Engagement Ring Guide

choosing a diamond

So, you have found the love of your life and had decided to pop the question. All you need to do now is to buy the engagement ring and propose. Sounds simple right?

But the problem is, most guys don’t have the faintest idea about how to buy an engagement ring or even where to shop for one. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you purchase a proposal ring that will make her say “Yes!”.

Buying an engagement ring is actually far less daunting than you think it is and there are only 6 steps you need to follow. Let’s get started…

1. Determine the Budget You Want to Spend

The first thing you need to do is to decide on how much you are willing and able to spend on the engagement ring.

Now, you may have heard that you are supposed to spend 2-3 months of your salary on an engagement ring but this is nothing more than a crafty marketing gimmick to make you spend more.

In my opinion, you should only spend what you can afford without going into debt. If you don’t have an exact figure in mind, come up with a range that is comfortable for your current financial situation. You could refer to this study that shows the average amount that others are spending on an engagement ring too.

Of course, you may also want to sound your partner out to see what she expects or prefers. Instead of blowing up your budget on the ring, she may prefer that you spend the money on a honeymoon or towards the home instead.

One way to do this discreetly could be to casually mention how much a friend paid for his diamond ring and see how she reacts in the conversation.

2. Find Out Her Ring Size

design your own engagement ring

Getting the ring size right will save you the hassle of resizing it.

Getting the ring size of their partner correct is the part where a lot of men screw up when buying an engagement ring. So, if it matters to you that your proposal ring fits her finger perfectly when you go down on your knees, make sure you pay attention to her finger size.

If your proposal isn’t meant to be a surprise or your partner is shopping for the ring together with you, this will be easy. All you need to do is to bring her to the jeweler to measure her finger size or try on rings in the cosmetic jewelry section of a departmental store.

However, when it comes to finding her ring size discreetly, you may need to be a little sneaky to keep the surprise under wraps. If she currently wears a ring, the best way of doing this is to secretly “borrow” it when she’s not aware to measure it.

If she doesn’t wear any rings, then you will need to get creative. You could get her close friends or family to help you by bringing her out for casual shopping in a jewelry store or ask for her ring size without raising suspicion. Alternatively, you could also try out the methods here.

3. Learn And Understand the 4Cs

Before you shop for any diamond, it is important that you know what the 4C’s are – clarity, carat weight, color and cut. Each of these factors can affect the appearance of the diamond and directly impacts the value (cost!).

More importantly, a good knowledge of the 4Cs will set you on the right path to choosing the best possible diamond based on your budget. Here’s an overview of what they mean:

Cut – The cut of the diamond refers to the diamond’s ability to reflect light. Cut determines the brilliance of a diamond and how much it sparkles. You should only consider diamonds with a GIA triple excellent or AGS triple ideal cut rating.

Carat WeightDiamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. In general, prices follow an exponential relationship as carat size increases because of demand and rarity reasons.

ColorDiamond color is graded on a D-Z based on how white or colorless the diamond is. D represents the most colorless while Z represents a noticeable color tint. I recommend a G or H color rating to get a white looking diamond without paying the premium for a colorless diamond.

Clarity – The clarity of a diamond is evaluated based on the severity of its inclusions and blemishes. The scale starts from Flawless (FL) to Included (I3). For practical reasons, I recommend buying eyeclean VS2 or SI1 diamonds to get the best value for money.

Out of all the four C’s, cut is the most important factor because it has the biggest impact on the beauty of a diamond. Color is the most misunderstood factor as many people get overly obsessed about buying a higher color grade even though most of them aren’t able to see visual differences.


4. Find a Reliable Jeweler to Shop From

For the uninitiated, navigating the jewelry world is like steering a ship through fog. It doesn’t help that many traditional jewelers run their businesses with opaque or unethical sales policies.

Finding a reliable jeweler that has a consumer’s interest in mind will mean that half the battle is already won when you are shopping for an engagement ring. Here are 4 things that I personally look out for when I choose jewelers to work with.

• Good selection of loose diamonds for you to cherry pick from.
• Availability of tangible data like videos/scope data.
• Excellent workmanship in their ring setting.
• Money back guarantee (exchanges don’t count).

In essence, you want a jeweler that is willing to stand behind their products with rock-solid money back guarantees. This protects you with a completely risk-free shopping experience.

I know many stores offer trade up policies or even free after-sales services like cleaning or rhodium dipping. Most of these “extras” are bells and whistles that are good to have but not necessary.

What is important, is the tangible data that helps you assess how well cut a diamond is and how it looks like in real life. And these are features that you rarely get at physical retailers.

James Allen, White Flash and Brian Gavin are 3 of the most highly recommend places to buy a high quality diamond engagement ring. In fact, they make it super easy for you to design your own engagement ring. Check them out for yourself today!

5. Selecting a Diamond For the Engagement Ring

When buying a diamond, there’s more to it than just basing your decisions based on a lab report. Think about this. If all GIA or AGS certified diamonds are equal, why do you think that 3 different diamonds with identical grading look different and differ in pricing?

You need to go beyond the 4Cs to be a smart shopper. And this is the reason why I always emphasize on the need for tangible data.

Instead of relying on fluffy marketing sales talk or making impulsive purchase decisions, the use of tangible data will allow you to make rational decisions. It also makes the entire shopping process transparent for you as well.

One of my favorite vendors is White Flash and for good reasons. Their signature diamonds are extremely well cut for light performance and they are extremely transparent in their diamond listings.

how to select a diamond using video data assessment

Not only do you get to see exactly how the diamond looks like in a magnified photograph, they also provide a video to show you how much it sparkles. On top of that, light performance data like the ASET/Idealscope images and hearts & arrows images of the diamond are also available for easy analysis.

6. Choose a Ring Design And Style She Likes

Once you’ve settled on a diamond, the next step would be to choosing the engagement ring setting. Basically, the setting is the mounting where the stone is set and typically made of platinum, white gold, yellow gold or rose gold.

Personal taste and budget constraints would help you narrow down on the choice of metal. If you need more information, read this article on the differences between white gold and platinum ring settings.

I’ve also recorded a video below to show you how the various metals used in jewelry look like in a side by side comparison.



For some guys, choosing an engagement ring style can actually be the hardest part of the shopping process because they have absolutely no idea what the recipient wants. If this sounds like you, my advice is to look at her Pinterest board for clues or think about her fashion style that she gravitates towards.

Here’s a quick primer on the different types of settings (I’ve also included popular designs) so that you have some idea of what is available in the market when finding your perfect engagement ring.


4 prong solitaire diamond ring simple straightforward

14k white gold four-prong comfort fit solitaire ring at an affordable price of $560.

The solitaire ring is a classic and evergreen design that goes well with different types of diamond shapes and finger types. As the name suggests, solitaire rings feature a single diamond that is usually prong-set onto a metal head.

Since there is minimal metal coverage, this setting brings out a diamond’s brilliance and makes the diamond the brilliant focal point without compromising security.


pave diamond 6 prong ring setting cathedral head

A beautifully crafted cathedral french-set diamond engagement ring.

A pave setting can be domed or flat and has numerous small diamonds that are encrusted on the ring’s surface. These small diamonds (melees) are held in place individually with beads or small prongs.

Pave rings help offer another dimension of bling and are a cost effective method to add sparkle to the engagement ring. The drawback with this type of setting is that they can catch onto things like clothing easily.


channel setting with princess cut diamonds in groove

This elegant ring setting features 24 channel-set princess shaped diamonds.

Chanel settings incorporate numerous tiny stones into open rows or channels that are flushed with the shank’s surface. The channel setting is popular for wedding rings but it’s not a good option for fragile gems, such as opals, emeralds, and the like.


halo diamond engagement ring design with pave diamonds white flash

Bright, dazzling melee diamonds outline the perimeter of the diamond in this ring design.

The halo ring is a setting that encircles with a row (or even multiple rows) of melee diamonds. This outline of melee diamonds helps to increase the brilliance of the setting and also makes the center diamond appear larger.

Besides the 4 types of settings I have listed here, there are many other designs such as bezel and tension settings that you can choose from. At the end of the day, the choice of ring setting design boils down to your personal taste, lifestyle and budget.

To view 100s of bespoke ring designs in HD 360° videos, visit James Allen and White Flash. Even if you are just window shopping, you can get inspiration and ideas for your future diamond ring purchase.

Summary: Design And Choose Your Own Engagement Ring

Searching for the perfect engagement ring can be a straightforward and fun process. The key is to understand what you are buying and take on a rational approach to buying the ring.

As with any major purchase, it pays to do your due diligence and research. In fact, I personally follow the steps outlined above when I buy diamond rings. Check out the most recent ring purchase I made at White Flash below.



Lastly, you should give yourself ample time to buy a ring and I recommend at least a 4-6 weeks time frame in advance instead of leaving things to the last minute. This will help you avoid any hasty decisions which may result in costly mistakes.

And with that, we’ve come to the end of this guide. If you have any questions or need a second opinion, feel free to get in touch with me. I would also recommend checking out the readings below to build up your jewelry buying knowledge.

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  1. Harley-
    March 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    I’m looking for a customized engagement ring that will have a couple of design features like an intertwining hand symbol. Do you know where I can get them? My friends have told me that customization will result in significantly more expensive costs. Can you help make a recommendation and give me a rough idea how much the ring will cost?

  2. Paul Gian-
    March 4, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Designing your own engagement ring can be an experience like no other. However, many people have the misconception that you’ll need to bring home a 6-figure salary in order to buy a customized diamond ring. That said, you don’t need to be intimidated by the process of buying one either. The process can be fun, easy and intuitive. In fact, when you go online, there are lots of amazing tools that can help you select the best stone and setting.

    If you are looking for a truly customized diamond ring creation and want to view your ring on computer stimulated designs before making a purchase, Brian Gavin offers the best solution for you. You will get detailed CAD (Computer Aided Diagrams) tailored according to your specifications and also a wax ring model you can try physically. This allows you to preview and visualize your design concepts before turning it into a real piece of jewelry.

    Since I don’t know details about what you have in mind, I won’t be sure what the final costs are. It depends on intricacy and the things you want in your custom designed ring. But rest assured that Brian Gavin is a fair vendor and they deliver high quality craftsmanship at competitive prices.

  3. Debbie-
    June 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    You have had great advice here. @Harley, by taking the time to design your own wedding rings and finding the perfect diamond, I’m sure it will make your engagement ring more sentimental and special.

    When I designed my own engagement ring and see it being brought to life, I felt something like a connection with the ring knowing that no one else has the same exact ring design.

    In years to come, when you look back at the memories of choosing a ring to mark the special occasion, it will definitely bring smiles to your face. And who knows, it might even be a great story to share with your children.

  4. Sally-
    November 29, 2018 at 1:52 am

    What can you tell me about the bar setting and gypsy setting? I’m looking for something that’s a little more unique looking than the popular stuff seen everywhere.

  5. Paul Gian-
    December 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Bar Setting – Like the channel setting, the bar setting can also be placed on part of the ring or on all of it. However, instead of having the stones being deposited in channels, thin vertical metal bars are placed between the stones to hold them firmly in place. This setting is a classic design that leaves the stone exposed on its top and bottom.

    Gypsy – This type of setting is typically used for men’s rings. The stone is set to flush fit into a hole such that there is no protrusion from the ring and the metal is then hammered around the ring’s edge to hold it securely in place.

  6. Shammy Peterson-
    May 19, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    It was helpful when you said that you can borrow your partner’s ring to discreetly find out the size of her ring. I will share this with my brother who is planning to shop for engagement bands and surprise his long-time girlfriend. He wanted to find the right diamond cut and the perfect size to totally surprise her during the proposal. Thanks for sharing this.

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