How to Choose an Engagement Ring: A Detailed Guide
Have you finally decided it's time to tie the knot and propose to your loved one? Are you feeling nervous about shopping for the ring? Our jewelers at Estate Watch & Jewelry Co. understand the importance of choosing the right ring and our goal is to help you find the ideal piece that will leave your loved one speechless and make the moment memorable.
Before, buying an engagement ring was simple as our options were more limited. Nowadays, as precious metals and different jewelry designs come into play, the task can feel more challenging than ever.
Proposing for the first time means you're overwhelmed with doubts:
- How do I know her size?
- Where should I go shopping?
- How much should I spend on the ring?
Fret not as we've prepared an easy-to-follow guide that'll help you make a smart choice and buy a ring that not only fits your partner's taste, but your budget as well.
What does an Engagement Ring Embody?
Nowadays, an engagement ring is a symbol of devotion, but centuries ago, a proposal had a completely different meaning. It was a way for men to literally mark their territory.
As the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) claims, somewhere around 200BCE women wore rings usually made of ivory or bone to signify a business contract and affirm their obedience.
The tables have turned and in 1477 the first ever diamond engagement ring was crafted, making this a milestone in the engagement ring history.
It wasn't until 1947 that the famous "A diamond is forever" slogan created by De Beers solidified the popular opinion that you can never go wrong with a diamond.
Such an extravagant ring was no longer a symbol of ownership, but a testimonial of love and trust.
The famous De Beers advertising campaign-Image credit by theeyeofjewelry.com
In the modern age, there is a new tendency to make the engagement ring as personal as possible.
That's why people choose different designs based on their loved one’s preferences to show they appreciate their partner’s uniqueness.
Three Things to Have in Mind Before Shopping for an Engagement Ring
Set a budget
Before making any kind of purchase, it's necessary to ask yourself: “How much money am I willing to spend?” A general and wide-spread rule is that one should spend at least two to three months' salary on the engagement ring.
Naturally, this is no more than an outdated myth and the amount of money you’ll spend will depend on the ring you choose. For instance, in 2020, the average sum spent on engagement ring shopping was somewhere in the ballpark of $5,500.
Average sum spent on engagement rings in the US-image credit by statista.com
If you’re not able to allocate a large sum of money, you can take advantage of financing opportunities such as Klarna, which works on a “shop now, pay later” basis. That way, you’ll get the ring you’ve wanted and you’ll be able to pay for it on a monthly basis.
Nonetheless, there's more to it than the price tag. An important factor to take into consideration are your fiancée’s-to-be preferences and style. If your loved one fancies delicate and subtle designs, there's no need to buy them a flashy stone they won't feel comfortable wearing.
Know the style
As we hinted at in the previous paragraph, there's no use in going ring shopping before you've carefully inspected your partner's personal style.
The next time you take your loved one on an evening date, make sure to put your detective glasses on and pay attention to how they accessorize:
- Are they a fan of sterling silver and white gold?
- Do they prefer yellow metals such as rose gold?
Is their wardrobe bold and colorful or minimalist and subtle?
If they regularly wear chunky necklaces and flashy jewelry pieces, that means they may like to stand out in the crowd, so a customized ring would be the ideal choice.
On the other hand, if your partner is more traditional, you'll generally want to pick something more elegant and classy.
Where to buy the engagement ring?
Once you've set a budget and envisioned the perfect engagement ring, it's time to choose your retailer. With the numerous options available to the 21st century (wo)man, picking out the best store has become a difficult process.
However, there are three ways you can go about your purchase:
Even though online shopping continues to attract a high number of new customers daily, some people prefer to make all of their important purchases in the offline world. Before you start browsing a jewelry store's range of products, check whether the store fulfills the following criteria:
- Does the store have an established local reputation?
- Are its previous customers reviewing it positively on Google?
- Does its staff possess the relevant gemological and diamond expertise to help with your engagement ring purchase?
If you're nodding your head while reading the above questions, you've likely selected the right jeweler.
Nevertheless, it's also recommendable to do a thorough Internet search. Since there is a staggering number of almost 20,000 jewelry stores in the US, you'll want to search locally.
For instance, anyone living in Arizona might check out Phoenix jewelry stores as it's the most populous city and some of its parts, namely Scottsdale, are known for their high fashion and luxury department stores.
It’s better to narrow down your search as you’ll not only make the process less time-consuming, but you’ll also get more accurate and helpful information.
If your engagement ring shopping has brought you to Phoenix, feel free to stop by our jewelry store and we’ll make sure you get all of your questions answered.
The main advantage of buying online is having the chance to browse dozens of stores from the comfort of your home. Still, a recent survey shows that only 11% of their respondents ended up buying the ring online.
If you opt for this method, do your research on the company and website thoroughly, especially when dealing with an online-only company. Some things you should look out for:
- delivery terms
- return policy and refund rules (what happens if you don’t like it?)
- sales tax charges
- website reviews
It's not entirely safe to buy such a luxurious piece of jewelry online unless the website allows you to read the entire (ideally) GIA grading report and provides a video of the stone so that you can check for imperfections (inclusions) in the stone yourself.
GIA grading report example-image credit by gia.edu
For the bold and creative, the best option would be to create a custom design and work with a jeweler on designing the ring. If you have a clear picture of the kind of ring you'd like to give to your loved one, find a jeweler who'll help bring your ideas to life.
The good news is that most jewelry stores have custom jewelers, so you won’t have trouble finding one.
A custom-made engagement ring is more personal and your partner will value the effort you put into it.
However, should you opt for this approach, have in mind that the entire process—from the first consultation until the moment you get a finished ring, lasts for several weeks, even months. Therefore, make sure it aligns with your desired proposal timeline.
The Steps to Selecting the Right Engagement Ring
Once you’ve decided on the where and how, it all boils down to choosing the perfect ring and determining the engagement ring style.
Choose a setting
Selecting the engagement ring setting is an important step that substantially affects the ring’s design. You’ll want to be well-versed with the right terminology to be able to choose the right ring.
Some of the most popular settings include:
- solitaire - a ring set with one stone in the middle of the ring
- halo setting - a large stone framed by smaller stones (e.g. pavé diamonds)
- shoulder setting - a ring set with a center diamond and smaller stones on both sides
- three-stone - a ring with three stones linearly arranged that symbolize the past, present and future
Ring setting styles
When opting for a setting, pay attention to your partner’s style. A shoulder-set ring is a great choice if your loved one likes to stand out in the crowd whereas a solitaire ring would be more appropriate for someone who prefers minimal detailing.
Pick the metal
When on a mission to get the ideal jewelry piece, especially when that piece is an engagement ring that’s meant to never leave your partner’s hand, it’s necessary to put some thought into the ring metal. There are two options you should consider:
You can never go wrong with choosing something as classic as gold since it’s perfect for engagement rings and even wedding bands. This metal is easy to combine and works with all kinds of clothing styles. When it comes to gold, there are three ways to go:
- Yellow gold - traditional and classic, complementary to all skin tones and easy to maintain
- White gold - modern and easy to pair with both diamonds and colored gemstones
- Rose gold-exudes a vintage look and it’s very eye-catching due to its pink blush color
If you’re looking for a durable and scratch-resistant ring, you’ll be wise to steer clear of pure gold(24k) as it’s too soft and can be easily damaged. For instance, most custom pieces are actually 18k, so this would likely be a good option for the ring.Platinum
As one of the rarest and most luxurious metals in the world, platinum comes with a high price tag. Its ability to stand the test of time has earned it the title of one of the strongest metals and why it’s usually the material used for making prongs.
What you get in return for the price is definitely worth it.
Find out her ring size
Naturally, when selecting the ring, you’ll want to ensure that the ring size is correct and make sure it fits well. The average size ring for women is 6, so you can always go for this size and afterwards resize the ring if necessary (but it’s best to get it right beforehand).
However, there are a couple of clever tricks to find out the size without your partner knowing (unless you’ve of course decided to go engagement ring shopping together).
You could learn her ring finger size in no time by:
- Taking one of the rings she wears on her ring finger to the nearest jewelry store and have it accurately measured to find out her correct size
- Buying a mandrel (ring sizing measuring tool) if you want to do it yourself and ensure you get an accurate ring size
These two options are the safest way to go and are more reliable than other tips you might find online.
If you still don’t manage to get the size, you can always ask their mother or close friends to help you in your endeavor. Don’t worry as you can always get the ring resized should the ring not fit perfectly.
Diamonds vs Gemstones—What is the Better Option?
The final decision to be made is choosing the center stone—should you opt for a diamond or a gemstone? Diamonds are the most common choice and continue to dominate the market, but gemstones can also be a good choice. It will all depend on your partner’s preferences.
Diamonds are forever
It’s a well-known fact that diamonds, according to the Mohs scale, are more durable and stronger in comparison to other gemstones. Diamond quality, their sparkle and colorless appearance make them the perfect piece that’s easily combined with different skin tones and styles.
That’s why they’re generally more expensive and why you’ll want to make sure it fits within your budget.
If you choose a diamond engagement ring, make sure you’re well informed about the four C’s (cut, color, clarity, carat weight) as well as the diamond shape. Find a detailed diamond buying guide online to get all the information you need.
Nowadays, lab-grown diamonds are increasing in popularity and they come in different shapes, cuts and designs. Although they were met with some skepticism the first time they appeared in the market, today they are a common choice of many buyers as they are generally more cost-effective.
Comparison of lab-grown and natural diamonds- image credits by poggenpoel.com
A lab grown diamond is, as the name itself suggests, formed in a lab using cutting-edge technology and is just as durable and sparkly as its natural counterpart.
Gemstones make it personal
Although diamonds still remain the most popular option when it comes to engagement rings, some opt for gemstones instead. If you’re looking for something a bit different, then a colored gemstone that accentuates your partner’s personality is what you need.
Gemstone engagement rings carry meaning and symbolism. From sapphires to rubies, the options are numerous.
There are, in fact, over 200 types of gemstones in the world so you’ll definitely have a wide range to choose from.
Colored gemstone ring
A gemstone jewelry piece is ideal when you’re looking for something unique and out-of-the-box. We believe Elizabeth Taylor would also agree with us since she never shied from strutting her luxurious gemstone necklaces back in the day.
Completing the Purchase Process
You’ve made it to the end—you’ve chosen the ring and now you only have to deal with certain technicalities before you’re finally able to get down on one knee.
Should I get the engagement ring insured?
The ring you buy may come with a warranty that typically covers minor defects. On the other hand, engagement ring insurance is a policy that protects you financially should the ring be lost, stolen or damaged.
It’s highly recommended to insure your engagement ring especially if you’ve taken out a loan to buy the piece.
The insurance costs are somewhere in the ballpark of $1 per $100 of the ring value. So for example, for a $3,000 ring, you’d expect to pay around $30 per year to have it insured. This ensures that you’ll have financial security should anything happen to the ring.
How to care for the engagement ring?
After you’ve bought the ring, you’ll want to make sure its glow and sparkle lasts for years. With proper care, your loved one will make sure the ring stays as good as new.
1.Make an appointment with your jeweler
It’s recommended to meet with your jeweler at least one a year to have the ring serviced and polished. Plus, a professional will be able to check the setting and prongs to make sure all stones are securely in place.
2. Avoid harsh chemicals
When dealing with harsh chemicals, it’s better to take off the ring to avoid damaging it. Substances such as bleach or acid can potentially harm the stone (even a diamond), so don’t risk it.
Almost any stone can be chipped and scratched, so you’ll need to be careful not to knock it against hard materials.
3. Remove the ring only when necessary
Only remove the ring during activities that require extensive hand movement such as gardening, exercising and swimming.
4. Place ring dishes around the house
How often do you misplace your keys because you can never seem to remember where you put them? To avoid these stressful situations, it’s good practice to place several ring dishes in those rooms where you'll most likely take off the ring—bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.
That way you’ll always know where to look for the ring!
Bonus Tip: Where to Pop the Question?
Red Rock Park
For anyone living in the vicinity, Sedona has always been the perfect weekend getaway. Its beautiful scenery and breath-taking sunsets make it the perfect place for you to pop the question. The location is great if you’re the outdoorsy type!
Sedona Red Rocks- Image credits by saatyphotography.com
Don’t forget to bring your camera as there are plenty of picturesque spots where you can take some photos and capture the moment.
The Grand Canyon
If you’re that couple that simply can’t stay away from the limelight, the Grand Canyon is the ideal place to propose. As it draws a large number of tourists(especially in the summer), you’ll probably share your special moment with other visitors.
The Grand Canyon- Image credits by locallens.com
The south rim, namely the Lipan Point has one of the most spectacular views and it provides a mesmerizing backdrop for an epic proposal. If you’re the adventurous type, there’s also the option of renting a helicopter and proposing during the ride.
Desert Botanical Gardens
We couldn’t help but show off our local patriotism and suggest an amazing location in our hustling and bustling city of Phoenix.
Desert Botanical Gardens- Image credits by allisonslaterphotography.com
If you and your loved one are fans of the outdoors, the long trails and diverse flora of the Desert Botanical Gardens are the place for you.
The best part is that the Garden offers self-paced tours, meaning that you can spend the post-proposal by walking through the numerous aisles of distinct flora and fauna to truly experience this jaw-dropping scenery.
The Final Word
Hopefully, the guide has provided you with all the information you’ll need on your journey to pick out the perfect engagement ring. The engagement ring is more than a jewelry piece—it’s a token of love and devotion and should be chosen carefully.
Our Phoenix jewelry store and its certified staff is more than happy to join you on your mission and answer any questions you have.
We’ll make sure you walk out of our store with a unique engagement ring that you’ll cherish forever.