Engagement Ring Shopping Etiquette

Written by: Benjamin Khordipour, Jewelry and Gemology Expert
November 8, 2022 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Proposing to the love of your life is an incredible milestone the two of you will remember forever. Picking out the perfect engagement ring to represent this important moment is paramount. However, the process of finding and purchasing the right engagement ring can be daunting. To help you get started, we’ve created this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about engagement ring shopping etiquette.

Basic Engagement Ring Shopping Etiquette

Customer Trying on Vintage Engagement Ring on Finger

Engagement ring shopping might make you ask a lot of questions. Should I shop online or in person? How much should the ring cost? Who pays for it? We’ll answer all of these questions and more so that you can purchase a stunning ring with confidence.

Here’s a short rundown of the basic engagement ring shopping etiquette:

  • Know your budget in advance – Narrow down your search and prevent overspending by determining your budget first.
  • Communicate with your significant other – Every couple is different, so decide whether your significant other will appreciate a surprise or a joint decision more.
  • Don’t go in blind – Engagement rings are more varied than you would think, so it helps to have an idea of what you’re looking for.
  • Always be respectful – This is an important purchase, so ensure a positive experience by always remaining respectful.
  • Don’t procrastinate–When you find the right piece, reserve it immediately. Don’t keep jewelers guessing, or the ring may get sold to someone else.

Top 10 Engagement Ring Shopping Rules

Let’s go into some more detail about the top ten rules that will help you purchase the right engagement ring.

1. Determine Your Budget

Diamond Engagement Ring Customer from Estate Diamond Jewelry Showroom

You might have heard the rule that an engagement ring should cost two months of your salary. Although companies have tried to perpetuate such rigid rules in the past, the matter is not that simple.

In fact, there’s no one correct answer to the question of how much you should spend on an engagement ring. While this piece of jewelry may be important, it’s not worth it to go into debt for it. Everyone should come up with a budget that fits not only their salary but also their lifestyle and preferences. To get a ballpark of how much you can afford, you can check out our online engagement ring calculator.

With a set budget, it will be easier to narrow down your search and stay focused on what you can afford.

2. Decide Who Will Pay

Couple shopping for an engagement Ring

Many people think that the question of who pays for the engagement ring is a no-brainer. While generally, the responsibility falls on the person who proposes, rules are no longer as rigid in this topic.

Although surprises will never go out of style, modern couples are making joint decisions more and more often. It’s very common for both parties to be present when choosing the engagement ring. Naturally, this helps ensure your loved one will actually like the ring they will wear for the rest of their life. Today, it’s also common for the couple to shoulder the ring’s price together.

It’s important that you and your loved one are on the same page about this matter. Think about their preferences and work out a solution accordingly. You can also ask their friends to find out if they have mentioned something about this topic.

3. Educate Yourself in Advance

Couple researching engagement ring prices online

There’s a lot more to jewelry than meets the eye. To purchase a piece that not only looks nice but is also unique and valuable, you’ll need some background knowledge.

Anyone looking to spend thousands of dollars on a ring should educate themselves about the basics in advance. This will help you communicate with the jeweler more efficiently and find something your partner will love. In addition, it’ll also ensure that you know you’re getting your money’s worth. It shouldn’t be the store where you first hear about basic diamond features, like carat size, clarity, cut, and color (the 4Cs).

Pick up a guide, and you’ll get a much better gist of what the jeweler is talking about when they present you with a ring.

4. Narrow Down Your Search

Tray of Diamond Engagement Rings in Showroom

The next rule for successful engagement ring shopping is narrowing down your search. If you’re looking to surprise your loved one with this ring, you’ll need to learn about their preferences to make the right call.

Firstly, you should know that diamonds are not the only option. Although they are the most popular choice for engagement rings, unique, colored gems are in style. Sapphires, rubies, and topaz are also sound choices that will last. Secondly, you’ll need to pick a precious metal your loved one likes to wear.

Finally, there is also much more to engagement ring styles than just solitaire designs. To narrow down your search, you should learn whether your partner prefers simple and low-profile jewelry or more interesting pieces.

5. Pick Between New and Vintage

K Color Diamond Engagement Ring in EDJ Box

You should know that newly made and antique or vintage jewelry aren’t priced the same. Some vintage pieces may offer a better value than their modern counterpart. On the other hand, rare, one-of-a-kind pieces will always be more expensive.

Antique jewelry is always a worthy investment. It is passed down through generations, and a well-chosen piece can become an heirloom of your family.

One option isn’t better than the other. Some people prefer the look of modern pieces. If your loved one likes to wear trendy designs, an antique piece may not be the right choice. You’ll need to determine which way to go based on their style.

6. Don’t Focus Too Much on Carat Weight

Customer looking at halo diamond engagement ring on finger in showroom

If you’ve educated yourself in advance, you know that carat weight is merely one of the many properties of a beautiful diamond ring. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, but the rest of the features are just as important.

Even if you have an idea of the carat weight you’re looking for, stay open to other options. You might fall in love with an engagement ring that doesn’t boast as much weight but is equally stunning. Some styles and cuts work better with smaller diamonds, too.

7. Always Stay Respectful

customer negotiating price of diamond engagement ring

There are a few etiquette rules to follow throughout the buying process itself. The most important thing to remember is to always stay respectful of the jeweler.

Jewelers will show you a range of engagement rings, some of which you may not like. Even if you see something that isn’t to your liking, never insult the jeweler or the jewelry. They won’t be happy to hear bad things about some of their most prized pieces.

Many people also think they can get a better price for a ring if they talk it down. This is a terrible strategy that will only put you in a bad light in front of the jeweler.

Be aware that purchasing an engagement ring can be a long and tedious process and try not to get frustrated. Remain patient and respectful every step of the way.

8. Never Threaten to Walk Away

Engaged couple buying engagement ring

The next etiquette rule you should follow when interacting with jewelers is never to threaten them. Even if you find their prices a bit high, saying that you will walk away will only put you at a disadvantage.

Many jewelers will simply let you go and wait for a better buyer. Therefore, unless you truly have a plan B, don’t threaten them, or you might just end up having to start your search all over.

9. Know When to Shop

Customer searching for deal when shopping for engagement ring

The next rule has to do with timing. Engagement ring prices fluctuate throughout the year, so choosing the right time to purchase yours can help you save a considerable amount of money. There are two time periods when you can find really good deals: the summer months and the winter holiday season.

Business is usually slow during the summer months, so many sellers offer discounts during this time. If you’re planning on a sunny proposal, this is the perfect time to purchase your ring.

Another opportune time to go engagement ring shopping is during the winter holiday season. Since this is a competitive time period for many jewelry retailers, they might offer discounts to draw more buyers to their stores. It’s worth checking their ads on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Nevertheless, the holiday season is also a popular time to buy engagement rings, and jewelers know this, so there’s no guarantee your ring of choice will behalf off.

10. Reserve the Ring Straight Away

Couple reserving engagement ring

Finally, if you find the right piece, don’t hesitate to act. This is especially important if you have your eye on a vintage or antique piece. If you’ve chosen a modern ring, finding a replacement might be possible. However, engagement rings with a history are truly one-of-a-kind, and you’ll never find the same ring elsewhere.

You never know if another buyer will walk in right after you and snatch the ring you worked so hard to find. Therefore, never leave without reserving the ring if you plan on purchasing it.

Online Engagement Ring Shopping Etiquette

Etiquette for shopping online for engagement ring

Buying in person isn’t the only option when it comes to engagement rings. Online stores carry a wonderful selection of vintage and new pieces, and you won’t even have to drive hours to get them. If you’d still like to see the ring in person before making your decision, many sellers allow you to schedule a visit to their showroom.

Browsing online makes it easier to compare rings and prices. Online stores also have lower overhead, which allows them to offer engagement rings at better prices. Many of them also often have coupon codes and discounts you can get by signing up for their newsletter.

Whether you’re shopping online or in person, the same etiquette rules apply. However, when you’re browsing online, you must pay special attention that you only shop from reliable sites. Reputable sellers will upload multiple high-quality images of their rings and won’t try to take advantage of you. They will also offer insured shipping and a sound return policy.

Make sure you do your research and read customer reviews to ensure you have no issues purchasing an engagement ring online.

Can You Negotiate on an Engagement Ring?

Benjamin in Showroom with Customers and vintage jewelry

We mentioned that trying to get a better price by threatening to leave is a poor strategy. Does that mean negotiating is out of the question? The answer is no. As long as you do it respectfully, you can negotiate the price of an engagement ring with many sellers.

Commercial chain stores and brand-name places may shoot down your negotiating attempts. However, smaller boutique jewelry stores and online sellers, like Estate Diamond Jewelry, are open to negotiating. You can expect to haggle 8-10% off your chosen piece. However, you must do it right, or your attempt may completely backfire.

The key is finding the right starting price, which shouldn’t be lower than 20 percent off the original price tag. Offering an extremely low starting price will create a poor impression, and you might get rejected right away. Jewelers usually don’t have a huge profit margin on their jewelry, so selling pieces at a considerably lower price is simply not worth it for them.

It’s also important that you don’t switch to a hostile tone or try to devalue the ring by criticizing it. Stay respectful, and the jeweler will be happy to lower the price a little and let you walk away happy.

Do’s and Don’ts of Engagement Ring Shopping

Customer in Showroom looking at Diamond Engagement Ring on Hand

Remember the most important do’s and don’ts of engagement ring shopping:

Do:

  • Learn about your partner’s preferences
  • Know the ring size you need
  • Consult buying guides and books
  • Discuss sensitive topics with your partner
  • Watch out for discounts online

Don’t:

  • Try to get a better price by threatening to walk out
  • Insult jewelry pieces
  • Limit your choices to diamond rings
  • Get caught up in carat size
  • Insist on surprising your significant other

Read Book on Buying an Engagement Ring

Research engagement ring shopping etiquette

If you want to ensure you’re as informed as possible about engagement ring shopping etiquette, you can seek out a detailed guide. Our book “The Engagement Ring Guide for Men” is an all-encompassing resource not only for men but anyone wanting to learn more about engagement rings. Written by Michael Khordipour, Afshin Shaddaie, and Benjamin Khordipour from Estate Diamond Jewelry, this guide covers everything from how to propose to how to take care of a valuable engagement ring. Find out more about the book here.

Talk to an Engagement Ring Expert

Afshin Negotiating prices on vintage ring at estate diamond jewelry showroom

Even with all the resources, engagement ring shopping can be overwhelming. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our expert jewelers, who will be able to guide you through the buying process. Fill out the form below to start your engagement ring-buying journey.