The complete guide to buying the perfect engagement ring

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, then congratulations are in order! You have most likely found the person that you know you want to spend the rest of your life with and you want to celebrate your relationship and the big step towards marriage with that special piece of jewelry.

Shopping together for the engagement ring, as many modern couples now do, takes a lot of the guesswork out of it as you won’t have to worry about whether or not she will like what you pick out. So if your girlfriend insists on being a part of this process, embrace it.  


If you want to take the traditional route and surprise her, this puts a lot more pressure on you. Most girls love this and it is a moment that they may have been waiting for a long time. The surprise of the proposal followed by a ring that not only fits but is what she has always wanted will be one that you both remember for ever.

On average, young men spend about 3 months researching before they buy the ring. When choosing the ring, there are lots of things to take into account such as her lifestyle and her fashion sense. This will be a piece of jewelry that she will be wearing every day of her life as your partner and it needs to be durable as well as stylish.

Pretty daunting, put like that.  

However, this is not as difficult as it seems. All it requires is some know-how and a bit of common sense and buying the perfect ring becomes a science. 

Deciding on your budget

One of the most important steps of this whole process, deciding on a budget, is often overlooked. Without a budget in place, it is very easy to go over what you are willing to pay for your engagement ring.

There are also lots of myths surrounding how much you should pay for your ring. An unofficial rule that originated from an ad campaign by luxury jeweler’s De Beers, states that an engagement ring should cost upwards of two months’ salary. This, of course, is nonsense.

It does not matter how much you pay for a ring, what matters is the meaning and thought that goes into it. There is really no reason to get into debt over a piece of jewelry.  By establishing a budget, it will help you to know what you are looking for and make it easier for your jeweler to help you find items within the price range. The average price of a diamond engagement ring is approximately $2500 although it seems that most couples go well over the $5000 mark.

Where to shop for your ring

Most couples conduct almost all their ring research online, as it is less time-consuming than traipsing around at physical stores. Shopping online has changed the nature of jewelry shopping and allows you to save upwards of 20% on your diamond. Not only are the options endless, but you are also able to mix and match the 4Cs to ensure that you find the perfect stone for your allotted price.

Check out Why you should buy your engagement ring online. In this article we have answered some important questions that come to mind when taking your ring search online.

Online stores have very competitive prices and most have excellent after sales services, such as resizing and returns.

Physical stores also have their benefits with the main benefit being that you will be able to see the ring in person.

Setting of the engagement ring

Diamond engagement ring

Selecting a stone

Diamonds are the number one choice for engagement rings and there is no indication that this will change in the future. Over 80% of couples choose a ring with a diamond as its main stone.

If you would like to know more about choosing a diamond for your engagement ring read here, how to choose your diamond: A step by step guide.

When selecting a diamond, the main factors to be critical about are the 4 C’s of diamonds. The 4 C’s stand for cut, color, clarity and carat weight. If you have an understanding of this and play around with the combinations, you will be able to choose your stone wisely and for the best value.  

It is worth noting that an increasing number of non-traditional couples are choosing other stones such as morganites, moonstones and moissanites for their engagement ring.

Finding out the right ring size

There are few things worse than pulling off the perfect surprise proposal, only to find that the ring does not fit. 

If this happens, of course, all you have to do is to send the ring back to the store to be resized. Apart from some ring settings like eternity and tension which need to be completely re-crafted if they do not fit, retailers like James Allen and Blue Nile, offer free resizing for several months after the purchase. 

However, to avoid going through this trouble and potential embarrassment, here are a few tricks to getting her ring size perfectly.

  1. Order a ring size guide for free from one of the reputable online jewelry stores or download the ring size guide online.

  2. Wear a ring that fits her finger perfectly and make a mark at the point where it stops on your finger. Wrap a piece of thread around your finger at that point, then fold the thread in half to find the diameter. Use the ring size guide to then find the accurate size. You can also outline the inner circle of the ring on paper and use this to measure the diameter.

  3. Bring a ring that you know fits her perfectly to the store so that it can be measured.

If none of the above tips are possible, remember that it is always easier to size down the ring than to go the other way. So buying a ring that may be a bit larger is always better than going for one that you think may be small.

Customize your ring

This sounds like an expensive option and most people tend to disregard this advice. However, it can actually save you money and most retailers, be it online or at physical stores, offer this service.

Basically, what this means is to buy the stone and the setting of the ring separately and then have them put together. Buying a loose stone can be cheaper and you may have more options. You can then pick a setting to suit your stone.

famous diamond cuts Princess, Cushion, Heart, Pear, Marquise, Radiant, Asscher cut, Emerald, Oval

All famous diamond cuts

Shape of the stone

Choose a stone that has a shape you think she will prefer. Gemstones/diamonds can be cut into several different shapes. The most popular shape is round and this is what people think of generally when they think of a diamond. T

he second most popular is the princess cut which is classy and elegant. Some other popular choices are pear, marquise, oval, heart, emerald and fancy cuts. These cuts are somewhat non-traditional, so if your lady likes to stand out or be different, maybe one of these cuts may be the way to go.

Settings for the ring

The setting refers to the way the stone is placed on the metal band. There are several different ring settings that you can choose from. Choosing a setting is really important as it can affect how the diamond appears. Some of the more popular types of settings are prong, bezel, Tiffany, halo and channel. 

Check out our guide on settings and styles of engagement rings for detailed information. 

Type of Metal

how to choose metal for engagement ring

gold engagement ring

Again, there is a range of metals you can choose from for the band of your engagement ring.

White gold has been the most popular choice for a long time while gold is more classical and traditional. Another metal fast becoming popular is rose gold, which combined with a stone like morganite, makes for an exquisite engagement ring!

Silver and platinum are also common metal choices for engagement rings. The color of the metal affects the appearance of the chosen gemstone so ensuring that they complement each other is vital. If you prefer, you can even combine a variety of metals, the advantage of which is that the ring would complement any outfit your future wife wears.

When choosing a metal, think about the durability and the appearance. For example, while platinum is a very hard metal and lasts for a long time, it loses its lustre after a while, whereas gold has better shine but is very soft and wears down easily. As looks may take priority over durability, it is best to go with what appearance you think she would like. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.

Check out how to choose the right metal for your engagement ring.

Shop Safely

Regardless of where you buy your gemstone from, always make sure that you request an independent report grading before you pay for the stone. This ensures that the gemstone is authentic.  The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gem Society (AGS) are trusted organizations that will evaluate and validate the diamond you have chosen.

The most important thing in your engagement ring buying saga is to make sure that you are armed with information. This will help you on your quest for the ideal ring and the perfect proposal.

It is not easy to make this work and will require a lot of planning and subtlety. But it is well worth the effort.