So you've decided it's time to pop the question - congratulations! But now comes the slightly tricky part... the engagement ring.
Making the decision to propose to your partner, no matter how long you've been together, is a huge leap in the relationship and the last thing you need to stress about is how to buy an engagement ring.
That being said, it's one of the most important purchases you can make, so feeling confident and at ease is important. We've come up with an easy, step-by-step guide that will answer every question you could possibly have when it comes to buying an engagement ring, leaving you to acutally enjoy the process.
Before You Buy
How do I know what style she likes?
Look at her day jewellery: Take mental notes of the jewellery she already wears and what her style is like. You'll be able to tell a lot about a woman by the day jewellery she wears as it helps you decide the bling-scale of the engagement ring. By doing this you'll know if she's a traditional bride or a girl who would want a more alternative engagement ring.
Ask her friends: A woman’s best friends will always know what style of engagement ring she will want. Whether it’s a feminine marquise cut diamond or a bold emerald stone, they'll have an idea!
Pay attention to hints: As friends and family members get engaged, watch out for your girlfriend’s comments on the rings that are given. It’s a really good way of piecing together her dream ring.
How do I find out her size?
Steal a ring: Take one of her day-to-day rings and use a ring sizer to measure it, or take it to your local jewellers to get a ring size.
Buy a distraction ring: If she wears jewellery casually, buy her a distraction ring that she can wear day to day and use the size of that to determine her size – this allows you to figure out the ring size without making her suspicious of the engagement.
Choosing the Diamond - Shape
The diamond shape is really important because it will define the overall look of the engagement ring you buy. There's 12 main shapes when it comes to diamonds for an engagement ring:
Round brilliant cut diamonds have a certain sparkle to them that's enhanced by the cut. It's a more traditional shape for a diamond and is extremely popular for engagement rings.
The radiant cut diamond has a square shape with cropped, flat corners - it's a really unique design for a diamond and is perfect if your other half likes quirky jewellery.
Following a similar style to the round diamond, the oval shape and facets in this design allow more light to pass through, giving it an extra sparkly finish.
If your partner likes a vintage style of jewellery, consider the emerald cut diamond. It's stylish, sleek and is made from a technique which was originally only used to cut emeralds.
The princess cut diamond is another really popular choice for engagement rings. The sharp, square cut looks gorgeous on its own, but is also really pretty when put alongside other princess cut diamonds.
Otherwise known as the teardrop diamond, the pear shape is much more unusual. It's a more quirky take on the round brilliant cut diamond and is perfect if your partner wants something a little different.
The trillion cut diamond, also known as trilliant cut, is a triangular-shaped sparkler which is more commonly used as an accent stone - but looks gorgeous standing alone on an engagement ring too.
The baguette diamond is a slim, rectangular diamond which look really gorgeous either side of an emerald cut diamond. The slim shape will give the engagement ring a unique twist that's not commonly seen.
The heart diamond is perfect for the hopeless romantic. It's perfect for a girly girl and takes a really skilled cutter to create the exact symmetry needed to perfect this shape.
Often referred to as pillow cut diamonds, the cushion shape is similar to a princess cut, but with much softer edges.
Similar to the radiant cut diamond, the asscher shape has more step-cuts to it, giving it even more edges for the light to bounce off - making it a really sparkly design!
Last, but by no means least, comes the marquise diamond shape. It's stylish, chic and is also referred to as a navette, meaning 'little boat'.
Choosing the Diamond - Quality
If you’re going for an engagement ring with set diamonds in, it’s important to know what signs to look out for when searching for a really good quality stone. The best way to ensure you're getting the best quality of diamond is to follow the 5 C's - clarity, cut, colour, carat and certificate.
The clarity of a diamond refers to the blemishes (or lack of, ideally) that the diamond possesses. Almost every diamond on the market will have some level of inclusions or imperfections, but the key is to try and find one with as few as possible – which is where the clarity grade comes in. For more information on clarity, be sure to look up the GIA clarity grading scale.
The diamond cut is very often confused with the diamond shape – there’s a big difference. When you’re looking at the standard of the cut, you’re looking at the quality of how the diamond has been crafted and shaped. It’s the only C that is entirely manipulated by the diamond cutter and how well it’s done will hugely impact the retail price.
The colour of the diamond is a fairly simple one, it’s referring to how clear or discoloured the diamond is. The whiter the diamond, the higher its value will be. The way you can test this is a colourless diamond will allow more light to pass through it, and will always pass off a larger amount of brilliance.
Carats, very simply, are what’s used to measure diamonds. There’s 100 points in one carat, so a diamond with 50 points would be described as a half-carat.
When purchasing any diamonds, make sure you get the correct certification with it, referred to by a diamond grading laboratory; this just clarifies the quality of the sparkler you’ve bought.
Choosing the Ring Metal
Your bride-to-be’s style is the main deciding factor in the ring metal you choose. For engagement rings, the most common choices are:
Rose Gold Engagement Rings
This dreamy coloured metal is very up and coming in the engagement ring market. If your girlfriend is a girly girl who loves anything with a feminine touch, then a trendy rose gold engagement ring could be the perfect pick.
White Gold Engagement Rings
If it’s a diamond ring you’re looking for, white gold is one of the most popular choices of metal. It looks super classy and is a mix between yellow gold, silver, palladium and zinc – a real recipe for beauty.
Yellow Gold Engagement Rings
Yellow gold is one of the most traditional ring metals around, and is 75% pure gold. This ring metal is perfect for women who like a classic jewellery look. If your girl likes an edgier look, try designers such as Anna Sheffield who do contemporary rings in this metal.
Platinum Engagement Rings
The purest metal available, platinum is extremely strong and has a gorgeous white shine to it so there's no need for coating. Women who like stunning, clean-cut jewellery that's guaranteed to stand the test of time will love an engagement ring made from this metal.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Ring Metals
Shopping for an Engagement Ring
How do I know how much to spend?
A traditional take on buying an engagement ring is that it usually costs around three months’ salary, but you definitely don’t have to stick to this. The budget for the ring should be an amount you feel comfortable parting with. Once you know the shape, style and metal of the engagement ring, it makes it a lot easier to shop around for good prices and much like when a woman is looking for a wedding dress, when you find the one - you'll know!
If you feel 100% confident that you know what you’re doing, then venture out alone to buy the ring. However, if you're less sure, take someone with you that she trusts like her sister, mum or best friend. Even though this has to be your decision, it’s always good to get another person’s opinion.
Should I shop online or at a store?
Do some online research into different shops and boutiques you want to visit before you go out. It’s always good to have a plan of action rather than blind-buying.
We advise that you do the majority of your searching in person so you can really see the ring for what it is. Once you've chosen a ring, you can always search for a better price online and shop with retailers who have internet stores. If you're 100% confident in the supplier, buying an engagement ring online is totally fine and very common.
Questions to Ask the Retailer:
Can I swap the ring for another if she doesn’t like it?
This is something that is always worth asking. The answer won’t always be yes, but it’s worth knowing what your options are. Sometimes they'll offer you options like reshaping or exchanging for another style which is always good to know. This question could come in handy if worst case scenario, she doesn't like her engagememt ring.
Will you resize the ring if it doesn’t fit?
There are very few engagement ring retailers who won’t offer this service but it is important to check with them before you make the purchase.
Do you have a third party diamond certificate?
If you're buying a diamond engagement ring, you should always ask for a third party diamond certificate. This doesn’t mean you don’t trust your jeweller, it just gives you a guarantee that what you are being told is truthful and any well respected jewellers will be more than happy to provide this.
What are the ethics on the ring?
If you and your girlfriend are conscious of the ethical conflicts that comes with some jewellery, ask the jeweller where they source the materials. Ethical engagement rings are becoming more and more popular and a lot of jewellers now work alongside charities such as fairtrade to ensure the diamonds and metals are ethically sourced.
How do I care for the ring?
Different metals, diamonds and stones come with different needs. Some need more taking care of than others so make sure you ask the jeweller how to clean the ring.
Do you have a guarantee on the ring?
For example, if you're buying a white gold engagement ring, because of the coating, it can wear away and yellow after a few years so it’s always handy to know if the shop/company itself will offer that service for you.
Remember: Always check the warranties and returns policies before purchasing anything.
Alternative Engagement Rings
Just because most people buy their partner a diamond when they’re asking that all-important question, that doesn’t mean a big rock is for everyone. There are plenty of alternative engagement ring options for people who are less traditional.
If your other half is the timeless, antique-loving type, why not opt for a vintage engagement ring with a gorgeous stone set in it?
The key is to use your imagination, and to stay true to the person you’re buying it for – if they hate flashy diamonds and too much bling, don’t feel pressured to get them a ‘traditional’ engagement ring!
READ MORE: Alternative Engagement Rings - Ideas and Inspiration
Temporary Engagement Rings
Not everyone wants to propose with the actual engagement ring, so the other option is to buy a temporary engagement ring. This is a much cheaper ring which is still equally as gorgeous. You can also use a spontaneous engagement ring to do the amazing proposal and then find time to shop together for the 'actual' engagement ring. The bride can still wear and keep the temporary one.
READ MORE: Temporary Engagement Rings: 47 Proposal Rings to Pop the Question With
Although it seems daunting, the whole thing is pretty straight forward. Figure out what your girlfriend likes, buy the perfect ring and ask her to spend the rest of her life with you!
Now you know how to get the ring, it's probably time to check out our awesome proposal ideas.