For the guys who have no idea where to start or just want to have all the information upfront!
BUDGET | THE 4 C’s | DIAMOND SHAPES | RING STYLES | METAL OPTIONS | RING SIZE
In this guide we will tell you every detail that goes into buying an engagement ring.
With big purchases comes big responsibility. We get it. It doesn’t help that this buying decision comes with entirely too many choices and options. For most young men, an engagement ring will be the most expensive thing they have ever bought. On top of that, many men have preconceived notions that jewelry stores are intimidating and that the staff will judge you if you aren’t spending thousands of dollars. This is far from the truth! Rest assured that there is no reason to stress. We are here to let you in on everything that goes into the process before you even enter our door. Also know that if necessary, we can help you through this process virtually.
Setting a Budget
This is the most important factor when planning on buying an engagement ring. This is mostly because diamonds & rings come in a dizzying array of choices resulting in an endless number of price points.
A popular budget estimate has been 2 months salary, but some customers spend more and some less than that amount. The important thing is that you are comfortable with what you’re spending. One tool we offer to assist with this is financing & layaway options. If you wish to expand your initial budget these are both great ways to pay for your ring over a period of time versus all at once. The best thing is you can always adjust your budget during the process!
The 4 C’s | Diamond Specifications
Breaking down the 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity, & Carat), this section can help you determine what you want to prioritize when picking a diamond. Our diamond specialists will walk you through each one and give you the opportunity to communicate what matters the most to you. This part of the process can also help you better decide on a budget if you haven’t quite figured that out yet.
The true beauty of a diamond can never be seen until it is properly cut. The angle between facets must be accurate to bring out the full fire and brilliance. Symmetry, polish, and where the weight of the diamond is placed, are also critical to the sparkle in a diamond. Potential Underwood’s diamonds must pass our rigid standards for cut before they are chosen to be in our store. Diamonds cut with poor proportions commonly have more depth which means they could be a 2 carat on paper, but look like a 1.5 carat when set. This is why at Underwood’s we only accept the most well cut diamonds and will even show you how diamonds that are ideally cut create hearts and arrows (as pictured).
This refers to the warmth, or interior color, of the diamond. A diamond that falls within the range of colorless to near colorless is truly rare. At Underwoods, we do not sell any diamonds past the near-colorless range.
The diamond’s internal characteristics are examined when grading for clarity. These “birthmarks” are often called feathers, crystals, clouds, or spots. Our diamond experts will explain the differences and why Underwood’s only chooses the top 5% of diamond quality available. These diamonds show little to no imperfections to the naked eye. One of our rules at Underwoods is that every diamond we sell must pass the microscope test, which is our ability to show customers their diamonds under a microscope and explain each internal characteristic.
Each diamond is accurately measured by carat weight. One carat equals 100 points; therefore, 50 points equal exactly one-half carat or .50 carat. It is important to note that due to the rarity of larger diamonds, as the diamond size gets larger, the price per carat increases at a much greater rate. For example, a one-carat diamond of equal quality to a one-half-carat diamond will cost three or four times as much rather than twice as much!
Choosing your Diamond Shape
Once you have decided your specifications the next step is to choose your diamond shape. There are two basic categories of shapes depending on how they are cut: brilliant cut & step cut diamonds.
Here are a few general guidelines regarding each shape and why you may want to pick one over the other. Different diamond shapes cater to different specifications, for example if carat weight means the most to you some shapes like marquise, ovals, and pears give off the appearance of being bigger. If you can’t decide on one shape in particular, we can also show you a selection and compare 2 or 3 different shapes.
We will also get into how you can do some research to figure out your significant other’s preferences without them knowing in the next section, “Picking a Ring Style.”
Brilliant Cut Shapes
[classic, timeless, historic]
Like how they say cash is king, round is right. You can not go wrong with round brilliant diamonds. Rounds also have on average the most sparkle (fire & brilliance), than any other diamond shape. Whether she has a simple, classy taste or a more edgy, unique taste, the round cut is a great choice. For the unique and edgy girls, you can bring their style into play by adding a colored gemstone halo or even unique, fancy shapes as side stones.
[calm, charming, rustic]
The cushion cut shape is for girls who love antique and raw styles. Its outline is an oval and round combination that allows you to enjoy the look of old-style radiance. Due to the cushion’s rounded edges, it is a common choice for girls with a soft side. You can also find this shape in either an elongated or shorter style. The cushion cut has recently gained popularity due to its appearance of having a more elongated surface area than emerald and oval cuts.
[crisp, refined, proper]
You can imagine this shape is perfect for the princess in your life. Because of the perfect square outline, the princess cut is the ultimate diamond shape for girls who like to run a tight ship. This shape offers similar brilliance and fire to the other brilliant cut shapes. They can come in an elongated style as well, but princess cuts always have 4 pointed corners. This shape is commonly found in 3-stone rings.
[cheerful, fabulous, bright]
With a similar outline to that of an Ascher cut but with more facets, the radiant cut is a great choice for those high-end girls that want the sparkle of a brilliant cut stone. You can imagine how it got its name from the amount of radiance this cut offers. This shape has become increasingly popular for anyone who wants a geometric shape with comparable fire and brilliance to a round brilliant. Radiants are also very similar to princess cuts. The only difference is that radiants have flat corners.
[elegant, minimal, traditional]
[artistic, organic, striking]
Here are two classic shapes that can offer traditionality or originality depending on how you style it. The popular three-stone ring is commonly set with oval diamonds, while marquise is a great statement shape that can be set alone. Both oval and marquise diamonds have recently gained popularity being set east to west or horizontally. This offers a modern take on the classic shape and even made it into our blog, “Classic Engagement Ring Trends Here to Stay.”
It is important to note that both shapes typically look larger face-up than other shapes of the same carat weight. If both shapes are not ideally cut with accurate proportions, they can have a “bow tie.” This is where light leaks through the bottom in the shape of a men’s bow tie. This is why we believe the cut is the most important grade on a diamond, as discussed in our section on the 4 C’s.
The pear cut is one of the most unique and increasingly popular modern shapes. It is essentially a combination of marquise and oval shapes. This means that it also can have a “bowtie” depending on its cut’s quality, which we discussed in the marquise/ oval section above. Although unique and artistic, the pear shape is elegant when set in a ring. Many famous and large diamonds have been pear-shaped. Also, like the marquise and oval cuts, pear-shaped diamonds look larger face up than other shapes.
[retro, unique, innovative]
[playful, creative, romantic]
These two are the least traditional and rarest shapes in engagement rings. With this being said, these cuts are a great option if she wants a ring that makes a statement or is a girl who wants something unlike everyone else. A great style for trillion cuts is setting two back to back, horizontally, for the appearance of a more geometric marquise shape. In recent years hearts have increased in popularity and are a great choice for super romantic couples. Most heart shapes have been found in Toi et Mois or two-stone rings accompanied by a pear shape. This can also be a great way to incorporate a unique pop of color into your ring by having one diamond and one birthstone or significant gemstone.
Step Cut Shapes
[regal, sleek, confident]
[tasteful, glamorous, luxe]
These shapes are step cut instead of brilliant cut, meaning they have fewer facets. This is important to remember because, in step cuts, you tend to see more internal imperfections versus brilliant cut stones. They also tend to reflect less light and don’t show as much fire and brilliance. Regardless, both shapes are commonly used in engagement rings. Both have a high-end ambiance to them. Emerald cut stones have a long history and are among the most common shapes in famous jewelry, including royal crown jewels. Ascher cuts have become increasingly popular in the last year. Each shape offers a tasteful and classy look.
Picking a Ring Style
Here are your options for figuring out the style of ring she wants and what to do if you have no idea.
- If you want the proposal to surprise her, one option is to ask her mom, siblings, or friends what she wants. The truth is most girls know & discuss what their dream engagement ring is before even meeting the man of their dreams!
- If you can’t get any sound advice from the people closest to her, there is a good chance she has some rings saved somewhere on her Pinterest page. If you don’t know what that is, Pinterest is a free site where girls and guys can save photo inspiration for homes, jewelry, fashion, art, food, and more. You can view her profile without her knowing and look through her boards for any evidence.
- If you still have no idea, our designer will happily offer you a recommendation based on your future fiance’s style.
- If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with our designer’s recommendations, it is never a bad idea to go with a solitaire setting. This means the ring would only have a center stone and metal band. The good news is that solitaire settings are extremely popular. I personally love a solitaire setting because it allows you to put your entire budget towards getting an extremely beautiful center stone. Another benefit of solitaire settings is that at any point in your relationship, you can easily upgrade or get your now-wife involved in redesigning a new setting.
Metal Type Options
One of the rarest and strongest metals in the world, it is a common metal choice for rings due to its durability. It is the most expensive option, but its longevity makes it worth it.
Made of pure gold and more silver colored alloys like Nickel and Palladium. It is then rhodium plated for a platinum like appearance. Over time this plating can fade but can be reapplied.
The most popular choice in recent years, it is slightly softer than platinum but can always be polished to buff out any scratches. We recommend 14K or 18K for its purity and durability.
How to get her ring size
Visit our already-written guide on how to get her ring size HERE! You will be interested to see all of the creative ways one can figure out the ring size of your significant other without them knowing.