How Soon Before You Propose Should You Start Engagement Ring Shopping?

Author Cristina LaPenna
Date Feb 15, 2021

How Long Before You Propose Should You Start Shopping For An Engagement Ring

You're ready. You have officially decided that your significant other is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Naturally you are now starting to think about how you are going to propose. The first question that likely comes to mind is how to pick the right engagement ring? If you have a specific proposal date in mind, whether it is an upcoming holiday, an anniversary, or a birthday, you need to make sure that you allow yourself enough time to find and purchase the perfect engagement ring.

Most people are under the impression that buying a ring is like buying a t-shirt; you go into the store and a few short hours later you leave with a brand new shiny ring in hand. But buying an engagement ring can be a similar process to buying a car, and the whole engagement ring process can take a bit longer than most people anticipate. Depending on the specific details of your ring, engagement ring shopping could take anywhere from a few hours (lucky you) to a few weeks or months.

The following are factors to consider in what we like to call the engagement ring timeline: the time that it takes for the ring to go from an idea in your head to a purchase in your pocket, so you can set a realistic schedule for your proposal. In addition, we’ll give you a few pointers on how to go engagement ring shopping so you’ll know what to ask your jeweler.

Budgeting: 1-5 Days

An engagement ring is a significant purchase and will be worn daily for a lifetime, so it is essential to consider both quality and affordability. The budget for an engagement ring is a personal decision, and couples should set a comfortable budget without feeling pressure to compare to others. While the average cost of an engagement ring is around $6,000, this should be used as a guide and not a hard rule. It is perfectly acceptable to opt for a less expensive ring that fits your budget and lifestyle. Remember, the beauty of a stone is not limited by its size, the ring represents the meaning of your union.

Researching: 1-5 Days

Before you even step into a store, you should consider doing some research on your own. The more educated you are, the better you will feel about your decision. Research includes learning about the 4 C’s of diamonds, how the same size diamond can vary greatly in price, and if certain diamond shapes are more expensive than others. Picking out an engagement ring also includes observing and learning about the ring style of your future fiancée, talking to her friends or family for ideas, finding out her ring size, and finalizing the budget you had in mind from the first step.

The time it takes for research varies greatly from person to person. Some people won’t feel comfortable purchasing a ring until they have explored every option available, while others know exactly what their partner wants because it has already been spelled out for them! We suggest taking however long you need to make sure that you really research and feel like you are somewhat confident and knowledgeable in what engagement ring your partner would want.

Exploring Your Options: 1-2 Weeks

Now that you’ve done your research, how to pick an engagement ring? You will really need to explore all of your options for jewelers, stones, and settings in order to begin engagement ring shopping. If you don’t already have a specific jeweler in mind that you’ve worked with and trust, between your career and special life events, it will probably take you a few days or more to see the jewelers that might be a good fit. After the initial visits, most people will return to the jeweler that they want to work with for a more in-depth consultation.

Exploring your options also includes looking closely at different loose diamonds and types of settings. After narrowing down all of the possibilities to a final few, many people spend another few days deciding between the top options that will combine to create the engagement ring of their partner’s dreams.

Finalizing and Ordering: 1-4 Weeks

Picking engagement ring stones and settings is just the start. After you have decided on what your ring will look like and what diamond you will use, different situations will alter the time it takes to create the ring specifically for you. For example, let’s look at sizing. If the diamond engagement ring that you want will be built to fit your partner’s finger size, it is going to take longer than if you purchase a complete, already perfectly sized, pre-set ring directly from the jeweler.

Another factor that usually takes people by surprise is the type of setting desired. How long does it take to set an engagement ring? It depends. A situation that often happens is the setting that you want needs to be adapted to the size and shape of your chosen diamond. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how easily the setting can be altered and how long it will take.

If you already have a diamond that is an heirloom or a family stone and want it to be re-set in a new setting, this process can often be done in a few days, depending on whether the jeweler has the new ring that you chose, or whether they need to order it, as well as whether it needs to be sized or not.

Sizing: 1 Day - 1 Week

Next, we’ll look at how to pick out an engagement ring with the perfect fit - after all, you’ll want her to wear it right away so that you can announce your news to family and friends (maybe with a ring selfie!). One of the most common factors that affects the timing of purchasing your ring is getting the ring sized. The average jeweler stocks rings in sizes 6 to 7. After you figure out what size ring your partner is and you are able to confirm it, more often than not, your jeweler should be able to resize a stock ring to the perfect setting.

The turnaround time for sizing a ring depends on if it can be done in the store or not, which is anywhere from an afternoon visit to a week, or if a new ring needs to be ordered, potentially longer. Click here to learn more about how a jeweler sizes a ring.

Custom Engagement Ring Timeline: 3+ Weeks

If you can’t seem to find the perfect engagement ring from the jeweler’s stock, you might want to consider having your ring custom-made. Your custom engagement ring timeline is the lengthiest of all of the processes, taking anywhere from a few weeks or months to be delivered, from the time you approve the design and place your ring order to the time you are able to walk out of the store with the ring.

In addition to providing the jeweler or designer with many images and detailed explanations of what you want and expect, you should make sure that you understand the store’s policies about custom-made designs. You should also have a clear understanding and agreement on the cost of the customization, as well as exactly when you can expect for them to finish your ring. If you need your engagement ring within a certain timeframe, most jewelers will go out of their way to help you have the ring by your specific date, but make sure to remember that they can’t work overnight miracles.

Here at Long’s, our design team has been helping customers throughout New England to design custom engagement rings for over 140 years. We pride ourselves on our designs and guarantee that each piece is unique and personal to you. Learn more about our custom design process here.

Your Ready to Propose!

You’ve learned how to pick the perfect engagement ring, and you’re ready to start planning for your proposal. Based on the info above, you can set your proposal date depending on the engagement ring timeline that fits you best. If you’re going with a pre-designed ring, make sure to purchase that at least one month before your proposal date, while two months minimum should be allotted for a custom ring. We invite you to begin by checking out our selection of engagement rings below. We carry the largest selection and variety of loose diamonds and ring settings in New England and look forward to helping you find the perfect ring for your proposal.

Engagement Rings - Browse the Collection