How to Shop for Diamond Engagement Rings

Buying a diamond engagement ring is a momentous occasion. If you’re ready to purchase a ring, but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.

With such an important expenditure as a diamond engagement ring, you want to feel confident in your decision. You want to feel like you’ve purchased the perfect ring! Doing your research, shopping around, and careful consideration go a long way toward making that happen.

It also helps to have informed advice from professionals in the industry.

The American Gem Society is the country’s preeminent jewelry trade organization dedicated to consumer protection. We’re dedicated to educating consumers on how to buy jewelry, including diamond rings. Here are some of our best tips to get you started.

Where do I begin shopping for a diamond engagement ring?

When buying a diamond ring, you need to look for a professional jeweler you can trust. A great place to start would be finding an American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler. With expert knowledge to advise you and the appropriate credentials to give honest assessments of diamond quality, AGS jewelers can make your shopping a much better experience.

Only one in twenty jewelers have met the exacting requirements to become an AGS jeweler. To join, every member completes an annual certification exam to ensure gemological knowledge and adherence to a strict standard of ethics.

You can find a list of AGS jewelers here.

What research should I do before buying an engagement ring?

Keep in mind the 4Cs

Before you shop and make an engagement ring selection, it’s good to have a little knowledge about diamond engagement rings.

Consider the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. These factors determine a diamond’s value.

The color grades of gem-quality, colorless diamonds have slight variations that are usually yellowish to brownish. The higher color grades are those that have little to no visible color saturation. A skilled diamond grader can determine the color grade based on the saturation of the color. This step requires good eyes and extensive experience.

The clarity grade describes the severity of internal characteristics, or inclusions, that can impact the clarity of the diamond. Usually, these characteristics can only be seen with magnification. As the inclusions become more apparent, the clarity grade gets lower.

Cut can have the greatest effect on a diamond’s beauty. The quality of the cut is an evaluation of the cutter’s skill in fashioning the diamond. A precise cut makes a more beautiful diamond.

Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds and is the most objective of the diamond’s 4Cs. All that is required is a precisely balanced scale capable of measuring extremely small weights.

An AGS jeweler can help you determine these characteristics and make the best choice.
Before you shop, learn more about the 4Cs.

Think about personal preferences

There are many options for diamond shape: round, square, brilliant, emerald, pear, oval, and other specialty cuts. Other things to consider are setting and metal preference for the band and matching wedding band. Explore engagement ring styles and find the one you love. There’s yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold, just to name a few options.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for the main stone. Look into fancy color diamonds, which offer different color varieties.

An engagement ring doesn’t have to be a classic diamond, either. It’s true that a diamond solitaire is a classic choice, but there are other fine gems that work just as well and are equally beautiful. Sapphires or rubies can hold up to daily wear, and they are unique and beautiful in an engagement setting.

For inspiration, check out engagement ring designs on our AGS Pinterest board or Instagram.

What should I plan to spend on a diamond engagement ring?

The old adage was: a diamond ring should cost three month’s salary. In reality, you should determine how much to spend on an engagement ring based on your budget.

If you set a budget before shopping, it will help you narrow your focus and avoid overspending you may later regret. You also will want to consider the cost of adding insurance to cover your ring, which is always advisable.

If you have a good jeweler, they can work within your engagement ring budget. They’ll recommend how to get a quality diamond that fits both your style and your price range.

What is the average size engagement ring?

A one-carat diamond is the average size engagement ring, but your selection depends on many things, such as your budget and your personal taste. Some people prefer a larger diamond while others find a smaller gem better suits their style.

Also, the size of the diamond is not the main factor to consider. For instance, the cut and the quality can have a major effect.

It’s important to know that the cut of a diamond affects its beauty. For instance, a well-cut, 1-¾ carat diamond might appear larger than a poorly cut two-carat diamond.

The most important thing is to buy a good quality diamond in your price range, whatever the size. With an AGS diamond grading report, you’ll know the quality, and have written acknowledgement of it.

What information does an AGS Laboratories report cover?

With a diamond grading report from AGS Laboratories, you get a thorough report that covers the 4Cs. This gives you written clarification of the diamond’s quality, as determined by an independent, knowledgeable source.

Most grading laboratories were created as a service to the diamond industry, but AGS Laboratories is different—they were created with the consumer in mind. Founded in 1996, they are a nonprofit diamond grading laboratory with the mission of consumer protection, ensuring consumers have an unbiased, third-party, qualified opinion on the quality of their diamonds.

AGS Laboratories diamond grading reports are clear and easy to understand, offering consistency and accuracy based on science.

Find your diamond engagement ring

The process of buying a diamond engagement ring should be enjoyable, not stressful. If you have good guidance from a reputable, knowledgeable jeweler, you can relax and know you’re making an informed purchase. For more information on buying diamond engagement rings, visit AmericanGemSociety.org, and if you’d like to find an AGS jeweler in your area, visit www.ags.org/find-a-jeweler/