Know the 4Cs
If like most people, you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, you’ll want to understand the 4Cs before you buy your diamond. The 4Cs are quality gradings given to a diamond. Here’s a brief overview of the 4Cs:
- Cut: A grading of how well a diamond is cut, which affects how it captures light.
- Colour: A measurement of how colourless a white diamond is.
- Clarity: A grading of how flawless a diamond is, both internally and externally.
- Carat: A weight measurement that can give you an idea of how large a diamond is.
Jewellery Experts Say to Prioritize Diamond Cut
Though each of the 4Cs is important, jewellery experts usually recommend prioritizing cutting when evaluating a diamond. Wondering why? If a diamond has a poor quality cut, it won’t reflect light well, which will make it look dull and dim.
Shape and Settings Set Style
The two things that have the largest impact on your engagement ring style are your centre stone’s shape and your setting style. Shape refers to your diamond centre stone shape (like round, oval, princess, emerald, etc.) and each shape has a different style. Your engagement ring’s setting will also impact its style. Settings can be classic, vintage-inspired, modern, unique, and so much more.
Order in Advance
Unless you’re buying a preset engagement ring, your jeweller will need some time to place your desired diamond in your engagement ring’s setting. Additionally, some engagement rings are made only after your order, which can take a bit of time. So, to make sure you have your engagement ring by the date you want to propose, order your ring well in advance. A good rule of thumb is to order 6 weeks in advance, which gives you plenty of breathing room, but consult with your jeweller on the exact time it may take for your ring to be completed.
There’s No “Right” Amount to Spend
You may have heard that there’s a certain dollar amount you need to spend on your engagement ring. Commonly, people say that you should spend the equivalent of 3 months salary on an engagement ring. However, there’s no “right” amount you need to spend on an engagement ring. You should only spend what you’re comfortable with. Your budget is a personal decision, so think about your unique financial circumstances instead of following old fashioned “rules.” Then, feel free to spend as little or as much as you want on your engagement ring.
You Can Always Upgrade Later
If you can’t get that large, flashy ring you want when you get engaged, remember that you can always upgrade down the line. It’s very common to upgrade engagement rings for anniversaries or birthdays so, if your dream ring isn’t in your budget right now, know that you can always upgrade your diamond or setting later.
Know Your Precious Metals
Engagement ring settings come in many different precious metals. And, often, the same setting style can be made in different precious metals. The most popular precious metals for engagement rings are platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. Your choice of precious metal will affect your ring’s style and how much upkeep it may need.
Warranties are Not the Same Thing as Jewelry Insurance
People commonly mistake warranties for jewellery insurance, when these things are quite different. Generally, warranties like our Peace of Mind extended maintenance plan, protect you from manufacturing defects and everyday wear and tear on your ring to make sure your jewellery always looks showcase new. In contrast, jewellery insurance can protect you from things like accidental theft, or loss.
You Can Go Custom
If you can’t seem to find your dream engagement ring, you can always have a custom engagement ring created. Creating a custom ring is easier and more affordable than you might think. And it’s well worth the extra time it may take to have something custom designed and created. At the end of the process, you’ll have a ring that will be unlike any other, just like your love as a couple.
Diamonds Aren’t Always A Girl’s Best Friend
Diamonds have become synonymous with engagement rings, but they aren’t the only option. Other precious stones—like emeralds, rubies, or sapphires—can be a budget-saving alternative if you’re strapped for cash, and some people prefer a more colourful gem even if money is no object.
The Right Setting Can Make All The Difference
A ring’s setting is the way the stone is connected to the band, and the list of different types goes on and on. But here’s a pro tip: Knowing the names of these settings (prong, bezel, tension, channel, pavé, etc.) isn’t as important as knowing the look and design style you and your fiancé-to-be are after. Do you want one large stone to be the focal point, or do you prefer a cluster or row of smaller stones? The right setting can make the diamond or diamonds appear larger, sparklier, or more striking, so think about the ring as a whole—rather than just the diamond’s value—when making a decision.
Sales Tax Can Affect The Price
Unless you’re shopping in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, you’re going to be charged sales tax—and on a big-ticket item like an engagement ring, it won’t be a small amount (you’re looking at hundreds or thousands of dollars). To avoid sales tax, you could consider purchasing online: Internet retailers that don’t have a brick and mortar location in your state do not need to charge sales tax. However, you may be charged a similar use tax by your state, so this loophole isn’t guaranteed.
How To Ensure The Ring
So you’ve decided on the perfect engagement ring—now get that baby insured! To say it would be a bummer to have the ring lost or stolen would be a gross understatement, so make sure you’re covered. The easiest way to do this is to call your insurance agent about adding the ring to your homeowners or renters insurance as a floater. This will likely increase the cost of your plan a smidge, but the peace of mind will be more than worth it. (And if you don’t have homeowners or renters insurance, get on that pronto!) If you and your betrothed don’t live together, make sure you add the ring to the ring-wearer’s policy.
Buying an engagement ring is a considerable investment and one that will last. You wouldn’t buy a car without a warranty or insurance — and you shouldn’t buy an engagement ring without protection either.
Especially with something so small and valuable, you must consider possible loss, such as theft, damage or strange disappearance (bathroom sinks are well known for devouring beloved diamond rings). Insist on buying a ring from a jeweller that offers a warranty, and wrap the cost of insurance into your budget.
When looking online, be cautious
You probably buy so many things online at this point, why not buy an engagement ring? But, often, when you buy an engagement ring how it looks in person is what sells you. Be sure to research the validity of websites beforehand and make sure that they’re reputable, and you might want to look into speaking with a diamond expert as well to get a second opinion about a ring that you find on a website.
Ignore the rules
When it comes to engagements and weddings in general, you may feel as though you have to follow a certain set of societal rules. You don’t. If you want to buy another ring instead of a diamond, go for it. If you’d like to spend $500 on it, go for it. If you’d like to spend $50,000, go for it. It’s all about finding a ring that perfectly fits your relationship. The “rules” mean nothing, do what’s best for you.
When buying an engagement ring, remember that it’s all about you and your significant other. Getting engaged is an extremely exciting part of life, and buying a ring should add to the excitement. Keep your budget, your partner’s lifestyle, and knowledge of the diamond market at the forefront. As long as you do your research on your favourite ring, then you’ll surely find a piece of jewellery that’ll stand the test of time.