Buying an engagement ring and preparing for a proposal is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Since there are many ring options on the market, it’s easy to get caught up in the different designs and styles. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to buy engagement rings in 2023.
If you’re wondering how to buy an engagement ring in 2023, then read on as this guide helps you become a ring expert and surprise your significant other with a stunning piece of jewelry.
Step-by-Step Process of Buying an Engagement Ring
Here’s a detailed overview of the process of purchasing an engagement ring:
1. Work Out Your Budget
If you’ve decided it’s time for an engagement, congratulations! When purchasing an engagement ring, the first action on your to-do list should be figuring out how much money you can (and want) to spend on it.
During the Depression, De Beers (an international company specializing in diamond mining and retail) developed one of the most successful marketing campaigns with a simple slogan: “A diamond is forever.” This campaign convinced men worldwide that the worth of the engagement ring represents the worth of their love. It emphasized that every woman should receive a diamond engagement ring and that every man should spend two months’ salary on it.
This number jumped to at least three in the last few years.
Remember that this is just clever marketing. There isn’t a universal formula for how much one should spend on an engagement ring. Every engagement ring is special, regardless of its price tag. Set an acceptable budget and decide what factors you’ll prioritize, be it the cut, clarity, details, hand engravings, carat weight, etc.
Don’t forget that your future bride’s style should be your main concern. For example, if she likes small, simple jewelry, then she probably won’t be thrilled by a huge rock, no matter how much you spent on it.
2. Work Out Her Style
Once you set a budget, the next step is figuring out your future bride’s style. The ring you choose should reflect your significant other’s preferences. This is where many people get nervous because they’re afraid they’ll make the wrong call and purchase a ring that doesn’t suit their partner. Fortunately, you can avoid that mistake and choose the ideal ring if you put your detective hat on.
The first thing you should consider is whether you want to surprise your bride with the ring or have her participate in the process. If you’re unsure, talk to her family or friends, and they’ll help you figure out her preferences. Some ladies may even prefer to ring shop with you.
If you want to surprise her with a ring, then numerous seemingly small things can help you discover her style. For example, you can check her jewelry box when she’s not watching. Even a glance could tell you whether she prefers bulky and bold jewelry or simple, minimalistic pieces.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the stone. While diamonds are a classic, don’t rule out other options like rubies, sapphires, or emeralds that could be just as beautiful. You should also consider the metal, setting, and cut she’d like and decide between vintage and modern jewelry.
Her style is the priority, not yours. You may not be thrilled by the ring, but if you’re 100% sure she’ll like it, don’t hesitate to purchase it.
3. Find the Right Jeweler
Now that you’ve decided on the budget and the style you’re looking for, it’s time to start searching for the ring. It’s important to note that not all jewelers sell quality, ethical jewelry. Unfortunately, some may even try to scam you and sell you fake or damaged stones for a high price.
The right jeweler should have an excellent reputation.
But if this is your first time buying jewelry, then how can you be sure?
These days, you can find everything you need on the internet. A quick internet search should give you access to online reviews from past customers. These reviews can help establish whether a particular jeweler is professional, honest, and experienced.
Of course, you can always consult with your family members, friends, or coworkers. If you know someone who has recently purchased an engagement ring, then don’t hesitate to ask them about their experience. Their impressions could prevent you from going to the wrong jeweler.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that you don’t have to pick the first jeweler you consult. Go to multiple stores, talk to different experts, and then decide which one you like best; take your time to get it right.
The right jeweler should be professional, patient, and ready to answer all your questions. They should prioritize your requirements and help you find the ideal ring.
4. Find Her Finger Size
If you’re unsure of her finger size, but don’t want to ruin the surprise, there are numerous actions you should take. The first is talking to her family members or friends who may know her size. The second is “borrowing” a ring she already owns and using it as a guide. If you want to do this, ensure she wears that particular ring on the correct finger.
Also, you can show a jeweler a few photos of her hands and fingers for comparison.
If you’re still unsure, always opt for a slightly larger band so that you can resize it if necessary. But remember that some rings can’t be resized for numerous reasons. That’s why you should always discuss this with your jeweler before purchasing a ring.
5. Ensure the Final Details
When purchasing an engagement ring, you should consider numerous details that affect the ring’s quality and durability and your overall experience.
Before paying for the ring, be sure to inspect it carefully. Check that the stones are secure and there are no signs of damage. Moreover, don’t forget to check the warranty and ask the jeweler about the return policy.
Every diamond ring should have a certificate confirming the stone’s characteristics. This certificate should be issued by a reputable institution like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). Never purchase a diamond that doesn’t have the necessary certifications because it could be a scam. Every reputable jeweler will allow you to see the certificates before buying the diamond.
6. Check for Promotions or Coupons
Engagement rings can be quite expensive. Fortunately, you can save a lot of money by taking advantage of different promotions and coupons. For example, many jewelry stores give discounts for wiring.
Many also have promotions and discounts for paying the entirety of the ring in cash. You can also see excellent deals for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.
Insider Tips and Tricks for Buying an Engagement Ring
Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you get the best engagement ring for your future bride:
1. Buy Online. It’s Cheaper
Although this may sound unusual at first, buying an engagement ring online is often cheaper than purchasing a ring in a store. Why? Because, unlike physical stores, online stores don’t pay rent, hire numerous jewelry experts, clean the shop, arrange the rings, etc. Physical stores need to account for all these expenses, which is why the rings they sell often have a higher price tag.
Some may say physical stores are a better option because they have the unsurpassed advantage of allowing you to see the ring you’re interested in “in the flesh” before deciding to purchase it. However, many online stores have bridged that gap. Several have showrooms where you can see the ring in person. Plus, many feature detailed videos of the rings and how they look on the finger so that you can make the right decision without even seeing the ring in person.
Numerous online stores offer online appointments and consultations where they can answer all your questions and clarify uncertainties.
2. Negotiate on Price
Many people think that negotiating the price of an engagement ring is rude. However, this isn’t true in the slightest. It’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate the price of any piece of jewelry, including engagement rings. What’s more, many jewelers expect this and are willing to give you a lower price.
However, keep in mind that not every jeweler has the option to offer you better prices. For example, commercial chain stores usually have fixed prices for their engagement rings and will immediately refuse to negotiate. On the other hand, smaller boutiques and online stores are typically open to negotiations.
When trying to get a lower price, ensure to start with the right amount. A general rule of thumb is picking a number around 20% off the retail value. For example, if a ring costs $2,500, you can offer $2,000. If you offer $1,000, then the jeweler probably won’t take you seriously and may even refuse to continue the conversation.
It’s essential to watch your tone and never get confrontational when bargaining. In addition, it’s a good idea not to disclose your maximum budget, at least not initially. It would be best if you don’t criticize the ring to get a better price. Instead, educate yourself about the characteristics of diamonds and different ring styles, so that you can impress the jeweler and increase their willingness to negotiate.
3. Learn About Diamonds
If you want to avoid getting scammed and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money, then it would be a good idea to learn more about diamonds.
Namely, every diamond has characteristics that make it unique. Do research on these characteristics and see which one you should prioritize based on your future bride’s preferences and style. Moreover, consider a diamond’s origin and ensure it’s conflict-free. Learn more about the certificates that every diamond should have and how to read them.
Check which diamond cut pairs well with which metal, which clarity grade is optimal, which setting is the most desirable, etc. Of course, don’t trust everything you read on the internet, and don’t get caught up in a trend.
In the end, it’s all about your future bride’s style. If you have any questions, rely on professional jewelers or the official websites of reputable institutions.
4. Use Layaway or Financing Plans
You don’t have to burn through your savings to get the perfect engagement ring for your significant other. Instead, you can use layaway or different financing plans.
Layaway allows you to secure an item (in this case, an engagement ring) for a later purchase. If you want to put a specific ring on layaway, you’ll need to pay a small deposit, and it will be saved for you, with its price locked. After you pay off the ring, you’ll receive it right away. Many jewelers offer this option to enable their customers to get the desired ring even if they currently can’t pay its full price.
Layaway is a great option for those who plan their engagement months ahead. However, this isn’t the best choice for those who want to propose now. In such cases, different financing plans can help.
Many jewelry stores offer excellent financing plans that allow you to purchase a ring and pay it off monthly with no fees and 0% interest. Such plans will usually hold the total purchase amount on your credit card but charge you monthly until it’s paid off.
If you have the money but need a few days to get your finances in order, you can put the chosen ring on hold and prevent someone else from taking it. Many jewelry stores will require a small deposit and save the ring for up to seven days. If you change your mind, you’ll usually get the deposit back, no questions asked.
5. Get Insurance
Another valuable piece of advice is to get insurance on your engagement ring. Engagement ring insurance is a special policy that protects you in case the ring gets damaged, lost, or stolen. The insurance fee is usually low and paid in monthly increments, so many people decide to get it.
There are a few types of engagement ring insurance you should consider. The least common one is homeowner’s insurance which includes engagement rings by default. A common option is homeowner’s insurance with an added extension covering engagement rings. The most frequent choice is purchasing a customized plan that isn’t connected to homeowner’s insurance.
The annual cost of engagement ring insurance typically runs between 1% and 2% of the ring’s total worth. For example, if a ring is worth $5,000, you’ll need to pay between $50 and $100 yearly for the insurance. The amount depends on the insurer and the type of insurance you want to get.
Getting insurance on your engagement ring may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, $50 or $100 a year is a small price to pay compared to the cost of purchasing a brand-new replacement ring.
If you want to get engagement ring insurance, then you’ll need proof of purchase, price, address, security, and safe information (if applicable). You’ll also need to get your ring appraised, even if the ring has the GIA certificate.
6. Buying in a Lower Bracket
One of the most important characteristics of every diamond is the carat weight, with one carat equaling 0.20 grams. So, a 2.50-carat diamond weighs 0.50 grams.
Jewelers group diamonds into several brackets according to their carat weight. For example, there’s the 0.50-0.99-carat bracket, 1.00-1.49-carat bracket, 1.50-2.00-carat brackets, etc. The higher the bracket, the higher the price.
In understanding this system, there is a simple hack that can help you get the best value for your money. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you decided you want a 1.50-carat diamond; if you opt for a diamond that’s a few points lower, you can save hundreds of dollars. So, instead of purchasing a 1.50-carat diamond, go for a 1.49-carat stone. Although the difference is just 0.01 carats, which is unnoticeable to the naked eye, you’ll save a lot because the 1.49-carat diamond belongs to the lower bracket.
7. Compromise on Color and Clarity
Color and clarity are two of the four Cs, i.e., the most important characteristics of any diamond. Both color and clarity are measured on carefully designed scales.
The color scale ranges from the letter D (colorless) to the letter Z (light), while the clarity scale ranges from FL (flawless) to I (included). The higher the grade, the “better” the diamond, which results in a higher price.
In terms of color, colorless diamonds are the most desirable. But this doesn’t mean you can’t find exceptional diamonds with a lower color grade. A diamond with an F color grade (the last colorless grade) can cost much more than a diamond with a G color grade (the first near-colorless grade). The same goes for a diamond with a G color grade and a J color grade (the last near-colorless grade).
Similar rules apply to clarity. Internally flawless diamonds are rare and, therefore, more expensive. Slightly included diamonds are much more affordable and can look just as good to the naked eye.
So, instead of aiming for the highest grades, you can compromise and save a lot of money. Don’t forget that the cut plays an important role as well. For example, a brilliant cut can make a diamond with a lower color grade look brighter.
Remember that it all depends on your significant other’s preferences. Some people prefer slightly included or colored diamonds because these characteristics give them a unique charm.
The ABCs of Understanding Diamonds
As mentioned earlier, if you want to purchase the perfect diamond engagement ring, then you should learn more about diamonds. In this section, we’ll discuss the essential characteristics of every diamond and offer more insight into the diamond world.
Each diamond has four characteristics that determine its appearance, quality, and, ultimately, price. These four characteristics are cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Let’s review each one:
The cut represents a diamond’s proportions, polish, and symmetry. It determines how well a diamond interacts with light. Out of the four Cs, cut is the most complex and difficult to analyze. GIA’s diamond cut grade takes into account how a diamond interacts with light to create effects like fire, brightness, and scintillation.
Experts also measure a diamond’s proportions and consider its design and craftsmanship. GIA’s diamond cut scale ranges from excellent to poor.
Natural diamonds are created deep in the earth when carbon is exposed to high temperatures and pressure. Due to this process, many diamonds feature different internal characteristics (inclusions) and external characteristics (blemishes). These characteristics are typically considered flaws.
When evaluating a diamond’s clarity, experts look at and analyze these characteristics. They determine their number, size, position, and nature. The experts also consider how such features affect a diamond’s appearance. It’s important to remember that a perfectly pure diamond doesn’t exist. But, the purer it is, the better its grade. The GIA diamond clarity scale has six categories, ranging from flawless (FL) to included (I1, I2, and I3).
Most diamonds are created when trace elements interact with carbon. During this process, different chemical elements like sulfur, boron, and nitrogen can color the diamonds and make them yellowish. A diamond’s color actually represents the absence of color, i.e., the absence of these elements. A colorless diamond resembles a drop of water and has no yellow hue.
Colorless diamonds are rare and carry a hefty price tag. The GIA color scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light). Keep in mind that the naked eye usually can’t see the difference between colorless and near-colorless diamonds. What’s more, many faint diamonds can look just as good as colorless ones if they’re combined with the right metal and feature the right cut. Therefore, the highest color grade doesn’t have to be your highest priority.
Carat weight is the last of the four Cs and represents how much a diamond weighs. One carat is 200 milligrams, and it’s always subdivided into 100 points, allowing precise measurements. It’s important to distinguish a diamond’s carat weight and size.
Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, while the size is a measure of a diamond’s height and width, expressed in millimeters. Some carat weights are considered “magic sizes,” like 0.50 carats or 1.00 carats, and they are more expensive. Visually, there’s virtually no difference between a 0.99-carat and a 1.00-carat diamond, but their prices differ significantly.
Antique Diamonds vs. Modern Diamonds
When purchasing an engagement ring, one major consideration is whether to go with an antique or modern diamond. Diamonds that were cut more than 100 years ago are considered antique diamonds. These diamonds are known for their unique appeal and softer sparkle due to their larger facets. Antique diamonds were cut by hand, so they exhibit less fire and brilliance than modern diamonds. However, many people find this warmer, romantic glow more appealing. Plus, since they were cut by hand, antique diamonds are more unique.
Another reason many people prefer antique diamonds is the question of ethics. More specifically, by choosing an antique diamond, you say “no” to further exploitation of the mines. Antique diamonds were mined long before modern conflicts and the issue of human rights violations.
Modern diamonds may have a cleaner look due to high precision and brilliance, but they don’t possess the charm of antique diamonds. Plus, modern diamonds are usually more expensive.
How Diamond Certificates Work
Diamond certificates, also called grading reports, are issued by accredited gemological laboratories such as the GIA or the AGS. Every diamond certificate contains detailed information about the specific diamond’s characteristics based on the four Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight). The certificate also displays the diamond’s dimensions and other relevant details.
Trained professionals grade the diamond after a thorough examination. For this, diamond experts use a loupe, a microscope, and master stones. Master stones are diamonds that have already been graded. They’re compared to other diamonds and used as a reference point.
The diamond you purchase must have this certificate. If it doesn’t, consider this a red flag and find another seller.
Keep in mind that different entities grade diamonds differently. For example, one institution may be looser in grading color, while the other is looser in grading clarity. That’s why it’s vital to rely on reputable, experienced, and consistent institutions. When a diamond comes with a GIA or AGS certificate, you can be 100% sure it’s accurate.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to chase a diamond with high grades just for the sake of it. Instead, look for a diamond that looks good to the naked eye and has a certificate. Find a balance between the price, quality, and appearance of the diamond and surprise your future bride with an exceptional piece of jewelry.
Personality Types and Diamond Cuts
Not all diamond cuts suit every personality type. Here’s an overview of the most popular diamond cuts and the personality types they are typically associated with.
The Round Cut
Personality traits: Honest, elegant, simple, traditional, romantic, bright
Round-cut diamonds are timeless and classic, so it’s no surprise they’re extremely popular. Many think of this cut when they think of a diamond engagement ring. If your future bride enjoys simple yet effective jewelry and prefers classic solitaire rings, then a round-cut diamond could be a perfect choice.
The Princess Cut
Personality traits: Creative, ambitious, clever, modern, lively
Princess-cut diamonds feature geometric, sharp, square edges with stunning sparkle. This diamond-cutting technique is relatively young as it was developed in the 1980s. A princess-cut diamond is an excellent option for all creative and ambitious women who prefer a simple style with a unique spin.
The Oval Cut
Personality traits: Inventive, distinctive, daring, individualistic
Oval-cut diamonds have a lot in common with round-cut stones but feature an elongated shape. Therefore, they have a lovely charm that sets them apart from traditional cuts but keeps them within the realm of timeless beauty. This cut is ideal for those who don’t get caught up in trends and want to be unique without attracting too much attention.
The Emerald Cut
Personality traits: Strong, confident, independent, edgy
Emerald-cut diamonds feature long rectangular edges with cut-off corners. Instead of the sparkle and brilliance that round and cushion-cut diamonds display, emerald-cut diamonds offer unique flashes of light. These diamonds have a retro appearance and are perfect for women who know what they want.
The Cushion Cut
Personality traits: Nostalgic, traditional, romantic, easy-going
The cushion cut is a vintage style representing a blend of the princess cut and the round brilliant cut. It offers spectacular brilliance thanks to its rounded corners and large facets. Ladies who like a vintage, romantic, and soft style will absolutely love a cushion-cut diamond.
To sum up, while a particular cut may be more or less suitable for a personality type, remember that it’s all relative. In the end, you’re the one who knows your future bride and her style the best. Consider her habits, lifestyle, and preferences, and find the perfect diamond cut.
Guide to Ring Setting Styles
Another factor you should consider when purchasing an engagement ring is the setting. There are numerous setting styles, and each has its advantages and drawbacks. Here’s an overview of the most popular setting styles and their pros and cons:
The Prong Setting
The prong setting is the traditional setting for engagement rings. A ring can feature three, four, six, or even eight prongs that keep the diamond secure. The number of prongs depends on the diamond’s size and the ring’s overall style.
- Open nature
- Make the diamond look bigger
- Higher position of the diamond compared to other setting styles
- Lets more light in
- Relatively easy to clean
- Depending on the specific setting, the diamond could be more exposed to damage
- It can pluck clothing
The Bezel Setting
Another popular choice for engagement rings is the bezel setting. Here, the diamond isn’t exposed but set into a metal ring. This look is stylish, elegant, and far more secure than the prong setting since it keeps the diamond tucked away. The bezel setting is an excellent choice for ladies who have an active lifestyle and want to wear their engagement ring daily.
- Protects the diamond from damage
- Low profile
- Very easy to clean
- Less of the diamond is visible, which affects the light reflection
The Halo Setting
The halo setting is a popular variety of the bezel setting. In this case, we also have a metal ring that surrounds the diamond. The difference is that there’s a row of secondary stones wrapping around the center diamond. The halo usually serves to emphasize the center stone’s sparkle or create an eye-catching contrast.
- The center diamond looks much bigger
- Additional protection of the center diamond
- Unique visual appeal
- Easy to clean
- Halo stones may not be as secure as the center diamond
- Resizing could be more challenging
The Pavé Setting
A pavé setting actually refers to the shank and not the center diamond, unlike the previous settings we’ve discussed. This setting got its name from the French word for “pavement.” In a pavé setting, small stones are set on each side of the shank, covering only its visible part or the entirety. This setting is independent of the center stone or other details.
- Gives a ring a unique appeal
- Elegant and stylish
- Adds more brilliance
- Highlights the center diamond
- Resizing could be challenging
- Small diamonds can become loose
How to Buy Ethical Engagement Rings
The question of ethics has become a major concern when purchasing diamonds. Here are a few tips that can help you choose an ethical engagement ring:
Vintage Diamond Rings
If you want to be 100% sure you’re purchasing an ethical engagement ring, opt for a vintage diamond. Such diamonds were mined decades ago and are conflict-free. Buying a vintage diamond means you say “no” to the exploitation of modern diamond mines.
Buy Only From Reputable Jewelers and Diamond Certifications
Another way to ensure you’re purchasing an ethical engagement ring is to work only with reputable jewelers. Such jewelers sell only conflict-free ethical jewelry.
Don’t forget that you should always ask for a certificate that confirms the diamond’s characteristics and proves its origin.
Ask the Jewelers Where They Get the Diamonds From
Many reputable jewelers can tell you the exact origin of the diamonds featured in their engagement ring collections. You should feel free to ask them where they get their diamonds from, especially if you want to ensure the engagement ring you purchase is conflict-free. If the jeweler doesn’t know or doesn’t want to answer the question, consider this a red flag.
Caring for Your Engagement Ring
If you want your engagement ring to look perfect for years to come, you must take care of it. These tips can help:
- Don’t use aggressive cleaning products.
- Clean the ring with a mild soap and water solution.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush when cleaning your ring.
- Don’t clean your ring over the sink because you may drop it.
- Use a lint-free cloth to dry your ring.
- Clean your ring once a week.
- When you’re not wearing your ring, keep it in a pouch away from other jewelry that could damage it.
- Check your ring for damage and loose stones regularly.
- Take the ring to a professional as soon as you notice any signs of damage.
Talk to an Engagement Ring Expert
As you can see, purchasing an engagement ring definitely isn’t easy. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experts at Estate Diamond Jewelry can help you find the perfect ring for your future bride. We’ve been in the diamond business for decades and offer professionalism and reliability. Since our collection of vintage engagement rings is nothing short of impressive, we’re confident you’ll find the right ring in no time.
Contact us to schedule a showroom or an online appointment.