Quick Reference-Buying An Engagement Ring

Re-post of an older post.  I ask the same questions in person.

There comes a time in almost every man’s life when he has stood, stupefied, in the bright glare of a jewelry showroom and wondered, “What the heck am I doing here?”

The 4 C’s of diamonds, last month’s bank statement, her smiling face, and panic about making the “wrong” decision swirl through your head.  Everyone in the jewelry store is smiling and nodding and peppering you with insurance plans, finance plans, upgrade plans, and asking you her ring size.

As a jeweler who has seen this “deer in the headlights” look many times, I’ve compiled a shortlist of ways to glean information from your sweetie without ruining the surprise or making you look like a dolt in the jeweler’s.

#1: Does she wear white gold/silver or yellow gold? Notice the jewelry she wears now.  If she’s not “into” jewelry, you can tell from her watch.  If she’s got a mixture, there are two tone options available.  That way it matches everything.

#2: Is her jewelry big or small? Some girls opt for dainty earrings, tiny chains, tiny rings, etc. while others pour on the sparkly hoops, huge rings and stack bracelets from wrist to elbow.  There are exceptions to every rule, but try to notice what she wears day to day.

#3: Does she want to wear two rings or is one okay? Traditionally, men present one ring when they ask the big question, and present another when they “seal the deal” at the ceremony.  There are gorgeous engagement rings out there that have ugly, tiny, or uncomfortable wedding bands that go with them, so if you think she’s going to go traditional on you, shop with that in mind.  Also, if it doesn’t come in a set, you may end up having a matching piece custom made to go with it.

#4: What does she do all day? There are some styles that lend themselves to problems when worn in a strenuous environment.  Ie. A nurse or doctor shouldn’t get a tall pointy mounting that’s going to snag on latex gloves all day.  For ladies that never remove their jewelry, a protected setting may be more durable in the long run.

#5: What shape of diamond? To make life more confusing, diamonds come in different shapes.  For investments purposes, rounds are the winner.  Popularity wavers, but right now ladies are flocking to the princess (square) cut.  For the budget conscious, squares tend to look smaller on the hand compared to the other diamond shapes.  The most bang for your buck falls to the marquise.  They look huge when compared to other diamond shapes of the same weight.  What they don’t tell you: carat is weight, not diameter.

#6: What size diamond? As previously stated, diamonds are sold by the pound.  The visual difference between a half carat diamond and a full carat diamond is about half a millimeter.  Side by side, it’s discernable, but there won’t be people in the office able to tell it’s a .68 carat diamond unless you carry your appraisal around with you.  Get what works with your budget, guys.  The right setting can do wonders.  She loves you, not the rock.

#7: What does cut & clarity mean? This isn’t a topic that you discuss with your fiancée, but it’s worth mentioning.  There are different clarity grades for diamonds.  They are discernable within the upper half and the lower half, but what you’re not told is there are ranges within the grades.   Within a grading level, you could be looking at a tiny black speck or hardly noticeable swirly things.  The same goes with the cut grades.  Diamonds are like people.  There are many varieties of tall brunette out there, so it makes sense to see them in person before choosing.

#8: Set a reasonable budget for your purchase. Don’t let yourself be pressured into more than you can really afford.  The wedding and honeymoon are also expenses you have to plan for.  Some budget friendly options are to use “family heirloom” rings.  They can be re-set into more modern styles for a lot less than a “new” ring.  Another idea is to utilize a gold trade-in program.  The gold is used to create the wedding bands or helps offset the cost of an “off the rack” ring.

#9: What is her ring size? If she’s a heavy sleeper, you can tie a string/bread twisty tie around her hand and gently slide it off.  You can also gallantly offer to take her ring to the jeweler’s for a proper cleaning (make sure it goes on the left hand ring finger) and have the jeweler gauge the size.

#10: What style ring? Keeping in mind whether you’re getting one or the traditional two, some things to notice are if she lingers on a jewelry ad in a magazine, makes a comment on  a friend’s ring or her eyes light up as she browses in a jewelry store.  It’s okay to enlist the help of your future in-laws or her friends if you’re still clueless.  It’s okay to go simple at first.  You can always dress it up with the wedding band.

In the end, the symbolism of the engagement ring is more important than the details.   Rest assured that because of her love for you, you’re not likely to “blow it” regardless of the ring you choose.  By noticing what she wears and her style, you’re that much closer to giving her the ring she’s always dreamed of.


  1. Jennifer said,

    I’ve ordered this for 5 separate friends who recently announced engagements and have heard from every single one that it’s one of the most thoughtful and useful gifts (since it gets plenty of daily use). I received two similar ring holders myself when I got engaged and use them every time I do dishes and household cleaning or take a shower.

    As soon as I get the “I’m engaged!” phone call, I order this through my Prime account for next-day arrival along with a bottle of jewelry cleaner. . . it’s unexpected since it’s so soon after the announcement, so inexpensive (so it doesn’t replace other gifts for the couple) and a great way to say “congrats, I’m so happy for you and your new rock!”

    I recommend this as a gift for all new brides-to-be!

  2. xxx tube said,

    Excellent subject I could not of thougth off that !

  3. South beach said,

    Wooooooooow Thanks for da info

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