Ring Buying Guide

All that you need to know about ring styles, diamonds, gemstones, metals, and sizes to make the best choice for your special day can be found in this guide.


When buying an engagement ring, whether you are choosing together or planning to surprise your sweetheart, you will need to consider ring style, ring settings, gemstone, and precious metal such as yellow gold, rose gold, or white gold.


Set a Budget

Start your search by establishing a realistic budget. Over the past few decades, diamond companies have marketed the idea that an engagement ring should cost the equivalent of one, two, or even three month’s salary. These “rules” should be ignored in favor of what feels right for your partner and you. An engagement ring can cost anywhere between three to six figures. How much you spend is a completely personal choice. With online jewelry stores like James Allen and Blue Nile, it’s easier to find value for money than shopping at a traditional offline jewelry store.

Choose a Style

It’s best to choose a style compatible with her lifestyle and personal style. Is there a ring she’s always dreamed of or pointed out to you previously? Pay close attention to any hints she may be giving you. Study the jewelry she already owns. The ring selection process can begin with a style, a gemstone shape, or a gemstone type, depending on the information you have available.

Classic Ring

If she is drawn towards the traditional, look for designs that are timeless. No ring style is more classic than a solitaire in an elegant four or six-prong setting. For a touch more glamour, consider a ring with a delicate diamond band or halo.

Design Guide With Accents
Fuss-Free & Natural Ring

Does she prefer to keep her style fuss-free? Maybe she doesn’t wear jewelry at all. In that case, a low-set solitaire or bezel-set ring might be the right choice. A secure bezel setting is particularly suitable for women with hands-on jobs or active lifestyles. If she’s a nature lover, consider a nature-inspired design.

Glamourous Ring

If she loves a touch of glamour, her preference might be a halo or accent stone ring. Embellished with gemstone accents, these styles will give you maximum sparkle. A halo will also make the center stone appear larger than it actually is.

Accent stone
Romantic Ring

Is she more of a dreamy romantic? A woman drawn to other eras might love a ring with the antique look of milgrain or filigree. Rings that combine diamond and colored gemstones also have a very vintage feel. Classic pairings include diamond and ruby, blue sapphire, or emerald.

Design Guide Cluster
Unique Ring

If you have a dream ring in mind or are looking for something that is absolutely one of a kind, we can help. A custom design service can help turn your vision into reality with unique ring designs.

Design Guide Vintage
Vintage Ring

Traditional, antique, and old-world designs are for vintage ring lovers. These different ring styles include Art Deco, estate pieces, Victorian and Edwardian eras. Vintage collections have unique ring shapes and settings that are instantly recognizable by the discerning viewer.

For a complete guide to ring styles, see our Engagement Ring or Wedding Ring Guides

Choose a Gemstone

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Whether you select a diamond, precious gemstone, or semiprecious gemstone for your ring, will depend on both personal preference and budget.

Today, a white diamond is without a doubt the most popular choice for engagement rings. Diamonds offer incredible brilliance and unmatched durability, both highly desirable qualities for jewelry.

However, the popularity of colored gemstones rings is growing. For example, the stunning blue sapphire ring worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, which has inspired thousands of brides-to-be to choose sapphire too.

Colored gemstones offer a wide variety of hues, from the deep blood red of ruby to the vibrant sky blue of blue topaz. Couples often choose colored stones because it has personal significance, whether it’s her birthstone, favorite color, or representative of something meaningful.

If you are shopping on a budget, colored gemstones can also be a more affordable option. Just remember to keep durability in mind, as hardness varies significantly from gemstone to gemstone.

For a complete guide to gemstones, visit Gemstone Education.

Choose a Metal

Setting Metals 1

Most engagement rings are made from platinum, white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold. Each has its own pros and cons, such as cost, durability, and required upkeep. For a comparison of metal properties, visit Precious Metals Education.

However, the best place to start is color. Identifying which precious metal color she prefers may be as simple as noticing the jewelry she wears. If all her jewelry is white metal, she is likely to prefer ring metals in platinum or white gold.

Another factor to consider is your chosen gemstone color. Some gemstones look better paired with certain color metals. Blue sapphire, for instance, looks most radiant set in white metal. Whereas green gemstones like emerald look beautiful in a white or yellow setting.

Know the Ring Size

Find The Correct Ring Size

The last step before ordering your ring is to confirm the ring size. Visiting a jeweler for professional ring sizing is undoubtedly the most accurate method for determining finger size. But if that’s not possible, don’t worry! There are easier methods you can try at home. Visit the size guide page for tips on how to use our printable ring sizer. Alternatively, click here to use James Allen’s Virtual Ring Sizer.

If you want to determine your fiancé or partner’s ring size without ruining the surprise, you can try measuring a ring band she already wears on the same finger or asking someone close to her.

What if the ring you order turns out to be the wrong size? Most reputable jewelers offer a return policy, so you can exchange your ring for the correct size.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are engagement rings?

Engagement rings range in price from just a hundred dollars up to millions of dollars! Of course, how much you spend will depend on how much you earn, with the consensus being that you should spend two month’s salary on an engagement ring. In effect, you should spend $4,000 on a ring if you earn $2,000 per month.

How to measure your ring size?

There are several ways that you can measure your ring size at home. Most online jewelry stores will be happy to send you a free plastic ring sizer, while it is also easy to download paper ones. Another method is to use a piece of paper or string, wrap it around your finger, mark the size and compare it to a sizing chart. You can also check out our ring size guide for more information.

Which hand does the engagement ring go on?

In the West, an engagement ring would typically go on the ring finger (third finger) of the left hand. According to the Ancient Romans, a vein known as the Vena Amoris (Vein of Love) travels from the finger directly to the heart. It is, therefore, viewed as being a symbol of love.

How much is a 2 carat diamond?

It is important to recognise that the price of diamonds doesn’t increase proportionately with the number of carats. A 2 carat diamond will range in price from $5,000 to $60,000 in the current market conditions. The large price differentiation is due to the quality of the cut, the clarity and the colour of the stone along with numerous other factors.

How to choose an engagement ring?

As an engagement ring is intended to be kept for life, you mustn’t focus on current trends. You should select a ring that both you and your partner will like and will hold sentimental value. Usually, you would expect to pay around two month’s salary for the ring, so this should give you some indication.

How big is a 2 carat diamond?

The size of a diamond will depend very much on the cut, but assuming that the stone is a two-carat round brilliant cut diamond, it will have a diameter of roughly 8.1mm. Of course, this can vary significantly, but this would be regarded as the “industry” average.

How do you know what ring looks good on you?

When choosing a ring consider the length and width of you or the person’s finger as well as the overall size of the hand and what shape and size of the main stone would best fit the dimensions on the finger and hand along with the width and style of the ring itself.

How much should you spend on a ring?

A generation ago, a man was expected to spend one month’s salary on an engagement ring, but the generally accepted “norm” these days is two month’s salary. This means that if you earn $1,000 each month, the engagement ring should cost $2,000.

How do I choose a wedding ring?

Refer to our comprehensive shoppers’ handbook to wedding rings here.

How to choose a diamond ring?

When buying an engagement ring or wedding ring with a diamond as its featured stone, you need to consider your personal tastes but also how it looks on the hand along with the different ring settings. The overall quality of a diamond will be determined by a selection of the 4 C characteristics, some of which occur naturally. As some characteristics cant be determined by the naked eye, employing the services of diamond experts to find out about the diamond quality grading before buying a ring.

How to find ring size?

If you want to determine your fiancé or partner’s ring size without ruining the surprise, you can try measuring a ring band she already wears on the same finger or asking someone close to her.

Most popular engagement ring styles?

Many brides are opting for band style rings that can serve as both an engagement and wedding ring. Other popular ring styles are solitaire and 3 stone engagement ring settings using both diamonds and also colored gemstones.

How do I choose the right ring for my finger?

To find a flattering ring for your hand consider your finger length and width. For long, thin fingers, princess-cut and round stones are well suited and wider bands tend to complement length. For short fingers, rectangular emerald-cuts, oval, pear or marquise stones help lengthen the appearance of fingers. To flatter wide fingers, cluster styles and round stones in larger settings with a medium-to-thick band.

How do I know what kind of engagement ring I want?

You need to research to discover what kinds of shapes and styles you like. Consider types of precious gems that you like. Look at trends and also consider classic ring types. Engagement rings are such as personal preference.

What kind of ring do you propose with?

An engagement band usually has a raised setting and can be worn to fit side by side with the wedding ring that is exchanged during the wedding ceremony. Wedding bands tend to have a simple shape.

How many carats should an engagement ring be?

That depends on your budget and ring type, but the average carat weight is around 0.8 to 1.2 carats for engagement rings.

What is the most timeless engagement ring?

Solitaire diamond engagement rings have stood the test of time and remain an enduring favourite amongst to-be brides.

Should a woman pick her engagement ring?

Couples do look for engagement rings together. There are no rules on whether a woman should or shouldn’t pick out her ring- it is what best works for the couple.

Who buys the man’s wedding ring?

It is a tradition that the bride and/or her family buy the groom’s wedding ring.

What ring shape makes fingers look thinner?

 Asymmetrical and angular shapes, like the emerald-cut diamonds or vertically-set, elongated diamond shapes, such as oval, pear or marquise cuts can have a slimming look.

Why are cluster diamonds cheaper?

Cluster rings are composed of lots of tiny diamonds or gemstones and are easier to manufacture that solitaire styles for example. They are generally less expensive due to the lower carat weight.

Is 0.5 carat diamond too small?

 A half carat diamond is around 5.1mm in diameter. This can still make for a stunning looking engagement ring. Size is a personal choice.

Do couples go engagement ring shopping together?

Traditionally an engagement ring is meant to come as a surprise, but these days more couples are choosing to shop together.