The Ultimate Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring Online
In this article, I guide you through the ins and outs of finding and purchasing an engagement ring online. Picking a perfect engagement ring is no small feat, but there are plenty of ways to make the process easier. It’s going to be an easy and fun experience, so let’s dive in!
- Why Buy an Engagement Ring Online?
- Shop for an Engagment Ring Online
- Shop Online With Confidence
Why Buy an Engagement Ring Online?
There are loads of good reasons to consider buying your engagement ring online. Let’s take a look at a few below.
The Pros of Shopping Online for An Engagement Ring
- Save Time – Rather than go to the ring, shopping online means the rings come to you. The time you save avoiding visiting jewelry stores can be better spent on things like picking out the perfect cut or practising your proposal.
- Save Money – Shopping online is often cheaper than in-store. The jeweler doesn’t have to pay for a physical storefront and often the savings get passed on to you.
- Access to More Options – By switching your search online, you’ll have the chance to browse many more rings than you’d be able to view in local shops.
- A Chance to Stand Out – By the same token, shopping online is great if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd. Rather than be restricted to the same few stores all your neighbors shop at, you’ll have a global range of rings to choose from.
- Exchanges Are Easy – As long as you choose a jeweler with a good returns policy (more on that below!), exchanging rings is easy. Also, when you have a ring delivered to your home, you don’t have to make a decision with anyone looking over your shoulder. Take the time you need to closely inspect the ring and make your decision, knowing you can send it back if it’s not quite right.
Online Shopping Worries Solved
If you’re old enough, you might remember the days when shopping online felt ike a bit of a gamble — sometime around pre 2010 or so. Nowadays, shopping online for just about anything is relatively easy and secure. Even for big ticket items like engagement rings.
Still got a few worries? Here’s a few ideas to protect yourself when buying a ring online.
- What if the seller is dishonest? Just like with a physical shop, there’s a chance a seller might not be who they seem. Be sure you only buy from reputable sellers or vendor marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Blue Nile. I cover this topic in further detail below, so keep reading!
- What if the size is wrong? There’s always the chance, no matter how careful you are, that the size just won’t be quite right when a ring is on the finger. Online jewelers understand this, and most reputable sellers are willing to exchange. This may not always be the case with auction sites, so make sure you read any purchase policy beforehand.
- What if the ring is not what I expect? You can lessen the risk that this will happen by only considering online sellers that provide high-quality photos of their engagement rings. Even if you do your due diligence, there’s stil a possibility the ring that arrives in the mail won’t live up to your expectations. Check the return policy before you buy – many online sellers, such as Blue Nile, provide a worry-free return policy on engagement rings.
Still not sure you’re ready to start shopping for the ring online? Check out more tips to shop online with confidence at the end of this article.
Shop for an Engagment Ring Online
Once you’re ready to give shopping for your engagement ring online a go, there are a few simple steps to make the process easier.
Decide Who Will Shop
First of all, you need to decide whether you will surprise your significant other with a ring at the proposal, or hunt for the perfect one together. If you’re searching solo, make sure you put your browser in incognito mode and keep your honey away from your emails to avoid spoiling the surprise!
Get The Sizing Right
Ring sizes are important, but they’re also pretty easy to work out. If you’re buying for your sweetie, the easiest thing to do is measure one of the rings they currently wear. Print out a ring size chart then lay the ring on it.
If you’re buying for yourself and want to double check your ring size, wrap a piece of string or floss around your finger, measure the circumference and compare the length with a comprehensive list of ring sizes.
Tip: If you’re thinking of buying a vintage ring, pay extra attention to the ring origin. The sizes aren’t the same in every country, so you’ll need to compare to find the right one for you.
Do Your Research
A great place to start is to find out roughly how much the type of rings you have in mind cost and who the biggest retailers are in your area. This will give you a benchmark that will come in handy once you start shopping around.
- Set your budget – How much should you spend on your engagement ring? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Ultimately, you should spend whatever you can afford on a ring that will make you both happy! I recommend setting a strict budget before you start shopping. It’s easy for costs to creep up unnoticed during the thrill of the hunt.
- Don’t do it all in one day – Just like with any important purchase, finding the right ring can take time. Even if you find ‘the one’ early on, it’s a good idea to take plenty of time to think over your decision. The last thing you want is to make a rash decision and have second thoughts after you’ve placed the order.
Create Your Dream List of Stones and Settings
Now it’s time to make a note of everything on your dream list for the kind of ring you’d love to receive. Think about whether you want a complex or simple cut, unusual stones or a classic diamond, a silver or gold band, something vintage or something sparkling new.
Write down everything that comes to mind! Or better yet, start a Pinterest board and drool over all the amazing rings.
Be Prepared to Toss the List!
Once you have your dream list, it’s time to cross reference your budget to see what’s possible. Even if you can afford every single element on your list, be prepared to ditch the list during your search. Just like the wedding dress, sometimes you just know when you’ve found the one, even if it’s not what you envisioned.
Learn How to Spot Signs of Quality
There are some tell tale signs of quality worth looking out for when you’re browsing for rings. Keep your eyes out for things like:
- Diamond Grades. The quality of a diamond is determined by four key elements: color, clarity, cut and carat. The ideal diamond is colourless, has no inclusions or imperfections, has been cut to reflect light flawlessly and has been graded by weight to work out its carat. All four of these signs are important to consider. It’s also worth checking to ensure any diamond you’re considering has a certificate of authenticity from a third party.
- Types of Gold. There are lots of different factors that change the value of gold, from whether a ring band is plated or solid to how “pure” the gold is. Gold purity is determined by the carat and it should be stamped on the gold itself. 24 carat is the purest gold you can buy, so the higher the carat, the purer. You’ll also want to think about what color of gold you prefer. Gold, rose, white and green all vary in price, but the biggest factor is how they will look! Then there’s the band itself, did you know that a ‘gold layered’ band could have a much, much smaller amount of gold in it than a ‘gold plated’ one? A gold overlay is thicker and vermeil (gold over sterling silver), even thicker still.
- Valuing Other Gemstones. When it comes to valuing other gorgeous gemstones, the 4Cs used to assess diamonds are equally applicable. The color, clarity, cut and carat of an emerald or opal, for example, can vary significantly and impact the asking price. Again, don’t be shy about asking for a certificate from a third party if you want to know how valuable the stones in your dream ring are.
Standard and Customised Designs
Remain flexible when it comes to a standard or customised design. It could be that the style you’re looking for is quite rare and it’s easier to have someone design one for you. Alternatively, the custom ring you’re dreaming of may be very close to one that’s already out there. With a flexible approach, you may well find yourself saving money and time.
Consider Buying Stones Separately
If you’re keen to either design your own ring or have very specific gemstone ideas, it could be a good idea to buy the stones separately. This means you can concentrate on finding the ideal color and cut rather than considering the whole package at once.
Looking for more hints? Hop over to our How to Choose Your Engagement Ring article for more tips on selecting the perfect ring.
Shop Online With Confidence
Just like shopping in person, there are some things you should look for when making a big purchase online. In addition to the suggestions provided earlier, here are the most important things to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for an ideal engagement ring.
How to Recognise a Reputable Jeweler
Not everyone is who they claim to be. Judge online jewelers and shops using the following criteria:
- Name recognition – Big brand that you’ve seen before are usually reputable. Do they have physical stores too, or a solid reputation online that stretches back for years?
- Multiple other sites referencing – If they’re not a household name, are they at least well-bedded in the online world? Can you find well-reputed magazines, blogs and other retailers linking to them or mentioning them?
- Payment methods – Can you buy using third party payment options like PayPal that have extra safety options for your benefit? Does the website have a padlock symbol in the address bar and a valid certificate when you click on it?
- Check customer reviews – For example, an Etsy seller may have loads of positive reviews to give an indication of trust. How have they responded to any customer complaints/concerns?
Always Check the Fine Print
Scan the store’s website for hidden and not-so-hidden red flags such as:
- A very short return period
- A declaration that they won’t be liable if the ring isn’t what you expected based on their description or photos
- Check how the ring will be posted. Will you be given tracking information and posted through a trusted delivery service?
Once you’ve found the perfect ring and the search is over, consider insuring the ring. This is a high-value item and we’ve all seen those heart-wrenching images where a proposal goes wrong and the ring bounces into a fast flowing stream! Should the unexpected happen, make sure you’re covered.
For more advice, have a peek at our How to Insure an Engagement Ring article.
Browsing for an engagement ring is incredibly exciting! Take some of the tips I’ve shared and go have fun shopping online. I’m sure you’ll find the one that makes your heart sing out with glee.
*PIN FOR LATER*
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