How To Buy Engagement Rings: A Step-By-Step Guide to Engagement rings


Step By Step Guide To Buying An Engagement Ring, How Do I Buy An Engagement Rings, Best Tips for Engagement Ring Shopping

There is more to buying an engagement ring than simply shopping for a pretty ring that fits in your budget.  Of course, you will want it to be pretty and in your budget, but there is so much more to it.  Only by educating yourself can you know that you are getting the best ring possible.  It's easy to become an educated shopper by learning some simple jewelry terminology and having a basic understanding of the 4C's of diamonds

However, buying an engagement ring is about more than just the business of buying a ring.  This is an opportunity to show how well you know fiancé.  You will need to become a super sleuth in your relationship, gathering vital clues and data that will help you find the perfect ring.  

This guide is designed to take you step-by-step through the process of buying an engagement ring and give you the confidence you need; from selecting the perfect stone to preparing for the proposal.  After all,  the ring you buy is not only a large financial investment but and emotional investment as well.  This is the ring that will be admired for generations to come.  This is the ring that will be desired above any other piece of jewelry, antique, or keepsake.  Do your homework, learn the language, and find the perfect ring.  

Step-By-Step Engagement Ring Shopping Advice

"What Steps Should I Take To Buy An Engagement Ring"

Step 1: Set a Budget

I can not stress this enough; set your budget!  After all, you do not want to start your life together buried in debt.  However, there are other benefits to setting a budget:

Prioritize - Setting a budget helps you decide what is most important.  You may not know this, but buying an engagement ring is actually two separate purchases: the diamond and the setting.  While you would love to buy the biggest diamond and put it into the flashiest setting, that may not be possible...or the diamond might be so junky and the setting so flimsy that you will surely regret your purchase.  Working within the confines of a budget will help you decide what is most important: the diamond, the setting, or both.  Once you have established your priorities you can start working with a Bella's personal shopper, who will help you find the perfect balance so you can have a beautiful ring at any budget.  Yes, there is a beautiful ring available at every budget.

Wedding Budget - It's not big surprise, weddings are expensive!  And, many couples today carry most of the cost of the wedding, or at least contribute a hefty portion to it.  Therefore, your engagement ring is just the beginning.  Setting a budget will help you ensure you have a budget for the wedding to follow.  

Step 2: Leave Yourself Plenty of Time

Finding the perfect ring takes time, especially when you practically need to learn another language to understand what you are buying.  The process takes time; you have to educate yourself, you have to give yourself time if a customization is necessary (don't worry, it's really not that scary), and you need time to build a relationship with your personal shopper to ensure you are both on the same page.  

Sure, everyone has at least one friend that 'found the ring' on their first day looking.  When you hear this, don't feel intimidated, they are either inflating their ego or didn't buy the perfect ring.  Until you understand the 4C's of diamonds how do you know if you bought the perfect stone?  Until you learn the difference between 14KT white and platinum, how do you know if you over purchased?  Until you know the difference between a mounting and an engagement ring set do you know if she will have a matching wedding band?  

In addition, if you are planning on traveling to the proposal location, make sure you give your personal shopper the date of departure.  Let me say that one more time; give your personal shopper the date of departure to your engagement destination.  

Step 3: Be Observant

Finding the perfect engagement ring means you need to be a little sneaky and super observant to gather all the info, especially if the engagement is a surprise.  Here is what you need to find out:

Ring Size - One of the best ways to kill the mood is to slip the ring on their hand and it's too small.  Likewise, ordering a ring that is too big means the ring could easily slip off her finger and get lost.  Neither is good.  While many people may try to 'borrow' a ring to measure, keep in mind that not all rings are worn on the ring finger, and ring sizes can vary from finger to finger.  

Metal Preference - A decade ago no one mixed metals.  For example, if you owned yellow gold jewelry you could only wear other pieces of yellow gold with it.  Today, that rule is gone.  It's common to wear different color metals at the same time.  I suggest you look at their existing fine jewelry and see what they tend to wear; white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, a mix of metals.  This will not only cue you into what metals they tend to buy, but if they like a mixed metal look or a more traditional all one metal look.  Another way to discover that they have for a metal preference is to look at their Pinterest boards and see what metals they usually pin.  And, if all else fails, ask her best friend or long as you can trust them not to say anything.

Metal Allergies - Some people can be allergic to certain metals, limiting your options.  See if this is something you need to plan for.

Heirlooms - On an occasion a family may have heirloom engagement rings or diamonds that they are expecting to be used in the proposal.  If this is the case, be sure to take the family into consideration before making any changes to the ring design.  You don't want your best intention to turn into a lifelong sore spot with your new family. 

Step 4: Learn the Lingo

You would never go car shopping without some understanding of the language used in a dealership: tires, engine, horse power, M.P.G., etc.  Likewise, you should never buy a ring without a basic understanding of jewelry terminology.  This ease guide will teach you some basic vocabulary that you NEED to know.  

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Setting - A setting can refer to the part of the ring that a stone is set into.  However, it can also be used in a more general term to describe engagement rings where the diamond is purchased separate; this is how most engagement rings are purchased.  A general use of the word "setting" can occasionally also be referred to as a mounting.

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Mounting - A mounting, often referred to as a setting, is a ring that does not come set with center stones.  This is traditionally how engagement rings are purchased.  Unlike solitaires, mountings often have smaller accent stones in the design.

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Solitaire - A solitaire is the most iconic style of engagement ring.  Essentially, a solitaire engagement ring is simply a ring with only one center stone.  Traditionally they have simple bands and clean lines.  However, with the rise in popularity of vintage style bridal, we have seen a growing number of brides wearing solitaires with engraved shanks.

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Head - A head is the setting that the main stone(s) of a ring sets into.  They are made to the exact specifications of the stone in terms of shape and size.  We only use die struck heads because of their exceptional durability and heir loom quality.

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Shank - A shank is the band portion of the ring.  A band can be of equal width all the way around, or tapered as in the example shown here.  The example can be described as a tapered shank that has wide shoulders that taper to the bottom of the ring and pinch slightly in at the center stone.  

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Millgrain/Beaded Edge - A millgrain or beaded edge is a decorative series of metal bumps that decorate the edge of a ring, bracelet, or other piece of jewelry.  This style of embellishment is often associated with vintage and antique style decor.

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Bezel - A bezel is a type of stone setting that encircles the entire stone in a collar of metal.  Bezel settings protect all sides of the stone and are a good setting for active brides.

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Prong - A prong is a thin metal projection coming out of a setting and/or head that is notched and positioned to hold a stone in place.  Prongs can be plain or fancy with decorative qualities.  Likewise, heads often have 4 or 5 prongs

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V-Prong -  V-prongs are prongs that have a V shape and are the best way to secure stones with angular corners: such as princess, emerald cut, pear shape, and trillion.  These prongs help to envelope the entire corner of the stone keeping it safe from being chipped.

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Shared Prong/Common Prong - With a shared prong (or common prong) setting one prong holds two stones in place at the same time.  This is a popular style of setting as it gives the ring a pavé feel.

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Shoulders - A shoulder is where the shank meets the center stone. It is one of the most important elements of a ring's design because it is visible at all times.  A shoulder's design can be simple with either a straight shank or a curvy goose neck shoulder, it can be embellished with diamonds as we see above, or it can have decorative elements added to it.  Knowing what you want for your ring's shoulders will help narrow your search for the perfect engagement ring.   

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Halo Style - Halo style engagement rings have take the bridal world by storm. It is a retro design where a center stone is framed with a halo of small diamonds.  This fancy design allows you to buy a smaller, more affordable center stone while still achieving the look of a big engagement ring. 

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Three Stone - Three stone engagement rings were popular in the early 2000's before the shift toward classic solitaires and halo style engagement rings.  However, when Prince Harry proposed to t of Meghan Markle with a three stone ring, the design began to make a come back.  Three stone rings are also excellent designs if you are trying to use gemstones in the design, they can be set in all diamond, a diamond flanked by gemstones, a gemstone flanked by two diamonds, or all gemstones.  So many options! 

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Engraved - Engraved engagement rings have the design carved into the surface of the metal, either through production methods or having been hand applied by skilled artisans, as is the case with this hand engraved engagement ring from Jabel.  What is important to consider when buying an engraved ring is how strong is the metal?  Will the metal hold up overtime enough to preserve the design, or will it get worn away.  I strongly recommend that you should always look for an engraved ring that has been die struck.  The exceptional strength and durability brought on by the density of the metal will dramatically extend the life of our engravings.   

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Carat -  Carat describes the weight of a diamond.  It can be used to describe one stone with the abbreviation of CT or the total weight of the diamonds used as CTTW.  See below for a more thorough description of Carat in the 4C's of Diamonds section. 

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Karat - Gold is often blended, also called alloyed, with other metals to improve it's strength, durability, and to alter the color of the metal to either white, pink, or green.  Karat describes the exact amount of pure gold used in different gold blends. Here are the percentages of pure gold in the most popular karats: 

24KT  - 100% Pure Gold
18KT - 75% Pure Gold
14KT -  58.3% Pure Gold

Step 5: Learn the 4c's of Diamonds

Buying a diamond can be overwhelming.  That is why the main diamond characteristics are broken down into 4 categories.  This allows us to compare the pros and cons of different stones so we can easily find the best diamond for your budget. These characteristics include Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat:

The 4C's of Diamonds: Cut
While many people assume that 'cut'  describes the shape of a stone, it more importantly describes the expertise used in cutting the stone from it's raw form into the finished faceted stone that will be set into your ring.
Budget Friendly Tip: 
Some people think that cut is not very important, however, a poorly cut diamond can make your stone look dark, take away from it's brilliance, and leave an unsightly spot called a 'fish eyes'.  Make sure that you don't overlook your stone's cut.


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The 4C's of Diamonds: Color
Color describes the amount of color present in the stone, the less color is present the better the color quality.  This is because in a diamond, the only color you want to see are the radiant flashes that sparkle from the diamond in the light.
Budget Friendly Tip:
The human eye can only perceive a certain degree of color in a diamond, therefore you don't need completely colorless stone to still have a beautiful diamond.
Bonus Tip:  
Always ask for a diamond certification from a respected gemology lab, at Bella's we always use G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) certified diamonds.  Not only will this tell you exactly what your stones' 4C's are, but it guarantees them.  Plus, G.I.A. is the organization that established the 4C's of Diamonds.  They are true experts. Learn more here

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The 4C's of Diamonds: Clarity
Clarity describes the flaws within the stone.  Interior flaws can interrupt the flow of light into the stone as well as make the diamond look cloudy and dirty.  Common flaws include carbon, surface reaching inclusions, feathers, etc.
Budget Friendly Tip:
Similar to a diamond's color, the human eye can only perceive a certain amount of flaws in a diamond, talk to a Bella's personal shopper about balancing your budget with your vision.  
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The 4C's of Diamonds: Carat
While many people assume that Carat describes the physical dimensions of a stone, it actually describes the weight of the stone.  However, with well cut stones, there is a direct correlation between carat and dimensions.
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Budget Friendly Tip:
Without a thorough knowledge of diamonds it is hard to balance your ideal carat size while keeping cut, clarity, and color in mind too.  Let Bella's find a visually clean and colorless stone that will be in your budget.  After all, there is no sense over buying a diamond and starting our your marriage in unnecessary debt.
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Step 6: Follow The Clues
As we touched on earlier, buying an engagement ring is actually two purchases.  The stone and the setting.  So, what does your future fiancé want? What is most important to them: the diamond, the setting, both? 
Sometimes buying and engagement ring can begin to feel like a top secret spy mission; searching for clues and gathering intel!  Here are some easy places to begin your search:
Pinterest Boards -  One of the most popular places to look for ring ideas is on Pinterest.  Look to see if your fiancé has any engagement rings boards, and if you can identify any patterns.
Find Clues - Look through her jewelry box and what she wears.  This will help you identify jewelry that she will both love and enjoy wearing on a daily basis.
Look & Listen - On your next date night, go to the mall and walk past a couple jewelry store windows,  See what catches her eye and listen to why she likes it and dislikes. 
Now that you know where to look, let's discuss what you are actually looking for.  You will want to look for preferences, trends, and patterns to narrow in on the type of style you want.  Look for the following and see if you notice any reoccurring preferences:
Metal - Does she prefer yellow, pink, or white metals.
Stone Type - Does she prefer diamond or gemstones. 
Stone Shape - Does she prefer a classic round or an retro pear shape?
Setting - Does she like simple, modern, vintage, or halo mountings? 
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Step 7: Find A Support Person
Finding a support person you can talk to throughout the engagement ring shopping process can be a big help!  They can help keep you in check and focused on your goals, as well as helping provide you with a cover story when you need a little extra privacy to pull of the surprise. 
HOWEVER, be careful who you choose.  It will be hard for your friend and family not to get carried away at this exciting moment.  You need someone who will be supportive without being overbearing.  After all, this ring is coming from you, not them!  
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Step 8: Give Dates
Give your Bella's personal shopper the proposal date AND if you are traveling to your proposal location, let them know exactly when you are leaving.  This is so important.  Unforeseen problems can occur when jewelry is being hand crafted.  Knowing exact dates can help keep everything on schedule.  Especially if you are custom designing an engagement ring.
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Step 9: Get It Insured
Can you image the heart break for both you and your fiancé if the ring were to get lost? It's a heartbreaking moment.  And, while the emotional loss is unavoidable, you will at least be able to replace it if you have insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about getting rider coverage.  
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Step 10: Plan the Proposal

 While you are waiting for your ring to be made, set up some time to go over the proposal plan with your support person.  You will need to decide on time and place to pop the question.  Your support person can help you keep your fiancé busy while you work out the details, and get them there when the time is right!

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