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How to Shop for an Engagement Ring: Purchasing Gems Like A Pro

Perhaps your love story began at first sight, or maybe you simply caught your partner smiling one day and suddenly realized you couldn’t live without them. No matter what inspired you to ask them the question, you know one thing for sure: they deserve a ring as beautiful as their spirit. Coming to that conclusion was the easy part—actually finding and buying an engagement ring? Well, the chances are that it’s proving to be a little more challenging. There are so many choices for the style of stone, whether you choose mined diamonds or simulated lab created diamonds, the type of band, the setting and even the color of metal that pinpointing the perfect ring can take quite some time.

Want to cut through the beautiful, dazzling crowd of options more quickly? Here’s everything you should know (or at least have a good idea of) to learn how to shop for an engagement ring like a pro:

The Stone

You’ll see a lot of information, articles, and tips that cite the “4 Cs” – that’s because this is an excellent set of guidelines for finding the gem of your – or rather, your intended spouse’s – dreams. These are cut, clarity, color, and carat, and refer to the gem’s shape and style, how “eye clean” it is, the overall hue of the stone, and the overall size of the stone. For example, an emerald-cut, D-color 1.74 carat Nexus Diamond™ alternative will be rectangular in shape, with a beautiful colorless appearance and enough size to dazzle the eye. Nexus Diamond alternative stones take a lot of guesswork out of this step of the process, as each white gem selection is always beautifully colorless with no “inclusions” (flaws common to mined diamonds) to ruin the look of the stone.

4Cs of Diamond Quality. Pro Tip: While white or light-colored diamonds are an extremely popular choice for engagement rings, don’t be afraid to play with color. For example, sapphire center stones or flanking stones are a growing trend, thanks to the famous blue engagement ring England’s Prince William presented to his now-wife Duchess Kate Middleton several years ago.

The Setting

In determining how to shop for engagement rings, the types of engagement ring settings are crucial as well. Remember, your betrothed will be wearing this ring every day until the wedding, and potentially even after that if you’re opting for a bridal set. That means that if a ring is too wide, too tall, or catches on hair and clothing, it might not inspire romantic reverie in the way you intend it to. Simply put, a ring should match the aesthetic style of your spouse-to-be, both in style and color. Yellow gold is a common choice for engagement rings, but silver-toned metals like platinum and palladium or unique options like pink-hued rose gold engagement rings can offer alternative looks.

Low set engagement ring and high set engagement ring.

If your intended works with their hands and will opt to wear the ring at work, look into bezel or gypsy-set rings, as these offer the most protection against stone damage, loosening, or loss. Alternately, surprise them with a sturdy precious metal necklace chain at the same time, as this will give them a convenient and secure method of storing the ring when they need to take it off for a task. They’ll simply slip off the ring and necklace, thread the chain through the ring, and wear the ring against their chest until the task (or the shift) has been completed.

Part of finding the right setting will also involve considering the number of stones you’d like in the finished ring. While the solitaire – a single, large gem set in the center of the ring – is classic, styles like channel-set, halo, and pavé designs pair center stone(s) with smaller, complementary stones for added sparkle.

The Plan

This is the step that can get a little bit tricky in the event you’re planning a surprise engagement. If you’ve never discussed ring plans with your intended, you might want to slyly have a conversation about your “friend” or “cousin” that isn’t sure what ring style to purchase. Your partner’s answers will be naturally biased to their own preferences and could give you valuable insight to use in your engagement ring shopping efforts. Engagement rings are usually given at a proposal and typically worn until one’s wedding day, but after that occurs, there are several schools of thought on when and how to wear an engagement ring. Below, some popular options:


  • The “Until the Date” Option: An engagement ring is worn throughout the engagement, and is removed prior to walking down the aisle in preparation for the wedding ring to be placed on the same finger.

  • The “At the Altar” Option: When vows are being exchanged, the wedding ring is placed on the same finger as the existing engagement ring, and they’re simply worn stacked. This option is the most straightforward, but it can lead to potential wearing discomfort if the rings aren’t matched in size and may press or pinch against one another.

  • The “Set” Option: This increasingly-popular method involves buying a specific set of bridal rings, engagement and wedding, made in a design that interlocks or fits together. This might take the shape of bands that fit comfortably flush, or even a split-center wedding ring that frames the center stone(s) of the engagement ring. While it’s a less common approach in contemporary partnerships, some spouses elect to permanently solder these rings together into one piece.

  • The “Special Occasion” Option: Finally, some spouses prefer to tuck their engagement ring away and wear their wedding band every day instead. They will bring out the engagement ring for special occasions like holidays and parties, but prefer something a little more low-key for daily life. In these cases, a wedding band set with a small flush-mounted stone makes this pragmatic choice a stylish one as well.
  • The Customization

    Engagement rings are an extremely special piece of jewelry, one of the very few to commemorate a specific occasion in life. With that in mind, you may wish to consider shopping for unique engagement ring ideas to customize your choice beyond selections in style and stone, such as through engraving. Provided the shank, or band, is wide enough, an engraved message on the inside will remind your partner how much they mean to you, as well as make the ring easy to identify and locate if it’s ever misplaced. Some potential ideas for engraving include:

    Custom engraving on the inside of an engagement ring.

  • The date or location that you first met your loved one.

  • A short, meaningful quote or phrase that exemplifies your love.

  • A partial message that is continued via engraving on the inside of your bridal band.

  • The date of your wedding ceremony.

  • Special “code,” such as Morse code, numeric code, or Bible chapter and verse.

  • A simple “I love you” to remind them how you feel about them.

  • Your initials, or what will be their post-marriage monogram.

    Bear in mind that these engravings could become distorted or need to be re-engraved if the ring ever needs to be sized; you can minimize this possibility by carefully measuring their ring size prior to selecting your style. If pregnancy is part of your future plans together, remember that body changes can cause a ring that once fit to become uncomfortably tight. To keep engraving intact, your spouse may want to wear the ring on a necklace or tuck it away until after your child is born.

    The Accessories

    The ring will undoubtedly take center stage when you pop the question, but the accessories presented with it can be equally thoughtful. Some items you may want to consider include:


  • The Box: For some, it’s integral to “set the mood” when you ask the question in the moment. For your intended, it also represents a safe place to keep and store the ring if they ever need to take it off – say, while washing dishes or working in the yard. Many engagement ring wearers tuck their engagement ring box in their jewelry box to keep their ring safe and separate from the rest of their jewelry when they aren’t wearing it. If it isn’t slated to be worn with a wedding ring or as part of a bridal set, this box also makes it convenient to store the ring long term.

    Luxe black Diamond Nexus engagement ring box.


  • The Insurance Policy: While “insurance” and “romantic” don’t tend to appear in the same sentence very often, giving your intended peace of mind is actually a very loving gesture. Capturing several high-definition photos of the ring and adding it to a mutual insurance policy tells them that you’re already looking out for them, even well before you two walk down the aisle.

  • The Upkeep: Whether it’s a polishing cloth and jewelry cleanser given just after the big question or a commitment to periodic professional cleaning and examination, keeping their ring brilliant and beautiful is easy. A jeweler can also spot and repair potential issues, such as a loose prong, before a stone is dislodged or lost.

    Marrying Substance With Style: Finding The Perfect Engagement Ring

    As you look for the perfect combination of stone, shape, setting, and customizations, remember: it’s not so much figuring out how to shop for an engagement ring, it’s about finding something your partner will love. Your ring isn’t just a gorgeous accessory; it’s a reminder that your love is as enduring as the shine in the heart of your chosen gem, and that you can’t wait to make your beloved your companion for the rest of your life.

    1 “16 Engagement Ring Styles & Settings You Need to Know About NOW.” The Diamond Pro, September 20, 2019, Accessed October 25, 2019.

    2 Weppner, Jaqueline; Mitchell, Elizabeth. “10 Engagement Ring Shopping Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Ring.” Brides, October 3, 2017, Accessed October 25, 2019.

    3 “12 Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring.” GIA (Gemological Institute Of America, Inc.), (no publish date), Accessed October 25, 2019.

    3 “How to Shop for an Engagement Ring – A Buying Guide.” Jewelry Rise, (no publish date), Accessed October 25, 2019.

    *Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about our 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 and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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