man opens ring box in front of woman

So, you’re ready to purchase an engagement ring. Congratulations! This is a super exciting time and one that should be cherished, not stressed over. Take a deep breath and have no fear… we’ve broken down everything you need to know about this big purchase. Bookmark this page for future reference because it will be a great resource throughout the entire shopping process and even after. So, without further ado, let’s jump into buying an engagement ring 101.

Buying an Engagement Ring 101: Everything You Need to Know

Buying an engagement ring isn’t just a one-step process, but this list will help you break it down into palatable steps.

STEP 1: Set a budget

This is vital and often a step that many couples skip out on. Being on the same page about the cost of your engagement ring will ensure that the proposal is full of excitement and not questions or comments like, “How did you afford this?” or, “This isn’t the carat size I was expecting”. This will also be a good starting point for the many chats you’ll likely have with your diamond expert. But more on this later.

STEP 2: Explore payment options

After you decide on cost, it’s time to figure out how exactly you’re going to make this payment. If you’re able, paying in full can often be done through a credit card or wire transfer. Most companies also offer a financing alternative. At Clean Origin, we offer financing through Affirm. This allows you the flexibility of making smaller, more easily manager payments over 12, 18, or 24 months. 

STEP 3: Do your research

If they aren’t already, the 4 C’s of diamonds will be your new best friend. Cut, color, clarity, and carat are the four categories or aspects of a diamond that you’ll need to specify when you make your purchase, so you’ll want to be familiar with them. Here’s what each what means, in layman’s terms:

Cut – a better cut means more sparkle and shine.
Color – not all diamonds are 100% perfectly clear. Diamonds with a letter grade lower on the alphabet will begin to have tints of yellow.

Clarity – accounts for the number of flaws or inclusions in the diamond. 

Carat – the size of the stone.

As mentioned above, you’ll want to first let your diamond expert know how much you’re looking to spend on a diamond. This will help her or him decide where you should be in regards to the 4 C’s. They’ll also likely ask you if you have any preferences, such as more sparkle, larger diamond, etc. This will help them figure out exactly what diamond will get you the best bang for your buck. Buyer beware: make sure you are working with an actual expert, not just a salesman. If they’re constantly trying to upsell you and push you towards a diamond that you’re not comfortable with, leave. You want to work with someone that will work within your parameters, not outside of them.

You’ll also want to do research into the company that you’re purchasing from. The best way to do this is through their reviews. You’ll be able to read about the experiences of others and often find out about things like how responsive their customer service is and what types of policies they have for after you make a purchase. For example, at Clean Origin we offer the following:

  • 100-day return policy
  • Lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
  • Free resizing
  • Free shipping
  • All stones come with a lab certification 

STEP 4: Decide on your diamond type

Although we only sell lab-grown diamonds at Clean Origin, we understand that there are more options out there. We also understand, and respect, that the choice between a mined diamond and a man-made stone is personal. So, you’ll need to decide which is the right choice for you. 

The best way we can break it down is by using simple facts:

  • Mined diamonds and lab created diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically the same
  • A lab-grown diamond can ensure a 100% ethically sourced stone
  • Lab-grown diamonds can be anywhere from 20-40% less expensive

Using the above facts, your own research, and personal preference, you’ll likely come to a conclusion on which type of diamond you would like to purchase. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll make sure we get it answered!

STEP 5: Find her ring size

Before we get into how to choose an engagement ring, you’ll want to figure out what size ring she wears. The easiest way to do this is to measure a ring she already has that she wears on her ring finger. There are sizing charts available online that can help you with measurement, or you can bring it to a jeweler and they can help. If she’s not a big ring wearer or you’re not sure how to slyly take a piece of her jewelry, get one of her friends or family members to help. Have them take her ring shopping ‘just for fun’ or have her mother see if her own ring fits on your future fiance. As a general rule of thumb, go up in size if you’re unsure. It’s much easier to resize a ring smaller than it is to go larger.

STEP 6: Pick your setting

The way that you start to pick out your engagement ring is sort of like ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ But in this case, its ‘what do you choose first, your setting or your stone?’ 

For the sake of how our writers picked these steps, let’s start with picking your setting

There are a few main things you’ll want to decide on in a setting: the collection/type, the color, the metal type, and sometimes the number of prongs.

There are four main collections: classic, solitaire, halo, and vintage. The style of you, or your significant others, setting will really all come down to personal taste. A classic ring is timeless but adds a bit of extra shimmer with its pave band. A solitaire is perfect for someone who loves the beauty of simplicity. Halos are extremely popular at the moment due to their gorgeous row of accent diamonds that encircle the center diamond — often making your main stone look larger than it is. A vintage ring is often intricate and tells a story of times past. If you’re unsure what kind of ring to get, it’s often helpful to look at your partner’s other jewelry to get a feel of what they like. 

Color might be a bit easier to choose. Currently, white gold or platinum are the most popular choice do their versatility with other jewelry, especially silver. Yellow gold was extremely popular in the late 90s and we’re starting to see it come back in style, especially as people begin to mix and match their engagement and wedding rings. Rose gold, the newest color, is perfect for someone who enjoys making a bold statement with their jewelry and loves a good trend.

If you choose an engagement ring that’s any of the gold metal’s, you’ll also have to pick between 14 and 18k gold. The difference is pretty simple. 14k contains less pure gold and thus is harder and costs less. 18k contains more pure gold and is a bit softer and a bit more expensive. It will really love down to how much activity you think you’ll be doing with the ring on and how much gold you prefer to be present.

STEP 7: Pick your diamond

Your shape will be a bit limited if you started your diamond search with a setting and vice versa. This is simply done to the fact that some settings can only accommodate certain shapes. For the most part, brilliant round diamonds will be able to fit in almost any setting — they’re also the most popular shape. 

Every other diamond shape is a bit more unique. If you have your eyes set on something like an emerald or oval, find the perfect loose diamond first. Then, narrow your search to only look at settings that can fit your preferred shape. If you have any questions, as always, feel free to reach out to one of our diamond experts for help.

Other Helpful Resources

How much should you spend on a ring?

How much you spend should not be set by anyone but you and your partner. The three-month rule that most people refer to was a marketing scheme made up years ago to get men to spend more money on a ring. As we mentioned, you should discuss the budget of your ring with your significant other. Come to a conclusion together based on your financial health and personal choices.

How do I choose an engagement ring?

Picking a ring can seem overwhelming with so many options available. First, follow steps 1-5 above and narrow down where you’re going to buy your ring. Then, if you’re unsure of what diamond and setting to choose, look to her closest friends and family for help. It’s likely that she’s either sent them pictures of her dream ring, made comments about someone else’s, or has it sitting on her wedding Pinterest board that you forgot to check. 

If you’re picking out your own engagement ring and struggling with which to pick, we suggest trying a few different styles. Often, this will help you narrow down your search based on how they actually look on your finger or the feeling you get when you put it on!

No matter what, don’t let this be a stressful decision. Take your time, follow our guide to buying an engagement ring 101, and have fun doing it! If all else fails, rest assured that we offer a generous 100-day return policy.