A Guy’s Guide to Shopping for Engagement Rings

engagement ring shopping

So you’ve found the one? The yin to your yang; the beginning to your end; the sun to your moon; the woman of your dreams! And now you’re ready to pop the question, but first: the ring.

For some men, buying jewelry for their special someone can be a confusing and daunting task, whereas others seem to do it with ease and excitement. I’ve known both types, but if you’re the former and don’t know where to begin, have no fear! You’re in the right place.

Your Budget

Although buying an engagement ring is not going to be cheap, the age-old three-month salary rule is long gone and shouldn’t even be considered. In reality, you should only spend what you can afford and are comfortable with, which is why you need to be honest with yourself before heading out to the jewelry store. That way you won’t feel as pressured to spend more than what makes financial sense for you and your lifestyle. There are a few different features to consider that can fit into your budget without compromising on style, so don’t be afraid to be upfront with the jeweler either, so they understand exactly what you’re looking for.

The Jeweler

There are a lot of different jewelry stores to choose from, but unfortunately not all of them are reputable. To avoid getting ripped off, make sure you consider their certification and credentials. It doesn’t hurt to do some research either. Talk to any friends or co-workers who have experience engagement ring shopping, and take the time to read online reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings before going in-store. When you do find a jeweler you’re considering buying from, you should ask that they provide you with the American Gemological Society or Gemological Institute of America certification with the diamond, as these certifications are the highest standards for gemstones.

Her Style

engagement ring

Chances are if you’ve reached that phase in your relationship that you are ready to propose, she might be thinking about it, too, and probably already has an idea of what kind of ring she would want. Every woman has her own style, and just like with handbags or shoes, there are a lot of different styles of engagement rings. To get an idea of what her style is, take a look inside her jewelry box, browse her Pinterest boards, or even talk to her friends. She might have even pointed out a ring or two, which will make this process even easier for you.

Diamond Shape

If you have an idea of what her jewelry style is, you might know what shape diamond she would prefer. There are a few options to choose from, with the most popular ones being round cuts. The other two most popular cuts are cushion cuts (with rounded corners and larger facts) and princess cuts (square or rectangular). Other shapes include pear, oval, and even heart shapes.

The Four C’s

There are four things to take into consideration when it comes to selecting the right diamond: cut, color, clarity, and carat. These are known as the “four C’s” and determine the cost and quality of the diamond. Therefore, there’s a balancing act between the four C’s that can help you find the perfect stone that fits your budget.


A lot of experts suggest that you never compromise on the cut, because the cut defines how well a diamond sparkles! Surprisingly, cut doesn’t refer to the shape, but the angles and proportions of the diamond. If it’s well cut, it will reflect light in a way that makes it sparkle. If a diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, the light won’t shine through the top of the stone but the sides, which gives poorly cut diamonds that flat and blah appearance.


Believe it or not, diamonds come in various colors. Although the color doesn’t determine whether it’s of good quality or not, it does affect the cost. Colorless diamonds are more rare, and therefore more expensive, whereas canary yellow or brown tinted diamonds are not as rare and therefore not as expensive. If you’re looking to do that balancing act with the four C’s to fit your budget, this is the area to do it in.


Clarity grades are based on any flaws present in the diamond. The fewer imperfections, the more clear and expensive it is. Having a flawless diamond might sound like something that’s necessary, but if you’re working with a tight budget, you can rest easy knowing a diamond that has internal flaws isn’t noticeable to the naked eye.


This refers to the weight of the diamond, and for a lot of ladies, bigger is better. In fact, even the experts say so, especially when it’s going to be worn every day. Fortunately, you can compromise clarity and even color to get the carat size you want.

The Setting

engagement ring settings

The setting refers to how the diamond sits on the ring. The most popular settings are the Tiffany (prongs), the bezel setting (diamond entirely surrounded by metal) and the Pave’ (diamonds clustered together). If you’re working with a small budget, consider going for a smaller stone surrounded by a set of smaller diamonds, known as a halo setting. This can make it look bigger and more brilliant!

The Band

Again, you should have an idea of what type of band to get just by looking at what kind of jewelry your girlfriend already owns or even by asking her friends. When it comes to selecting a precious metal, you can choose from platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. Right now platinum and white gold are the most popular choices. Although these two metals look very similar, platinum costs twice as much and is more durable than white gold. Some women still prefer yellow gold though, so be sure to figure out what your girlfriend prefers.

Her Ring Size

Even with her cooperation and working with a professional, it can be tricky to determine what her ring size is. The most common women’s ring size is a 6 to a 6.5. One way to get around this is to take a ring from her jewelry box (one you know fits her well) and take it to a jeweler to get sized. You can also ask one of her friends or family members if they happen to know her ring size, or if they could find out, perhaps by going out shopping for fun and having their fingers sized together, then reporting back to you. If you need to, you can have the ring resized. Just remember, it’s easier to size down than up, so a little bigger is better than too small. However, if it’s a customized ring, you’re better off taking her in to get her ring sized properly.

Your Investment

After all of that, it would be awful if something happened to the engagement ring you picked out for her. It’s always a good idea to get insurance for the ring in case it ever gets lost, stolen or damaged. There are a few options when choosing insurance, such as replacement insurance policy through the jeweler or adding it to your home or rental insurance.

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