Engagement Rings 101: Everything You Need to Know Before You Shop

You think you’ve found “the one,” now it’s time for him to get down on his knee and ask for her hand in marriage. Before you head off to your local jewelry store, arm yourself with some knowledge about the different types of engagement rings and setting styles; the precious metals; the quality standards; and even how much to budget when buying engagement rings. From round to oval engagement rings, there are a number of different options to choose from. 

What Is Your Partner’s Style?

The first step is to figure out your partner’s ring style. If you plan on surprising them with a ring, ask for advice from friends or family members. Once you’ve gotten a feel for what they like and dislike, search for rings in your price range. You should also set a budget, which can help you narrow down your options. You’ll want to make sure the diamond you choose is certified and get an idea of how large of a stone they want. Make sure you know the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, carat). 

It’s always smart to shop around before making a final decision and asking for the ring size. A lot of people have a general sense of what they like—some like lots of sparkle and others prefer simple solitaires. Some people are drawn to oval engagement rings while others prefer a pear shape. 

Set a Budget

Next, try to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a ring. Set a budget and try to stick as close to it as possible. The price range of rings can vary widely, from the lower end of $200 to the upper end of $30,000. It all depends on whether the diamond is natural or lab-grown, its clarity and color, how big it is, and a variety of other factors. 

When deciding on a budget for your ring, ask yourself: How much do you have saved? How much are you willing to spend right this minute? It’s a good idea to have at least some sort of financial plan in place before you start browsing rings. You should also look at what kind of diamond you’ll be purchasing—ideally, you’ll stick to your budget no matter what but if it’s your first time buying a diamond, it’s important to know that your decision will affect the price.

Learn the 4 Cs

Next, you’ll want to look at the options for style. Oval engagement rings are making a resurgence while the emerald cut is a unique and exciting shape to choose. No matter what, you need to learn the four C’s. The four C’s are Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight.

Cut: The cut refers to how well-cut a diamond is. A diamond with a well-cut facet will sparkle more than one with a poorly-cut facet. It also refers to the various available shapes including oval engagement rings. 

Clarity: Clarity refers to how many flaws there are in a diamond. Flaws may vary from small surface imperfections called “inclusions” to larger “feathers” on the surface caused by internal inconsistencies during formation. All diamonds contain some amount of flaws; clarity is judged by how noticeable they are when looking at that particular diamond.

Color: The color refers to the hue of the diamond. Diamonds fall along a red-to-yellow spectrum, with fancy-colored diamonds falling outside this range (blue, green, pink).

The 4Cs are important details because they give you insight into what kind of quality a stone will have. If you aren’t sure which characteristics you should prioritize when you’re looking for an engagement ring and want to get some guidance on where to start, ask your jeweler about these details so you can figure out which ones play a bigger role in your decision than others.

Diamonds are graded on a scale of D (colorless) to Z (slightly tinted). The closer the stone is to being colorless, the more valuable it is. There are four categories within this grading scale:

-D means the diamond is colorless

-E diamonds have faint yellow or brown tints

-F diamonds have light yellow or brown tints

-G diamonds have more noticeable yellow or brown tints

Carat: Carat is a unit of weight for precious gemstones. It measures the mass of the stone in terms of 100 units of mass called grams. The carat is divided into 100 parts, called points. So, a 2-carat diamond weighs 200 grams and a 1-carat diamond weighs 100 grams. This scale is used for gemstones (diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires) and pearls, but not for other materials like gold and silver.

Carat is also the measurement that tells us how large a diamond will be in relationship to other diamonds—the bigger the carat weight, the larger the stone. There are no rules about how large or small a diamond should be because it all depends on what you like. If you prefer dainty rings and earrings, then you can choose a smaller carat stone to suit your taste—but if you want something larger and more extravagant, there are also many types of diamonds that are available in larger sizes


There’s no right or wrong way to choose an engagement ring if it feels like it represents your partner and your shared love. If you think an oval engagement ring is better suited for your loved one over a round, then choose that ring. The important part is the future you will share. Happy shopping!