Choosing an engagement ring is one of the biggest purchasing decisions one will often have to make in a relationship. It’s the symbol of a commitment and marks the beginning of the rest of your lives together. For such a monumental occasion, nothing less than perfect will do!
However, when it comes down to weighing the options, figuring out how to pick an engagement ring can be a complex task. There are so many different things to consider – from practicalities like your budget to understanding lab diamonds vs. real diamonds, to assessing all options for setting style.
We’re here to guide you through the steps of choosing an engagement ring, with helpful tips for every part from research to buying. There is a perfect ring out there for everyone. With the right research and planning, you are sure to find something that is beautiful, expressive, and uniquely you.
Research the Perfect Engagement Ring
First things first: start by researching the ring style you want. There is an extensive number of places to look online and on the high street, and these can be great resources whether you’re the one doing the shopping, or you’re perusing to find your ideal engagement ring style to hint to your partner. However, it can be helpful to start more close to home.
Begin by looking at your friends, family, and acquaintances. Can you think of any jewelry that you have always admired – perhaps the engagement ring of a friend or family member? Ask them how they found their perfect ring.
In the age of social media, you can also look for examples of engagement rings on Instagram and Pinterest. These are perfect platforms to peruse to compare styles - from vintage engagement rings to those from a custom jewelry designer. Don’t worry too much about the price tag just yet. Also, don’t worry if you can’t find the original jeweler mentioned on social media. This is just the first stage of your search when buying an engagement ring.
In this search, focus in on the rings you like best. Ask yourself why you like particular styles in order to pinpoint the design, style of diamond and other qualities that you value.
Once you know which styles you like – and why – you’ll have a strong direction to guide you where to look for diamond engagement rings.
Determine Where to Get Your Engagement Ring
Following the research phase, it’s time to think about where you will shop for your engagement ring. In addition to the well-known sources for diamond shopping, there are a number of slightly more unconventional sources as well. Depending on what you’re looking for, these can be the perfect resource for everything from classic rings to something more unique like a custom engagement ring.
Heirlooms. Some people don’t buy engagement rings at all. Instead, many families have a tradition of passing down a special engagement ring through the generations. This can be a really meaningful choice. However, some heirloom jewelry may be in poor condition or have an old-fashioned style, so it’s important to consider the style with this lens.
Second-hand. If you want to save considerable money, then second-hand engagement rings are an option. You can find some lovely pieces and vintage rings if you know where to look… but be prepared to spend a lot of time looking. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with a second-hand ring since it has been owned by someone else before. Many people prefer to tell their own love story by starting fresh with a new engagement ring.
Famous jewelers. Everybody knows the names of the famous diamond suppliers. And they are rightfully famous for the quality of their stones. However, be aware that you’ll pay a hefty price to see “Cartier” or “Tiffany & Co.” written on that little velvet box.
Expert suppliers. Modern couples are often turning to expert jewelers for their perfect diamond engagement ring. You can find more affordable, ethically produced engagement rings, with flawless gemstones and contemporary design. Many of these suppliers work online – saving you price mark-ups that come with a high street jewelry store.
When you are deciding where to shop, think about your values as well as your wallet. Many people have started to question the environmental and economic impact of traditional diamonds. If that’s important to you, then look for ethical suppliers or diamond alternatives.
Find an Engagement Ring that Matches Your Lifestyle
When choosing an engagement ring, it’s easy to get lost in the multitude of decisions about gemstones, color, carat, and value. Through all of this, keep in mind that this is a ring you will most likely wear every day for the rest of your life. It should be comfortable and needs to fit well with your lifestyle. For example, if you have a very active or hands-on job, then a fragile, delicate ring setting will be at risk of getting damaged. Or if you work in an office, make sure that you choose a ring that allows you to type comfortably. Also, think about your environment: will you be able to protect and clean your ring regularly, or do you need a ring made from a non-tarnishing metal, such as gold?
Do some research into the metals and stones that you like as well. From platinum to rose gold to yellow gold, different metal options have distinct qualities related to durability. Similarly, some gemstones are surprisingly softer than others, which can make them vulnerable to discoloration and contamination. Choose an engagement ring that not only fits your personal style but also your lifestyle and you’ll have a piece that will last forever.
Choose an Engagement Ring that Fits Your Budget
There are some traditional rules of thumb that have served as guidelines for what to spend when buying an engagement ring. In the past, many people have abided by an engagement ring price rule that the diamond should cost at least three months’ salary. However, this stereotypical mindset has changed along with the transforming diamond market. There is an incredible variety of alternative diamond options today, which include a range of prices as well. From unusual gemstones to high-quality diamond alternatives, there are options to fit your style and your budget.
Couples should no longer feel the pressure to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an engagement ring. Finding a ring that you love is much more important than the price tag, and now is also much closer in the range of possibility.
Consider Ethical and Environmentally-Friendly Engagement Rings
Modern couples aren’t only concerned with saving money. They also care about the environment and the terrible treatment of workers in gem and precious metal mines.
One of the beautiful advancements the 21st century has brought is the transformation of the diamond industry. Today it is possible to find an eco-friendly and ethical diamond engagement ring, without having to compromise on price or quality. In fact, modern, lab grown diamonds have made huge progress in the last few decades. The finest diamond simulants, such as the Nexus Diamond™ alternatives surpass many qualities of natural diamonds:
- Color - D-color, completely colorless
- Clarity - IF rating, internally flawless
- Cut - Ideal Cut, best possible cut for maximum fire and brilliance
- Hardness - Rank over 9 on the Mohs hardness scale
It is also possible to find ethically mined gold and silver. Ask your jeweler where they source their metal from when shopping for engagement rings.
Pick a Flawless Gemstone for Your Engagement Ring
The gemstone of your engagement ring is usually considered its most important element. The most stunning gemstones are cut so that they shine brilliantly and attract the eye. You can choose from a wealth of different shapes, settings, colors, and gemstone textures.
Of course, diamonds are the traditional choice for engagement rings. However, there are some environmental, ethical, and financial concerns about traditionally mined diamonds. Today there is a plethora of diamond alternatives available that are not only high quality and beautiful, but also eco-friendly and affordable.
When considering lab grown diamonds and diamond alternatives, it’s important to do research because the quality of different options can vary greatly. For example, there is a significant ldifference between cubic zirconia and lab created diamonds. Cubic zirconia is a popular choice, but its chemical makeup causes it to be very fragile and discolor easily. The highest quality diamond simulants are certified by the American International Gemologists (AIG). For example, Nexus Diamond alternatives have the highest ratings from the AIG and simulate the look, feel and wear of a perfect mined diamond.
Choose the Perfect Metal for Your Engagement Ring
The gemstone is the centerpiece – but don’t forget about the metal setting of your engagement ring. Traditionally, the most precious metals are used for engagement rings, including gold, rose gold, white or yellow gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. Today, there are a number of particular metal options that are popular in engagement ring trends. Whether interested in trends or a more timeless style, the right metal to pick will be based on your fiancée’s unique style and preference.
Ask your jeweler whether they ever hollow out their metal rings. Some unscrupulous producers do this in order to cut costs – but it results in a weaker, less precious engagement ring. For a ring which will really last the test of time, look for gold which is 14 karat or above.
If ethics and the environment are important to you, then it’s also advised to ask your jeweler where their metals come from. More and more jewelers offer precious metals with environmental credentials. For example, Diamond Nexus uses eco-certified gold from Canada and Australia.
Size Your Engagement Ring
Many people don’t realize this, but engagement rings come in an incredible range of sizes. Just like Cinderella’s glass slipper, there is an engagement ring out there which will suit your hand perfectly.
Ring sizes range from 4 to 10, going up in 0.25 increments, meaning there are 25 different band sizes to choose from. To determine your ring size, you can visit a store in person or try an online tool. Even if you think you already know your size from previously owned jewelry, it is still important to determine your official size for the engagement ring. The design of the ring and thickness of the metal used can affect sizing, and engagement rings are especially unique because you want them to fit a bit more snug so as to avoid any slipping.
You should always check the final fit of the ring, and don’t be afraid to ask for resizing if necessary. Many jewelers offer free re-sizing after purchase, or it’s possible to find a local jeweler that has re-sizing services.
Shopping for Engagement Rings: Together or Alone?
Making sure that you know your ring size before shopping will help make the entire process easier. This is especially true if one partner goes shopping for engagement rings alone.
Whether you decide to shop as a couple or alone is a purely personal choice. Some people prefer to be a part of the conversation when choosing an engagement ring, while others are happy to be surprised.
Being surprised with a proposal can be a truly magical moment. If you are planning a surprise for your partner, then planning is the keyword. Make sure that you have talked about any specific preferences, budget limits, or needs for your perfect engagement ring. Then you can be sure that the big moment will be a wonderful one.
Find the Perfect Engagement Ring to Show Your Love
There is a reason that people have worn engagement rings for thousands of years - they are full of meaning, a symbol reinforcing your love in a never-ending circle. By bringing all of these steps and elements together, you will be equipped to choose an engagement ring that is the perfect expression of your love for each other.
If you put time and effort into buying an engagement ring, you can’t go wrong. Do your research, choose an ideal metal and gemstone, plan your budget, and think about your environmental and ethical values. The perfect ring is out there waiting for you – and when you find it, you’ll know it’s the right one.
*Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab grown stone that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a mined diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining on our blog.