When you browse online for engagemet rings, you will see amazing picks, but they end up too expensive, or we can’t match a great setting with the best diamont to get the desired ring!

A lot of people say that they are several things they wish they knew before buying an engagement ring, and for that sole reason, we’ve created this guide.

Buying a ring isn’t like any other purchase you will make in your life, don’t get us wrong and add pressure to your journey, but there are several things you should be aware of before making the decision, and we’re here to help you on that.

Want to know how to find a spectacular engagement ring like this one for the minimal budget?

Why Buying an Engagement Ring Seems Sounds Complicated?

Simply, because there are 10+ diamond shapes, 10+ ring/setting styles, 6 or 7 common ring metal options, and mixing these will get you hundreds of options!

Not to mention her preferred style, finger size, the 4Cs, budget, and many other stuff you need to consider!

The good part? This can be narrowed down easily once you follow this 6 steps guide to find the ultimate engagement ring.

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In this day of just about anything goes, many couples discuss the bride-to-be’s preference in a diamond engagement ring or even visit jewelry stores or online sites together to try on different shapes and settings.

However, many of us still want the proposal and presentation of the diamond to be a wonderful surprise to our ladies. So here are some simple steps each of you can take either together or secretly on your own.

Let’s break this down into 6 tips & steps you need to follow.

Step One: Decide Your Budget For The Whole Ring (Setting & Diamond)

Budget for Engagement Ring

Before going any further, you can’t just go and search for a ring without having a budget in mind (Even if you are in an open budget, you should still at least have a rough idea about the budget you’re willing to spend, is it 5k, 10k, or 30k).

We’re not saying that you need to know if you’re willing to spend $5000 or $5500, no, just have an idea about the amount you’re willing to spend, like are you going to spend 1k-2k dollars, 8k-10k dollars, or a little up 15k-20k dollars.

Tip: Read and learn How much to spend on a diamond engagement ring.

Design Your Ownimp

This way you can focus on more details on size, cut, and many other engagement rings & diamonds characteristics which highly depend on the price range you have in mind.

Step Two: Select the Diamond Shape & Ring Setting

The options of diamond shapes and settings may seem overwhelming at first, but there are ways to narrow the field immediately. A diamond that catches your eye at first may not be flattering on her hand.

For example, on a small, delicate hand, a round diamond may look more beautiful than a marquise that covers more of her finger. If the size of the diamond makes a difference, then you may prefer a shape that reveals more surface area than depth to maximize the appearance of size, such as an emerald cut.

For help visualizing the diamond on her hand try using this great 3D tool at James Allen. This image shows different types of cuts as well (explained in depth in the diamond shapes article, linked previously)

Engagement Ring Cuts

Step Three: Consider Her Other Jewelry

Every woman wants her diamond ring to stand out and also to complement her other jewelry. Does she prefer contemporary pieces or is her jewelry more traditional in style?

Round diamonds are the most traditional choice, emerald cuts are considered very elegant; whereas princess, pear and marquise have a more modern look to them. It’s best to ask a jeweler to point out the more classic settings versus those that are contemporary. If you’re feeling creative, you can also design a setting of your own and search online for a diamond that would look great in that setting.

When you’re choosing a setting ask yourself this: Does she usually wear silver jewelry (in which case she’d probably prefer white gold or platinum setting) or is yellow gold the precious metal of her choice?

Blue Nile Ring

Trying on various diamonds in different settings is – of course – the best way to see what appeals most and looks most beautiful on her hand, but if that’s not your desire, listen for hints. Does she ever comment on diamonds she sees in magazines or engagement rings her friends wear? If not, you might ask her close friends or family members (if they can keep a secret) to help you make the choice.

Step Four: Know Her Ring Size

If you’re shopping alone for the ring, you don’t want to screw up the whole surprise, believe me! Imagine you’re on your knee, proposing to her, and she says yes, then: The ring doesn’t fit, of course you will assure her that you can resize it, and she will be okay with that and understandable, but you don’t want the whole situation to happen! Plus, you don’t need to pay more for resizing fees if applicable.

You may also like:  Stop This Nonsense: There is No Engagement Ring Price Rule

Engagement Ring SizeYou have several ways to know her ring size:

  1. Ask her family or friends: Her close friends or family (who keep secrets for sure) can help you with this.
  2. If you live together, look for a ring that she doesn’t wear since a long time, while she is away, take it to the closest jeweler store and let them check the size for you.
  3. THE BEST OPTION: Make an imprint in a bar of soap using one of her rings (and make it stick well), then take the soap to the jeweler, who can measure it and determine what size you should buy.

Or, read the full list How to Find Her Ring Size? 12 Ways to Know it.

This is why it’s so important to buy your ring from a reputable jeweler or a website that provides free ring sizing. Here is an online ring sizing toolor if you want a more exact measurement you can have a free ring sizer sent to you by mail.

Step Five: What to Look For in The Diamond Itself – The 4Cs

Once you have narrowed your choices down to a certain diamond shape or a particular style of setting, to make a wise purchase, you need to know somethings about diamonds. The measure of a diamond’s quality and value are determined by the 4Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight, we will break these down shortly.

Whiteflash Skyscraper widerThe brilliance of your diamond is the key to its beauty, and brilliance has everything to do with color, clarity and cut (note that we didn’t mention carat here, more on this later). A skilled artisan can maximize the fire, sparkle and brilliance of a diamond by how he or she cuts the rough stone. The precision with which each facet is cut and placed is critical.

Since these 4Cs are the most important part of the whole process, let’s have an idea about each of them:

Engagement Ring Diamond Color

Diamond color is graded on a scale from Colorless to Yellow, with  colorless diamonds being higher priced (and supposedly higher quality).

On an engagement ring diamond certificate or when looking at diamond characteristics online you will see a single letter notation of D for colorless down to J for the lowest graded color diamonds (Technically there are many more diamond colors than this – this page deals only with white diamonds and does not get into the fancy color diamonds which are a subject for a different page.)

You can read further on my own diamond color chart page where you can see actual photos of diamonds and not an illustration. I think that seeing the actual photos will give you a better idea of the small differences between each step in the grading system.

This scale in the image below shows you different color grades for diamonds, including these fancy colors diamonds.

Diamond Color Scale for Ring Diamond

While most retailers or online diamond sites will try and tell you that getting as high a diamond color grading as possible is preferred for the beauty of the stone, please don’t take their word for it.

For example James Allen clearly states that “when shopping for a diamond, it is generally preferred to have the least amount of color possible.” Later on the same page they also state that “Most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. The difference in price, however, can be significant.”

To read more about diamond colors, you can check our detailed diamond colors article.

Engagement Ring Diamond Clarity

Diamond clarity is a measure of how “clean” the diamond is. Diamonds are natural minerals and as such will often time have certain imperfections, such as small chips , “feathers”, or “clouds”  in them, which may or may not effect the perceived beauty of the diamond on the engagement ring in her hand. In many cases these imperfections (referred to as inclusions) are so small or in a location that has NO material effect on the beauty of the diamond.


When you look online on a site such as James Allen or Blue Nile, you will see the clarity of a diamond referred to by a letter code such as from FL for a Flawless diamond to I3 for one that is Included to the naked eye. These letters refer to the overall severity of the natural flaws of a diamond when viewed under a 10X magnification.  

Suggested read: James Allen Vs. Blue Nile Full Comparison & Review

As you can imagine the price of a diamond will vary depending on its clarity with Flawless diamonds costing much more than ones with lower diamond clarity (but still beautiful diamonds). Here is a diamond clarity chart I put together with real-world examples of various diamonds. It has large images of many diamonds so you can see for yourself the difference between each diamond clarity grading.

To read more about diamond clarity, you can check our detailed diamond clarity article.

Engagement Ring Diamond Cut

Here comes the most important C of all Cs, the Cut!

Diamond Cut for Rings

Since the diamond in the engagement ring is the most important & first thing to see in any ring, you should give this part your full concentration.

A diamond cut refers to the proportions of the parts of the diamond and how well the diamond reflects light. Do you know that it is the sparkle that you see when looking at a diamond?

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Ever wondered why some diamonds sparkle more than others (you may see this referred to as diamond Brilliance). Almost always this is due to the quality diamond cut.  The light or sparkle that you are seeing is the reflection of light of the diamond’s table  (technically there is more than one type of reflection that makes up what you see and if you want a more technical understanding see this James Allen page on the diamond cut).

Do you know that 9 times out of 10 a diamond just doesn’t sparkle and has a bland look to it has a bad cut? Of all the 4 Cs, the diamond cut is the one that has the greatest effect on the look of the diamond to the naked eye. A drop from VS1 to SI1 clarity or an E to H color is almost never noticeable however a drop from Ideal to Good, will often times be noticeable to the naked eye because it will lack the sparkle one would expect.

To read more about diamond cut, you can check our detailed diamond cut article.

Engagement Ring Diamond Carat Weight

The modern adoption of carat as the unit of measurement for diamond weight was formalized in 1907 and the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures.  At the conference it was agreed that a diamond carat would equal 200 milligrams and this has become the universally accepted measurement of a diamond’s weight.

diamond-cut-diagramBut it’s only about the weights, so don’t always look for a diamond with higher carat weights, because the most important part is the cut, take a look at this.

As you can see from the diamond cut graphic (thanks to James Allen for use of this graphic) you can have 3 diamonds that are all exactly the same carat weight but they appear very different in terms of size (the surface area that is visible to the eye) and also reflect light very differently. When buying a diamond you want to make sure you are getting the one that balances these 2 and offers the best overall cut rather than the highest overall carat weight.

To read more about diamond carat, you can check our detailed diamond carat article.

Step Six: Where to Buy an Engagement Ring

JamesAllen Wedding RingsimpWhile most people still prefer the traditional way (in most shopping), to go to a local store, it’s also highly adapted when buying such precious items, like an engagement ring, how I would ever trust a website to buy the ring where I prefer to see the diamond myself, that’s first, and secondly, how I can make sure that I won’t be ripped off by that website?

To answer these two questions, we’ve detailed an article about buying diamonds online, but to make it quicker, here are some quick thoughts about shopping online vs. traditional retail stores:

  1.  A lot of trustworthy websites show you the exact high-resolution image for your diamond, so that you can check all the details in the diamond before making a decision.
  2. And as we mentioned, many websites on the web are highly trustworthy to buy diamonds for hundreds of thousands of dollars! You don’t even have to rethink about your decision after you make the purchase, James Allen is one of these highly reputable websites that we always recommend our readers to visit.
  3. Shopping online gives you more than better prices, as well as it also provides you with a wider selection than -mostly- any jewelry retailer can have, not to mention the “no pressure” while shopping online, you don’t need to be on a rush to buy NOW, take your time, search online, compare, and then buy at your convenience.


Still not sure where to buy your diamond?

We always recommend shopping diamonds online and created a Full guide to shop diamonds like a Pro.

Among online retailers, here are our favorite stores (click their logo to visit store):

1) James Allen: Our favorite online store, best diamond imaging technology available today, comes with the largest collection with more than half a million loose diamonds.

Latest JA Logo2) Blue Nile: Widest collection of loose diamonds of all sizes, great imaging technology for most of their  inventory (hundreds of thousands of diamonds), great customer support.

Blue Nile Latest Logo

3) Whiteflash: Home Of A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Diamonds, they stand out from the crowd by offering premium diamonds cuts, tailored to those who love the details, at great prices too.

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About the Author

Alexander Knight

A distinguished expert in the diamond industry with an unwavering passion for exceptional gemstones. With a keen eye for quality and a wealth of experience, Alexander has established himself as a prominent figure in the world of diamonds.

From an early age, Alexander was captivated by the allure and brilliance of diamonds. He embarked on a journey to understand the artistry and craftsmanship behind these precious gems. Through years of hands-on experience and collaboration with renowned diamond experts, Alexander has acquired comprehensive knowledge in diamond grading, sourcing, and jewelry design.

Driven by his desire to share his expertise, Alexander has created a captivating website dedicated to diamonds. Through this website, he imparts his wisdom and provides valuable insights on diamond education, trends, and investment opportunities.

With his impeccable reputation and extensive knowledge, Alexander Knight continues to leave a lasting impact in the dynamic world of diamonds, guiding others towards the discovery of their dream gemstone.