Diamond experts share tips for buying the perfect engagement ring

Round, cushion, princess, emerald. 

Settings, prongs, engravings. 

Cut, color, clarity and carat. 

There are a lot of pieces that make up each and every engagement ring. 

The one you love is going to look down at his or her sparkling engagement ring every day — so, of course, you want to make the right decision.

But how? 

From the shopping experience itself (online or in person, with or without your partner) to the design of the ring, there is a lot to juggle with this all-important purchase. 

Below is a guide with all your engagement ring questions answered by experts who have helped clients create a dream piece of jewelry to symbolize their love. 

  1. Online versus in-person shopping
  2. How to determine a budget
  3. Engagement ring shapes
  4. The 4 C’s
  5. Should I go ring shopping with my partner?
  6. How do I know what kind of ring my girlfriend wants?
  7. What about customizations?
  8. Lab grown or natural?
There are a lot of pieces that make up each and every engagement ring. wavebreak3 – stock.adobe.com

1. Online versus in-person shopping

In the world of online shopping, engagement rings have hopped on the bandwagon. 

Even though shopping online may seem like an easy choice, there are things you should consider before buying that way. 

“I think engagement rings are just so personable. I think the in-store experience is so important with online shopping, to be able to touch the ring, to feel the ring, to see how it looks on your finger. You can’t replace that experience,” Anthony Zucco, a sales consultant at Mavilo Wholesalers in Tampa, Florida, told Fox News Digital.

“So booking an appointment, getting in, allowing the female, the male, to actually come in and see it in person without the retouch editing online. I think it’s an essential part of making the engagement process a success,” Zucco continued. 

Deciding how you are going to buy your diamond is the first of many steps in this process.

The one you love is going to look down at his or her sparkling engagement ring every day — so, of course, you want to make the right decision. abelena – stock.adobe.com

2. How to determine a budget

One of the aged-old questions is, “How much should I spend on an engagement ring?”

Well, it depends on who you ask. 

Many still stand strong on three months salary being an acceptable amount to put forth, but at the end of the day, that is a myth, not a rule.

The budget is very personal to the individual.

You’ll want to have a budget in mind before diving into shopping, or else cost can quickly add up.

From the shopping experience itself (online or in person, with or without your partner) to the design of the ring, there is a lot to juggle with this all-important purchase. WavebreakmediaMicro – stock.adobe.com

You’re probably about to dish out a lot of cash for your wedding day, and there is no need to go into debt over a ring, or for the big day itself. 

It’s not a bad idea to discuss the budget openly with your partner before making the purchase to come up with a number that makes you both feel comfortable.

Having a budget ahead of time will help you look at options within that given amount. Consider establishing a rough budget long before you actually decide to pop the question. 

That way, you can begin putting money aside for the future purchase instead of having to come up with thousands in just a few weeks or months. 

As far as the average goes, The Knot’s 2023 Jewelry and Engagement Study found that number to be $5,500. 

In the world of online shopping, engagement rings have hopped on the bandwagon. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Once you have a budget established, a jeweler can help walk you through the design process of your ring and make sure it fits within that allotted sum of cash. 

“When you’re buying a diamond, you have to choose within the cut, the shape and the color and clarity. You have to choose the level that you’re comfortable with within each one of those groups,” Mark Oliva, owner of Mavilo in Tampa, told Fox News Digital. 

“As you’re walking through our process, we’re actually building a diamond that fits your budget, or we’re showing you something better, that actually you didn’t realize because you didn’t study it as much, that kind of unveils in front of you. So again, all of those factors have to be considered,” he added.

3. Engagement ring shapes

Center stones come in so many different shapes, some more classic, while others are more unique. 

Round, cushion, princess, emerald, oval, pear and marquise are a few common engagement ring shapes you can choose from, but it doesn’t stop there. 

A study done by The Knot found that round diamond rings were the most popular in 2023, with 34% of people choosing to go with this shape. 

Oval stones have become a hot trend, according to the source, hopping from 2% to 23% in 2023. 

In terms of how much to spend on one, many still stand strong on three months salary being an acceptable amount to put forth. Rawpixel.com – stock.adobe.com

4. The 4 C’s

If you have conducted any research on engagement rings, you’ve probably come across the 4 C’s.

The 4 C’s refer to cut, color, clarity and carat.

All of these things will need to be considered in some capacity, but there are certain factors you’ll want to focus on more than others. 

“I would say we preach here at Mavilo… cut,” Zucco explained.

“The cut of a diamond, it’s going to give you all the light dispersion. When you look down, and you look at a girl’s stone across the room, you see the cut of the diamond. So you always want to make sure you never sacrifice on the cut.”

A study done by The Knot found that round diamond rings were the most popular in 2023, with 34% of people choosing to go with this shape. deagreez – stock.adobe.com

“Sometimes that’s difficult for a customer to extrapolate without a bit of education. So you really have to educate the customer on that cut. That they understand the ratios, they understand depths, they look a little bit more in detail, so they can make sure that what they’re comparing, that the value is actually there,” Oliva said. 

“We call it knowledge drives value, and we believe that’s really kind of why we develop internal apps to educate people, because once you educate them, and you show them the difference in the different cuts, they see it immediately,” Oliva added. 

Color and clarity are also important to have a grasp of, according to Zucco.

These factors are really brought to light when visiting a jeweler and seeing the rings right before your own eyes. 

“We like to educate the customers about color, clarity as well, because it’s easy to lose all this knowledge on the web, versus when you come in and actually see all the diamonds, all the selections, the differences in color,” Zucco said. 

If you have conducted any research on engagement rings, you’ve probably come across the 4 C’s which are cut, color, clarity and carat. Alinnan – stock.adobe.com

5. Should I go ring shopping with my partner?

Today, many couples are opting to go ring shopping together.

This makes for a pretty seamless process, as the girl gets to contribute to the design of the ring. 

“A lot of times when the couples are coming in, it’s easier because we’re getting to collaborate all of that information together,” Oliva said.

“Most of the time, it’s amazing that we end up speaking 80% of the time with the female, about the size of the diamond, and its setting style. And then, a lot of times with the partner, we’ll be discussing more of the budget, more of the factual part of the diamond itself,” Oliva noted. 

Oliva explained that even though they see a lot more couples now than they had in the past, there are still more people shopping alone for their future spouse. 

“I would say that probably 70% of the buyer is still an individual without the other individual involved yet; but more and more, couples are coming in together. She wants to make sure — they want to make sure they get exactly what they want, particularly if they’re doing custom, and it’s really the right way to go, because you can really execute that person’s dream with that person right next to you. So every element of that ring is addressed,” Oliva said. 

Today, many couples are opting to go ring shopping together. New Africa – stock.adobe.com

6. How do I know what kind of ring my girlfriend wants?

If you want to keep the element of surprise intact, you still can.

You’ll just have to be a little more creative. 

Be very observant of any hints, subtle or not so much, that your partner may drop about the kind of ring she wants. 

You can always turn to friends or siblings to ask questions about what your girlfriend may like; it’s likely she’s told them.

Keep note of the color and style of jewelry she already wears and keep an eye on social media to get inspiration for rings she might like, because, as Oliva notes, you’re going to have to come into the store with a basic idea of what you’re looking for, at least.

“I would take cues from social media, from pictures that are on Instagram, Pinterest anywhere, but you have to come with ideas, as far as on the design side. Normally, the design side will include the shape or shapes of diamonds that she likes,” Oliva said.

If you want to keep the element of surprise intact in terms of buying a ring, you still can but you’ll just have to be a little more creative. Prostock-studio – stock.adobe.com

7. What about customizations?

From some distance away, two engagement rings may look the same, but a closer view will reveal their differences. This is largely thanks to customizations.

Customizations make rings feel more unique and personal to the wearer. 

“From engravings, to peekaboo diamonds, to birthstones at the bottom of the rail, we’ve done it all. People want a personalized ring, something that sets their ring apart from the masses,” Zucco said. 

“When you look at the Instagram page, there’s such a variety — white gold, yellow gold, different shaped diamonds, bigger wide settings, thinner settings, but that’s what makes our business so interesting. It makes it so fun,” Oliva said. 

“You’re never going to do the same thing every day. Everybody has a different vision of the way they like it and to see that executed on their finger and really scaled right to their vision, that’s our reward.”

8. Lab grown or natural?

Lab grown diamonds are a trendy topic, with many people going with this option instead of buying a natural diamond. 

Oliva explained that lab grown diamonds have had a huge impact on the diamond industry, and it’s a question that many are asking. 

“The impact has been huge,” Oliva said.

“I think most jewelers have realized that with the economy and circumstances that it’s been an option — that’s the first time in history that’s ever existed to have this lab grown diamond as an option, and a lot of people are going in that direction. A lot of jewelers want nothing to do with it.”

Education on this topic is important when making a decision on what kind of diamond you are going to purchase for your partner. 

“A lab grown diamond could be done through CVD, which is carbon, or done through high pressure, high temperature. So for the first time in history, a diamond can be created in a lab and create similar effects to a natural diamond. And it’s gotten the attention of the consumer,” Oliva said.

“It’s a multibillion-dollar business today. Most clients, even if they’re buying naturals or labs, they’re out there asking the question. So fully built into our apps, we have layers and layers of education, so people understand and actually see the process,” Oliva added. 

“I think it’s very important that the consumer understands lab growns have dropped and dropped and dropped and dropped. So from the original, let’s say two or three years ago, those lab-grown diamonds now are probably somewhere around 90% less than they were,” Oliva added. 

“So we have the saying that a natural diamond is forever. A lab grown — there is nothing wrong with it if that’s what the client wants, and it fits their budgetary needs and they’re OK with it, it’s a beautiful stone.”

He added, “But it is a question, and it’s really up to the consumer and what asset class they want to invest in. A diamond is an investment, it’s an heirloom, it’s got an inherent value beyond just that it’s symbolic. But we follow the trend [and] try to be very transparent with the client, and lead them in the direction that they want to go,” Oliva concluded.

Many jewelers have included lab grown diamonds in their inventory, while others have stayed away.

If you are interested in buying, or even just exploring lab grown diamonds, make sure you go to a jeweler that can answer questions for you, and provide you with both options for your consideration. 

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