The Engagement Ring Buying Guide

So, you’ve found “the one.”  There’s no doubt in your mind that this is the woman you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. You already asked her father permission for her hand in marriage, and you’ve planned the perfect romantic proposal.


But before you can book the limo service, photographer, dj, and all the other details, you’ve got to find the perfect ring. The engagement ring is a representation of your love and appreciation, and something that will be with her for the rest of her life. For many men, this is their first time buying jewelry, and it can be a daunting experience. I’ve put together this guide to make it a little easier.


1. Establish a budget

Let’s set one thing straight. That old adage about spending 2 months of your salary is garbage. This “guideline” was started in the 40’s by DeBeers (a diamond company) as part of a sneaky ad campaign they launched to try and take advantage of all of the soldiers proposing to their loved ones when they returned home.

While a ring is no doubt an important investment, it’s no reason to go into debt. Buy a nice ring, but buy one you can afford. A ring doesn’t have to be extravagant to be special. At the end of the day it’s the thought that goes into the purchase that really counts, not the price tag.

Start your marriage debt-free or use the money to go on a nice honeymoon for an experience that you’ll never forget. There’s always the option of upgrading the ring for an anniversary years down the road.

2. Reconissance: Find her size

Save yourself from embarrassment when you propose and extra cost by making sure you have the right size when you select the perfect ring. The best way to get her size is to find a ring in her jewelry box. Look for one while she’s getting ready in the bathroom or have a friend of hers snag a ring while she’s at your girlfriend’s house. Obviously, if you pick a ring that she doesn’t wear much there’s less chance she’ll notice it’s gone.

3.  Figure out what her style is

Every woman is unique (duh) and has a style that is uniquely hers. Some women prefer simple, subtle pieces that compliment, while some prefer the glamorous, glitzy nature of jewelry (it can be attention-grabbing without breaking the bank). Does she have a preference for gold, silver, or platinum?

You can get an idea of her style from her personality. Is she bold and outgoing or quieter and introverted? Take a look at her current jewelry collection to get a better idea of her preferences as well.

If you’re really struggling to get a feel for what she would like, here’s a plan. Tell your girlfriend you want to go to the mall to look at new shoes or something similar. When you walk by the jewelry store, tell her you want to go in and look at watches. She’s surely going to make her way over to the ring section, and it’s your job to take mental notes on what she’s interested in. Mission accomplished.

4. Select a quality diamond

When selecting a diamond, keeping”The 4 C’s” in mind will help steer you to the right choice.

Cut – Cut refers to the proportion and angles of the diamond. The quality of the cut determines how sparkly the diamond is. Cuts that are too shallow or too deep allow light to leak out, resulting in a lackluster appearance.

Color – What you may not have known is that diamonds actually do come in different colors.  Colorless diamonds are the rarest and most expensive, while white is the most popular color. Knowing your loved one’s style will help make your decision on color.

Clarity– Less imperfections in a stone mean it will be more clear (and cost more). When your jeweler is showing you a diamond, they’ll probably mention it’s “inclusions” which is just a fancy term for the other trace minerals within the diamond that decrease the clarity.

Carat – Carat just means weight. As you may have guessed, the heavier a diamond is the more expensive it is. Don’t get all caught up on size, though (we’re still talking about diamonds). When properly cut and set, a stone can be made to appear much larger than it’s carat weight.

A pro tip when shopping: Diamonds are priced in half and whole carat increments (0.5, 1, 1.5, etc) but not all are actually cut to those increments. A 0.9 carat diamond will typically be closer in price to a 0.5 carat stone than a 1.0