When it comes to engagements, there’s no stress like the pre-proposal stress.
It’s one thing to ask someone to marry you, but quite another to choose an appropriate ring – not just in terms of style but also as a signifier of your future together.
Whether you’re struggling with what kind of ring your partner will like or not sure what your style even is, we’ve got just the stuff to help!
How to Choose an Engagement Ring
You don’t need to be a connoisseur or a jewelry expert to buy the ideal engagement ring. The trick is knowing what you’re looking for and finding exactly that type of ring.
Here are some helpful tips for choosing an engagement ring.
Consider Your Budget
The first thing that comes into mind when you think about buying an engagement ring is how much money you have to spend. Pricing can make or break anyone’s choice of a ring!
If you’re on a tighter budget, you may want to opt for a durable affordable metal that will stand the test of time as long as it’s only worn occasionally. Consider sterling silver with cubic zirconia or moissanite.
On the other hand, if you know you or your partner are going to be wearing the engagement ring often and are willing to spend a little extra cash, you might prefer a platinum or gold band with a more durable gemstone like diamond or moissanite.
Diamonds cost between $1,500-$18,000 per carat, while other gemstones like moissanite and cubic zirconia cost far less. CZ costs about $20 per carat and moissanite goes for $600-$1500 per carat.
For more information, see our articles on how diamonds and moissanite compare and how CZ compares to diamonds.
💡 Keep in Mind: You don’t need to spend a fortune on an engagement ring. While the average cost of an engagement ring was $5,225 in 2022, 69% of couples actually only spent between $10-$5,000.
The trick is knowing what options are available and what parts of your preferred engagement ring may more heavily impact the overall cost.
Choose Your Band Metal
In any ring, it is crucial to understand the band metal. Everyone’s daily activities and habits are different, and some metals may be a better fit for your lifestyle.
Choosing the right metal for your engagement ring means knowing how often the ring will be worn, what colors will complement the person and gemstone, and understanding the cost.
Here, we’ll go over some of the most popular choices to help you decide which metal works best for you and your personal lifestyle.
Yellow gold is one of the most popular choices in engagement rings. It is perfect for those who want a classic look.
This metal is also a good choice if your partner’s skin tone is on the warmer side since it will complement their coloring nicely.
Yellow gold bands are available in different karats, with 24 karats being the purest form of gold and 14 karats being the most popular choice (58.33% gold).
- Classic look
- Complements warmer skin tones
- Available in different karats
- Not as durable as some other metals
Rose gold has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among millennials.
This metal gets its name and rose color from the copper that is used to alloy it, and it is available in a range of karats, like yellow gold.
Rose gold can be a good choice if you want something different from the classic yellow gold band but still want the warmth that gold offers.
- Unique color
- Matches with a range of gemstones
- Can complement a range of skin tones
- Susceptible to tarnish
- Not as widely available as some other metals
💡 See our top rose gold engagement rings.
White gold is an alloy of yellow gold and other white metals, such as palladium or silver. It is often plated with rhodium to give it a bright white color and extra durability.
White gold can be a good choice if you want the look of platinum but don’t want to spend as much money.
- Bright white color
- More affordable than platinum
- Can be expensive long-term
- May contain nickel, which is a common allergen
Platinum is considered to be the best metal for making engagement rings – it has a high luster and is durable. However, it can be pretty costly.
If you’re looking for a platinum band, be sure to ask if the ring is made of pure platinum or if it is just plated with platinum (platinum plating is much cheaper).
- High luster
- Very expensive
- Finish may dull over time
Sterling silver is another great choice for those who want an affordable option with a classic look.
Just be sure to take proper care of your ring if you choose sterling silver! This metal is prone to tarnishing so it is not recommended for people who don’t want their ring to tarnish easily.
- Timeless and classic
- Popular and easy to find
- Susceptible to tarnish
- Not very durable
Pick the Best Stone
Once you’ve chosen your preferred band metal, the next thing you should do is decide on your engagement ring stone.
The gemstone is the highlight of any engagement ring and it will take center stage on your finger for the rest of your life. So you want to make sure it’s something you’ll love and cherish for just as long.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few common choices for engagement ring stones.
The most popular choice for engagement rings, diamonds are known for their exceptional hardness and brilliance.
Diamonds have long been a popular choice for engagement ring stones. They are the hardest known substance on Earth and can last a lifetime with proper care.
They also come in a wide range of colors, from the classic white diamond to more unique hues like yellow, pink, and blue.
- Hardest known mineral
- Wide range of selection
- Ethical Issues
Moissanite is the way to go if you’re searching for a less expensive colorless engagement stone, but still want some of the same perks as a diamond.
This beautiful gemstone has a higher refractive index than diamond, which means they appear more brilliant.
If you or your partner loves a greater shine without the high price tag, moissanite could be the perfect gemstone.
- Shines brighter than diamond
- Not as hard as diamonds (but still pretty durable)
- Can be difficult to come by – not as common on the market
Sapphires are a great choice for an engagement ring stone if you’re looking for something unique and different from the typical diamond.
They come in a wide range of colors, so you can find one that perfectly suits your partner’s personality. They’re also quite durable, meaning they will be able to handle daily wear.
- Available in a range of colors
- Can be expensive, depending on the quality and color of the sapphire
- Requires a bit more care and maintenance
Like sapphires, rubies are a great choice for an engagement ring stone if you’re looking for something unique and different from the typical diamond.
Rubies are available in a range of red-hued colors, with the rarest and most cherished color being blood-red.
While rubies are not as hard as diamonds, they are still a very durable choice for an engagement ring.
Expert Tip: Because rubies are less common than diamonds, they can be quite expensive.
- Beautifully rare color
- Can be expensive
- May not have many options because they are so rare
Emeralds are known for their brilliant green color and are one of the most popular and timeless gemstones.
They range in color from light green to dark green and are often found in antique or vintage jewelry.
As a type of beryl, emeralds are not as tough as some other gemstones out there.
However, emerald engagement rings are still durable enough for everyday wear, making them a popular choice.
- Elegant and timeless
- Will hold its value over time
- Beautifully unique and striking green color
- Has a tendency to contain more flaws and impurities
- Not as durable as some other stones
Know Your Carats
Carat size refers to the weight of a diamond. A larger carat means that the stone weighs more than a smaller carat. In general, the higher the number, the bigger the stone.
However, depending on the stone’s cut, the size may appear bigger or smaller than it really is.
When it comes to price, size definitely matters. The bigger the diamond, the more expensive it will be.
If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider a smaller stone. But, don’t forget, the quality of the stone is also important!
How many carats should an engagement ring be?
There is no set number for how many carats your engagement ring should be. All in all, the carat size is up to personal preference and how much you are willing to spend on size.
The most common diamond size is between 0.5 and 1.5 carats.
However, carat sizes fluctuate for different types of gemstones and you can find engagement rings that are anywhere from 0.25 carats to over 20 carats!
Decide on a Stone Shape
The cut of a gemstone is what gives it its shape, but how well a stone has been cut also affects its symmetry, brightness, fire, and how sparkly it appears.
There are different types of cuts, such as the popular round cut or the more unique Asscher cut – the shape you choose is up to you.
However, keep in mind that some shapes, like the oval and marquise, can make a gemstone look larger than it actually is.
So, if you’re looking for a bigger stone on a budget, these may be good shapes to consider.
The most commonly chosen gemstone shape is the round cut. It is classic and timeless, making it a popular choice for engagement rings.
Round cuts are also one of the most sparkly shapes because of their brilliant facets. If you’re looking for a stone that will really shine, then a round cut is a good option.
If you’re focusing more on cost when looking at gemstone shapes, then the emerald, pear, and Asscher cuts may be some shapes to consider.
These shapes tend to be cheaper than others because they use more of the rough stone, producing less waste
They are also not as popular as some other cuts, which reduces their demand and price on the market.
For something different, you may want to consider a cushion cut or the Royal Asscher cut.
These shapes are not as common as round or oval cuts, but they can add a unique element to your engagement ring.
Cushion cuts are a type of antique cut that is making a comeback in the jewelry world. They have rounded corners and larger facets, which give them more sparkle.
The Royal Asscher cut was created by the Asscher brothers in 1902 and is similar to the emerald cut. It has a unique square shape with step-cut facets, which create a beautiful sparkle.
💡 The round cut and Asscher or Royal Asscher cuts are the most brilliant gemstone shapes.
This is because their facets are cut in a way that reflects the most light, making them appear shiny and sparkly.
The round cut, also known as the “brilliant round” has 58 facets, whereas the Asscher or Royal Asscher cuts can have up to 74 facets – the most amount of facets in any gemstone cut.
If you’re looking for a stone that will really shine, then any one of these shapes is an excellent choice.
Choose the Perfect Setting
💡 The setting is the metal band that holds the gemstone in place.
There are different types of settings, such as prong or bezel, and the one you choose should complement the shape of your stone.
For example, a round-cut stone looks best in a prong setting because it allows more light to enter the stone, making it appear brighter.
On the other hand, an emerald-cut stone looks best in a bezel setting because it helps to protect the corners of the stone, which can be susceptible to chipping.
Here is a list of the different types of ring settings:
A bezel setting secures the gemstone in place with a metal rim that goes around the stone. This type of setting can help to protect the stone, as it is less exposed than in a prong setting.
A prong setting consists of metal claws that secure the gemstone in place. This type of setting can make a stone look larger, as it is more exposed.
A channel setting holds the gemstones in place with metal channels on either side of the band. This type of setting is often used with multiple stones set next to each other.
A bar setting uses a horizontal metal bar to secure the gemstone in place. This type of setting is often used with multiple stones set next to each other.
A flush setting secures the gemstone in place with metal claws that are flush against the band (hence the name). This type of setting is a good choice if you’re looking for a more low-key setting.
A halo ring setting features the main stone surrounded by multiple smaller stones, typically in a pavé or micropavé setting. Halo settings have the appeal of extra sparkle and usually feature multi-faceted stones.
The solitaire setting means that there is one main stone generally held up by four to six prongs. This is the classic engagement ring setting favored by minimalist brides who love the traditional ring style.
A pavé setting consists of small metal beads or “paving” that secures the gemstone in place. This type of setting is often used with multiple stones set close together.
A cathedral setting has a raised band with arches that go over the gemstone. This type of setting can make a stone look larger, as it is more exposed.
💡 Take Note: Be careful when choosing a ring setting, as some may not be compatible with certain gemstone shapes. Also, be sure to get your ring sized properly, as an ill-fitting ring can cause damage to the setting and gemstone.
Know Your Ring Size
Another factor to consider while buying an engagement ring is its size.
It is essential to know the ring size of the person you are proposing to, or it may result in an uncomfortable fit.
There are a few ways that you can measure a person’s ring size. One way is to go to a local jewelry store and get your finger measured by a professional
If you prefer to measure ring size at home, here are a few steps you can take:
- Wrap a piece of string or strip of paper around the base of the person’s finger.
- Mark the point on the string or paper where it overlaps to form a complete circle.
- Measure the length of the string or strip of paper with a ruler (in mm).
- Use this measurement to find the corresponding ring size using an online ring size chart.
Once you have the ring, try it on for fit and comfort. The ring should be snug but not too tight and should be able to slide over your knuckle with some resistance.
If you are unsure about your ring size, err on the side of a looser fit. It’s easier to make a ring smaller than it is to make it larger.
Complement Your Wedding Band
Your wedding band should complement your engagement ring and vice versa. You’ll want to make sure that the two rings fit together snugly without any gaps in between.
There are two primary options you can choose from to be sure your engagement ring complements the wedding band:
- Buy your rings in a matching set. This might be the best choice if you know you’re going to be wearing your rings together most of the time.
- Coordinate your rings. If you prefer a little more flexibility in how you wear your rings, it might be better to choose rings that are similar in style, but not necessarily identical.
Here are some additional tips for how you can be sure your rings match and overlap properly:
- Choose a metal type that is the same or similar for both rings. This will make it easier to get a good match.
- If you have an ornate engagement ring, choose a simpler wedding band or vice versa. This will help the two rings complement each other without being too matchy-matchy.
- Get your rings custom-made. This way you can ensure that your rings are designed to be the perfect fit.
- Have your jeweler check the fit of your rings periodically to make sure they are still sized properly. Keep in mind that you may need to get your rings resized after your wedding, so factor that into your budget, as well.
You want to be sure that you are getting a quality ring from a reputable source. Keep these tips in mind while shopping for an engagement ring.
- Look for jewelers certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or a similar organization. It is especially important to buy gemstones from certified sellers because they will always come with a grading report that verifies the quality of the stone. This way, you can also be sure your stone is coming from an ethical source.
- Be sure to compare prices before you buy an engagement ring. You’ll want to be sure that you are getting a good value for your money. Prices can vary greatly depending on the quality of the materials and the design of the ring. Shop around at different jewelers to compare prices and styles. It is important to find a balance between getting a high-quality ring and staying within your budget.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Many jewelers are willing to work with you on price, especially if you are buying other items from them as well.
- Factor in the cost of insurance and repairs when budgeting for your engagement ring. This will help you be prepared for any unexpected costs down the road.
Don’t Forget Ethics
If you or your partner strive to only purchase ethically sourced or environmentally friendly products, then finding an engagement ring that fits this criterion is essential.
Many diamonds are mined in conflict zones and sold to finance war efforts. These are known as “blood or conflict diamonds.”
You can avoid buying blood diamonds by only purchasing from jewelers that follow the Kimberley Process, a system that tracks and certifies the origin of diamonds. Check the retailer’s site to see if they can confirm their product origins.
You might also choose to buy a diamond alternative, such as lab-grown diamonds or moissanite. These stones are ethically produced and are often just as beautiful as natural diamonds.
This also applies to gold or other rare metals. Some metals are mined using practices that are harmful to the environment and exploit workers.
You can avoid buying unethical gold by only purchasing from jewelers that sell Fairtrade Gold, which is sourced from mines that follow strict environmental and labor standards.
Be sure to do your research on which stores sell ethically sourced jewelry before you purchase an engagement ring. This way, you can be confident in your purchase!
Consider a Unique Creation
If you want your engagement ring to be truly unique, you may want to consider having it custom-made.
Custom rings give you the opportunity to work with a jeweler to create a one-of-a-kind ring that is perfect for you and your fiance.
You can choose the materials, design, and details of the ring – making it truly yours.
The downside of custom rings is that they can be more expensive than pre-made rings. However, many couples feel that the extra cost is worth it for a ring that is uniquely theirs.
If you’re going to design your own engagement ring with a jeweler, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Find a reputable jeweler. Ask for recommendations from friends or family or do your research online.
- Be clear about your budget from the start. Keep in mind that custom-made rings can be expensive, so clarifying what your limits are at the start of the process will help the jeweler create a ring that is within your price range.
- You’ll need to be patient. It can take several weeks or even months to have a custom engagement ring made. But the wait will be worth it when you have a one-of-a-kind ring that is perfect for you!
- Think about the style of the ring. Do you want a simple band or something more ornate? Would you like diamonds or other stones set into the ring? What kind of design do you want? There are endless possibilities when it comes to designing an engagement ring, so you’ll need to narrow down your options before you start working with a jeweler.
💡 Keep in mind: If you change your mind on a design, you can always upgrade or change your ring later. Just be aware that there may be added costs to the process.
If you’re not sure about certain details of the ring, don’t be afraid to ask the jeweler for advice. They will be able to help you make choices that will create a ring that you love!
Quiz: Which Engagement Ring Style Should You Choose?
Still can’t figure out the best engagement ring style for you? This quiz will help!
FAQs About Choosing an Engagement Ring
If you’ve done our quiz, you probably have an idea about what engagement ring style suits you best. But, maybe you still have some questions.
We’ll go over some commonly asked questions about engagement rings and engagement ring shopping in this section.
What is most important when picking an engagement ring?
When choosing an engagement ring, the Four C’s of a gemstone are one of the most important factors to consider. The “Four Cs” stand for Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Color.
Carat weight is especially important as it directly affects a diamond’s price. However, each of these will influence how your gemstone appears on the ring and its overall cost.
How much should I spend on an engagement ring?
There are many different answers people will give you on how much you should spend on an engagement ring.
💡 A “rule of thumb” is to spend two months’ salary on the ring, but that’s not required.
The most commonly bought engagement ring is a round, white, 1-carat diamond on solitaire, which usually comes up at around $5000, although there is no set amount you have to spend.
Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference. The most important thing is to pick a ring that you love and feel comfortable with.
Does the woman pick out the engagement ring?
Traditionally, it was expected that the man would pick out the ring without the woman’s input.
In some relationships, the man will pick out the ring without consulting his partner. Some men even present their partners with a “family heirloom” engagement ring.
But this isn’t always the case in modern relationships.
Nowadays, it is more common for couples to shop together for the engagement ring – many couples actually prefer this!
This means that you can both be sure that you love the ring and that it’s within your budget.
The most important thing is to communicate with your partner about what they want and what you’re comfortable with.
No matter who picks out the ring, it should be a joint decision that you’re both happy with.
A Proposal Made Easier
Choosing an engagement ring is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
By keeping your budget in mind, doing your research, and finding a ring that suits your style, you can find the perfect ring for you and your fiance.
Congratulations on taking this important step in your relationship!
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