- How to Search for an Engagement Ring Online?
- Engagement Ring: Online vs. Store
- Understanding Certifications
- Establishing a Budget
- Overview of the 4C’s
- How to Get a Good Deal
- Comparative Shopping
- Is it Safe to Buy Ring Online?
- How Online Financing and Layaway Programs Work?
- Tips for Buying Engagement Ring Online
Congratulations, the time has come to seek out the perfect ring and ask your significant other to tie the knot. Yes, the excitement and anticipation can overwhelm you, but you need to focus and make the moment bling.
In the old days, you’d hit one jewelry store after another until you found the piece that’s ideal for your beloved’s finger. Today, the search is easier because online offers are hard to rival. However, it’s easy to get lost and confused unless you know exactly what to look for. This article is here to help you make the best choice, so read on.
How to Search for an Engagement Ring Online?
Chances are, the first thing you do is type engagement ring into Google and start exploring the online jewelers that pop up in the list of results. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’ll soon realize you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
To avoid wasting time, you need to zero in on the top jewelers and have a clear understanding of the type of ring you’re looking for. This section focuses on ring selection and the choice of jewelers will be discussed later on.
The Ring Selection
Truth be told, this is the tricky part, as you need to be mindful of your significant other’s style, personal preferences, and taste for jewelry. Would your loved one be enamored by an antique engagement ring? Or maybe an artistic ring to hint at their creativity?
If you find it hard to gauge the exact style, take a look at the jewelry your loved one is already wearing. Feel free to do some detective work and take pictures of her jewelry, then compare them to online offers. This should help you determine the style, diamond cut, etc.
Some brides-to-be, are into solitaires – rings with only one big stone, whilst others love multi-stone rings. Then there are pearl, emerald, round, or square-cut diamonds that work great in combination with white or yellow gold and platinum.
Are You Ready to Splurge a Little?
If money is no object, you shouldn’t think twice about getting a two, three, or even four-carat engagement ring. And don’t get me wrong, these alluring gems aren’t only about their monetary value. They stand out as a beautiful, lasting memento of your love and have the power to transcend generations.
Buying an Engagement Ring at a Store vs Online
Buying an engagement ring at a brick-and-mortar store takes a lot of energy. Okay, you can touch and feel the ring in your hands, but it’s hard to go beyond “This one looks pretty” unless you’re an expert.
Plus, you should know that the search might take days, even weeks. Do you have that much time to spare? And why would you, when all the reputable jewelers showcase their engagement rings online?
By now, it should be obvious that online shopping is the way to go, but it’s not without its challenges. You need to do your homework and get acquainted with certifications, the 4 Cs, and determine your budget. Once you have these covered and know what style to look for, the quest should be a walk in the park.
A diamond certification is a third-party lab document that provides details about the diamond and lists all of its certificates. Without a doubt, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the top authority as they’ve invented the process of scientific gem qualification. Of course, there are other reputable third-party labs in the U.S. and they are:
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
- American Gem Society Laboratories (AGS)
- Universal Gemological Laboratories (UGL)
- GemEx Systems Inc.
- Gemological Science International (GSI)
It’s important to note that there might be minute differences in how each authority describes and grades diamonds. Nevertheless, there’s no reason to question the grading obtained from one of the labs mentioned above.
So far so good. But what do the labs actually test? An experienced professional utilizes an assortment of tools to check the diamond’s clarity, size, width, color, and cut. As diamond grading can be subjective, you should aim for consistency and look for a balance of price and actual quality.
For example, there might be a discrepancy in color grade with GIA and IGI certificates that may affect the price. The latter could grade the color as H, which is nearly colorless. But once the ring is in your hands, you might figure out the diamond has a faint tint which would make it more like an I or J in GIA’s eyes.
This isn’t something you should be alarmed about as long as the certificate comes from a trustworthy source.
How to Establish a Budget
There is an ongoing online debate about how much you should spend on an engagement ring. Some are proponents of the two-months’ salary rule, but this approach is antiquated. There are also future grooms ready to take out a loan just to impress their loved one, but you should be smarter than that.
Think of it like this– do you really want to bring an unnecessary debt into your marriage? The answer is likely to be negative, so you need to assess your financial situation and act accordingly. The rule of thumb is that you should pay as much as you’re comfortable with.
That said, the tradition of a diamond ring is there for a reason. It shows your significant other that you’re ready to sacrifice a little to provide something outstanding. But this doesn’t mean you should use your credit card to extend the budget.
One way or the other, it’s best to plan well in advance and set some money aside so you can stretch the budget if need be. And contrary to what some may tell you, the average price of an engagement ring in the U.S. is around $7,000 and the diamond size is 1.10 carats.
Note: A diamond’s color grading can significantly ramp up the price of the same carat.
What Can You Get for Your Money?
If your budget falls within the average, there’s a great selection of vintage engagement rings with a history that brings a special charm. Those who can stretch the budget to $11,000 have quite a few solitaries and multi-stone options at their disposal.
And once you’re in the $11,000 to $15,000 realm, you can get a gem of better color and clarity. But the truly impressive 1.10-carat gems start at around $20,000. Of course, if you’re comfortable with paying more than $20,000 you’re limited only by your imagination.
To help you determine the right price bracket, Estate Diamond Jewelry created an easy-to-use Engagement Ring Budget Calculator. This simple online form factors in your income, lifestyle, as well as existing debt to determine the optimal price.
Using the calculator is the fastest and simplest way to get a ballpark budget, though it’s not like the number is set in stone. Estate Diamond Jewelry uses more than 30 years of experience in the industry to establish the important parameters and the calculator doesn’t abuse your personal information in any way.
Overview of the 4Cs
The 4 Cs stand for Carat, Color, Clarity, and Cut. These are the visual attributes of a diamond used to gauge quality and size. The scale is standardized, but, as said, different labs may provide different grading for the same diamond.
Therefore, you should know what to look for to get the most bling for your buck. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll need to make certain compromises and understanding the 4 Cs helps you figure out where to make the compromise. Here are the important aspects.
This is the most visual of all the Cs as the carat indicates the diamond’s weight as well as size. For example, a 1.00-carat diamond weighs 0.20g. The diamond’s length and width are shown in millimeters, usually ranging between 4X4mm and 11x11mm.
Needless to say, the price increases with carat weight. In all, there are twelve standard critical weights – 0.30ct, 0.40ct, 0.50ct, and so on. As a rule, jewelers go the extra mile to ensure a diamond is at or above the critical weight.
Expert Tip: Consider carat separate from the other Cs when choosing a ring. More often than not, increasing the carat means you’d need to compromise the cut, color, or clarity.
The aim of the cut is to make the diamond fire and sparkle and accentuate its brilliance and beauty. There are four cut categories – Fair/Poor, Good, Very Good, and Excellent. It’s advisable to steer clear from the Fair/Poor category since these aren’t aesthetically appealing.
On the other side of the spectrum, Excellent-cut diamonds are the cream of the crop. They accentuate the brilliance and sparkle of the gemstone with minimal light leakage. But the prices can go through the roof since only 3% of cut diamonds fall into this category.
For the most part, you should be just fine with a Good or Very Good diamond as these have decent reflective properties. In fact, there’s very little light leakage with Very Good diamonds and these are usually in the top 15% of all cut gemstones.
By nature, diamonds come with minute shades of yellowish-brown tint. The more color the less reflection, which makes the diamond less aesthetically appealing and sparkly. To help matters, GIA introduced alphabetical grading from D to Z to categorize different levels of tint.
For example, D, E, and, F signal that the diamond is colorless. Letters M and Z indicate that there’s a noticeable color in the gemstone and these are much less expensive. But there are tips and tricks to choose a nice M-color diamond and you get more leeway in terms of size, cut, and the ring’s metal type.
As high pressure and temperature weigh down on the rocks deep beneath Earth’s crust, diamond crystals come to life. This peculiar budding process leaves scars on the gemstones and makes each one unique. The scars or imperfections are better known as inclusions which constitute the diamond’s clarity.
Again, there’s a scale that grades the diamonds’ clarity and ranges from FL to I3. The FL rating signals that the diamond is flawless and there are imperfections visible to the naked eye with I3 diamonds. Be that as it may, an SI-quality diamond (SI1 or SI2) should be a good choice without compromising other characteristics.
The SI diamonds have minimal inclusions that might be visible to the naked eye. However, these are still beautiful and much less expensive than VVS gemstones, for example.
Expert Tips on How to Get the Best Deal
At this point, you should have a clear understanding of the ring style, diamond properties, and your budget. To let you in on a secret, there are other tried and tested methods to get the most bang for your buck. Here’s a quick overview of the top tips.
Steer Clear from Local Stores and Jewelry Chains
Both jewelry chains and local stores have high overheads. They need displays, expert salespeople, attractive storefronts, etc. All of which adds to the list price of an engagement ring. There might be some discounts, but you’ll still be able to find more budget-friendly options online.
Some online websites may also have a physical location (which is fine), but just make sure that their physical location is in an office-style showroom instead of a store-level boutique.
Wait for the Right Moment
Proposing on Valentine’s Day is romantic, but it’s also one of the most popular dates to pop the question and retailers know it. In addition, your chances of finding a bargain during the holiday season are slim to none. The trick is to shop during the summer because that’s usually when sales are slow and when you might even be able to negotiate the price.
Don’t Overlook the Cut
Most experts believe that the cut is the most important C because it defines a diamond’s sparkle. Aim for a Good or Very Good cut and consider making compromises in the prong settings and precious metal. For example, white gold can look as attractive as platinum but it’s much cheaper.
Extra Tip: Utilize the 4 Cs section from this article to determine the balance of cut, color, clarity, and carat that fits the bill. This will help you narrow down the search and gain a better grasp of the budget limits.
How to Comparative Shop with Multiple Rings
When shopping online, you might get lost in a bunch of tabs that feature all the rings you like and can afford. After a while, your mind and eyes are bound to get strained and you’ll feel as if back to square one.
To avoid this, first you need to limit your options to, let’s say, three rings per online store. Don’t hesitate to X the ones that are too expensive or seem like too much of a compromise. This should leave you with only a handful of options to choose from and there’s a way to automate the search.
Estate Diamond Jewelry created the Engagement Ring Wish List extension for Chrome. This tiny piece of software is free and it’s the fastest way to shortlist the rings you like. Install the extension, and choose “Add to Wishlist” option when browsing the Estate Diamond Jewelry store. And voila, you get to preview all your favorites in a single window.
Is it Safe to Buy an Engagement Ring Online?
The quick answer is yes, it’s perfectly safe to buy an engagement ring online. And there are a few tell-tale signs you should look for to discern a gem from a shiny stone, so to speak.
First of all, renowned jewelers are mindful of their reputation and each ring and diamond has a gemologist’s certificate. If there’s no mention of the certificate on the website, contact the jeweler and ask about it. Unless the store provides a certificate for each ring, you need to look elsewhere.
Top jewelers also secure shipments, regardless of the carrier you choose (or they use). The package needs to be insured, delivered in-person, and signed upon delivery. You also get the package tracking number to keep tabs on the shipment. Again, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the jeweler and make sure all of these are in place.
Website UI and Responsiveness
All reputable jewelers take great care of their website. After all, their aim is to keep you glued to their offer and make the selection easy. This means a good website helps you quickly narrow down the search. It offers a detailed description and certificate for each ring, plus there are guidelines on how to make the best choice for your specific style or budget.
Tip: Best jewelers’ websites are optimized for desktop and mobile browsers.
How Online Financing and Layaway Programs Work?
Online financing allows you to split the payment into monthly installments. And there are different portals and apps that provide this service for a small fee. Estate Diamond Jewelry uses Splitit since it’s one of the safest options, plus it provides great benefits for the shoppers.
For example, Splitit doesn’t do a credit card check, you get credit card benefits and instant approval. Layaway programs can be a bit different. It works great if you have your eyes set on a particular ring but can’t afford it right away. The store allows you to place a deposit and reserve the ring, then you pick it up when you’re in the position to pay the full balance.
With this in mind, some stores offer a layaway installment program. You pay the agreed amount every month and you can take the ring home after the final installment. Estate Diamond Jewelry has such a layaway program, where you’re required to place a 10% deposit, then pay the rest in equal monthly installments.
Important Note: Each Estate Diamond Jewelry engagement ring, layaway or no layaway, is covered by the company’s return policy.
Overall Tips for Buying Engagement Ring Online
Rather than focusing on the ring itself, this section points desirable characteristics of the online store. These include, but aren’t limited to, customer service, return policy, insured shipping, customer reviews, and shopping guides.
Buying an engagement ring can be a hefty investment and you might have doubts if your significant other will like it, even if the ring looks perfect to you. Customer service is there to help you make the best choice for your budget and ease your doubts.
A good online jeweler should offer different ways to contact customer service. On-site chat pop-ups are popular, but chatting with a bot doesn’t usually get you very far. The company should provide options to reach out to customer service via phone or email and it’s great if you get 24-hour access to the service.
Tip: You can also get in touch with the online jeweler via their Facebook page. The page will also tell you if the company is responsive or not.
Look for a jeweler that offers a 14- or 30-day return policy and you should be able to get a full refund. Given the nature of the product and the occasion, you shouldn’t have to provide any explanations for the return.
Trick: If you’re using layaway or other financing options, make sure that the return policy applies.
As said, insured shipping is an absolute must. After all, the jeweler is sending you a 10K or 20K item and the shipment’s integrity is of the utmost importance. What’s more, all the shipping and insurance fees shouldn’t come at an additional cost.
A bunch of positive reviews gives you peace of mind, but you should take the reviews with a pinch of salt. Some online jewelers may employ skilled copywriters and fabricate the reviews. Even Yelp, which has really high standards, can be faked.
If you want to get the real picture, go to the jeweler’s Facebook page and check the follower’s comments and questions. This should give you a better idea of how popular and trustworthy they are.
Top online jewelers offer everything in one place. From an outstanding selection of rings to blog posts, you should be able to find everything on the website.
As for the shopping guide, it should provide information about ring and diamond selection, budgeting, engagement etiquette, and more. For example, the Estate Diamond Jewelry blog should be able to answer all your questions and provide guidance to make your engagement shine.
Diamonds Are Forever
If you overlook the butterflies in your stomach, buying an engagement ring online is an exciting experience, with all the enchanting styles, cuts, and colors on offer.
But at the end of the day, the important thing is to find the balance between bling and cha-ching. You might need to make some sacrifices or compromises, but it’s nothing compared to the look in your beloved’s eyes when she receives the ring itself.