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Diamond Engagement Ring Shopping Guide

Consider this…

Before you go shopping for a diamond, before you go looking for the perfect engagement ring for her, there are a few things that you might want to consider… I call them shopping tips from our exclusive diamond engagement ring buying guide.

Ten Great Tips

This list consists of ten tips that will not only help you choose the right ring, but the right diamond, right metal and the right price as well.

Following these rules and tricks can not only get you the perfect diamond ring, but it may save you time, money and frustration too.

It’s Well Worth The Read

Most of these steps are actually done before you ever walk into a jewelry store.

It’s all about learning, understanding and doing your homework first. That way, you’ll know if what the salesperson is telling you is correct, or not.

So Let’s Begin

Ten shopping tips from the ultimate diamond engagement ring buying guide.

Here we go:

  1. Decide how much Money you want to Spend
  2. Decide which Metal to Buy
  3. Decide which Shape of Diamond to Purchase
  4. Decide on a Carat Weight
  5. Decide on a Clarity range
  6. Decide on a Color range
  7. Compare, Microscope and Buy a Diamond
  8. Pick out the Mounting
  9. Have it Set and Sized
  10. Get it Appraised and Insured

Now for a Closer Look…

P.S. James Allen has some awesome diamonds with awesome prices (use “RINGSUM” at checkout to save an additional 10% off your mounting).

1) Decide how much Money you want to Spend

Before you step foot into any jewelry store, you’re going to need to set yourself some guidelines. First up, how much money are you willing to spend?

Knowing what you can afford and what you want to spend can help you make better buying decisions. It can keep you from going overboard and getting talked into a diamond ring that’s way over budget.

Figure out your money situation. Decide whether you’re going to be paying in cash, putting it on a credit card, financing it, or putting it into a layaway.

Most jewelers recommend spending 2 months salary on a diamond ring. But it’s really up to you. You have to be comfortable with the payments.

Know your Limits

Pick a price range and stick to it. The average price for an engagement ring varies from $1500 all the way up to $6000. Don’t go in blindly. Otherwise you may be walking out of the store with a $10,000 ring (not that she would complain).

2) Decide which Metal to Buy

Does she want yellow gold, white gold, platinum? (These are the top 3 choice of metals). If she wants a yellow ring: yellow gold it is. Keep in mind that the best gold to buy for engagement rings is 14kt gold. 14kt gold keeps the luster of gold better and it’s durable enough to hold in your diamonds and gemstones. Anything higher than 14kt in gold content (like 18kt or 20kt) will be softer and more expensive (plus it may not match the color of her other rings).

14kt is the best in my book

Platinum is awesome, but it also costs 4 times the price of gold (It is also 4x more durable though). You could easily spend $2500 just on the platinum mounting alone.

It won’t be cheap.

So unless you have money to burn, stick with white gold (white gold is the most popular metal right now).

White gold does have its faults though. White gold will fade overtime (turn yellowish) because the rhodium plating will wear off. It’s not a big deal, but just know that you’ll probably have to get it polished, cleaned and re-rhodium plated at least once a year or every couple years to keep it looking bright and white (that’s just how white gold is – read: white gold turns yellow).

3) Decide which Shape of Diamond to Purchase

Round (brilliant cut) is the most popular choice of them all. Round brilliant cuts look great and have the most brilliance of any cut of diamond there is (hence the name). You can’t go wrong with round diamonds. Chances are she’ll love it.

The second most popular cut of diamond is the princess cut diamond (square cut or rectangular shaped). The great thing about princess cuts is that they look huge. They look much bigger than any other diamond cut of the exact same carat weight.

Either round or princess cut will work perfectly. They are the big favorites and you really can’t go wrong with them.

Next up, carat weight, clarity and color

4) Decide on a Carat Weight

What carat weight do you want to get her?

Or should I say, what carat weight does she want? (Has she dropped any hints?) Granted the carat weight you buy will really depend upon how much money you want to spend and what quality you are willing to get. But going in with an idea can greatly help.

Most guys will buy a diamond ring between the half carat (.50) and the 1 full carat (1.00) range.

The most important factor here is not how much carat weight is in the entire ring… But how much carat weight is the center stone (two totally different things – unless you’re dealing with a single diamond).

The solitaire is the showpiece. You want that to stand out above all else. You want it to be as big as possible. You don’t want it to get lost in the mounting. Think center stone first and everything else is secondary.

5) Decide on a Clarity Range

This is where homework really begins… You must learn about diamond quality.

The 4 C’s are vastly important.

Clarity knowledge is crucial to getting a great diamond or getting ripped off.

Study clarity and what it really means. Know the difference between a VS, SI and I clarity diamond. It can be complicated and confusing at first, but if you study enough diamonds it will get easier.

Microscoping diamonds (grab a home microscope, or a 10x jeweler’s loupe) will get you familiar with flaws and imperfections and will teach you the difference between a good diamond… And a great diamond.

The average clarity on the market is SI1 clarity (like These beautiful diamonds here). SI1 is a clarity that has small inclusions in it that are not visible to the bare eye. SI1 diamonds are affordable as well. Most people are perfectly happy with SI1 clarity diamonds.

Do note that going lower in clarity (SI2, I1, I2 or I3 clarity) sets you up for not only a less brilliant diamond (not so pretty), but also one that you can see imperfections in the stone just by looking at it. You’ll be able to see things like: cracks, clouds, fractures, lines, chips and black carbon spots. Some of them can be huge, ugly and obvious. Probably not something she would want to look at for the rest of her life. With clarity, you pretty much get what you pay for.

Now you could go higher in clarity (like a VS, or VVS clarity), but they get really expensive and you may not see a difference with your eye (since we’re dealing with microscopic differences only).

Personally I adore VS clarity. But I’m also partial because I’ve been looking at clarity and diamonds for over
30 years. You have to decide what clarity you are fine with. Compare all of them. Put them side by side. Microscope them. Find out what clarity suits you.

6) Decide on a Color Range

The average diamond color there is on the market is H-I color. H-I is in the near colorless range (G, H, I, J) and is a nice off-white diamond color to buy. There’s nothing wrong with H-I, but… I would recommend going up at least one grade higher. Strive for a G-H instead. G is at the high end of the near colorless range. G will look bright and white. (like these G-H diamonds here).

But if you want to know what diamond color I would buy myself… I would have to say E or F color.

Colorless Diamonds

E or F color is in the colorless range (D, E, F) and is the best color range there is. They are considered pure white and are extremely white and bright. They’ll look like they have a spot light on them. E-F diamonds are very stunning, full of sparkles, and filled with life (see some incredible colorless diamonds here).

It all comes down to money of course. How much are you willing to spend and what are you willing to sacrifice? G-H is a great decent color. A lot of people can’t tell the difference between G-H colors and the pure white ones. You’ll just have to look and compare them yourself. Every diamond is different, and can face up different too.

7) Compare, Microscope and Buy a Diamond

Finally it’s time to actually buy a diamond. The best advice:

Buy the center diamond first.

Purchase a loose diamond so you can get the best possible quality for your money. Plus, purchasing a diamond loose (preferably GIA certified) will allow you to microscope the diamond without any distractions (prongs, mountings, reflections…) Look at the clarity under a scope. Look at the plot of a diamond. View the laser inscription on the girdle (if it has one). It truly is a wonderful sight.

Not only is viewing diamonds under a scope important… It’s vital.

Never buy a diamond without viewing it under 10x magnification first (which is why buying them from James Allen is recommended, because you see the real diamonds magnified at 10x magnification before you buy them).

You can’t skimp on this golden rule.

Use my free loose diamond buying checklist

Take your time. Carry a note book (or use my loose diamond buying checklist) with you and keep track of important features like: cut, color, clarity and carat weight, price, certification and laser inscriptions.

This will help you keep them straight and choose between the best later.

Go around to all the jewelers in the city. Check them out. See what makes them tick. See who your friends and family recommend. Weigh all these factors in so you can narrow it down to a few select premium diamonds.

Then take a friend with you to get a second opinion.

(The jewelry salesperson’s opinion doesn’t count, they are biased).

Buy from a place that doesn’t misinform or mislead you. Buy from a place that you feel comfortable with. Chances are good that you’ll do all your shopping from that jeweler from now on (customers become very loyal for life).

Above all, make sure you buy a diamond that you fall in love with. You want this diamond to light up her eyes and put a huge smile on her face. She’s going to be wearing this diamond forever, so make it a good one. Don’t rush it. You don’t want to make a hasty decision you’ll regret.

It’s one of those things that you’ll know it when you see it.

Scope them. Learn how to read a certification report. Look at all the details before you finally commit to purchase. You’ll be happy you did.


How to pick a mounting and getting insurance.

8) Pick out the Mounting

Mounting shopping can be fun…

For some.

There are thousands of choices. A lot of guys stress over the perfect mounting, but it doesn’t need to be so tough. If you already have an idea of what she wants (white gold pave sets, tension sets, channel sets…) then that helps greatly. But if you have no clue as to what she’ll like, then here are a couple of pointers

1) Take a friend of hers (who can keep a secret) shopping with you. Her friend can help choose a ring that fits her personality. No doubt that her friends and your girl have been out looking at engagement rings before… Trust me, they’ll know what kind of mounting she will like.

2) If not, buy her the classic Tiffany style engagement ring. You simply cannot go wrong with this traditional look. It’s sleek, simple, stylish, elegant, and nothing shows off a solitaire diamond better.

It’s a win-win mounting.

Plus, you can have it set into a Tiffany style mounting now, and then after you give it to your girlfriend, you can take her out so she can pick the mounting that she really wants. Lots of guys do this. And a lot of women like doing it this way. Just realize, that this also costs you more money in the long run.

Mounting tips:

1) Don’t buy a mounting so big that it overpowers the center diamond.

2) Don’t buy a ring that is really thick or bulky, it may hurt her fingers.

3) Match the quality of diamonds in the mounting to the quality of diamond you bought for the center stone.

4) Don’t buy invisible set diamonds. They tend to fall out of the mounting. Pave set or channel set mountings are more ideal and secure.

9) Have it Set and Sized

Have the jeweler set your solitaire into the mounting of your choice. You can also have it sized properly at the same time… That way it will fit when she gets it.

But… It’s not a good idea.

Even though there are a couple of ways of finding out her correct size (read: how to find her ring size), I’d actually suggest you wait.

Don’t get it sized yet.

Because if you don’t know her exact size (versus just guessing), then it can cause problems later on. Like the fact that resizing a ring generally costs more money. It can harm the ring. And, it can also void a return policy. Plus, you don’t even know if she’ll like it.

So I always say… Just leave the ring as the default ring size (usually a size 6 or 6.5). Then she can just have it sized and custom fit after she gets it. No big deal.

And here’s a really huge eye opener for you:

When you go to pick up your ring from the jeweler… Microscope the ring again.

Look at the quality of the workmanship. Look at where it was sized. Are there any sizing marks? Did they thin out the shank? Take a look at the prongs. Are they touching the stone? (they should be.) Do they feel rough or sharp? Are they uneven or thin? Look at the channel walls to make sure they are straight and not jagged or uneven. Look over everything well to make sure it’s up to par.

And don’t forget to microscope the most important thing…

The center diamond.

Doing this prevents diamond switching.

Make sure that the diamond you’re taking home is the diamond you bought. Look at the inclusions and the diamond certificate (please tell me you bought a GIA certified diamond). Make sure it’s the right stone.

Look at the laser inscription numbers (if you bought one that’s laser inscribed… highly recommended). Make sure the numbers on the diamond are the same numbers that are listed on your diamond report. Do this before you leave the jeweler. If there’s an issue or problem, it’s best to find out now.

10) Get it Appraised and Insured

Don’t forget the paperwork.

Make sure you have the diamond certificate (these are expensive, so don’t lose them). Make sure that they give you a jewelry appraisal (should be free) with your purchase. You want to be able to make copies of all of these and turn them into your insurance company.

Getting them insured is a must.

Get it covered for loss, theft, damage and also if the diamond chips, breaks or cracks. Get it fully covered. Put it on your home owners insurance or renter’s insurance. It’s well worth the money.

And also make sure you get any guarantees or warranties that come with your purchase.

And lastly, don’t forget to buy an extended service plan (E.S.P.) if they have one. These plans cover the mounting and repairs and sizings for a lifetime (or renewable for a year, depending on the store)… I can’t tell you enough how important these are for jewelry purchases.

So there you go…

These tricks and tips should help you stay focused and hopefully keep you pointed in the right direction for buying her the perfect diamond engagement ring.

The key points are:

  1. Stay within your budget
  2. Strive for at least SI1 clarity with G-H color
  3. Scope the diamond for flaws and imperfections
  4. Buy only certified diamonds (GIA)
  5. Get it appraised and insured

Good luck shopping.

And have fun.

Don’t forget to check out James Allen

And enjoy the will you marry me moment forever.

Here’s hoping she says “YES!

Cheers! :)

Recommended Jewelry Supplies:

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
Gold Silver Jewelry Polishing Cloths Jewelry Making Supplies Kit Gold Acid Test Kit Watch Tool Repair Kit
Ring Adjusters EMT Emergency Ring Cutter 10x Jewelers Loupe Jewelers Microscope

Recommended Jewelry Supplies:

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner
Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
Gold Silver Jewelry Polishing Cloths Jewelry Making Supplies Kit
Gold Acid Test Kit Watch Tool Repair Kit
Ring Adjusters EMT Emergency Ring Cutter
10x Jewelers Loupe Jewelers Microscope

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