There are few shopping expeditions as thrilling as choosing an engagement ring. Perhaps you’ve been planning this moment for months or years and already have a vision of your ring. Or maybe you’re open to all the possibilities. Either way, I’ve put together a handy guide to help you navigate the process of finding the right ring.
Before You Start Ring Shopping Online
Your engagement ring is a symbol of love and you’ll be wearing it every day for the rest of your life. No wonder you want to get it right! Before you start shopping, here are a few things you should consider to make the process easier and more fun.
What Should You Pay For An Engagement Ring?
You may be wondering how much you should pay for an engagement ring. The simple answer is that you should only ever pay what you can afford! While there used to be a convention for spending three times your monthly salary, it’s more important to find a ring that suits your tastes and bank balance.
Setting a budget should be one of the very first things you do. It can be very easy to end up overspending if you don’t make a decision early on.
What Kind of Couple Are You?
The kind of couple you are is an excellent place to start thinking about your dream ring. If traditional values are important, a gorgeous diamond solitaire might be the perfect ring to pursue. If you like to put your own twist on things, be sure to explore alternative stones and settings. It’s your engagement ring, you want it to reflect your relationship and no one else’s.
Are You Shopping Together?
You may be shopping for an engagement ring to surprise your fiance or fiancee, or you may have popped the question already! Each way is very exciting and there are a few challenges and things to remember:
- Shopping for a Surprise. Buying a ring for a surprise proposal is especially exciting. You’ll want to buy something your sweetheart falls in love with immediately. If you’ve talked about the kind of engagement ring your partner likes, then you’re at an advantage.
- Shopping Together. If you’re shopping together be absolutely clear about your budget and any hopes you have from the outset. There’s nothing worse than giving your sweetie the chance to get their heart set on something you just can’t afford.
What’s Your Dream List Include?
Before you start seriously shopping for rings, take the time to make a note of all of the things you want most from an engagement ring. Are you looking for a traditional diamond solitaire? A contemporary spin on the classic? A particular type of gold? Write down everything you want in your dream ring to help make the search easier. But remember (and it’s a big but) to stay open-minded too.
Tip: If you’ve already discussed your upcoming marriage, you may have some idea what kind of wedding bands you’d like. And if you haven’t this is a good time to think about them. If your partner already knows the kind of band they’re dreaming of, it will make picking a complementary ring much easier.
Shopping For Your Engagement Ring
You’ve determined your budget, you’ve figured out whose going shopping, and you’ve created your dream list. Now it’s time to start shopping.
Some key things you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop for the one:
Where to Shop
Once you’ve got a solid idea of the kind of ring you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping! But before you dive in, here are a few more things to keep in mind.
Choosing a Jeweller – While finding the perfect ring is your number one objective, you also need to pay attention to the place or person you’re buying it from. A reputable seller, or someone selling through a reputable third-party (think eBay or Etsy), is the best way to go.
Shopping in-store – If you’re shopping in-store, remember that the staff are there to try and make a sale – not always to help you find the perfect ring. They’ll expect you to want to take your time and look at a lot of rings, even if you’re not ready to buy. Be polite, say you’re just looking and don’t feel rushed into anything.
Shopping online – Searching for the perfect ring online means you can take all the time you need. Most stores and even auction sites have strong return policies, so you can see rings in person before making a final decision. Plus you’re likely to save money and time by searching at your leisure and without the pressure of sales staff upselling you! Looking for a few more tips? Check out our Guide to Buying Your Engagement Ring Online.
If you decide to go the diamond route, it’s important to understand what makes a perfect or near-perfect diamond. There are four basic qualities that are commonly used for assessing the quality of any given diamond.
- Clarity. The perfect diamond is flawless.That means you’re looking for stones without inclusions, scrapes or any little imperfections.
- Color. Ideally, you want your diamond to be as close to transparent as possible. A yellowish tinge or slight cloudiness is something to avoid, if possible.
- Carat. Like precious metals, diamonds have carats. A jeweler or third party can use the weight of a diamond to work out its carat rating and this information should be available for you to check over. The highest carat diamond ever found was an astounding 3,106,75, but anything over 0.5 should be dazzling enough for the average engagement ring.
- Cut. A good cut will allow a diamond to catch the light beautifully. Even a high carat diamond will struggle to shine if the cut is bad, making this the most important of the four essential qualities to look for.
Alternative Gemstones for An Engagement Ring
If diamonds aren’t quite doing it for you, there are tons of gorgeous gemstone alternatives, and switching out traditional stones and settings has never been cooler.
Sapphires – Not only do sapphires come in a great range of hues, including white, they are also the third hardest stone, making them an excellent diamond substitute. They’re generally a lot cheaper and offer almost as much sparkle. Check out my guide on choosing a sapphire engagement ring.
Emeralds – These gorgeous green stones are actually quite a classic choice when it comes to engagement rings, and they look as brilliant now as they always have. They’re luxe, eye-catching and also extremely durable. Need a little inspiration? Have a peek at these luxe emerald rings.
Morganite – The beautiful soft pink of this semi-precious stone has made it an incredibly popular engagement ring choice in recent years. It’s from the same family as emeralds and can be cut to create a dazzling design. Check out our guide to morganite rings to see just how pretty this gemstone can be.
Rubies – At a 9 on the Mohs’ Scale, rubies are almost as enduring as diamonds and they’ve certainly been a popular choice for engagement rings over the years. While a ruby is a stunning alternative, don’t assume it’s a cheaper one. A quality ruby may even be more expensive than a diamond.
Opals – They might be the symbolic gem for the 14th wedding anniversary, but opals are also a cool choice for engagement rings. One of the magical things about opals is how varied the surfaces are – meaning your ring will be as unique as you.
For more ideas, check out our Guide to Diamond Engagement Ring Alternatives.
Look After Your Engagement Ring
Once you’ve chosen your perfect engagement ring there are a few important things to keep in mind if you’d like it to stay safe dazzling for years to come.
The ring purchase might feel like the big thing (and believe me, it is!), but you also have to get that ring where it needs to be, safe and sound. If you’re buying in person, check if there’s a short- term warranty or insurance that could cover it for the first little while after purchase. Yes, people do sometimes lose their rings before they even get home!
Buying online? Pay attention to the postal method and fine print – if the parcel gets lost in transit, the responsibility should always be with the seller and not you.
Accidents happen. That’s just an annoying fact of life. Hands get slippery and rings slide off. Rings get dropped and stood on or mangled in other ways.
Get insurance in place after buying your ring, and make sure you’re covered for anything that might befall your beautiful new ring.
For more tips, have a look at our Guide to Insuring Engagement Rings.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Keeping a ring in great condition means giving it a little bit of extra love. Even incredibly durable stones aren’t completely invincible. Diamonds can chip or be damaged in extreme conditions, so if you’re doing any heavy duty work take the ring off!
A regular cleaning schedule is also a must. Every couple of weeks, drop your ring into a mug filled with warm water and a small amount of detergent, let it sit for a few minutes, then rub with a soft-bristled brush (baby toothbrushes are perfect!) before patting dry. That will bring your sparkle back in no time.
Choosing the right engagement ring is all about finding the one that’s right for you as a couple. Whether it’s traditional, modern or even a little off the wall, the important thing is it makes you both feel fuzzy inside. Go find the engagement ring that makes your heart sing!