The most important thing is determining your budget. You may want to discuss this with your fiancé/fiancée before getting engaged. You and your significant other may have very different ideas about what is desired and what is reasonable. He may want to follow the 3-month’s salary guideline and drop $12k+ on a ring, but she may be upset if he spends more than $3k. It’s also important to know your budget and be firm because it’s easy to be steered towards pricier rings by sales associates or online sales and upsells if you’re not paying attention.
If you can, figure out what she likes. Does she like simple/traditional jewelry? Or does she like more trendy/modern styles?
Maybe your significant other would like to be involved in the process? That’s a personal choice. Take your partner ring shopping and try on at least a dozen rings before making any decisions. You both want to make sure that the ring is something you plan on wearing for the rest of your life.
DeBeers noticed that when the couples shopped together the men usually wanted to buy the most expensive ring they could afford (presumably to impress) and women usually wanted a cheaper ring so the money could be used on the new house, a new car, etc. Of course DeBeers started marketing engagement rings as a surprise to take the more practical partner out of the equation. So take charge of your engagement ring AND financial desity and talk to your fiancé about costs in advance!
Even though you should both be on the same page about the ring, the actual proposal can be many months later and should still be a surprise. If you’re worried about ruining the element of surprise, keep in mind that it is pretty obvious when the guy suddenly wants to go on a big trip or plan a massive dinner or get together with all your friends out of the blue. Maybe your fiancé is sneakier but that seems to be the typical scenario.
Another great reason to discuss engagement rings beforehand is to make sure it matches his/her style, and that they will like it. Remember, it is not about you and what you like, their ring is about them! There’s a lot of factors that might be important to them that you might accidentally overlook without their input. Are they comfortable with a ring purchased online? Does it need to be ethically sourced? Does she care about the brand or retailer of the ring? Have these conversations with him/her ahead of buying it. You may even just set some guidelines that will still allow the choice of freedom in shopping and choosing. Ultimately you both just want to be happy with your purchases and choices!
Keep in mind, your engagement ring doesn’t have to be a forever ring. Some of my friends had very small diamonds on their engagement rings because they were in college and quite poor, but they still knew they were in love and wanted to make it official. They upgraded later and didn’t feel bad about their choice in the beginning.
As for some more practical advice: Make sure all rings are certified, look for GIA certification for stones. Read our blog article, “Learn How to Buy Diamonds Like a Pro.”
Avoid big name department stores like Zales, Kays, etc.; you can oftentimes get a lot more bang for your buck at other retailers.
Look for wedding ring packages – a lot of places will allow you to buy the engagement ring, and your wedding bands as a package.
Make sure you know about or ask about maintenance and insurance policies.
Scan through our blog posts to see if there’s anything else that you might want to know! There’s a ton of great content!