The Ultimate Guide to
Selecting the Perfect Engagement Ring
Did you ever think you’d get to this point? There was a time in your life where you swore you’d never get married. Sure, you might have been 6 at the time, but you really meant it! But then you found the perfect partner. Suddenly all those thoughts you had about staying single forever seemed foolish. You want to be with the love of your life forever, and they with you.
Finding the Perfect Ring
There’s just one little obstacle keeping you from getting your happily ever after: finding the perfect engagement ring. No one told you picking out a ring could be so hard. Luckily, you stumbled upon this handy guide. With 4 easy to follow steps, we’ve simplified the process. Follow along to make engagement ring shopping much less stressful, and maybe even fun.
Get A Clue
If you want this step to be as easy as possible, your best bet is to bring your partner along to browse. Chances are, they’ll tell you exactly what they like and don’t like. It’s also a fun and romantic day date that goes great after brunch (especially the mimosas). Check out our blog post “What to Expect When Shopping” to make shopping together even easier.
If you want the ring to be a surprise, but don’t want to do it completely on your own, bring along someone who knows what your significant other likes. Bringing someone along can help point you in the right direction, and they don’t need to be involved in the entire process.
WARNING: Do not bring in a jealous relative or best friend, this will not make it easier. Make sure the person you bring really has your future spouse’s best interest at heart!
For those of you that are gluttons for punishment and want to do it all on your own, you can use the process of elimination to determine what your partner would like, which may require paying attention to things you’ve never noticed before. But your relationship can only get stronger because of it. Become a Social Sleuth. Chances are they’ve already planned every detail of your wedding on Pinterest- including the ring! Doing some detective work can point you in the right direction.
Consider their overall style. If they normally prefer simple and elegant, try and avoid an ultra-modern ring. Keep the style of the ring true to them.
Pay attention to what type of jewelry your partner already wears. Is it simple, classic, and small? Is it big and bold? Did it used to belong to a relative? This will clue you in on what they like.
You should also consider career. If their job requires them to use their hands all day, be in and out of gloves, or something similar, they’re going to need a ring that won’t interfere. After all, they’re going to want to wear the ring every day, and if it’s getting in the way of work, they won’t be able to wear it.
Pay attention to comments on other engagement posts. Northern Virginia offers many scenic locations to get engaged at. Often this matches the couple’s style, aka their taste preferences. Here are some common places in people get engaged in Northern Virginia with examples:
Luckily for you, there are plenty of beautiful landmarks around Northern Virginia. Try picking one that has sentimental value to you both, perhaps the site of an early date. Or you can opt for a location you’ve always wanted to visit.
If a historic landmark is a place where you’d consider getting engaged, try choosing a ring that matches the style of that landmark. Maybe you have a preference for sculptural rings, so you can find one unique architectural elements. You might also choose a ring that has a historic, antique quality to it.
Vineyards are a lovely, romantic place to get engaged. If your partner is a fan of wine or a beautiful outdoor location, a Northern Virginia vineyard is a great option.
Thinking of a vineyard for your proposal? Try picking a ring that has a matching theme, like one of the custom engagement rings on our site. We can help create natural elements, such as sculpted leaves or other pieces reminiscent of a romantic day outdoors.
Out in Nature
Perhaps you have a more adventurous significant other who lives for excitement and connecting with the great outdoors. A beautiful spot outside in Northern Virginia is a popular place for a proposal, and for good reason. Your partner will talk about the stunning scenery for years to come!
The type of person who loves spending time outside will tend to prefer a more simple, easy to clean ring designed to withstand outdoor elements. Incorporate a floral design or nature inspired element to complete the look.
Northern Virginia is home to many wonderful restaurants. If there’s one that’s a favorite or the site of a first date, why not propose there? The area also has many luxury restaurants if you’re looking for a sophisticated evening.
If this is the spot for your proposal, chances are your partner wants something classic and refined with sentimental value. What better custom ring to give them then? Trying something custom along with one of our custom wedding bands is a great way to add personal touches.
Picking Out A Style
Engagement rings are a special gift from you to your significant other. These rings may be any shape, size, or style that you choose. Researching and studying the different styles take a little more time but in the end it’s worth it to get exactly what they want.
Below we will examine the popular cuts of rings and explain what makes them unique.
The most common cut for engagement rings. A solitaire is a ring with one stone in the center, and it doesn’t have any other fancy adornments. This style remains popular because of its simplicity and elegance. It also looks great no matter what color stone you choose, so it’s up to your love to decide whether they want a diamond or another gemstone like sapphires or rubies. The only downside to this classic design is that some people are tired of the traditional look. If you’re looking for something different, you might want to consider custom jewelry where all those details can be custom tailored by our in-house expert jewelers.
This type of ring has a small, decorative halo around a larger stone. These rings are usually set in gold or platinum with three to five smaller stones surrounding it. If you love the classic look, but want to spice things up a bit, consider buying this style. It’s fitted for those who are looking for something different. In addition, it will let everyone know that your partner is taken by someone with exquisite taste!
This is a popular style when you want to incorporate multiple gemstones. It is set with a larger center stone, as well as two smaller stones on the sides. If your significant other wants an engagement ring that has three massive diamonds, this could be the perfect style choice! These rings are also custom designed since people have different ideas of what these rings should look like. The side stones dramatically frame the center diamond and make it look even bigger. If you decide to go with this design, there are hundreds of options for side stones and other custom details that can make this ring yours alone.
This ring is designed for the 21st century and usually has a unique style. It breaks away from the traditional solitaire or halo design by adding custom details to make this custom ring. Bold and glamorous they fit well with someone who wants to stand out.
An old school look, vintage rings are a great option that incorporate details and engraving from the styles of the past. These rings are usually handcrafted with a vintage diamond handed down from previous generations. These can come in many different styles and sizes. This is a perfect choice for significant others who have strong family ties or traditions.
The classic diamond engagement ring is a diamond solitaire or a cluster with an equally sized diamond on each side. This kind of engagement ring has become very popular over time because its elegant and simple design never goes out of style. It also symbolizes unity which is why it’s so often chosen as well.
If you’re looking for something custom or unique, custom designs are perfect for you. A custom design is where your ring starts as a rough diamond and gets crafted into a unique masterpiece. This means that the ring will be different from all others, making it an ideal choice if you want to make a statement with your engagement ring. Custom designs can also combine two rings that you love together into one masterpiece.
An engagement ring is not a small purchase. Think about all the research you do before buying a new car. You consider a lot more than just how it looks! The same should be true of an engagement ring. I know I’m repeating myself here, but an engagement ring is not a small purchase. You’re probably looking to save money where you can- even if this means buying something without seeing it in person. No matter where you plan on purchasing, this next step is the most important in this guide.
Looking At Diamonds In Person
You’ve probably already started looking at diamonds online. You’ve got a good idea of what carat size you want. You kind of understand those other three C things, but without seeing diamonds in person you just aren’t able to understand what effect they have on a diamond.
Let’s go back to that car analogy. Would you buy a car without going on a test drive? No? Then don’t buy a diamond that way! Of course you can still buy a diamond online, but don’t be clueless about it. Go see the different colors of diamonds in person. Get a visual for how the cut of a diamond can affect how much it sparkles.
Did you ever wonder why you can find diamonds online that have the same cut, color, clarity, and carat but very different prices? It’s because all diamonds look different. You don’t have to be a graduate gemologist to see these differences. But you do have to see them in person.
The 4 Cs
Diamond color actually refers to the lack of color in a diamond. Diamonds range from colorless (D) to light yellow (Z). Rarer diamonds have less color. Most people end up buying in the middle of that range for color. Color really matters in a diamond when you ’re trying to decide between two near equally priced diamonds. We especially like the color guides available here, for more information about the differences of each grade.
Think of a diamond as a prism. Its cut affects how light enters, refracts, and is reflected off its facets. Cut grades range from ideal (excellent) to poor. A well cut diamond allows the maximum amount of light to return through the top of the diamond making it appear larger, clearer, and more brilliant.
The cut of a diamond is different from its shape. Diamonds come in many shapes (round, oval, princess, cushion are just a few examples), but the quality of its cut (taking into consideration pavilion depth, girdle thickness and more) can determine just how valuable the diamond is.
If you are buying a custom design, make sure the custom jeweler takes into consideration all of these considerations before cutting your diamond.
Diamonds are formed deep in the earth under intense heat and pressure, so it should come as no surprise that they are rarely perfect. When a diamond is formed, the process can cause cracks, crystals, and other clarity characteristics inside the crystal and on the diamond’s surface. Internal clarity characteristics, such as cracks and air bubbles, are called inclusions. Clarity characteristics seen on the surface of a diamond, such as scratches and nicks, are referred to as blemishes.
Almost all diamonds have some number of clarity characteristics, but most can’t be seen without the use of magnification.
Clarity ranges from Flawless (F) to included 3 (I3). Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and thus very expensive.
F – no inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader
VVS1-VVS2– Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under magnification
VS1-VS2– Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under magnification
SI1-SI2– inclusions are clearly visible under magnification, but can be characterized as minor
I1-I3– Inclusions are obvious and may affect transparency and brilliance
A carat is simply the physical weight of a diamond. Larger diamonds are rarer, so carat weight can significantly affect the price of your diamond. There are significant price jumps at every 0.5, 0.75, and 1.00ct, so if your budget is tight, determine what size you’re looking for and opt to go slightly smaller (such as .90 vs 1.00). The size will be similar and you’ll have room in your budget to get a diamond with a higher clarity, cut, or color grade!
Remember, the most important part of diamond shopping is seeing the diamond in person! No two diamonds are exactly the same, so even diamonds with very similar grades can look completely different. When shopping, enlist the help of diamond experts. They can help you find a diamond with the right specifications that fit your budget.
Evaluating Metal Types
Like its name suggests, white gold is golden in appearance and typically made with nickel. It was created to be a cheaper alternative to platinum while maintaining the appearance of expensive jewelry pieces. Today, it has become popular for custom designs because it can be significantly whiter than yellow gold or rose gold alternatives.
White gold custom engagement rings are the perfect way to add some bling without breaking the bank!
Yellow gold is most commonly seen in custom designed engagement rings. It has a more classic appeal because of its long history, but custom designs aren’t always necessary to get the look you want. Yellow gold custom engagement rings can be found in many different styles, from modern solitaire diamonds to intricate cluster settings.
Platinum custom engagement rings are more expensive than other alternatives, but this custom metal is unique in that it does not tarnish. It’s the most durable of custom metals and is very popular for custom jewelry pieces because of its durability. Platinum custom engagement rings also have a warm white appearance because they don’t require rhodium plating.
Rose gold custom engagement rings have become increasingly popular in custom jewelry designs. They can be found in different color variations, ranging from light pink to a copper appearance; however, the surface of rose gold custom engagement rings must be rhodium plated to avoid darkening. Rose gold custom engagement rings are perfect for custom designs that combine silver and gold custom features.
Green gold custom engagement rings are custom made to achieve a greenish hue. They’re created with custom mixtures of copper and nickel, and typically plated with rhodium to retain their bright pink color. Green custom engagement rings are very rare, so they’re perfect for custom jewelry pieces that stand out in a crowd.
Palladium custom engagement rings are custom made from custom mixtures of silver and platinum. They’re typically plated with rhodium to avoid tarnishing, and they can range in color between white gold custom engagement ring custom jewelry designs to yellow gold custom engagement ring custom jewelry designs.
Sterling silver custom engagement rings are custom made with custom mixtures of fine silver, copper, and nickel. They’re typically plated with rhodium to avoid tarnishing; however, custom sterling silver is never white — the metal will darken over time.
Silver custom engagement rings are ideal for custom jewelry pieces that need custom durability.
Set A Budget
There’s nothing worse than falling in love with an engagement ring and then finding out you can’t afford it. Knowing what you’re comfortable spending at the beginning can help you avoid this heartbreak. Take some time to really examine your finances and what you are comfortable spending. You don’t want to propose over a bowl of microwaved Ramen noodles because you spent too much on the ring.
Your budget doesn’t need to be the first thing you discuss with your jeweler. They should take the time to get to know you before they know your budget. But if they don’t know what you want to spend, they will show you options in a wide variety of price points. Let them know your price range before you get too far along into the process.
What Type of Ring Can I Expect for My Budget?
When it comes to custom jewelry pieces, price is determined by the custom design and custom metal. Different custom designs require different custom metals, as well as different custom diamond cuts and custom stone sizes.
Tips To Cut Costs Without Sacrificing Quality
Industry experts recommend you don’t sacrifice the cut of a diamond because this characteristic is what makes your diamond sparkle. You can go a little less rare in color and clarity and still get a beautiful, sparkling diamond.
If the most important thing to you is the size you can still get a large diamond at a good price. Looking for diamonds that have a high carat weight, but are less rare in their color and clarity will offer you a savings.
Go antiquing. Antique cut diamonds are typically less expensive than their modern-day equivalents. Not all diamonds are certified and finding a diamond that lacks a grading report. As long as you have a jeweler you can trust who provides you with an appraisal in addition to your receipt, a non-certified diamond is a great way to cut costs.
Have you settled on a shape? Depending on the shape you purchase (cushion, emerald, marquise) you may be able to get the quality and size you want for less.
Diamond prices increase in what our industry calls “magic numbers”. For example, once you hit the 1.00ct mark, you’ve hit a “magic number” so if you’re looking to save money go for a 0.90 carat over a 1.00 carat. The diamonds will appear to be the same size, but the 0.90 carat will offer you a savings.
Estate diamonds can offer significant savings. Estate diamonds are previously owned, but that doesn’t mean the diamond did something wrong. Many are from earrings, pendants, and fashion rings that have gone out of style, and can now be offered to you at savings. Remember, diamonds are a billion years old so buying one that was already in circulation doesn’t make it any “older” it already is!
Finalizing The Purchase
You’ve found the perfect ring. All those hours on Pinterest really paid off and you know your future spouse is going to love it. But now you’ve got to buy it. There are a few extra steps when buying an engagement ring than just handing over your credit card, but it’s a good place to start.
You can pay for your engagement ring in any way you’re comfortable (as long as it’s legal tender). If it’s a much larger purchase than you normally make, give your bank a call to let them know it’s coming.
Should I Finance or Pay Cash For The Engagement Ring?
Choosing your payment option depends on your financial situation. We’re happy to help you, regardless of the way you choose to pay.
Paying for your ring in cash is a good option for you if you’ve saved enough money for the ring and would rather pay for it completely right away. We recognize that this may not be a choice for everyone, so we do provide financing options.
Financing your engagement ring is also a great option. It will get you into a comfortable price point where you can pay over time.
What About an Appraisal?
When you purchase your engagement ring you should receive an appraisal. If you don’t, you will need to have your ring appraised immediately. Without an appraisal you will not be able to add your engagement ring to your homeowners or renters insurance (and trust us, you really want to do that!)
It’s also important to note what damages are covered by your jeweler and for how long. See if they provide an additional warranty option or if you will need to purchase one. Your new engagement ring is not indestructible. It will be worn every day, get bumped and caught, and some damage will occur at some point in time. It also requires regular maintenance. Just like you take your car to get an oil change, you’ll want to take your ring to be checked and cleaned. We know this seems like an inconvenience, but you’re just going to have to trust us here. It’s a lot less inconvenient than having your diamond fall out at Wal-Mart and crawling around in the frozen food aisle searching for it. See if your jeweler’s warranty covers repairs like stone tightening, prong retipping, or even cleaning and polishing, and for how long.
There you have it. You’re more prepared than ever to venture out on your own. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Below we have highlighted some of the unique engagement ring stories we have been able to create in Northern Virginia for our clients.
Creating Awesome Customer Experiences
Client Ask: Find the Best Engagement Ring Possible on a Solid Budget
First, I’m the type of person that is going to keep looking for the best value until I’m blue in the face. I think I stopped in 20 times to look through stones before I found the one. I will say the staff is very friendly, knowledgeable, and most importantly very patient. Even the owner sat with me 2-3 times and brought me in his office to show me his costs on different stones.
Second, Jake is the MAN! Not to take away from anyone else, because they were nothing but friendly. Once again though, Jake is the man. He gave me his cell and said to call and text him any time. If you’re looking for the right stone and you’re me that means you’re going to bother poor Jake with texts all the time. I even made a few calls around 11pm or later on a weekend. I know that’s horrible, but Jake would respond without a problem and would ensure me that we’ll find the best ring. He was knowledgeable and very professional. He spent most of his time making sure I was happy with my selection versus pressing me to purchase something he thought was great. He made the experience all about me and my future wife and gave the best customer service I could possibly ask for.
So thank you Jake for all that you’ve done!
Third, the hardware! I made out with a ring that was brilliant in every sense of the word. Along the ride I learned more than I ever wanted to know about diamonds and the 4 C’s etc. I know it’s appealing to look online and make a purchase at one of the many wholesalers, but remember you’ll never have the relationship like you would once you find a jeweler like Jewelry By Designs. I think something that really stood out to me was the fact that because a diamond may look good on paper (4 Cs) doesn’t mean it will give that sparkle and brilliance. It’s very important to touch, feel, and hold your hardware to understand what you’re getting in a diamond.
End Result – They found me the perfect diamond for a perfect girl and I couldn’t be happier. Jewelry By Designs is now my jeweler for life.”
Richard M. NELSON