June is traditionally the month for weddings, thanks to its age-old association with the Roman goddess Juno, but with over 6.5 million confirmed cases of Coronavirus worldwide before the first half of 2020 is over, more than a few wedding plans are in disarray.
Unfortunately, restrictions may mean it isn’t possible to go into a physical jewellery store to choose an engagement ring. If you had your heart set on doing this with your partner or a family member, you may feel understandably disappointed. But all is not lost.
Thankfully, it has become easier than ever to buy an engagement ring online. In this guide, we will take you through all the considerations, from setting a budget to choosing the right size and style and having it safely delivered, even during a pandemic.
WHAT SHOULD MY BUDGET BE?
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon
There’s been a long-standing benchmark that an engagement ring should be equivalent to three months' salary. This is incredibly unrealistic in a climate where around 13% of the entire nation is currently out of work.
The Knot reports that the average engagement ring costs about $5,900. However, a third of all individuals spend $3,000 or less on the ring, with some going below $1,000. If money’s tight, this is entirely appropriate.
Given the rippling effects of the pandemic on our economy, your budget should be whatever you can safely and comfortably pay. Choosing a jeweller like Blue Nile, which offers a diamond upgrade program, means you can use the full value of your original diamond purchase towards a larger stone at a later date.
SHOULD I DO THIS ALONE OR DECIDE WITH MY PARTNER?
This is entirely a personal decision but we know from research that 40% of women do want to be involved in the ring selection process, with input on details like stones and material, while others like being surprised.
Since there’s no universal answer, the best option is to talk to your partner and ask what they prefer. You may also want to talk to their family members, especially anyone who knows that you’re going to get engaged if you want the ring to be a surprise.
HOW DO I GET THE RIGHT BAND SIZE?
Engagement rings for women (and men) come in many sizes and ensuring a comfortable fit is essential. Fortunately, this isn’t as hard as many people believe it is. There’s a good chance that a female partner already knows her ring size, but if not, here’s how to get the best fit.
If you are measuring at home, start by waiting until midday. Fingers tend to change size slightly throughout the day, so midday is the best time to check. Also, avoid strenuous activity (which can swell fingers) as well as salty foods.
If you want to keep the proposal a surprise, borrow one of your significant other’s rings (from the correct finger) and use the ring measurements on our printable guide to determine its size. We can also send you a free ring sizer to help you measure. Remember to have it shipped to a location where the surprise won’t be ruined!
If you’re still not sure what size will fit best, go larger, not smaller. A ring that’s too large will still slide over the knuckle and can be resized after your proposal.
WHAT SETTING AND STYLE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Style is a personal choice, so if the ring is a surprise, some research will be required to determine what suits your significant other’s taste.
Single solitaire diamond engagement rings are the ultimate classic. Timeless, and perfect for highlighting your choice of diamond, whether that be round-brilliant-cut, cushion-cut, princess-cut, or another fancy diamond shape of your choice.
For the non-traditionalist, there are many other unique choices including oval diamond engagement rings, gemstone rings, vintage engagement rings, pave engagement rings and halo engagement ring settings. For more advice, take a look at our guide to engagement ring styles and settings.
WHAT METAL IS BEST?
Again, there is no single answer here. The best metal for an engagement ring is one that looks good with your partner’s other jewellery and fit with their overall style. If they wear a lot of silver, for example, then a gold engagement ring may not be a good choice.
Platinum is our most popular metal for engagement rings and wedding bands. It has a naturally white sheen that will never fade or change colour, and accentuates the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond. Platinum is also exceptionally durable when compared to other metals. This makes it a good choice for people with active and outdoor lifestyles. Platinum will last forever, making it the ultimate symbol for everlasting love.
There are many other precious metals to choose from including white gold, silver, gold and cobalt, all of which have their own unique characteristics. For more information, take a look at our guide to precious metals.
WHAT STONE(S) SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Diamonds are easily the most popular choice for engagement rings for women. The sparkle and strength of diamonds are truly unrivaled. For a timeless engagement ring, diamonds are a very safe bet.
But that’s not to say diamonds are for everyone. You can step away from diamonds to focus on alternatives like gemstones including Aquamarine, opal, amethyst, sapphire and garnet.
For men, onyx is a popular choice thanks to its simplicity and it tends to work with most outfits.
When choosing, it’s worth considering the colour - will it match your partner’s style? You should also look at the clarity, cut, size, enhancements and durability. Many gemstones are durable for everyday wear, yet other gemstones may require special care. Find out more in our guide to gemstones.
WHAT ARE THE 4 C'S?
When buying an engagement ring online, you will no doubt be very focused on getting the best quality diamond for your budget. Look for independent certification of the diamonds by a respected and accurate lab like the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA). This way you can be sure the diamonds have been accurately graded without bias.
The 4C’s are the primary factors used to judge the overall quality and value of a diamond. These include:
- CUT: The cut of a diamond is the most important as determines how well it reflects light and sparkles.
- COLOUR: Colour is the second most important factor as the less colour there is in the diamond, the more valuable it is. This is graded from D (most clear) to Z (light yellow or brownish)
- CLARITY: Clarity is judged by the number and severity of imperfections on the surface (blemishes) or interior (inclusions) of a diamond, as judged under 10x magnification. Most flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
- CARAT WEIGHT: Finally, diamonds are evaluated by their weight in carats, not size.
All of these factors impact the quality, and therefore the price, of a given diamond. A diamond with a perfect cut but low clarity isn’t nearly as valuable. Similarly, a diamond with a brilliant shine may be worth less than a duller, but much larger, stone. Learn more about the 4C’s to help you choose the right diamond.
HOW FAST CAN A COMPANY CREATE A RING?
That depends on whether you are choosing a ready-made engagement ring of having something custom-made. Blue Nile offers a selection of Ready-to-Ship engagement rings which can be shipped straight away. This is the fastest way to get an engagement ring during the pandemic.
If you are looking for something more unique, another useful way to purchase your engagement ring online is by using our Build Your Ring ® service, which enables you to choose a diamond and a setting with your budget in mind.
HOW IS THE RING SAFELY DELIVERED?
One of the biggest concerns people have when buying an engagement ring online is how it can be safely delivered. Blue Nile uses secure, non-descript packaging material. Inside, you'll see Blue Nile's elegantly branded gift packaging.
Look for jewellery companies who use reputable delivery services. Blue Nile offers free US shipping on all orders using FedEx and can deliver as fast as overnight for urgent orders.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO RETURN IT?
An engagement ring is a big purchase, so what happens if it’s not right? This depends on store policies. Many stores do not accept returns for customized jewellery, in part because they may not be able to sell that ring to anybody else, so it’s important to check an online store’s return policies before you go through with a purchase.
Blue Nile offers free and secure 30-day returns and exchanges on all purchases, so you can have peace of mind.
Remember to check for return and protection information before you buy. Not all online dealers are reputable. Take screenshots of their website and coverage information before you buy from them. If there’s a problem, you can use this as evidence in a dispute, and chances are your financial institution will support you
ARE THERE ANY WARRANTY OPTIONS?
Whether you are buying an engagement ring online or in-store, it’s important to check that your ring is protected by a manufacturer's warranty. These protect against defects in manufacturing. Blue Nile offers a lifetime manufacturer warranty on all items.
CAN I GET CONFLICT-FREE DIAMONDS?
Absolutely. For conscious couples buying an engagement ring online, we recommend looking for retailers who guarantee conflict-free diamonds, where no unethical practices are involved in the supply chain.
Here at Blue Nile, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds. We only purchase diamonds through the most reputable suppliers who adhere to the standards established by the Kimberley Process. All Blue Nile diamonds are warranted to be conflict-free.
If you have been planning to pop the question to your soul mate but are worried about buying an engagement ring online, hopefully, this article has answered many of your burning questions and put your mind at ease. Planning a beautiful and unique proposal during the pandemic is still possible, including the perfect ring. Now the only thing left to do it pluck up the courage to ask!