Determine your budget
Before you start the adventure of researching a ring, determine how much you'd like to spend. In the average brick-and-mortar jewelry store, people spend about $5,000 on an engagement ring. First, you ain't at a brick-and-mortar store, wise one. Second, budgets and financial obligations vary widely. Maybe, for example, the two of you are looking to buy a house shortly after you get married. We don’t expect you to ignore that because some antiquated engagement ring “rule” said you should spend a certain amount (more on that soon).
If you have an idea of what she might want in terms of size, shape and style, you can start your research there. Otherwise, think about a number that would be comfortable for you to spend. Weigh your daily expenses, and long-term goals to understand how much you should spend and how to align your finances.
Budget myth: Spend two months' salary
Your father or grandfather might have told you about the standard back in the day: Prepare to plunk down two monthly paychecks on your engagement ring. (That would be four biweekly checks; there were no loopholes.) They also walked to school in the snow two miles each way and still don't know how to send DMs properly. In other words, the two months' guideline no longer applies.
You should spend as much on an engagement ring as you (and your student loan balance or mortgage) find comfortable. Not quite sure how to figure that one out? We pulled together a guide for that. Read more here about How to Pick Your Engagement Ring Budget.
Buy the ring as a couple?
Here's something that'll really blow grandpa's mind (if you must tell him, sit him down first): More and more newly engaged couples are shopping for the ring together, and some are even splitting the cost. According to a 2017 survey by The Knot, a full one-third of couples are shopping for the ring as a team. And that number is growing. We’re not saying you need to follow suite, only that you can. Thinking about it? Here are some helpful tips on How to Buy An Engagement Ring As a Couple.
How to get started: Know the 4C's
You could study diamonds for months, even years. Trust us, our expert gemologists have done it. But to make an informed decision and get a beautiful stone for your engagement ring, you really just need to understand the 4Cs of diamonds. (For all the nitty gritty, you have constant access to our team of expert gemologists.)
We have extended guides to each of these diamond characteristics, but it’s important to know that you might have to do some compromising if you’re working on an engagement ring budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the gorgeous diamond of your dreams. A good place to start is ensuring that you find an online jeweler that’s clear about where their diamonds are certified and provides the independent grading reports for you to review.
Once you understand the 4Cs and how they each affect the look and brilliance of your diamond, these reports are a great source of information. But a quick note because we can’t resist: We suggest never compromising on cut. More than any of the other Cs, this one determines how your diamond bounces light around — simply put, it has the most control over how the stone sparkles. And when you think of a diamond ring, that’s probably the first thing you have in mind.