Engagement shopping is exciting but confusing when you’ve never bought a diamond ring before. To educate you before you say “I do” to a ring, here’s nine tips to keep in mind.


#1 There are Many Shapes of Diamonds

When most people think of a diamond ring, the first thing that comes to mind is a round diamond. Usually people prefer round diamonds, but there are many more shapes that will definitely stand out of the crowd. Mostly they are also available at a lower price. Most of these non-round shapes actually appear larger than round ones of the same carat weight too. That’s because their shape is elongated or their diagonal length makes them look bigger.

#2 Consider Alternatives to a Mined Diamond

There are a lot of alternatives to a mined diamond when choosing an engagement ring. Lab-made diamonds are getting more popular as they have the same beauty and durability as a mined diamond but cost 30% less!

While mined diamonds are traditionally used as engagement ring stones, colored gems can also be used for daily wear because of their durability. The most popular gems are sapphire, ruby and emerald, but morganite and aquamarine make great ring stones too.

#3 Research Your Diamond

Research is always a good idea, especially when you’re spending thousands on a ring. You want to know you’re not paying too much for quality that no one will notice.

Yet, many different factors influence the quality of a diamond. It’s pretty impossible to become a diamond expert without years of training, no matter how much research you do. Luckily you don’t have to be an expert to know what looks good. Based on our recommendations you will surely find a decent diamond.

#4 Think About the Ring Design

When shopping for an engagement ring, people worry more about the diamond than any other aspect. Of course the diamond isn’t unimportant, but a ring design that fits your personal style makes the biggest difference on how you’ll like the ring. Any small detail can affect your diamond’s appearance, from the setting to the color of the metal.

So take a moment to think about which kind of setting you like best: intricate, plain or something in between. Some prefer a simple halo setting, while others love the look of a diamond-paved band. Minimalists might like a solitaire setting more, other might want extra sparkle to the design.

Pick the design both you and your partner will love the most. Consult our in-depth guide to engagement ring settings or browse through all the styles available at James Allen.

#5 Go for Simple Clarity and Color

Even though clarity and color have grading scales, we suggest thinking about diamond properties as “good” or “not good”. Either the diamond will appear colorless or it won’t. To be clear, either the diamond will appear flawless to the eye, or it won’t.

With this approach, you won’t overpay for clarity or color grades the eye can’t even distinguish. You shouldn’t buy more for a D color diamond if you can’t even tell the difference between D and H. There’s also no reason to pay more for diamonds with Flawless (F) clarity when SI1 diamonds will appear just as flawless.

#6 Set Your Budget

First-time buyers often find diamonds pricier than they expected, even when it’s no secret that they are expensive. So the best thing you can do before buying one is setting a budget. After, look at some diamond prices to see what you can afford.

Yet, setting a budget doesn’t mean you should buy a bargain-priced diamond ring. In reality, there are no good deals in diamonds. There are fair deals, but if a diamond is priced remarkably low, there’s a reason for it.

You’ll be better off buying a lower carat weight than buying a diamond ring that seems like a “good deal” when compared to others. If you compromise a bit on stone size instead of quality, you can still get the ring of your dreams.

#7 Cut Quality is Important

A diamond ring comes with a grading report from a reputable laboratory like the American Gem Society (AGS) or the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). You’ll find lots of details in this report, but a more easy way to assess a diamond ring’s quality is by reviewing the four C’s: cut, clarity, color and carat. You’ll still need to examine the ring closely, but these grades will be a first indication of the quality of the diamond.

The Cut is the most important C for a diamond. Clarity and color imperfections will be less noticeable when a diamond is well-cut. Since a well-cut diamond will also look brighter, it will appear larger than its carat size. So look out for a high cut quality when looking for a diamond ring.

#8 Carats Don’t Influence Appearance

Even though carat weight has a major effect on diamond ring pricing, it will not influence the appearance of the ring that much. Diamond prices-per-carat go up at “magic numbers” or benchmark carat sizes: 0.50 cts, 1.00 cts, 1.50 cts, 2.00 cts, 3.00 cts, 4.00 cts and 5.00 cts.

If a 0.50-ct diamond costs $3,600 per carat, the stone will cost $1,800. You’d assume a full-carat diamond of the same quality to be $3,600. In fact, at the one-carat benchmark, the diamond has a price-per-carat of $7,000.

Diamond prices exponentially go up as carat weight increases. A 2-ct diamond of this quality would cost $27,000 and has a price-per-carat of $13,500!

However, the seize of the diamond doesn’t increase at the same rate. The face-up size of a half-carat diamond is in fact more than half that of a one-carat diamond. Dropping to a lower carat weight thus has a bigger impact on the price than it does on appearance.

#9 Always See The Ring Before You Buy

For first-time diamond ring buyers, the key to being happy is finding a ring that just looks good. But without actually seeing the diamond, you won’t know if it’s a keeper or not. Therefore, where you buy your diamond is important.

If you shop at a brick-and-mortar jewellery store, you can take a good look at your ring. Always make sure the jeweler shows you the diamond under magnification in its intended setting and from different perspectives.

You can buy a diamond ring online, but you must still see it first before you actually make the purchase. As two of the largest suppliers, James Allen and Blue Nile offer videos on their diamonds and online magnification tools. They both have great selections and prices for any budget.

Of course going custom is another great option. CustomMade is an online custom jeweler that specializes in creating fully personalized engagement rings. Above all, their experts will make sure you get the best diamond ring that fits your budget.