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Assortment of Diamond Engagement rings

How to Buy an Engagement Ring in 5 Simple Steps

From center stone to setting and size, we’re simplifying the process of buying an engagement ring to help you find the perfect piece to treasure for a lifetime.

1. Set a Budget

Before selecting an engagement ring, you should decide on a budget you feel comfortable with. Many old wives tales suggest that an engagement ring should cost three months' worth of your salary, but truthfully there is no rule to dictate the budget you set. Your budget should depend on your significant other’s preferences and your own financial circumstances. The best plan is to find a diamond or gemstone that balances size with quality at a price point that works for you. Lab grown diamonds and moissanites are budget-friendly options and we have a variety of flexible payment options including 12-month financing, layaway, and easy monthly payments via Affirm.

Diamond engagement rings and a Brilliant Earth ring box.

2. Choose a Setting

Once you’ve determined your budget, it’s time to select a setting. A ring setting refers to the entirety of the design besides the center stone — the prongs, gallery, and band (as well as any accents that adorn it). While settings are very important to the way a style looks, they’re also important structurally: they hold the center piece and should provide comfort for everyday wear.

Assortment of gold, diamond engagement rings.

Ring Styles

Ring settings can range from luxurious halo styles to classic solitaire silhouettes and completely custom designs — so it’s definitely helpful to have guidance from a professional in picking the perfect piece. Selecting the setting can be one of the most difficult decisions to make during this process, so take the time to consider what you and your partner want: whether it’s modern, nature-inspired, or something unique. It can also be helpful to consider what types of clothing and accessories your partner typically gravitates towards to inform the style of setting you go for. To make the decision less stressful, we proudly offer 30-day free returns and exchanges on unworn items.

Metal Type

Engagement rings generally come in four different metal types: white goldyellow goldrose gold, and platinum (though you can choose any metal that works best for you). Trends are constantly changing, but white gold and platinum are classic choices, with yellow gold becoming increasingly popular. For those with metal allergies, platinum is the hypoallergenic choice.


Don’t worry if you don’t know your partner’s ring size (or your own)! Determining your partner’s ring size without asking can be tricky — but not impossible. We’ll teach you a few simple tips and tricks to help figure it out:

  • Sneak a ring from your partner’s jewelry box and take it to a jeweler to have it sized or trace the inside of the ring on a piece of paper. 

  • Recruit friends or loved ones to help you covertly determine their size.  

  • It’s always best to err on the large side (so that you’ll be able to fit the ring on their finger when you propose).  

  • You are always welcome to order a complimentary ring sizer from our website (if you aren’t keeping the proposal a secret).  

3. Select a Center Stone

Once you’ve decided on what style of setting and metal type your ring will be, it’s time to find the right center stone. Traditionally engagement rings are set with diamonds, but colored gemstones are also a great choice for anyone looking for something unique or a pop of color. Whatever type, shape, or color of gemstone you fall for, selecting a center stone is a vital and exciting next step to designing the perfect piece.

Emerald and round diamond engagement rings.


4 Cs

Diamonds are the classic choice for an engagement ring. Understanding the 4 C’s of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight can help you best identify the diamond that works for your budget, ring, and preferences. We recommend selecting a diamond shape and then finding a balance between size and quality. Sometimes choosing a smaller diamond can get you a higher quality stone, while opting for an option with some color or a lower clarity grade can allow you to get a larger carat weight within your budget.


By understanding the way that light moves through diamond crystals, modern diamond cutters have established a set of proportions and angles that are known to harness the diamond’s internal brilliance. Cut refers to the facets, symmetry, and reflective qualities of a diamond. The cut of a diamond is directly related to its overall sparkle and beauty and can be one of the most important factors to consider when optimizing for the overall look of your diamond.


Diamond color refers to the natural color or lack of color visible within a diamond, and is caused by natural trace elements, such as nitrogen, that were present when the diamond formed under the Earth’s crust. The color grade assigned is based on the GIA grading scale which determines the amount of yellow or grey hues visible within a diamond. Brilliant Earth carries only diamonds within the “colorless” and “near-colorless” range (from D color to J color). The closer a diamond is to “colorless,” the rarer it is, and the more valuable.


Clarity is determined by the visibility of natural microscopic inclusions and imperfections within a diamond. Diamonds with little to no inclusions are considered particularly rare and highly valued.


Carat measures the overall weight of the diamond, which impacts the visual size of your diamond. Different diamond shapes will hold their carat weight differently, so some elongated fancy shapes such as oval, pear, or marquise diamonds can appear to be larger than round diamonds of comparable carat weight because they have longer dimensions.

Lab vs. Natural

Lab diamonds have the same chemical, optical, and physical composition as their natural counterparts. Without specialized equipment, you cannot visually tell the difference between the two. The only difference is their origin: one was grown in a lab and the other formed deep within the Earth billions of years ago. Lab diamonds are slightly more affordable than natural diamonds, however, so they offer a great way to optimize your center diamond while staying on budget.


Gemstones are a beautiful alternative to a more traditional diamond engagement ring. They add beautiful color, sparkle, and come in all the shapes diamonds do. If you’re looking to pop the question with a pop of color, designing the perfect piece with a gemstone is a fabulous idea.


While diamond is the hardest mineral with a 10 on the Mohs scale of relative hardness, corundum (the mineral family for sapphires and rubies) is the next hardest with a rating of 9. Because of their toughness, sapphires are great gemstones for everyday wear and jewelry pieces that will get a lot of use like engagement rings. While most people are familiar with sapphires being a rich royal blue color, sapphires also come in almost every color in the rainbow!


Moissanite is lab grown to give the illusion of similarity to diamonds but is compositionally and visually quite different from a real diamond. The durability, brilliance, and color of the two gems are quite distinct. Rather than the traditional brilliance of a diamond, moissanites shine with a rainbow shimmer. They’re also a much more budget-friendly option.


High-quality emeralds are actually rarer than diamonds, and since they have a lower density, a one-carat emerald will look larger than a diamond of the same size. Valued throughout history for their rich color, emeralds are a beautiful and timeless choice for an engagement ring center gemstone. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that emeralds are softer than diamonds, with a Mohs hardness of 7.5-8, while diamonds have a hardness of 10. That means that they are more susceptible to scratches and chipping, and should be handled and worn gently.


Exquisite petal pink or peach morganites are beloved for their exceptional clarity and blush tones, which allow for maximum light to enter the stone. Their romantic blush hue makes them the perfect option for the ring you and your partner will treasure for a lifetime.

4. Complete the Purchasing Process

Our seamless digital and in-person experiences make the purchase process quick and easy. Our specialists are available to help complete the process and ensure that everything is accurate and up to date. We also offer financing options, a warranty, and can help coordinate insurance for complete peace of mind.

Financing Options


With Affirm Financing you can choose from multiple monthly repayment plans with starting rates as low as 0% APR for qualified buyers. Special financing payment plans for up to 36 months are available. It’s quick and easy - just fill out a few pieces of basic information for a real-time decision on the amount of financing you are approved for. Know up front what you'll owe, with no hidden costs. 

Wells Fargo 

Wells Fargo allows 12 months of payment installments with approved credit. Simply apply for financing at checkout for a real-time credit decision, or contact us to apply. 


Layaway is an installment-based payment plan that allows you to pay for jewelry over a period of weeks or months. Instead of paying for your purchase after you receive it, you can make layaway payments before you receive your purchase.

Warranty and Insurance

We stand behind the quality and craftsmanship of our jewelry, so we offer a free lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects on all Brilliant Earth fine jewelry. If you experience issues with your purchase due to manufacturing, we recommend you contact us so we may evaluate your piece. If a warranty issue is found, Brilliant Earth will repair the warrantied damage or replace the item without charge.

While we do not offer insurance directly, we do work closely with Lavalier to provide coverage that goes beyond most homeowner's and renter's insurance policies. Purchasing coverage through Lavalier is simple (you’ll receive a quote in one minute!) and it typically costs only 1-2% of your jewelry’s value.

White gold diamond engagement rings.

5. Propose!

The rest is up to you! Whichever beautiful engagement ring you decide on, your proposal should be a meaningful moment the two of you will always cherish. However you decide to propose, we wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!

Diamond engagement ring in a Brilliant Earth ring box.

Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring

Buying an engagement ring is a big (and meaningful) purchase — and should be well thought through. Here are our top tips and tricks to make your experience as smooth as possible.

  • Schedule an Appointment: It’s always recommended to give your jeweler a heads up that you’re coming in. That way they’ll have time to prepare for your appointment and ensure the type of design and center stone that you love is there. It also gives you time to consider exactly what it is that you want. 

  • Timeline Planning: The perfect piece will take time to create — from design conception on your end, to the crafting process, and the shipping time it takes to get to your door. Make sure you leave enough time between purchase and proposal plan — the general suggestion is at least 2 months. 

  • Custom Designs: Did you know you’re able to completely design your own ring? Designers will work with you in real time to ideate, sketch, and bring your dream piece to life. 

  • Engraving: Most engagement rings can be engraved with a date or inscription to make your design even more meaningful. The only type of designs that generally can’t be engraved are eternity rings and alternative metal rings. 

  • Ready to Ship Rings: It’s true, love can’t wait — so some engagement rings are preset with center stones so you can propose right away.  

  • Diamond Certification: Always ensure that the diamond you purchase is certified. Not only do certifications confirm that your gem is the real deal, but they also include important information like the details on the cut, color, and clarity of your unique stone, as well as the certification number inscribed on the girdle.

  • Temporary Setting: If you are confident about your diamond choice but would prefer your partner be involved in choosing the setting, we offer a temporary setting option. Within 60 days of your initial purchase, you and your fiancé may return the temporary setting and choose from our extensive catalog of customized mountings. 

  • Diamond Upgrade: If you and your partner choose to celebrate a milestone down the road by upgrading your engagement ring’s diamond, Brilliant Earth is proud to offer a free lifetime upgrade on our natural and lab grown diamonds.