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Engagement Ring Guide

Finding your soul mate may be a challenge, but buying an engagement ring she’ll love is easier than you might think.

At Brilliance, we’re committed to making the shopping process as smooth and seamless as possible. We’ve compiled some guidelines to help you find a ring that meets your standards and your budget.

Marriage Proposal

Proposal Guide Infograph
Get the facts on planning the perfect marriage proposal buying an engagement ring, and popping the question.

How much should you spend?

An engagement ring is likely the most significant jewelry purchase you’ll ever make. Shopping for one is an emotional event, and it can be tempting to over-spend. Before starting the process, establish a budget for what you can afford. While an amount equivalent to two month’s salary is a common starting point, many couples choose to spend more or less.

Keep the following factors in mind when establishing your engagement ring budget:

Quality

You’ll want to purchase a diamond with the highest possible quality within your budget. Many couples sacrifice in other areas to get a better stone. For instance, you may want to start with a simple, inexpensive setting so you can invest more in the cut, color, and clarity of the diamond. You can always upgrade to a more elaborate setting later.

Jeweler reputation

Discount jewelers may be the least expensive, but may not offer the value, warranties, or services you need. Make sure the jeweler you choose is a reputable seller with a history of satisfied customers. With more than 20 years in the business, Brilliance is a member of the Jewelers of America (JBT) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), so you can purchase from us with confidence.

Other financial considerations

Consider all financial obligations when determining your engagement ring budget. Take into account wedding and honeymoon expenses, the cost of setting up a new household, student loan debt, credit card balances, and vehicle debt. You don’t want to start off your new life together with financial strain.

Choice of metals

Consider her preferred jewelry style when deciding on the precious metal of her engagement ring. Does she wear primarily yellow gold, white metal, or a combination of each? Does she favor antique or heirloom pieces, or does she prefer sleek, modern designs? Let’s take a look at some of the most common precious metals used for engagement rings:

Gold

Gold is a classic, timeless option for engagement rings. In its purest form (24-karat), gold is too soft for use in jewelry. When used to make engagement rings, gold is typically alloyed with other metals like copper, silver, nickel, and zinc to add strength and durability. The ratio of alloy to gold content is what determines the gold’s carat weight, or purity.

Any gold purity less than 14K is not recommended for use in high-quality jewelry. At Brilliance, most of our engagement rings are offered in 14K and 18K gold.

18K Gold

18K gold consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. Fine jewelry experts consider this karat weight to possess the ideal balance of metal purity and strength. For those who prefer yellow gold, 18K exhibits a deeper, richer coloring than 14K yellow gold.

14K Gold

14K gold consists of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy metals. Priced slightly less than 18K gold, it’s a popular choice among those shopping on a limited budget. For those who prefer white gold, 14K offers a whiter coloring than 18K white gold.

White and yellow gold are comparably priced and possess the same levels of durability and gold content. If you’re pondering whether to choose white or yellow gold, here are a few suggestions to help with your decision:

Yellow Gold

If your bride-to-be wears mainly yellow gold jewelry, choosing that metal for her engagement ring will complement her current style. Yellow gold is a classic choice for engagement rings, complementing those with warmer skin tones.

White Gold

If she currently wears white gold or sterling silver jewelry, a white gold engagement ring may be a wise choice. White gold offers a smooth, contemporary appeal and blends well with other jewelry pieces and clothing colors.

Platinum

Quickly growing in popularity, platinum is the most precious and rare of jewelry metals. Its high levels of durability and tarnish resistance make it a worry-free choice for those who are very active or work often with their hands. Platinum is 95% pure, and its hypoallergenic qualities make it ideal for those with sensitive skin.

The rarity of platinum enhances its appeal and its market value. You can expect to pay anywhere from 2-4 times as much for a platinum setting than you would for gold.

Platinum vs. White Gold

While white gold and platinum are both white metals that beautifully reflect light, there are some fundamental differences between the two. If you’re leaning toward a white precious metal and are undecided between platinum and white gold, here are a few points that may help with your decision.

Platinum is 95% pure, while white gold is 58.3-75% pure. If allergies or skin sensitivities are a concern, platinum is more hypoallergenic.

Platinum is harder and more durable than 18K white gold (although platinum can be scratched, so is not entirely damage-proof).

While platinum retains its solid white coloring permanently, white gold can begin to exhibit a slight yellow hue over time as the outer layers of metal wear off. At Brilliance, we coat each of our white gold jewelry pieces with a protective layer of Rhodium, a metal that creates a white, gleaming look similar to platinum. White gold should be re-coated in Rhodium periodically to help maintain its original luster.

For those who prefer the look of platinum but need an economical alternative, white gold offers much of the same visual appeal at a significantly lower price.

Whatever metal you choose, most of the engagement rings offered at Brilliance are designed with a platinum head, ensuring a secure setting for your center certified diamond.

Choosing a Diamond Setting

There are virtually unlimited styles from which to choose for engagement ring settings. While some prefer the elegant simplicity of a single diamond, others may opt for a setting with accent diamonds. Below are the three most popular diamond engagement ring settings:

Solitaire Settings

This timeless setting style showcases a single diamond on a metal band. Although a four or six prong setting is the most popular, many other setting types are used to secure the diamond, such as a bezel setting, which adds more protection.

Diamond Engagement Rings

For a more elaborate look, you may choose to accent the center diamond with additional stones. Popular choices for side stones are additional diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, or other gemstones. Many brides pair their diamond with their birthstone.

Settings with Matching Bands

Coordinating sets are designed to be worn together for a dramatic, cohesive look. Purchasing a matched set ensures that your engagement ring and wedding ring will match perfectly, so you won’t have to hunt for a suitable wedding ring later. If you are purchasing an engagement ring and wedding ring separately, be mindful of their paired appearance, and opt for complementary styles.

Choosing the Diamond

Before shopping for your diamond engagement ring, familiarize yourself with “the four C’s” – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight

The diamond’s cut refers to its unique arrangement of facets, finish, and proportions. The cut of the diamond plays a key role in its ability to reflect light back to the surface of the stone, resulting in brilliance and fire.

When it comes to a diamond’s color, less is more. Colorless diamonds are extremely rare (and expensive), so anticipate some degree of color in the diamonds you are examining. Diamond colors are determined in accordance with the grading system used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The scale begins at D (colorless) and ends at Z (light yellow).

A diamond’s clarity refers to its inclusions or blemishes. As with color, clarity is graded using a GIA grading scale that ranges from FL (flawless) to I (Included). The degrees of inclusions are reflected by the diamond’s grade.

The diamond’s carat, the most straightforward and easily measurable of the 4 C’s, refers to the diamond’s weight.

While diamond size may be an important factor in your engagement ring purchase, we don’t recommend sacrificing quality for a bigger stone. Some diamond shapes will have a larger table surface, making them appear larger than they actually are. Remember, a diamond doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. A diamond’s cut, setting style, shape, and band design each play a role in enhancing the stone’s individual strengths, and can diminish the visual effect of flaws and imperfections.

Diamond Shape

In regard to diamonds, cut and shape are not synonymous terms. While the diamond’s cut refers to the number of facets and their proportions, its shape is used to describe the overall form of the finished stone. Below are a few of the most popular engagement ring diamond shapes:

Round

A brilliant-cut, round diamond exceeds all other shapes in its ability to reflect light. One of the most popular choices for engagement rings, a round diamond is extremely versatile and looks striking in a variety of settings.

Princess

This popular shape is cut into a square with 90-degree corners. Due to the unique cutting and polishing method that is used, inclusions are not as visible in a princess diamond as they would be in another shape. This diamond shape works well in both traditional and contemporary settings.

Emerald

Somewhere between a square and a rectangle, emerald-cut diamonds are marked by step facets and beveled corners. The transparent cut shows more inclusions, raising the standards of clarity. Renowned for their classic appeal, emerald diamonds provide an economical alternative to princess and round cuts.

Click here to learn more about other diamond shapes.

When selecting a diamond shape, examine a variety of shapes in different setting styles to find a diamond that will look beautiful on the bride-to-be’s finger.

The Surprise Factor

While it’s not uncommon for a couple to shop together for an engagement ring, some grooms still prefer to surprise the bride-to-be with a ring of their choosing.

After deciding on the metal type, diamond shape, and quality level your budget allows, you’ll be ready to narrow your search to a few finalists. To ensure that you select the perfect ring while maintaining an element of surprise, ask for a second opinion from one of the bride-to-be’s close friends or from her mother.

You’ll want to slip the ring on her finger with ease, so proper sizing is important. If her friend or mother can’t assist you with the ring size, try to obtain one of her rings and size it using our printable ring sizer. If you can’t take the ring with you, measure or trace the inside diameter on a sheet of paper and contact a Brilliance diamond and jewelry expert at 866-737-0754 for sizing assistance.

Making your Purchase

When you’ve finally selected “the” ring and are ready to buy, it’s important to obtain a gemological appraisal that confirms the ring’s value for insurance purposes. Reputable jewelers should also provide a certificate from an independent diamond grading facility, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or American Gem Society (AGS), which details the center diamond’s grade. In case the style isn’t quite right and you need to return the ring, verify that the jeweler offers a money-back guarantee and a hassle-free return policy.

With every loose diamond and diamond engagement ring purchased, Brilliance includes a gemological appraisal certified by our Master Gemologist, along with a diamond grading report from one of the five most reputable independent gemology labs. Our 30-day money back return policy provides peace of mind and ensures that our customers are completely satisfied with their purchase.

By shopping online for your engagement ring, you can take advantage of an array of benefits. At Brilliance.com, you’ll find a more extensive assortment than at your local jewelry store. We also offer significantly lower prices, free shipping, and access to our staff of diamond and jewelry experts. All orders are conducted in a highly secure environment. Click here to learn more about the Brilliance shopping experience.

Protecting your Purchase

While priceless in terms of sentimentality, an engagement ring is likely to be the most valuable piece of jewelry a woman will own. When purchasing an engagement ring, it’s important to get insurance to protect your diamond in the event that it is lost or stolen. To insure your engagement ring, you’ll need a detailed appraisal that documents its value. The most commonly offered policy for jewelry is replacement coverage, which guarantees a payment that will purchase a ring identical in quality, design, metal, and setting. Other types of coverage may be available depending on the policy of your insurance company.

Whether you’re planning an intimate proposal or a public proclamation of your love, presenting your bride-to-be with the perfect ring will enhance the joy of the moment. She’s sure to remember your proposal forever, and will treasure her carefully chosen engagement ring as a symbol of your enduring love.