Love don’t cost a thing, but an engagement ring can set you back several months’ salary. Finding a ring can be an expensive endeavor, and it’s easy to misstep and overpay without proper preparation.

To help you navigate your way through the world of sparkling glass cases, we’ve drawn up a comprehensive article on engagement jewelry shopping. Below, see tips for choosing a ring and finding the right jeweler for your needs.

You’ll discover the best place to buy an engagement ring, based on what matters most to you and your partner…

In This Article:

  • What to Look for in an Engagement Ring

  • The 5 Best Places to Buy an Engagement Ring

    • Best Overall
    • Best Selection
    • Best If Budget Is Your Concern
    • Best If Top Quality Is Your Concern
    • Best Place If Purchasing In-Person Is Your Concern

What to Look for in an Engagement Ring

Before setting off to buy a ring, you should have a rough idea of what you are looking for. Here are some things to consider:

Budget: The age-old adage decreed that gentlemen should spend anywhere from one to three month’s salary on an engagement ring. However, many industry experts now agree that the one-to-three-months’-salary rule is dated and impractical. Abandon that antiquated standard and set a firm budget appropriate for your financial situation.

Size: Before shopping, you’ll also need to know your spouse-to-be’s ring size. We recommend borrowing a ring from her jewelry box for the afternoon or tracing a circle around the inside of the ring on a piece of paper to bring along to the store.

Style: To determine the right style and cut, consider your future fiance’s lifestyle, job, and tastes. Turn to her friends for insight. You can also take a peek into her jewelry box, and keep an eye out for pieces that catch her eye the next time the two of you pass the jewelry section at a store. Alternatively, if you don’t mind losing the element of surprise, consider proposing beforehand and taking your fiance ring shopping with you.

Diamonds: We’d like to preface this section by noting non-diamond engagement rings are increasingly popular, and you should feel free to consider other gemstones and styles. That said, if you’re going the classic route, familiarize yourself with the “four C’s”: cut, carat, color, and clarity. Learn how to choose a diamond for your engagement ring.

The 5 Best Places to Buy an Engagement Ring

Once you know what you’re looking for in an engagement ring, you can determine the right place to buy one. Work with a business you can trust; ideally, an established jeweler that specializes in loose diamonds and fine jewelry. Look for businesses accredited by the Jewelers of America or Gemological Institute of America, which have stringent standards for jewel quality and customer service. Be sure to review your jeweler’s return policy to ensure you are comfortable with the terms. Consider online retailers over brick-and-mortar jewelry chains because online retailers usually have larger selections and are able to secure more competitive pricing, thanks to non-commissioned specialists and smaller overhead costs.

To help you locate a reputable, quality vendor, we’ve researched top jewelers for 2017. Read on to learn the five best places to buy a ring based on your unique circumstances.

Best Overall: James Allen

A trailblazer in diamond e-commerce, James Allen upstages fellow online jewelers and brick-and-mortar stores alike with its “Diamond Display Technology.” The unique feature lets you view diamonds at a 15 times or greater magnification in 360 degrees.

  • Diamonds. James Allen boasts a selection of more than 150,000 conflict-free diamonds, which are certified to come from areas untouched by civil wars, environmental destruction, and human rights violations.
  • Pricing. As on online retailer, James Allen typically offers diamonds that are less expensive than brick-and-mortar competitors.
  • Customer service. The company is staffed by a team of in-house gemologists who provide real-time inspections and post-purchase support. Customer service is prompt and available 24/7, so you receive answers to your inquiries within seconds at virtually any hour of the night. You can contact customer service via phone, email, or live chat to speak with non-commissioned specialists.
  • Shipping and return policy. The company offers free FedEx shipping worldwide. James Allen backs products with a lifetime warranty, promising to “repair and maintain jewelry for a lifetime.” You can return your diamond to James Allen for free any time within 30 days for a full refund. Unlike most other retailers, James Allen pays for return shipping. See the full James Allen shipping and return policies.

Best Selection: Blue Nile

Blue Nile sets itself apart from competitors with its huge inventory, featuring a selection of an estimated 190,000 diamonds and a greater number of unique gemstones.

  • Diamonds. Blue Nile restricts its selection to conflict-free diamonds. Blue Nile may not show diamonds in high-definition interactive imagery like James Allen, but the respected retailer does accompany each of its diamonds with a detailed list of characteristics, including cut, color, clarity, and carat.
  • Pricing. The jeweler advertises that its prices are, on average, 20 to 40 percent lower than its competitors, and supports this claim with its “Blue Diamond Price Match Guarantee.” According to the guarantee, the company will match the price if you find a comparable GIA-graded diamond at a lower cost.
  • Customer service. You can contact customer service 24/7 via phone, email, or live chat to speak with non-commissioned experts.
  • Shipping and return policy. Blue Nile offers free FedEx shipping on all orders, though you must cover postage if you decide to make a return. You can return a non-engraved ring in its original condition for up to 30 days after it was shipped. See the Blue Nile shipping and return policies.

Best if Budget is Your Concern: B2C Jewels

While all of the online jewelers included in this article have excellent reputations and competitive prices,  B2C Jewels stands out with its particularly low price tags on top-quality diamonds.

  • Diamonds. B2C Jewels offers a diverse collection of around 160,000 conflict-free designer diamonds.
  • Pricing. At B2C Jewels, you’ll find a range of price points anywhere from 25 to 50 percent less than retail price. B2C Jewels also features a clearance collection, where you may discover engagement rings at up to 50 percent off their already-low prices. Committed to providing the best prices, B2C Jewels backs its loose diamonds with a price match guarantee. According to this policy, if you find the same diamond at another online retail for a lower cost, B2C Jewels will match that price.
  • Customer service. B2C Jewels offers 24-hour customer service Monday through Saturday via email, live chat, and phone. Contact customer service to speak with non-commissioned jewelry consultants.
  • Shipping and return policy. B2C Jewels also offers free UPS shipping and free returns within 30 days. All B2C Jewels products come with a one-year warranty that covers defects from normal wear. See the B2C Jewels shipping and return policies.

Best if Top Quality is Your Concern: Brian Gavin Diamonds

A fifth generation diamond cutter, Brian Gavin is renowned in the diamond industry for helping to develop the standard for grading a Hearts and Arrows diamond. His grading method is widely regarded as the industry standard to this day.

  • Diamonds. Today, Brian Gavin Diamonds is celebrated for its Signature Selection of round and cushion Hearts and Arrow diamonds. The Hearts and Arrows diamond is a “super-ideal” cut variation on the traditional round brilliant diamond. It is referred to as super-ideal because it has been precision-cut with ideal proportions to achieve optimal brilliance and scintillation. When viewed under a microscope, a true Hearts and Arrow diamond will reveal a pattern of eight symmetrical arrows when facing up, and eight symmetrical hearts when facing down. In addition to Hearts and Arrow diamonds, the Brian Gavin collection includes a variety of other ideal-cut diamonds, including Brian Gavin Princess and Ryan Gavin Cape. Brian Gavin Diamonds products are certified conflict-free.
  • Pricing. Generally, Brian Gavin diamonds are on the more expensive side. Hearts and Arrow and other super-ideal cut stones require more time, technique, and expertise than your average diamond. Still, the company assures consumers that diamond prices are “much lower than in retail stores.”
  • Customer service. Customer service specialists are available via phone, email, or live chat during CT business hours. Contact customer service to speak with non-commissioned staffers.
  • Shipping. Brian Gavin offers free shipping via FedEx and accepts returns within 15 days of delivery. See the Brian Gavin shipping and return policies.

Best Place if Purchasing In-Person is Your Concern: Independent Jewelers

If you’re determined to purchase a ring in-person, your best bet may lie with an independent jeweler. Major chain jewelers like Tiffany & Co., Jared, and Zales lure consumers in with advertising and reputation, then mark up their diamonds to as much as four times their market value. When you purchase an engagement ring from an upscale chain, you pay extra for the brand name. You’re likely to find much fairer prices at independent jewelry stores in your area, as well as more unique options and styles. And unlike many chain stores, you may have the ability to negotiate a lower price at independent jewelers.

There may be many reputable independent jewelers in your area. To find them, research reviews and look for certification from jewelry trade associations, such as the Jewelers of America or Gemological Institute of America.

In Summary

Before shopping for an engagement ring, it’s important to establish a firm budget and research retailers to determine the ideal company for you. You’ll need to know your fiance’s ring size and be familiar with her style preferences. If you’re going for a diamond, have a rough idea about the four C’s: cut, carat, color, and clarity. When in doubt, reach out to your jeweler of choice, who should be staffed with non-commissioned experts eager to help.

If you’re trying to get the best price on an engagement ring, stick to established online retailers, as they are able to secure more competitive pricing. If you’re determined to inspect the ring in person, however, head to an independent jeweler.

And now you know the best place to buy engagement ring, based on what matters to you and your partner.