10 Most Important Things to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring

Posted by on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 · 9 Comments 

No matter what style you prefer, there are a few things that everyone must know before shopping for and buying an engagement ring. This is our list of the most important to help get you started:


Know your jeweler’s gemology credentials as well as his/her experience building and selling wedding jewelry. Shopping for a jeweler is much more important than shopping for a particular wedding set or center gemstone.


Be cautious of branded wedding jewelry. Some is designed beautifully but significantly over priced compared to the generic equivalent.


If you are going to purchase both an engagement ring and wedding band, even if you do not purchase the wedding band with the engagement ring, you should make sure that there are several wedding band choices available that will look good and fit with the primary ring.


Purchasing center colored gemstones like ruby or sapphire for engagement rings is a trend that comes and goes with fashion. It is important to know that although ruby and sapphire are among the hardest and most durable of colored gemstones, they are still significantly softer and much more easily chipped and abraded compared to diamond. If you work with your hands daily, you should not wear this ring during work or you should not purchase it in the first place.


The most respected diamond grading system and which sets the legal standard in the United States is provided by the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California. The American Gem Society Laboratories in Nevada provides an equally competent and respected grading system, which provides more information about some areas of diamond quality. Laboratory reports from either of these laboratories should accompany the purchase of a center diamond.


Diamonds are priced based on the characteristics of the individual stone. Diamonds should NOT be priced based on their grades. Substantial numbers of diamonds will be properly placed into each grade category, and most diamonds fitting into a single category will have different prices, based on the characteristics of each stone. Grades and grading systems should be properly used by insurance companies, but should NOT be used by the public to price or price compare diamonds. To truly understand this, imagine how couples priced and purchased diamonds over the decades before laboratory reports became available (about 1975). They had to learn the characteristics of their particular diamond and how they affected beauty and value, and these were taught by gemologists and jewelers who had decades of experience analyzing cut, color and clarity as they purchased diamonds for their businesses.


The single most important feature of diamond is its beauty, defined as BOTH the QUANTITY and QUALITY of light exploding from the top of the stone. The fire and sparkle of a diamond is the first thing a woman sees when she looks at her stone … not the carat weight and clearly not the characteristics of color and clarity or their grade categories. A very very small percentage of diamonds are cut purposefully to produce maximum beauty; the balance are cut to look bigger across the surface or to weigh more, since American marketing emphasizes the importance of carat weight, rather than the power of light exploding from the top of the stone. Regardless of the external shape of the diamond, money should be spent on the highest grade of cut for that stone, and after that come the characteristics of color and clarity and the carat weight.


Everyone knows there are sometimes price breaks just under a “magic carat weight.” For example, a .94 carat diamond may be 20% less expensive than a 1.00 carats diamond, but almost the same size to the naked eye. These price breaks vary based on external shape, quality, and most importantly on the quantity of rough diamond crystal found that can be cut into polished diamonds above the price break and below the price break. If there are 20% more diamond crystals found that can be cut into .90 carat polished diamonds, compared to the number of rough crystals found that can be cut into a full one carat polished diamond, then the .90 carat diamond will provide a much better value. This applies to the purchase of single diamonds for the center of engagement rings as well as pairs of diamonds for diamond stud earrings. Jewelers who have this knowledge are those who have expertise as authentic diamond buyers, trained to understand the actual characteristics and pricing of diamonds from the earth to the hand, rather than the majority of jewelers in 2017 who are sellers of diamonds with grading reports.


Many engagement rings in 2017 are designed with small diamonds encircling the center stone (the diamond halo) and or with small diamonds cascading down the band portion of the ring. I have appraised hundreds of these rings over the past decade where the small diamonds are terrible, while the center stone is average to excellent. These small diamonds are NOT diamond chips. They may be fully cut round diamonds each with 58 facets. Oddly, most customers are not taught about these or how inexpensive it would be to increase their quality, creating much more fire and sparkle from the stones. The beauty of the entire ring can change dramatically with a minimum increase in cost, by purchasing small diamonds with fewer internal flaws as well as with better grades of cut.


Most wedding jewelry in 2017 is constructed of white metal. There are many white metals, including silver, white gold, platinum, titanium, tungsten, cobalt and a few others. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each.

  • Silver is dense and heavy, scratches easily and oxidizes if not kept polished. It has 2 advantages. One is cost. The second is that when it is properly cast without porosity and professionally polished, it is the “brightest” metal.
  • Titanium, tungsten, cobalt and the “super metals.” There are two advantages. Cost and extremely light weight. Many men and some women like titanium and tungsten wedding bands, without and with diamonds. Some have inlaid gold; some have inlaid wood. They can be engraved. The disadvantage is that they cannot be sized or repaired.
  • White gold, frequently used for diamond jewelry. White gold is a wonderful traditional metal. Its primary disadvantage is that it must be rhodium plated on a regular basis to maintain its whiteness (silver color). Some sellers do not charge for rhodium plating, and if there is a charge, it is small and the work can easily be accomplished within one day. There is no way to predict how often white gold must be re-plated. Good jewelers provide the service annually when they clean and polish their customers’ rings and check the security of the settings. 18k white gold is prettier than 14k and not very much more expensive. Oddly it is not suggested often by American jewelers though it is extremely popular in Europe.
  • Platinum has always been the most important metal for fine gemstone jewelry. It requires no rhodium plating. It is denser and heavier that white gold. It is more difficult to work and requires the skill and tools used by master jewelers rather than just any bench jeweler. Therefore, rings constructed with it are pricier. It is stronger than white gold in its ability to hold gemstones, although it is certainly possible that small diamonds over time can be struck and released from a platinum setting just like from a white gold setting. Platinum prongs can be “caught and pulled up” just like white gold prongs. So, while platinum is not a perfect metal, it is considered the finest world-wide by the best jewelers.


9 Responses to “10 Most Important Things to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring”
  1. justin says:

    Tons of really helpful info! I’ve started shopping around recently so I’m trying to research more so I know what I’m talking about when I’m in some stores.

  2. Agree with everything that Tom has said! It is such a big decision for a man to buy an engagement ring he really needs to be educated in this.

  3. Braden Bills says:

    My son is looking to buy an engagement ring with his wife. It makes sense that he might want to consider the grading! I’ll make sure that he knows what to look for with that.

  4. Diamondport Engagement Rings Brisbane says:

    I agree. As long as the purchaser engages the help of a trained diamond merchant they will buy well, and have a great experience in the buying process.

  5. Leviticus Bennett says:

    That’s really neat that titanium is lightweight and affordable. I already liked the way it looked more than silver. I’m getting married this fall, so I appreciate your tips.

  6. Lauren Jones says:

    My brother is planning to propose to his girlfriend, and he wants to know more about buying a diamond ring. It is good to know that one should be cautious of branded jewelry. I did not realize that it could be overpriced. I will be sure to share this information with my brother, thanks.

  7. Hubbly Boch says:

    Great blog post. It’s very informative post. Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep posting and keep sharing like this.

  8. Ragini Mathur says:

    Thanks for your tips that how to buy a diamond ring. It’s helped me in the future for purchasing.

  9. John Mike says:

    Yes, All points are useful to consider.

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