10 Considerations When Choosing the Right Engagement Ring

Woman with Pink Nails Displaying 7 Diamond Rings

An engagement ring is more than a beautiful accessory—it symbolizes eternal love and commitment. Whether surprising your partner with the pear-shaped engagement ring of her dreams or shopping for a stunning ring together, making the right choice can feel daunting. After all, this ring represents the two of you joining together – and it’ll be on her ring finger forever! As you prepare to begin the rest of your lives together, don't let the endless engagement ring choices overwhelm you. 

But with so many options, styles, and diamond types, where should you start? To help you with your search, our experts have broken down the ten most important factors to consider when shopping for diamond engagement rings. From setting a smart budget to learning about the difference between shape and cut and so much more, you'll be prepared to head to your favorite jewelry shop and make a purchase to last you a lifetime. 

The Time-Honored Tradition of Engagement Rings

Pear Shape Diamond Halo Engagement Ring

The history of engagement rings has shown them to have been around for over a thousand years, with different styles popping up in many cultures around the globe. Originally, a simple gold or silver band was used to show the world that a person was betrothed to be married. In the 15th century, this ring became more closely intertwined with the modern idea of love and unity. Nowadays, the diamond engagement rings may have gotten more elaborate—but the meaning remains the same.  

When to Shop for Engagement Rings

Once you know the intended date for your proposal, it's suggested that you begin shopping for a diamond engagement ring 3 to 4 months in advance. Buying the perfect ring can be a longer process than one would think, so searching months before you propose gives you adequate time to find the perfect ring. Between picking between a round and halo engagement ring and deciding what carat is best, there are plenty of choices to make before you walk out of the jewelry store with that special little box in your pocket—so you better start early! 

Traditional Diamond vs Modern Gemstones

Round Cut Diamond Double Halo Engagement Ring Set

The first and foremost choice to make is the type of gemstone you want your engagement ring to feature. Diamonds are the traditional choice—and with good reason! With stunning clarity and a timeless look, there is a perfect diamond engagement ring style for every woman. While the diamond engagement ring will never go out of trend, more and more brides-to-be are choosing to sport alternative gemstone engagement rings. 

If the special lady in your life believes in gemstone healing powers, choosing a colorful piece is more than just a fashion statement. Many people who wear gemstone engagement ring styles adore what each stone represents, from the passion of ruby to the abundance of a sapphire. Consider gemstone engagement rings to make a doubly romantic gesture on your special day.  

10 Considerations for Finding Your Dream Diamond Engagement Ring

Whether you and your partner are shopping together or you're searching for a ring that matches her style, stepping into a dazzling diamond store can feel overwhelming. With these ten factors, which include the 4C’s of diamonds (cut, color, clarity, carat), you can make small steps towards finding the perfect engagement ring:    

1. What is Your Budget?

Rose Gold Floral Design Oval Diamond Engagement Ring

The most common question when shopping for women’s engagement rings is, "How much should I spend?" Traditionally, people say you should spend three months of your salary, but this isn't an unbreakable rule.

Setting aside a comfortable amount for a diamond engagement ring is a personal decision, and the best jewelers have brilliant options at all price points. Understanding your budget before you start your engagement ring search is one of the first things you should consider, whether you're looking for rings under $3,000 or over $100,000.

2. Understand Diamond Cut

Diamond cut is one of the first things jewelers look at when designing striking jewelry, and when you're buying a woman’s engagement ring your partner will wear for years, it's important to understand what and how the cut is measured. Well-cut stones are easy to spot, as they reflect light brilliantly and give off that signature sparkle diamond engagement rings are known for. A diamond cut is graded from poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent, and the higher the grade, the brighter the shine and the higher the price. 

Are Cut and Shape the Same Thing?

Pear Shape Diamond Twist Shank Engagement Ring

While these two terms are often used interchangeably, it's vital to understand that the shape and cut of a gemstone are not the same. The diamond shape describes the center stone’s shape in a diamond engagement ring. The cut is an appraisal term to determine the quality of a diamond.  

3. Learn About Clarity

Gemstone clarity is judged on the inclusions and imperfections found on the stone. The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the higher the grade. This is true for all gemstones, from emeralds to rubies—though finding a flawless natural gemstone is incredibly rare. The better the clarity, the higher the price of the diamond engagement ring.

The Diamond Engagement Ring Clarity Scale

When you shop for the perfect diamond engagement ring, keep a look out for these clarity scale symbols to determine which ones you're interested in buying:

  • IF: Internally Flawless—extremely rare diamonds with no flaws.
  • VVS1: Very, Very Small Inclusions 1—inclusions aren't visible under magnification.
  • VVS2: Very, Very Small Inclusions 2—inclusions are barely visible under magnification.
  • VS1: Very Small Inclusions 1—blemishes are just barely visible, taking a few seconds to locate.
  • VS2: Very Small Inclusions 2—blemishes are in a hard-to-spot location but are easily noticeable under magnification.
  • SI1: Small Inclusions, 1st Degree—inclusions are easily found and seen by the naked eye.
  • SI2: Small Inclusions, 2nd Degree—inclusions are clear and obviously seen by the naked eye.
  • I: Included, 1st Degree—inclusions are easily seen with the naked eye, even on brilliant cuts. 

4. Choose a Diamond Color

Solitaire Cushion Fancy Yellow Diamond Engagement Ring

Color is an important consideration in more ways than one. If you're in the market for a traditional diamond engagement ring, the classic style is a clear diamond. But, if you're shopping for a modern bride or your partner has specific style tastes, a rainbow of options is available. 

When jewelers refer to the color of a diamond, it's actually the lack of color being judged. The variations between stones can impact the quality and price of a ring. To ensure you're purchasing a high-quality, clear diamond engagement ring, examine the stone on a dark background color under nice lighting. 

If you're looking for a unique and stylish engagement ring, consider a colorful diamond or gemstone. Diamonds are available in various hues, from reds and yellows to pinks and browns. The colors of each gemstone are judged in similar ways.  

5. Decide on a Carat

Did you know that the carat of a diamond refers to its weight and not its size? Carat is commonly used to differentiate stones when you visit a jewelry store. As you start to shop, remember that the higher the carat, the higher the price. Contrary to popular belief, a large carat number isn't the only thing to look for—but it is helpful to understand how it's calculated so you can search for the right diamond for your budget.  

6. Find the Perfect Diamond Shape

Round Diamond Engagement Ring

The shape of the center stone in a diamond engagement ring is, visually, one of the most important decisions to make. Many women have grown up dreaming of wearing a specific diamond shape, whether they love the timeless look of a round engagement ring or the contemporary pear-shaped engagement ring. If your partner is unsure what shape to choose, there are a few ways to make the choice.

Finding a flattering engagement ring style comes down to a few details. If your partner has shorter fingers or large hands, an emerald, oval, or pear-shaped engagement ring will help elongate the look. If their fingers are long, shorter cuts like a princess or round engagement rings will balance out the length. 

Popular Diamond Engagement Ring Shapes:

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Pear
  • Princess
  • Square
  • Emerald
  • Cushion 

7. Determine Band Width 

Diamond cut and color isn't the only aesthetic choice to consider when finding an engagement ring. Band width can be chosen by understanding your partner's style and determining the most flattering width on their hand. 

The average band size for an engagement ring is around 3 to 4 mm, but taking your unique bride into consideration is key. If your bride-to-be has slim fingers or smaller hands, a wider band may look out of place, so something dainty, such as a 2mm, would complement the feature nicely. Match the size for larger hands with a thicker diamond engagement ring band size to balance out proportions and find the perfect fit. 

8. Pick a Metal

Cushion Diamond Engagement Ring with Fancy Yellow Diamond Accents

Engagement rings come in a wide variety of metals to suit every style. Many jewelry lovers have a strong preference for wearing either silver or gold tones. Pay close attention to the metal of the jewelry she wears most often and stick to the same type for her diamond engagement ring.

If she wears a wide variety of colors, consider a two-toned metal engagement ring so she can wear it with anything. But, If your significant other has not expressed a preference for a specific metal, it can leave you asking for some guidance

If you can't determine your partner's metal preference, a professional can help you find a flattering style using a few qualities. Finding skin tone, wardrobe color preferences, and hair color can all help a jewelry expert point you in the right direction when deciding on a metal. You can even take a risk and request help from her closest friends and family to ask what metal she'd prefer—just don't ruin the surprise! 

Popular Engagement Ring Metals:

Nowadays, silver and gold aren't your only options! Explore different metal designs to find your perfect diamond engagement ring:

  • White gold
  • Platinum
  • Yellow gold
  • Rose gold
  • Mixed metals

9. Choose a Setting

Platinum Princess Cut Diamond Three Stone Engagement Ring

As you browse for the perfect engagement ring, there are four standard settings to explore: solitaire, halo, 3-stone, and diamond pave. Within those categories, there are endless style choices to choose from, but as you're starting, it's important to know which setting your bride desires.

Solitaire settings are perfect for the classic bride who wants to show off a single tone of any size. Halo engagement rings have small accent diamonds circling the main diamond, adding to the brilliance and shine of the ring. Three-stone rings have three equal or similar-sized diamonds set in a row. Diamond pave rings feature small diamonds that essentially pave the band. With four main settings, there's a style for every bride! 

10. Match the Wedding Band

Don't forget to think ahead towards the equally important ring that will be added a few months later! When browsing different settings and styles, consider what will look best with a woman's wedding band. Will your partner enjoy a matching ring set or an added simple, subdued band? The setting and shape you choose could determine what bands will work—so think ahead and ask clarifying questions about your options for pairing engagement rings and bands

Redesigning a Family Heirloom Engagement Ring

Box of Heirloom Jewelry

Many families pass down engagement rings through generations, and if you're lucky enough to end up with a vintage diamond engagement ring from an heirloom jewelry collection, that’s awesome! But what if the setting or metal isn't quite right for your future spouse? Resetting the gemstones from an heirloom ring is common practice, and if you take the piece to an expert, you can dream up a modern design and carry on the tradition with the same stone.

From selecting a timeless setting to learning about the difference between cut, clarity, and carat, there are countless factors to consider when shopping for engagement rings. As you begin to plan your proposal, it's time to shop for the diamond engagement ring of her dreams! Take a look back at this list of ten considerations as you start your shopping journey—and good luck!