diamond buying guide

Diamond Engagement Rings

Read here to discover the first steps in "how to buy an engagement ring," diamond basics, about ring settings (gold and platinum) and links to a "Create Your Own Ring" tool to make sure you purchase the perfect engagement ring.

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Diamond Engagement Rings

In 2013, couples spent an average of $5,403 USD on an engagement ring. Also in 2013, the average size of the center stone was 1.1 carats.

Does that mean you should expect to pay that amount or buy that size diamond? Absolutely not. The "average" amount spent or size purchased does not equal the "ideal". In fact, the "ideal" engagement ring is a very individual and personal matter.

Buying a diamond engagement ring is part of a much larger decision that goes far beyond jewelry, tradition, or money. Our number one recommendation is not to get caught up in what the industry tells you is "the norm."

Step 1: Establish Your Budget

Spend some time exploring your diamond ring options. This time is for getting a feel for what's out there and setting your standards.

Once familiar with the options, establish your budget. Your budget is based on your income, what you feel comfortable spending, and the type and grade of diamond you wish to purchase.

Your love cannot be measured by how much money you spend on an engagement ring.

Once you've established your budget, remain firm — don't allow an overzealous jeweler/sales person talk you into going drastically over your budget.

Your engagement ring budget will be based on not only your income, but also your knowledge of diamonds (the "four Cs", certification, shapes — see below), so you'll have a very good idea of both what you can afford and what you want to spend.

If you've done your homework, there shouldn't be any big surprises at the checkout counter.

Step 2: Learn About Diamonds

To begin shopping for a diamond, you need to understand the four Cs of diamond evaluation: By understanding these qualities you can determine which traits are most important to you, and you can find a balance that best suits your needs. To learn more about the four Cs of diamonds, visit our Diamond Buying Guide.

Once you understand the "Four Cs," review the page on Diamond Certificates. Diamond certificates are the "blueprint" of the diamond and certify the various grades (cut, color, clarity), carat weight, and additional aspects of the diamond (such as shape). Not all certificates are created equal — be sure to read this section to know that the certificate you receive is worth more than the paper it's written on.

Additionally, be sure to review the different diamond shapes that are available. On each individual diamond shapes page, we have hand selected a range of diamonds in sizes from one-half carat through three carats and we have provided a set of guidelines for minimum quality standards.

Step 3: Learn About Ring Settings

The "setting" is what you probably think of as the "ring" portion — the band, accent stones, and the prongs. Everything except the center diamond. Settings come in a variety of metals and styles. Most diamond engagement rings are set in gold (yellow, white, or "two-toned", and various karats) or platinum.

When selecting a gold band (yellow or white), we recommend 18K. That said, lovely quality diamond engagement rings can also feature 14K.

We strongly recommend against karatage lower than 14K.

Settings may also feature smaller diamonds or gemstones as "accent stones." Popular accent gemstones include: diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tanzanite, and more.

Learn more about Diamond Ring Settings

traditional solitaire diamond accents gemstone accents
Traditional Solitaire Diamond Accents Gemstone Accents

To learn more about platinum, gold, and gold karats, read our Precious Metals Guide.

Step 4: Design Your Ring

diamond engagement rings First, don't be surprised if when you visit some online Diamond Jewelry Stores and discover that they display the engagement ring setting without a center diamond. Remember, you're selecting both the setting and the diamond (as opposed to a "pre-set" ring where someone else has already chosen the (uncertified) diamond for you).

Many online stores have a "Create Your Own Ring" tool. Feel free to familiarize yourself with how these tools work by experimenting with the one at Blue Nile or James Allen (you don't have to buy anything, just learn how the tool works): Blue Nile Build Your Own Ring and James Allen Build Your Own Ring

diamond engagement rings diamond engagement rings diamond engagement rings
Round Brilliant Princess Pear Shape

Learn more about Diamond Ring Settings

There are two basic parts to every diamond engagement ring: the Setting and the Center Diamond. The "setting" is the "ring" portion — the band, accent stones, and the prongs.

When designing your own ring, which one do you select first — the setting or the center diamond? Well, that depends.

If either the recipient has her heart set on a "princess cut" diamond, start with the diamond selection. On the other hand, if the one thing you know is that you want a platinum band with sapphire accent stones, start with the ring.

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