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How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring: A Guide for Soon-to-Be Grooms

Shopping for an engagement ring can be overwhelming for soon-to-be grooms.

The second you start asking questions, pictures of massive and expensive diamonds start popping up with terminology like "solitaire," "pear cut," and "pavé." It can be challenging to navigate when you don't know where to start. But it's not as complicated as it seems. And as you learn how jewelers calculate the price for all the different styles, you'll be on track to choose the perfect ring for your partner.

Trust us. She'll thank you when you can easily navigate a conversation about the cut of a stone, the setting, and the carat weight.

Knowing how to navigate all of this will help you choose the perfect engagement ring for your partner. There are so many unique engagement rings out there. Finding the ideal ring should bring you and your partner joy. This ring symbolizes your love for each other, and she'll treasure it for the rest of her life. So make sure you pay attention to her preferences, and we’ll help you find a ring that she'll love.

Start with Setting a Budget

The big question is always how much to spend on an engagement ring. Before you even start looking at rings, setting a realistic budget is essential. Getting caught up in expensive and flashy rings is way too easy. Before you know it, you're over budget. Choosing the right engagement ring involves knowing what your partner wants and working with a jeweler who will stay within your budget and not push you to go over it.

There's an outdated idea that grooms-to-be should spend three months' salary on an engagement ring. This idea just isn't true anymore. You should base the amount you pay on your lifestyle and what you can afford, so don't feel pressured to go overboard.

The amount you spend isn't the point anyway. Buying a ring that your partner loves is the point. If you need clarification about what she likes and want it to be a surprise, look at what jewelry she already owns and what styles she tends to wear. Asking friends or family what she likes can also help a lot.

The 4 Cs of a Diamond

When you first start shopping for a ring, there are four main factors to remember. Robert M. Shipley created the 4 C's system in the 1940s, which is still the primary method used to assess diamonds. The four C's are Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight.


The cut refers to the shape of the diamond. The cut can be significant when considering the overall look of the ring but the cut also affects how well the diamond's facets interact with light. Diamond cuts fall into two categories: round and fancy.

A round cut is the most popular. This classic style is timeless for a reason. Some of the more popular fancy shapes include pear, marquise, and emerald.


Clarity is the next category to consider. Diamonds are created when carbon is exposed to extreme heat and pressure underground. This process can create internal characteristics called inclusions and external characteristics called blemishes.

When a diamond is assessed for clarity, the evaluation considers the number, size, relief, nature, and position of characteristics. Many characteristics that are not visible to the untrained eye may seem harmless but will affect the quality of the transparency and brilliance of the diamond.


When looking at the color, the ideal diamond has no color, like a drop of water. There is a scale that goes through D, H, N, and Z. D has no color, while Z has a yellow tint. Like clarity, the color in a diamond may be hard to see for an untrained eye, but the color affects how light is reflected and can change the quality and price of the diamond.

Carat Weight

The last category to consider is the carat weight, which measures how much a diamond weighs. A metric carat is 200 milligrams, and each carat can be subdivided into 100 "points." Diamond prices typically increase with carat weight, but are also heavily influenced by color, clarity, and cut.

When trying to balance these factors to find a diamond that fits your budget and preferences, it's essential to understand how diamonds are priced. Each type of cut is priced differently, with round being the most expensive and fancy shapes being a little less expensive.

The best way to find the right ring is to decide which factor is the most important for your partner. If the cut is the most important, start there, and then you can compromise on other factors. If carat weight is the most important, you can go for more carats and get a better price by choosing an alternate cut.

It's also important to keep an open mind. If you and your partner go to pick out rings together, she might think that carat weight is the most important factor and then fall in love with a specific cut instead.

The Different Types of Engagement Ring Settings

There's more to these rings than the 4 C's, though. The setting is just as important as the cut or color. The setting is just how the stone (or stones) are attached to the ring.

The most popular setting style is a solitaire setting. This style is designed for single-stone rings and involves four to six prongs holding the chosen stone in place.

This timeless style allows the stone to shine in all its glory. Having only four prongs lets you show off the stone, but it might not be as stable as six prongs. The downside is that more prongs will hide more of the stone. The number of prongs used should depend on your partner’s lifestyle and the stone's cut.

A halo setting is also incredibly popular and can be used to make the stone look more prominent. This style involves a large center stone surrounded by pavé or micropavé accent stones. The style has a lot of freedom because the center stone does not have to be the same cut as the accent stones, and the design can be as simple or complex as you want.

The last really popular setting style is the pavé setting, which involves rows of tiny stones set level with the surface of the ring. Done right, it is reminiscent of a road paved by gemstones. This magnificent style is incredibly delicate and requires a skilled jeweler to pull it off. But the resulting sparkle will be well worth it.

Aside from these three main styles, there are many other setting styles, including cathedral, basket, and bezel styles. You should research all the styles to determine what your partner loves and what style falls within your budget and your partner's style. In addition, it would help to consider how the style will fit alongside the wedding ring.

Finding the Right Jeweler

Finding the right jeweler is integral to finding the perfect engagement ring. Even if you have a budget and know exactly what you want, an unprofessional jeweler could push you to spend more or compromise on the parts that matter to you. Don't let this happen to you. Instead, do the research and make sure you find a jeweler that will help you make your dream a reality.

The first thing to look for when researching jewelers is credentials. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the gold standard for professionals. You're on the right track if their profile says they are a GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) or a GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP).

You should also ask around and see if they have a reputation in your community. Ask friends or family where they went and what their experience was. When looking at a specific jeweler, ask the right questions. How long have they been in business? Are they a member of the GIA Alumni Association? Do they belong to any professional associations?

Engagement Rings from Carats and Stones

Shopping for an engagement ring is an exciting time. You'll remember this for the rest of your life, and your partner will thank you for taking your time and doing it right.

Our expert jewelers here at Carats and Stones can help you pick out the perfect piece or help you get started on a custom order. You can shop in-store in our bay area store or book online to get your appointment started!


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