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A Guy’s (Unbiased) Engagement Ring Buying Guide

A Guy's Guide to Engagement Rings So you are in the market for an engagement ring, or think you might be—congratulations!  Although we don’t know your girlfriend, we’re pretty certain she’ll be overjoyed when you ask her to marry you. Ideally she’ll also be giddy with excitement over the ring you’ve chosen, and that’s where we can help.

Yes, Brilliant Earth sells engagement rings but we are setting aside our interests to give you an unbiased “just the facts” guide to choosing an engagement ring that your future fiancé will love, and that will get you the most value for your money.  Here are the decisions ahead of you, and our tips on how to make them:

Choose a Gemstone: You know that the most classic engagement ring style features a center diamond, but you may not know whether your girlfriend craves that style or wants something more unique. We can tell you this: close to 90% of engagement rings feature a diamond, and sapphires are the second most common engagement ring gemstone. If your girlfriend’s taste runs to the unconventional, then she may prefer something other than a diamond or sapphire engagement ring—but based on the numbers, a diamond or sapphire is a very safe bet.

Diamonds and sapphires are also the hardest gemstones (Diamonds rank 10 and sapphires rank 9 on a 1-10 mineral grading scale called the Mohs scale of hardness) meaning that they’ll hold up well to the everyday wear required of engagement rings. Sapphires cost less than diamonds, so choosing a center sapphire allows you to get a bigger gem for your budget. Although you probably think of sapphires as being a deep blue, they also come in yellow, pink, and a variety of other colors.

Select a Gemstone Shape:  Diamonds are cut into ten standard shapes, and round is by far the most common choice, making up 75% of all diamond purchases. In part because they’re so popular, round diamonds cost more than other shapes. In fact, you can save up to 40% by choosing a non-round diamond. Some non-round shapes that are also very popular, but less pricey, are the princess cut (which is square) and the cushion cut (somewhere in between a round and a square, featuring softly tapered edges).

Choose a Precious Metal: The main choices for engagement ring metals are platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. Platinum and white gold are the most popular choices. These two metals look very similar, but platinum is more durable and costs about 50% more. To get a sense of what type of precious metal your girlfriend would prefer, pay attention to the jewelry she currently wears.

Choose a Ring Style: Would she prefer something sleek and modern, or detailed and vintage in feel?  Dazzling with diamonds or more understated?  Selecting a setting and ring style may be the hardest part of buying an engagement ring. For guidance, think about the clothes she wears and the art and furniture she appreciates—that should give you some clues as to whether she’d prefer a ring that’s classic, modern, nature-inspired, glamorous, or some combination of those. To make the decision less stressful, we offer 30 day free returns, so if the style you choose doesn’t fit her vision you can always return or exchange it for one she’ll adore.

Consider Buying an Antique: If your girlfriend loves vintage jewelry, clothing, and décor, or if she’s a history buff or a lover of movies and books set in decades or centuries past, then she’d likely adore a vintage or antique engagement ring. Rings from earlier eras are often one-of-a-kind, and come with a sense of romantic history that many women love. As an added bonus, they generally cost less than a new ring of similar quality.

Consider Whether to Go Custom:  If you’re an artistic type or if it’s important to you to propose with a ring that’s completely unique, consider collaborating with a jewelry designer to create a custom engagement ring. To learn more about the process, read about The Pros and Cons of Designing a Custom Engagement Ring.

Decide on a Budget:  There is no hard and fast rule about how much you “should” spend on an engagement ring, other than that you should spend what feels comfortable for you. We can assist you in finding a diamond or other gemstone that balances size with quality at a price that works within your budget, and can tell you about lab-created diamonds, which can be a budget-friendly option. You can also consider a variety of payment options, including bank wire, layaway, and financing through GE Capital.

A Man's Guide to Engagement RingsFigure Out Her Ring Size:  Determining her ring size without asking is tricky, but not impossible. The most common women’s ring size is 6-6.5, and you want to err on the large side. You could sneak a ring from her jewelry box and take it to a jeweler to have it sized, or trace one of her rings on a piece of paper. For more strategies, check out How to Find Out Her Ring Size Without Her Knowing. Most rings can be resized, so check your jeweler’s resize policy.
 
Consider a Semi-Surprise: If you know you want to surprise your girlfriend with a ring when you propose, but are daunted by having to determine the right ring style and size, consider purchasing a diamond or other gemstone and having it set in a temporary ring setting. You can then have the gemstone re-set into a setting of her choice once you’re engaged. We let people have a gemstone set into our classic 18k Gold 2mm Comfort Fit ring, then return it within 60 days to have the gem re-set into a ring that’s the perfect style and size.

For more extensive education about how to buy an engagement ring, including what “the 4 Cs” of diamonds are all about, and how to find a ring that has been ethically sourced, consult our comprehensive Engagement Ring Guide.
 

Contact Us

Do you still have questions about purchasing an engagement ring?  Just contact us via phone or email, and we’d be happy to answer them.

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