How to shop for an engagement ring

Over the many years of being honored to be a part of many engagement ring buying experiences, I have noticed that a more practical approach of how to conquer the tall task of picking the forever ring is needed. As most of us know or have heard, the "4 C's" are usually what most people stress when first picking out the diamond. But even "cut, clarity, color, and carat weight" can be intimidating to someone who doesn't speak fluent diamond. In this post, I will definitely touch on those important "4 C's" and hopefully shed some light on how and why they matter. I am tailoring this to our men folk so I will organize this post in a list of points since I have noticed my own hubby does things this way. Here we go…

So you have the girl and now you need the ring. But ALWAYS keep in mind that no matter what, the ring is all about your girl!

1) What is your girl's personal style?

This question can answer a lot! For example, if your sweetheart is a classic beauty who values tradition and who does not follow all the trending styles but rather sticks with the all time favorites (such as black dresses, pumps, tailored jeans, etc) you might want to rule out the modern princess cut (or square shaped) diamond. If your love writes a fashion blog, is forever changing her hair color and cut, is always getting comments about her unique style and dresses in the newest couture fashions, you may want to consider something a little less traditional and more unique to fit her style. If your beauty is into antiquing on her days off, watches Fixer Upper on HGTV, likes vintage cars or dresses in hipster retro clothes, you may want to contemplate an antique or heirloom engagement ring. Say your girlfriend is an artist, with gorgeous inked arms and legs, with a  passion for anything off the beaten path, then you way want to entertain going completely non-traditional and opt for something different than a diamond (maybe a colored diamond or precious gemstone).


2) What is your girl's hand size (not finger size)?

Odd question you may say! But let me elaborate. Personally I have longer fingers than the average girl my size. My hubby did well by selecting an oval shaped diamond to compliment my long fingers and the amount of space before my knuckle. On the other hand….(no pun intended) if your girl has tiny hands and short fingers you may not want to opt for a "large and in charge" setting that will dominate her ring finger. My close friend has larger fingers and is self conscious about small rings making her hand look even bigger. I helped her fiance select a ring that had a halo around the center diamond and side accent diamonds as well. While on her finger, the ring was proportionate and she has no reservations about showing off that beauty.


3) What about those 4 C's?

I have heard this time and time again from my new customers. "I'm lost, (insert big name jewelry store here) told me that I need to decide on the 4 C's I want before I shop and buy." This aggravates me to no end. Yes, these 4 C's are important. Yes, they play a huge part in cost. But, they do not trump your emotional connection to a certain style or what you know in your gut to be the right ring. So with your instinct being your ultimate guide, we will still touch on these points (Disclaimer: this is just a quick, easy to understand, reference. More info is widely available online and I personally recommend GIA as a recourse). First the cut, this can mean two different things. Cut can mean what shape (round, oval, princess - square, emerald - rectangular, etc) or it can mean the quality of the cut. The quality means how well was the diamond cut to have the right proportions and polished to reflect light or sparkle. If you are looking at diamonds that have a certification or paperwork with them, this information will be on that document. However, if you have been on the hut a few times you will start to notice that some diamonds just don't have "it". They lack luster or just look a little tired. This is an indication that maybe the symmetry of the cut is off. Next is clarity, this means that there are inclusions or blemishes present. The less inclusions the higher the price goes up. Inclusions can come in many forms. Some you can see with the naked eye (like little black pepper spots or white feathers/cloudiness) and some you have to look into a magnifying device to detect. These inclusions have a ranking system that is used in grading diamonds. You can use this terminology if you want (such as SI1 - slightly included level 1). Next we have color. Color grading with diamonds is actually the absence of color. This scale ranges from D-Z (D being completely without color). As with clarity, the less color (or the closer to the "D" side of the scale), the higher the price tag. Lastly, there is the carat weight. As you probably would have guessed, the larger the diamond the more "carats" it is and the higher the cost. Diamonds under one carat are referred to as points alone. For example, 0.75ct is said 75 points. Keep in mind that all 4 C's play a part in the cost of the diamond.


4) Do I need a certification?

This is a great question! GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is the most prestigious and the most highly trusted among diamond/gemstone certification. (This is where I received my training). Their Graduate Gemologists are the best in the world. With that being said, it comes with a price tag. Diamonds with GIA certifications do tend to cost more because they are guaranteed to be what GIA says they are and that certification does cost the jewelry store/jeweler money to have it completed. This document can provide a lot of comfort to some and others do not care what a paper says about their diamond just as long as their diamond sparkles. We have a wide range of diamonds with GIA certificates. However, you don't need a GIA certificate if you have a jeweler that you can trust or a reputable jewelry store that has been in business for many years, you can feel comfortable to purchase a diamond that does not have a certification. Our boutique has every piece of jewelry inspected by a GIA trained professional and we are always happy to provide a Jewelry Appraisal Report.


5) How much should I spend?

You may have googled that you need to spend a certain percentage of your yearly income on your future wife's engagement ring but that is really not rule. Engagement rings are a large expense and it is going to be something that your love will cherish for many years. Keep in mind that some stores offer lay away options or financing (our boutique has a FEE FREE layaway plan!). But always know that your token of love, whether big or small, is in no way a direct correlation of how much you love your future wife!


6) Where is the best place to start looking?

Look at your girlfriend Pinterest account if you can. Odds are that if you have been dating a while she probably has "pinned" a few rings that she likes in hopes that you will investigate. Also, listen to her, most of us girls say we love a certain style or diamond cut even if we don't think we are going to get engaged anytime soon. You may have figured out too that your woman is very intuitive, she will probably drop you hints. So if she wants to go into a jewelry store, let her and for goodness sake, PAY ATTENTION! 


7) Do "used" diamonds mean bad luck?

Diamonds are all technically "used". Diamonds do not jump out of the ground and end up in the Tiffany & Co show case. Diamonds are the hardest mineral known to man, so suffice to say, they've been around for awhile. So no, they are not bad luck in my book. Diamonds may have been a part of different love stories in the past perhaps but diamonds are ultimately cherished no matter where they originally came from. Often times if you look to purchase a ring from an estate sale or from a store such as ours, we offer a lot better price compared to stores that are marketing "new" pieces.


8) What if she wants to pick it out herself?

I think this is great! Trust me, even if she knows the ring that she is getting, you getting down on one knee and asking for her forever is going to be special. Every love is special and every love deserves to be celebrated in its in own individual way. If you still want to keep some mystery to it,  there is always a middle ground. She can pick out three rings that she likes and you make the final choice. Have fun together and make it your own! Nothing has to be done like anyone else or in the way that tradition typically has it.


9) What if she doesn't like it?

This is often a fear that most guys vocalize when they are wanting everything to be a full surprise. In all my years of selling engagement rings, I have rarely had a man return a ring because she didn't like it. It is not an irrational fear but keep in mind that most of us females get weak in the knees over everything our men pick out for us. Worst case scenario, you can always see what your jeweler offers in the way of store credit and have your sweetheart join you in picking it out from there. Just be confident and know that even if she doesn't like the ring, it does NOT mean that your proposal was not a dream come true for her!


10) Any other tips?

-bring in a close friend or future in-law to the process if you are still unsure

-take your time and do not let anyone pressure you into buying something you know to not be the right one

-if it doesn't hit you right away that "this is the ring" that's ok; take time and sleep on it



I hope that this was helpful for you. If you have any additional questions or if you want more information please feel free to comment or select the "engagement rings" tab of our website to see a wide selection of engagement rings. Buying online can be a challenge but we are here to help! We have decades of experience, a friendly - like family- staff, a very reputable brick and mortar store, and plenty of choices for any budget and any style. Also, let us be the first to say "Congratulations"! ~Cheers~


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published