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Everything You Need to Know to Buy an Engagement Ring

So you’ve finally found “the one” and summoned the courage to propose. But that’s only half the battle. Now, you have to buy the ring. For some, finding the perfect ring is as intimidating as popping the question. But it doesn’t have to be. Before you dive into our Diamond Education Section, here are a few words of wisdom to help take the stress out of buying an engagement ring.

Make sure you compare lots of diamonds side by side. Most of us don’t have a lot of practice buying engagement rings so when you do your research, don’t skimp on seeing lots of diamonds in person too. A diamond can’t truly be explained by numbers and letters, so the only way to know what you are truly buying is by looking at a stones side by side.

A diamond expert can help point out the major differences in quality but the beauty of a diamond is also in the eye of the beholder. Different people prefer different shapes, colors, sizes, etc… What looks like the perfect diamond to you might be completely different than what your buddy would choose. So get help and in the end, trust your own eyes above all others.

It’s not just about the diamond; it’s about the entire ring. When it comes to engagement rings, you have tons of choices about the diamond, aka the “center stone”. But the ring setting itself – what you put the diamond into – is hugely important to making her happy. Believe us, she's as focused on the ring just as much as the diamond.  You can go with a ring that is classic and simple, such as a solitaire or a three stone ring, or something more diamond intensive, such as a halo setting, or even something ornate or vintage. Here’s our advice. Either be direct and find a way to ask her what she wants in a ring (“Hey honey, hypothetically speaking…”), OR be clever by asking someone like her best childhood friend (“Hey BFF, hypothetically speaking…”). Trust your gut instincts too because you know her well and when you see the right ring, you’ll probably have a light bulb moment.

Think through how much you want to spend and if you need financing.  A few years ago, there was a common saying that you should set your ring budget equal to 2 months salary.  That's completely false.  What you need to do is find the right balance of a ring that will make her happy and a price you can comfortably afford.  That might be $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000.   It's whatever YOU both want it be and don't let a diamond seller tell you anything different.  Fortunately, there are great financing option available and many have long-term, no interest options such as 6 month or 12 month programs.  If you can't afford the entire ring at once, figure out how much of a deposit you can make now then ask about the monthly payments using different financing programs to see if you can afford a bigger purchase. 

Plan ahead to get the ring she wants. If you want to propose within days or even hours from right now, you can walk into a store or buy online and have a ring in your hands very quickly. However, if you want to move that quickly, your options may be limited. Some items, such as a custom made setting, a rare diamond, a non-traditional size or even a designer’s ring could take weeks to make. So plan ahead and shop early, especially if you want to keep all of your options open.

Take your time... don’t get pressured to make a quick decision. Diamonds are millions of years old and they won’t spoil if you take your time. Besides, it probably took you months or maybe years to be ready to propose. So don’t let anyone push you into making a hasty decision when you need more time to get it right. Anyone who makes you a special offer to buy today doesn’t understand what you are going through. Take the time to feel great about your choice of a diamond and a ring.

Beware the diamond certification game. Diamonds can be graded by independent laboratories to give you assurances that your diamond has a certain color, clarity and sometimes even a cut grade. But here’s what they don’t always tell you… some Grading Labs have very high standards while others have much looser standards. The GIA and AGS labs are recognized by the industry for consistency and high standards, plus they are not for profit organizations committed to protecting consumers. Other labs are for profit and will exaggerate the grade by having lower standards. So if you are told that a diamond has a grade of G color and VS1 clarity, look on the certificate for the name of the lab. If it isn’t a GIA or AGS certificate, your diamond likely has an “honest” grade of something more like a H or I color or an SI clarity, or perhaps worse.

Think carefully before you cut any corners. Have you ever purchased something like a car, a smart phone or a TV and then, several months later, you wish you had gone with the nicer or upgraded version? Look, she’s going to wearing this ring for a long time and you want her to love it 5, 10 and even 20 years down the road. You don’t necessarily have to stretch your budget but make sure you are getting a quality level that she’ll appreciate for years to come. Here’s one example: Some people opt for gold over platinum because “platinum is more expensive”. It’s true that platinum costs more but it’s also a great value, because it is more durable, it better protects the diamond and it requires a lot less maintenance over time. It might be worth spending a little extra on platinum because it might save you a bundle on repairs over the next 10 years.

Try to get an idea of her finger size. Don’t worry… you don’t have to be exact, but it helps to have a general idea. Maybe you can borrow a ring she already wears? What you want is to propose and have the ring fit comfortably on her hand at that moment. With most ring styles, your jeweler can adjust the size or have it built in the correct size after the proposal to ensure a proper fit.

Insure it!  Make sure you talk to your insurance company to get the ring insured against loss, theft or major damage.  To be safe, have it insured when (or soon after) you take possession of the ring.  You can easily add the ring to an existing insurance policy whether you have a homeowners or a renters policy.  Your jeweler will provide you with an appraisal, which your insurance company will use as basis for value.

Get more than just a great price, get a commitment to service. You should absolutely get the best price possible, but also make sure you purchase from someone who has a track record of standing behind their product and wants to keep you as a happy customer for life. So don’t just ask for the best price… also ask for things like: Do you offer long term financing? Will you provide a complementary appraisal for insurance purposes? Will you engrave the ring? Do you have matching wedding bands available? If the ring needs repairs, do you have the expertise to fix it on premises or do you need to send it somewhere else? Can I bring it in to clean it at no charge and can I have the prongs checked regularly to make sure the diamonds are secure? You aren’t just buying a ring, you are starting a relationship with a jeweler that you’ll be working with for years to come. Make sure your choice of jeweler knows how to appreciate you even after you make this big purchase.

Check out Long’s Diamond Guides for more stress-less steps to the perfect proposal or Make an Appointment to see engagement rings in person in any of our five locations in Massachusetts.