*Know what you're looking for? Skip down to the – Top Engagement Ring Stores
Seek to Honor GodWe want to begin this proposal process by honoring God. Throughout Scripture over and over again we read that God is not concerned as much with our list of do’s and don’ts but he is concerned with our hearts (Matthew 22:37-38). You’re about to ask a woman to bond her life to you for the rest of your days. Make sure your heart is in the right place. As Zach Galifianakis says, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Despite what popular culture says, marriage is God’s institution. Mark 10:6-9 says, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Notice that it’s not the woman who clings to the man but the man who leaves his mom and clings to the woman. That’s saying something. We as men are called to cling to our wives and to never let them go. My advice to you even before she walks up the aisle is to begin well. Does your heart want to honor God and honor the woman you intend to marry? If so, let’s begin with a general step-by-step process to follow.
10 Solid Steps
- Pray for wisdom
- Read this article
- Set budget
- Figure out what she likes
- Check online sellers (listed below)
- Go to stores to see rings in person
- Make purchase
- Insure ring
- Pray your heart out
- Ask her to marry you!
Set a BudgetTradition says a man should spend between 1-3 months of his salary on the ring. If you’re a student or don’t have a good income, try and do a great job with the funds you have available. As you are about to very quickly realize, diamonds and ring settings and weddings can cost a small fortune. Just like you will need to budget responsibly for the rest of your married life, you need to set a budget for the engagement and wedding ring, and it’s best to set it right now. Once you set it, try your hardest to stick with it even though it’s always tempting to go bigger.
Before you tell people how much you are spending remember this is a private decision. If you are a Christian, people may judge how much you spend in comparison to how much you could have donated to missions. If you're really struggling with justifying spending several thousand dollars on your soon-to-be fiancée, sit down with her and talk it over. If it is actually a decision of giving $2,000 to missions and spending $2,000 on her, maybe you should decide together. But please don't let "missions" become an excuse to spend less on a woman who deserves so much more than you can give. Remember, she should always come first in your life and this is a one time special purchase. It symbolizes a lifetime commitment so you don’t want to symbolize it with a mentality of cheap love just like you don’t want to symbolize your marriage with excess and luxury. Pray about it and listen to how the Holy Spirit convicts you.
Bonus Tip: Some ways to answer those people who ask you how much you spent on the diamond – “The perfect amount.” “Over $100 bucks.” “Between $2 and $200,000.” Also be mindful that your fiancée might never want to know how much you spent on the ring.
Ways to SaveThere are many different ways to get more diamond for your buck if you’re willing to look. Under the current tax laws, if you buy a ring from a website that is based in a different state it’s 100% tax-free. That’s a big reason to begin looking online right there.
The web is loaded with coupons for some of the major diamond sellers. If someone refers you, they’ll give you a coupon for anywhere from $50 to $100 off. Also, if you sign up for their mailing list but wait a little while, then the sellers will start to send you emails with 5% to 10% discounts.
Consider how you pay for the ring. If you’re going to pay for it with a credit card, make sure you’re getting the points. However, lots of the online diamond retailers offer a 1-3% discount if you pay with cash through a bank wire transfer. So which way is better? Credit or cash?
It depends how many points you’re receiving on your card, the cash percentage discount, and the cost of your bank’s wire fee. The following chart assumes that you probably earn one point for every dollar spent and that 1,000 points is roughly equal to $10 of purchasing points.
|Budget||Fee||Discount %||Cash Saved (Budget x Discount - Fee must be greater than “Credits Earned” to do cash)||Points||Credits||Method?|
|$1000||$20||1.5%||$1000 x 0.015 = $15 savings - $20 fee = -$5 savings||1000||$10||Credit(by $15)|
|$1500||$30||3%||$1500 x 0.03 = $45 savings - $30 fee = $15 savings||1500||$15||Either is Good|
|$2500||$25||1%||$2500 x 0.01 = $25 savings - $25 fee = $0 savings||2500||$25||Credit (by $25)|
|$3000||$20||2%||$3000 x 0.02 = $60 savings - $20 fee = $40 savings||3000||$30||Cash(by $10)|
|$4000||$25||1.5%||$4000 x 0.015 = $60 savings - $25 fee = $35 savings||4000||$40||Credit(by $5)|
|$5000||$30||3.0%||5000 x 0.03 = $150 savings - $30 fee = $120 savings||5000||$50||Cash(by $70)|
|$6000||$25||1%||6000 x 0.01 = $60 savings - $25 fee = $35 savings||6000||$60||Credit (by $25)|
Ethical Engagement RingsIf you’ve seen Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “Blood Diamond” you know that not all diamonds are created equal and some people are willing to murder and enslave for them. Make sure your diamond seller has a “Conflict-Free” diamond policy that uses something like the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
Bonus Tip: There are ways to support Christian organizations as you do your diamond shopping. Look for ministry websites that have links to diamond-buying sites. Click on the banner and if you end up making a purchase, you'll help support them as well.
Should She Help?What most guys don’t know is that many girls start to look at engagement and wedding rings before the guy even brings the subject of marriage up. Your girl probably already has an idea of what she does and does not like. However, these tastes could change once she actually goes in and looks at rings. Maybe you want to play it cool and go it alone. That’s fine but there is nothing wrong with asking her if she’d like to be involved with the process and to what extent. The more information you have the easier it is.
True Story: I involved my fiancée in the entire process till the very end. She helped by looking at the the diamond and setting options and finding a few favorites and then I made the final choice. She really helped narrow the choices down and it was a whole lot of fun to work together.
Espionage: If you want to be sneaky about it but still get your girlfriend’s input, pick out some rings you like and send photos to one of her friends (Sarah). Hopefully Sarah knows someone who is getting married soon (Julie). Have Sarah show your girlfriend the pictures of the rings as if Julie’s boyfriend is getting ready to propose soon and asked Sarah to show the pictures to his girlfriend (Julie) as if they were someone else. Have Sarah say that your girlfriend’s tastes and Julie’s tastes are very similar and to give honest input. Let me know if this works!
Quick reminder: Figuring out a girl’s ring size is a pain if she’s not helping you out. Have her roommate, sister, mother, or friend swipe one of her current rings to get the correct sizing.
Ring SettingPicking out the ring setting can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a bit overwhelming because of all the possibilities. As you begin to look at styles you’ll begin to notice what you like. You may even start noticing married women’s rings. Here are the most popular settings:
Classic: Is a plain band with the diamond in the center.
Vintage: These settings have diamond “pave” (lots of little diamonds) set in the band. This is much more glamorous and bling-bling if you know what I mean.
Sidestone: This style has smaller stones on the band but they’re only on the top and they’re bigger than the pave.
Three-Stone: Three stones allow you to have a higher total carat weight with lower cost.
Gemstone: You can mix the side stones or center stone up with other colored gems or diamonds or even birthstones.
Customized: The possibilities are endless. Lots of people like to design their own ring, which can be very special. Just know what you want because there are no returns.
Wedding Sets: You can also get an engagement ring that is designed with a wedding band. Remember. Not all rings can have the wedding band soldered on.
Contemporary, Halo, etc: You can get real fancy from here out with lots of bling and lots of twists and curves in the diamonds.
Other Questions to Ask:
- How many prongs does the band have? The more prongs the securer it is. But sometimes you can get a ring that doesn’t have prongs because the diamond is set in the metal.
- What types of stone shapes can this setting handle?
- How thick is the band? Does your girl only want a skinny band or is she okay with a fat one (aka. 3.0mm and up).
- What does the stone look like in the setting? Can I see the underside of the diamonds? Do the diamonds look good?
- How high is the diamond mounted? Does she like the skyscraper look?
Engagement Ring MetalsThere are a lot of ring metals, each one beautiful in its distinct way. It’s important to notice what type of jewelry your girl wears. Does she wear mostly yellow gold or white gold? Try to get something she can wear with what she already has. It doesn’t hurt to ask her what she’d prefer.
Gold: There’s yellow gold, white gold, and even rose gold. It usually comes in 18k, 14k, or 10k (karats). The more “k” the more gold in the ring as well as the softer the ring. White gold is essentially plated. So as it gets nicked, as all metals do, you will have to re-plate it about once every year to two years. Some people think this wear makes the gold look “warmer” and adds character. Many sellers offer this re-plating service for free. Yellow gold doesn’t run into this problem because yellow is the ring’s natural color.
Platinum: This metal is much harder than gold and you won’t run into any serious scratching or denting problems. If you like white gold, and never plan to buy a bigger wedding ring for an anniversary (hard to know), it’s good to consider this metal because it is long lasting and durable.
Palladium: Related to platinum, this metal is hard and can be used for engagement rings. Its price varies like all other metals but it is more rare than gold. It also has the white gold look but its true metal color is white like platinum so it rarely tarnishes.
Titanium: A jeweler told me that if a doctor needs to take your titanium ring off, but it’s stuck for whatever reason (emergency), the doctor will have to amputate your finger. Upon further research I discovered that this is completely false. Maybe this info is out there because the metal is cheaper. This metal is much lighter than gold but has a darker color than white gold or platinum. These rings are not made for resizing so choose your size carefully. Although it is available for some engagement rings, it’s mostly made for wedding bands.
Bonus Tip: Do you like both white and yellow gold? You can get a two-tone ring. Some rings that are yellow gold have a platinum mount so that the metal doesn’t turn the clear color diamond yellow. If the mount is yellow gold, you don’t need to spend as much on the color of the diamond (“I” should be fine).
Diamond ShapeThere are so many different diamond shapes. The most popular is the Round diamond followed by the Princess shape. Check them all out (Round, Princess, Emerald, Asscher, Marquise, Oval, Radiant, Pear, Heart, Cushion). See what she prefers and know that her preference may change if she gets to see the shape in person. Diamond shapes go in and out of style just like the metal color and setting styles.
Bonus Tip: Does your girl use her hands a lot? Diamonds with round edges are less likely to chip just like diamonds with very thin girdles are more likely to chip.
Carat WeightCarat is actually not size, but weight, which is why the diamond experts call it “Carat Weight.” Of course, more weight usually means more diamond. But watch out. If your diamond has an extremely large girdle, some of that weight might not equal size. Going into the store is the best way to see how carat actually transfers into size (Click here to see a carat-sizing chart).
Try to set a goal for your diamond’s carat weight early in the process. If you want more carats you have to be willing to shell out more cash. But if you shell out more cash for a larger diamond but don’t take the time to make sure it’s high quality, then you will be able to see the imperfections more easily. Try and balance the carat weight of the diamond with the quality of the diamond. Don’t sacrifice quantity for quality.
What’s Important in a Diamond?There are many important diamond characteristics. As you’re going to see once you start looking you will probably have to choose which categories are the most important to you. It’s almost a bartering process so choose wisely!
Cut: This is probably the most important category. If your diamond is cut poorly it’s not going to sparkle. Some sellers offer “Ideal” and then “Certified Ideal.” Stick to the highest possible rating that isn’t just the retailer selling you extra certification. There is usually no difference between Ideal and Certified Ideal but a few extra tests. Also, not all diamond shapes allow for the ideal cut and instead must be “Very Good”(i.e., Princess Shape). That’s perfectly fine.
Color: Color is rated from Z to D (color to colorless). Shop from I and higher but generally speaking H and better are fantastic. In fact, a diamond expert told me that H is essentially the same color as G and that G and better are not so much about visual differences but about rarity. If your setting is yellow gold the color of the diamond is a little less important unless the prongs holding it are white gold or platinum. A very white diamond can look extra white in yellow gold.
Clarity: Most diamond sellers prefer to stick to SI2 and better. From the most blemishes down to flawless we have the ratings: I3, I2, I1, SI2, SI1, *VS2, VS1, VVS2, VVS1, IF, and FL. You may be able to see visible blemishes in the stone with SI2 and SI1 but they won’t be bad. *I recommend starting at VS2 and better.
Polish: Go for excellent or very good here. Even if you have to get a few less carat percentages try and get a stone with the nicest polish available. The more polish the more sparkle.
Symmetry: If possible get a stone with very good or excellent symmetry as well. Symmetry is how well each side of the stone matches the other. The better the symmetry the closer to mirror image it is.
Fluorescence: There are simply a lot of opinions on diamond fluorescence. It used to be popular and added character to the diamond. But now everybody hates it. I’ve heard it said that a tiny bit of fluorescence brings out the sparkle but none of the experts will confirm that. I would search for diamonds with faint to no fluorescence.
Length to Width Ratio: You want to get this as close to possible as you can to 1.00. It’s the length of the diamond divided by the width and 1.00 is perfectly square. However, you really won’t notice the difference from 1.00 to 1.05.
Girdle: This is the width of the diamond’s edge. Is it a fat diamond or a skinny one? You want to find a diamond that has a medium girdle, but that’s definitely not required. Anything from thin to thick will do and even very thin to very thick is acceptable. Just don’t go to extremely thin or extremely thick!
Culet: This is about the tip on the bottom of the diamond. Is it pointed, and how much, or is there no culet at all? If you’re diamond has a great cut, culet quality should follow.
Depth %: This is just another way of saying, “Is your diamond tall and skinny or short and fat?” The diamond’s proportions depend on the shape of the diamond. If your diamond has a picture, take a look at it to see if it looks proportional. Proportion charts available here.
Table %: This is the top and flat part of the diamond. Like depth % you don’t want it to big or small. Diamond cutters know this and won’t try and mess it up.
Bonus Tip: The most important diamond characteristics are cut, color, clarity, polish, and symmetry. Get the best cut you can find, without paying extra as we discussed. Get H color or better, VS2 clarity or better, and then make sure to have excellent polish and symmetry. But don’t forget to check the other categories to make sure your diamond doesn’t have hidden issues.
Need more info? Visit this diamond-expert website.
Certification (GIA vs. EGL vs. AGSL)Only purchase certified diamonds. Thankfully, most diamond sellers get their diamonds certified. But if where you’re shopping is selling non-certified diamonds, walk away. They’ve come up with their own quality ratings and will either sell you garbage or overcharge you.
GIA: The Gemological Institute of America is the top diamond certifier. They came up with the “color, clarity, cut, and carat weight” categories. GIA only has one lab so you’re going to have nearly perfect consistency in the ratings. All top quality diamond sellers trust GIA.
EGL: The European Gemological Laboratory certifies diamonds but has multiple labs. This means that you can get different ratings depending upon the lab. You may still get a nice diamond. But don’t try and buy an EGL diamond and send it into GIA expecting to get the same rating. It just won’t happen.
AGSL: There’s not a lot of difference between GIA and the American Gem Society Laboratories. AGSL is responsible for the “ideal” standard, has extra diamond info, and has a somewhat more rigorous grading system. But they’re not as popular or as widely used as GIA.
Return PoliciesWhat’s the diamond seller’s return policy? I know. That sounds horrible to say. I’m not thinking about if she’ll say no, but if she’s going to like the ring you’ve picked out. My suggestion is to figure out the diamond seller’s days to return the ring and to figure out when you’re going to propose. If the diamond seller has a 30-day return policy, buy the ring at about 20 days out, you’ll get it in plenty of time, and have a few days to exchange it if she would like a different style. Chances are that if you’ve already put this much thought into it she will love it.
Diamond CareMost jewelry stores offer a pretty good diamond protection plan. Some will actually replace a chipped or lost diamond if you lose it. Although I’m a little skeptical of this because you won’t know exactly what type of diamond you’re getting and their prices may be overpriced to begin with. However, do check if the diamond seller has an annual re-plating and polishing program. This is important for white gold especially since some of the white metal wears off.
In Person or Online?Both! Go into a whole bunch of diamond engagement ring stores so you can see what you like and what you don’t like. Sometimes you can find really good deals in stores, but generally speaking there is just less of a selection. Lots of stores tend to be overpriced and sometimes the sales clerks are over-zealous. This isn’t always the case but they have to clear merchandise and aren’t always concerned with helping us get what we really need.
Bonus Tip: If you need to make a polite exit, ask for a business card or catalog and leave.
Top Engagement Ring StoresWhether you’re looking for the top engagement ring stores online or offline we’ve got them listed here. Look around a lot. The more you look the more favorites you’ll find the better the final choice will turn out. *Don’t forget to finish the article after this comprehensive list of diamond engagement ring sellers.
Engagement Rings OnlineIf you have questions about a ring or diamond, don’t be afraid to call and talk to customer service. Most representatives are very helpful whether you buy from them or not.
James Allen – This jeweler has by far the best viewing gallery and 3D imaging available on the web and offer a 1.5% discount for all wire transfer sales.
Union Diamond – Based in Atlanta Georgia they are one of the best engagement ring jewelers out there and they offer a whopping 3% discount for wiring funds.
Super Jeweler – They offer a wide-variety of complete engagement rings, bridal sets, and wedding bands.
Sun Jewelry – They also offer a “build your own ring” program and even have a 3D visualizer. All wire transfers receive 1.5% off.
Ultra Diamonds – They have a lot of showrooms, usually located near malls.
DesignBands.com – They received the 2011 Bride’s Choice Award from Wedding Wire.
Blue Nile – This provide a plethora of details about their diamonds and all wire transfers receive 1.5% off.
DiamondHarmony.com – They sell to men, women, and even have a children category.
SZUL – They offer a wide selection of loose diamonds and engagement ring settings.
Allurez – I think they’re trying to allure you into a sale.
FineJewelers.com – They offer amethysts, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, opals, and more.
Adiamor – They have an A+ rating form the Better Business Bureau.
25karats.com – You probably don’t want a 25-karat ring but you may want to checkout this site.
Secret Diamond – They have a pretty nice “Wholesale Diamond Search.” They claim to sell you their diamonds for the cost they received them at.
ChristianJeweler.com – They have a lot of chains and crosses and lockets and Jesus fish. They have Catholic jewelry available too.
Samaritan Arts Jewelry – They offer weddings rings with crosses on them as well as Celtic wedding rings.
Furthers.com – They offer lots of custom rings with all sorts of diamonds and crosses.
Engagement Ring StoresThere are many chain and upscale chain stores that offer great ways to check out the diamond engagement ring before you buy. Some online videos are also helpful but there is nothing like seeing the diamond or setting in person.
Shane Co. – Their website isn’t great. But they had a lot of diamond engagement rings and pretty helpful clerks.
Helzberg Diamonds – I really liked their staff. They weren’t pushy and didn’t crowd us. I also thought they had some interesting rings.
Tiffany & Co. – Definite brand name here but much more expensive because of it.
De Beers – Worldwide ring seller.
Jared – They have some nice in store galleries but tend to run a little more expensive.
ZALES – They offered a wide selection of jewelry but we had three sales clerks approach us at once, which was a bit much.
Kay Jewelers – I see them all the time on television. They have some nice catalogs but the store I visited had by far the most aggressive salesclerks.
Christian Bauer – They’re worldwide but I’ve never gotten a chance to visit their stores.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to look around at local jewelry stores. They often have hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else.
*We do not endorse any of the jewelers listed in this article.
Should I Buy the Wedding Band Yet?There’s nothing wrong with purchasing it at the same time or waiting and saving up some money. Just know you don’t get to give it to her till the wedding day. Keep in mind that not all engagement rings are designed to have the wedding band soldered to them. And if you go customized with the engagement ring you’re probably going to need to customize the wedding band to match.
Get Insurance!Most, if not all, diamond sellers insure your ring until the day you receive it or walk out of the store. You can either sign up with a diamond insurance company that specializes in what they do (Jewelers Mutual) or you may be able to add the ring to your current insurance plan and receive a multi-policy discount. Check the details. Does your insurer cover accidental loss, theft, and damage? Make sure the ring is insured the day you take it home.
Now Go Buy An Engagement RingConsider this act of ring buying a step of faith. Marriage is a blessing and it takes a daily trust in the God who loves us and knows our hearts and ways (Psalm 139:23-24, Proverbs 16:9). Look forward to the sanctifying gift that is marriage. God will bless you in many ways throughout your life and your spouse is where many of these blessings begin. Let's close with a prayer and then it's time to go find a fantastic ring and ask a fantastic woman to marry you.
Heavenly Father, please bless all the men that read this article with a great deal of wisdom as they seek to set their budget, find out what their bride-to be desires in a ring, and as they finally make the big purchase. Calm their nerves and steady their hearts and minds as they prepare to take this leap of faith. May we as men approach marriage with a deep sense of fear and respect for what You have designed it to be. May we not take it lightly and may we glorify You in everything we do. Guard our relationships in You Lord as we prepare ourselves for marriage. In Your Son's most holy and precious name, Jesus Christ, Amen.
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Image by: Amy Cate Photography