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The Ultimate Guide to Engagement Rings

Buying an engagement ring can be an intimidating task. In this ultimate guide to engagement rings, I'll walk you through everything you need to know before shopping her perfect ring.
Julie Abelstedt
Founder of Abelstedt

My name is Julie Abelstedt and I’m the founder of Abelstedt. I have been in the jewelry business for over 7 years and have guided and designed engagement rings for more than 100 couples—from the low to the high price range.

If you’re looking to propose to your better half, you should read this ultimate guide I have written in its entirety. I think it’s important that you learn a little about engagement rings before you go out to purchase one since you otherwise can be left with an expensive and annoying experience if you either end up buying one too expensive, get hold of a wrong quality, or feel that the design has been the wrong choice in the long run. I myself have recently gotten married so I’ll try to write my personal opinions on what to keep in mind before buying an engagement ring. In this guide, I’ll explain the different metals you should know as well as what gemstones you can choose if a diamond is too expensive. Should the center stone be a classic diamond, I will of course also review the four Cs that are used to categorize the diamond quality.

Engagement rings are lasting signs of love. They been so for hundreds of years. Engagement rings express lasting camaraderie, love, and togetherness between people. Although this tradition is hundreds of years old, it’s a tradition both men and women have stuck to. The engagement ring connects couples and shows others that they belong together in the name of love.

In my opinion, there are 13 factors that are important to know before buying an engagement ring. Let’s jump into it.

Buy the Engagement Ring in Due Time

Unless you happen to have a ring lying around or perhaps one you inherited that you intend to pass on, set aside plenty of time to find and get the right ring in place or adjusted before you propose. I always recommend that you start buying 2-3 months before you intend to do the proposal.

Many people choose a ring that is designed and produced completely unique to them. It could either be because you’ve discovered that your partner has saved pictures of a certain type of ring that you just can’t find anywhere. It may be because you find it most romantic that the ring is one-of-a-kind. Because a unique and handmade engagement ring requires extra work, it also takes longer to produce compared to simply placing an order on a stocked engagement ring. To make sure you have your engagement ring in due time, talk to a designer well in advance. As mentioned, a good rule of thumb is to start the process 2-3 months in advance which will give you plenty of time.

What Shape Should the Center Stone Have In an Engagement Ring?

If your partner saves pictures and links of a particular diamond shape and you do not know what the diamond shape means, it can lead to you making a wrong purchase in the end. There are many diamond shapes and knowing that “round cut” for instance refers to the round shape of the center stone of a diamond ring can be a bit confusing. Below, you can see the different types of center stones ranked by popularity.

Diamond shapes

The most popular shape is “round cut”, i.e a round center stone. It is also the most classic and the one that is often used for the small diamonds around the center stone in a halo. However, if your better half is more into something unique, choose one of the other more untraditional and special diamond shapes.

Find Her Correct Ring Size

When you go out and buy an engagement ring for your partner, it is incredibly important to know her finger size! As a rule, the engagement ring should be placed on the left ring finger, so this is the size you need to know (yes, there may be a difference in the size of the right and left finger).

The best way to find out her ring size is to ask her—or better yet, get her to have it measured accurately by a jeweler if she herself is in doubt.

However, if you want to be discreet about it, you can also try to measure the inside diameter of one of her current rings. However, it is important that you measure very accurately since just half a millimeter can have a noticeable size difference. Many jewelers also lend size measurers that you can take it home to measure her size accurately.

Another tip is to get help from her friends and family. It could very well be that they know about her ring size. You can also see which ring she wears on her left ring finger, borrow it, and have it measured at a jeweler. Here, however, it is very important that the width of the ring is roughly the same as the one you are looking to buy. A wide ring can feel a bit smaller in size than a thin ring.

I always tend to make our customers aware of this since many women choose to go one size down if they have a thin engagement ring with a heavy crown since there is nothing worse than a ring that rotates because the heavy crown will go down and sit on the side of the finger. At Abelstedt, we have sizes ranging from sizes 46 to 69. The most popular sizes are 50, 52, and 54.

I have made a size guide you can print out to measure her size if you do not have the opportunity to ask her family for advice or take a peek past the jeweler. You can checkout the size guide here.

You can also order a free ring sizer here but it requires you to borrow her finger.

Set Your Budget for the Engagement Ring

One mistake that many people make when buying an engagement ring is to go over their budget and then regret the purchase—or worse, put themselves in an unfortunate financial situation because they have not set a budget in the first place. For exactly this reason, I founded Abelstedt because I felt there was a lack of engagement rings that were not only available to those who didn’t have a budget of +$8,000.

There is no right or wrong amount to spend on an engagement ring. These three factors come into play:

  • Your budget and financial situation
  • Your partner’s expectations
  • The significance of the ring

An engagement ring is a personal thing for the couple whose love it symbolizes. For this reason alone, it’s impossible to attach a specific number to what it should cost. Just try to find a ring that you can afford and that you know your partner will cherish.

Find a Good and Reliable Jewelry Retailer 

When you buy an engagement ring, it’s important that you choose a jewelry retailer that, of course, has the selection you want, but it’s also important that you find someone who provides a good and personal service both before and after the purchase. Many people think that it is best to go to a physical store to be sure of a good service, but in fact, I find that most people become disappointed since they find much cheaper prices for a comparable ring online afterwards. If you’re in doubt about whether the prospective jewelry retailer provides a good service, I would recommend that you contact them before you buy to see how quickly they return and how much time they take to answer your questions.

At Abelstedt, we have the experience and training to help our customers properly through the engagement ring design process and clearly explain the various factors that come into play in finding the perfect engagement ring. I take care of most customers when it comes to buying from our diamond collection. I like to take personal care of each customer as we often find a more personal and good solution for an engagement ring. I’m always present with personal assistance after every single purchase.

What Type Is Your Better Half?

When choosing the look for her engagement ring, it’s important that you choose the design that suits the type of girl your partner is. Would your partner prefer the very feminine “princess look”? Or is she more into the simple sporty look? If it’s the latter, then she’s probably not into the extravagant look with lots of diamonds and gemstones. Try, if necessary, to go through her jewelry box and see what she has and what will fit well.

What Color Gold Should the Engagement Ring Have?

Here, I would probably also sneak into her jewelry box to see what color of jewelry she usually wears. Is she mostly for the warm yellow gold or is most of her jewelry over in the cold white gold or silver look? It could also be that she loves rose gold? You should go for the color that matches best with her other jewelry.

Personally, I always recommend going for a white gold ring since the bright color is nicely set up against a white gemstone. Gold does not highlight diamonds or other precious stones very well. But if you have a ring where the majority of the ring is not embezzled with stones, yellow gold is, of course, also super beautiful.

Which Carat Gold Should You Choose for an Engagement Ring?

An engagement ring is most often made of gold, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be gold colored—it can also be white gold or rose gold.

You can often choose from 9-10 karat, 14 karat, and 18 karat white gold. 14 karat is less pure than 18 karat, but 14 karat can be more durable than 18 karat white gold. The purer the gold, the softer it will be. Therefore, it’s not necessarily the best choice to go with a high karat if you want the ring to be more durable. Karat also has something to say about the color of the gold. If you choose a high karat, the yellow color will appear more gold and dark. In the picture below, you can see examples of the different hues.

Choose an Engagement Ring That Is Unique and Has Character

Even if your best friend has chosen a ring that is super beautiful, you should never choose something that looks like it or resembles it. A ring should reflect your partner’s and your unique relationship and should therefore also be unique. No girl wants to have the same engagement ring as their closest friend. Try to see if you can choose a ring that is personal and that tells a story about you as a couple.

Take a Look at Her Hand

Hands are different, and even if your partner is petite, her fingers may very well be large if they are heavily built. It may be an idea to look at it as it’s usually said that a thin and fine hand is nicer with a thin ring, whereas a larger hand looks nicer with a ring that has some fullness.

If she has wide fingers, I would recommend that you choose a ring with a double halo since this is an example of a ring that has fullness without you blowing the budget:

If she has a small hand, a solitaire ring can be a good choice since it’s simple, nice, and small:

Choose a Ring Size That (Almost) Fits

Keep in mind that this is a ring that will follow her for many years to come. It’s therefore a good idea to look into the future when choosing size. I would recommend that you do not choose a ring that fits too snug on the finger. It’s okay if there is a bit of room for the finger to expand. It could be that her hand grows over the years (which most people do) or maybe she gets pregnant and therefore gets a larger size for that reason.

Know the Four C’s

If you are certain that you want a diamond as the center stone, it’s important that you know the four Cs which are quality classifications for diamonds. Here is a brief overview:

Cut: A rating of how well a diamond is cut which affects how it captures light.

Color: A classification of how colorless a white diamond is.

Clarity: An assessment of how flawless a diamond is, both inside and out.

Carat: A weight measurement that can give you an idea of ​​how big a diamond is.

My Recommendation for the Quality of the Diamond

While each of the four Cs is important, jewelry experts and myself usually recommend prioritizing the cut when selecting a diamond. If a diamond has a poor quality, it will not reflect light well which will make it look dull and dirty. SI1, G-H is en average, good quality and a great choice for any diamond purchases. These qualities are usually the ones I recommend. If you want a ring with a lot of small diamonds, I would never go for SI1 since you don’t see the diamond quality here in the same way as with a large diamond.

Here are the different diamond qualities I can recommend:

Clarity: SI1

SI1 means that the diamond has some small inclusions in it. It may be small spots that are not visible to the naked eye. In fact, SI1 is the best clarity rating on the scale that has inclusions. So they are not visible to the eye no matter what angle you see the diamond from. To see the inclusions or imperfections in a SI1 clarity diamond, you have to use a microscope or a 10x jeweler magnifier. The inclusions are so small (which of course is a good thing).

All diamonds with a clarity rating below SI1 (i.e. SI2, I1, I2 and I3) have defects in them that you can visibly see from above or from the side.

So you get a beautiful diamond where the inclusions are well hidden at a great price if you choose SI1. You could go much higher up in clarity (such as FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2), but to the naked eye, you will not see much of a difference in these stones. It is only under a microscope that you will be able to see the difference, but honestly, how often will you see your diamond through a microscope?

That is what makes SI1 so popular a choice and clearly the reason why I would choose an SI1 diamond.

Color: G or H

Let’s take a look at the color since it, of course, also plays a role. The G-H color range means that the diamond is considered a “fine white” diamond. However, both are perfectly fine to buy. Both colors are in the high scale of colorlessness but not in the very top.

With a G- or H-colored diamond, it will look quite white (but considered off white). Most people do not see the difference between a G or H and a higher color on the scale. Diamonds with the color D, E, or F are the highest on the colorless scale. The colorless D, E, and F are beautiful, but they are also much more expensive. And since most people do not know the difference between a “fine white” diamond and a “pure white” (D, E, and F) diamond, why spend extra money on it?

You can also choose a lower color on the scale such as I, J, K, L, and M, but then you get into diamonds that start to have a yellow hue and it is not as beautiful as the fine white (though some do love the heat it can add to the diamond).

So stick to a white diamond within G or H and it will look brighter and whiter.

The Quality and the Price

Clarity, color, and price are of course what make SI1, G-H the most popular diamond qualities on the market. These are both great qualities where you also do not have to empty your bank account to afford them. If you want to spend the extra money on a diamond, then it’s better to take a step up in size and carat.

Does the Diamond I Buy Need a Certificate?

If you buy a larger diamond, always make sure you get a certificate. I always recommend choosing a diamond that is GIA certified. GIA certificates are commonly used in the jewelry industry to refer to diamonds that have undergone GIA’s rigorous grading process. So it’s a certificate on your diamond that guarantees that your SI1, G-H diamond is in fact a SI1, G-H diamond.

Browse Abelstedt’s engagement rings to find the ring that suits your and your partner’s preferences. In our collection we have a wide range of styles to choose from—both cheap engagement rings and engagement rings with a tailor-made service. This gives you the chance to find or design the perfect ring for you or your partner using our design team.

Frequently Asked Questions about Engagement Rings

Which Hand Should the Engagement Ring Be Worn On?

The engagement ring should be worn on the left hand on the ring finger. This should be kept in mind when choosing size since the right and left ring fingers are usually not exactly the same size.

In Western countries, the tradition of wearing the engagement ring on the fourth finger, i.e. the ring finger, can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. They believed that this finger had a vein that runs directly to the heart and it’s therefore called “Vena Amoris” which means “vein of love”. With the heart at the center of your emotions, the ring finger was therefore seen as being the best finger to wear the engagement ring on.

Can I Have a Ring Size Corrected If the Engagement Ring Does Not Fit?

Here it is important that you make the right choice the first time—at least as close as possible! If you buy a ring that is either too big or too small, most jewelers can adjust the size. It usually costs around $70 and takes about 10 days for a good jeweler to fix. The problem with this is that many engagement rings can become a bit more fragile from being adjusted in size. When making an engagement ring smaller, you cut a small piece off the bottom of the ring and then you press the ring together and weld it. You can not see that the ring has been made smaller, but it can have an effect on the prongs if there are many stones in the engagement ring. When the engagement ring is pressed together, the prongs that hold each stone in the ring can move. This can cause you to lose diamonds over time. Of course, this usually does not happen, but it’s important that you know the risks before you change the size of the engagement ring.

When you borrow one of her existing rings, make sure it’s one she wears on the same finger as the new ring you plan to buy. In this little guide, I give you some advice and guidance on how to find her size at home.

Can I Buy a Silver Engagement Ring?

You can easily make your proposal a memorable moment by giving her a beautiful silver ring which she will cherish forever but which hasn’t cost much. With all its sparkle, a silver engagement ring will certainly not be a bad choice. Many people today decide to buy a cheaper engagement ring. The reason can be many. In some cases, the couple would rather spend the money on a better honeymoon or a larger wedding. In other cases, an engagement ring in silver is used as a stand-in instead of a ring with real diamonds and in white gold. You should always go for the kind of ring that means something to you, no matter the price and design. A silver ring can easily do that.

Should I Buy My Engagement Ring Online and Is It Cheaper?

In most cases, engagement rings are 30-40% cheaper online than at physical jewelry retailers. Because of the way diamonds are sold and distributed, diamonds are cheaper for online retailers. By buying your engagement ring online, you get both a larger selection of conflict-free diamonds and competitive prices. At Abelstedt, we engrave your 10-18 karat engagement ring for free and deliver your ring in an unsurpassed packaging.

Why Choose Abelstedt for Her Engagement Ring?

Abelstedt has access to over 80% of the world’s polished diamond market. This means that you can choose exactly the diamond you want if you want to have a custom design made. We are a market leader in affordable, certified, and ethically manufactured diamonds. We offer comprehensive design options that allow you to purchase a ring that matches your most precise preferences. We can make all kinds of engagement rings in white gold and gold. Feel free to send us an email with your wish and we will get back to you as soon as possible with a no-obligation quote on her dream ring.

Buying an engagement ring can be a lengthy process and it’s perfectly normal to feel a little apprehensive. Our team of dedicated designers and jewelers offer you personalized customer service, both before and after you purchase your engagement ring.

For this reason, Abelstedt is proud to provide engagement rings of the utmost quality and elegance.

Through your purchase, you will also benefit from the following policies:

  • Lifetime warranty on all engagement rings
  • 30 day return policy
  • Free engraving
  • Beautiful wrapping
  • An extra small gift with the purchase of a diamond engagement ring

Join Julie Abelstedt's Jewelry World

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Join Julie Abelstedt's Jewelry World
New collections, style inspiration, exclusive pre-releases, and much more.

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