How to Choose the *Perfect* Engagement Ring, According to an Expert

how to choose engagement ring uni
Ben Bridge/Digital Art by Dasha Burobina

Your Pinterest board is beautifully curated with your favorite engagement ring styles. You’ve tried on rings just for fun to see what looks best. You’ve secretly taken mental notes on every ring you’ve come across in your daily life. In short, you think you know exactly what you want. But let us tell you from experience, going through the process of buying said ring is a bit more involved than you’d think. Ahead, we’re offering up the five best tips on how to choose the one (the ring, silly), according to an expert.

Meet the Expert

Lisa Bridge is President and CEO of Ben Bridge Jeweler, a jewelry company with over 110 years of experience. As a fifth-generation leader, Ms. Bridge and her team of Personal Jewelers put an emphasis on bringing customers high-quality, responsibly sourced jewelry and exceptional personal service. Ben Bridge delivers expertise by having more Certified Gemologists than any other jeweler in the country, as well as many Registered Jewelers, so it should come as no surprise that they offer infinite customization and design abilities in their stores.

1. Set a Budget

First things first, and most importantly, come up with your budget. Before setting your budget, know that there are no hard and set rules about how much you need to spend on an engagement ring. It’s simply about what you can and feel comfortable paying (friendly reminder: no engagement ring is worth sinking yourself into debt). Your budget will also help narrow down the variety of ring options to choose from. Another important thing to decide is if you will pay in full right away or finance the ring. Hot tip: Head to your local Ben Bridge store to learn about their variety of financing options. Either way, your budget will be your guiding star through the buying process.

2. Nail Down the Style

As you already know, there are tons of engagement ring styles, from a timeless classic to cool and modern. When you’re determining the ring style, consider the type of jewelry you already wear (is it dainty or bold?), your lifestyle (are you very active with your hands?) and your fashion choices (casual or eccentric?). Answering these questions will immediately narrow down the styles that are the best option for you. And if you’re still feeling unsure, Ms. Bridge says, “Trust your instinct. Wait for a ring style to speak to you—you’ll know it when you see it. Ask yourself if it feels right and trust your answer.”

3. Choose a Diamond

The best part if you ask us. When picking a diamond, the first thing to decide is its shape. The most popular cut is a round diamond thanks to its brilliant sparkle, while princess and emerald cut diamonds offer a modern, symmetrical look. There are also pear-shaped diamonds for a more unique look or ovals, which give you a tad more surface area than the classic round. Once you’ve got your shape, consider the Four Cs: carat, cut, color and clarity.

  • Carat: This simply means the weight of the diamond. The higher the carat weight, the bigger the diamond. Keep this in mind for your budget: If the characteristics between two diamonds are identical aside from carat weight, the higher number will be the more expensive one.
  • Color: This refers to the lack of color in a diamond. Color is graded on a scale from D to Z, with D being the clearest (aka colorless) and Z having the most color (usually light yellow).
  • Clarity: This is when you’ll look for irregularities called inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external) in its natural formation. Generally, these are too small to notice without magnification, but they can still affect the overall look of a diamond. Like color, clarity is graded on a scale under 10x magnification from FL (flawless) indicating no inclusions or blemishes to 13, indicating obvious inclusions.
  • Cut: This is often confused with shape but know that the cut and shape of a diamond are not the same. Shape focuses mostly on the outer edge of the diamond whereas the cut of a diamond is a detailed rating of how the facets work together to bounce light and determine its overall brilliance. Cut is usually graded from Excellent to Poor and is based on the shape of the diamond.

4. Find the Perfect Ring

Now that you’ve chosen a diamond, you’ll need to find the setting. Here is where you’ll use all the information you gathered about your personal style. “If you are very active or use your hands at work, opt for a style that is set lower or perhaps utilizes a bezel setting that would protect and secure the diamond,” Ms. Bridge recommends. On the flip side, you can opt for a statement setting with accent diamonds or intricate details.

You’ll also want to consider all this information for deciding how the diamond is secured in the ring. For instance, a sturdier halo setting would be a better option than a prong setting for someone whose ring might take a beating. Then, move on to the metal type. The four most common choices are white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum, which is the most durable metal. Choose your metal color to accent the color of the stone and don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Finally, move on to ring size. The best way to get sized properly is to go to a jeweler and have them do it for you. If that isn’t an option, Ben Bridge offers a handy printable ring sizer to help approximate the measurement. And if you don’t get the sizing right, most ring settings can easily be resized.

5. Purchase the Ring

After what feels like one thousand decisions, you’re ready to make it legal. A reminder at this stage: Don’t forget to get the ring insured. This is a major purchase, and you want to make sure you are protecting it properly. Lastly, Ms. Bridge says, “Remember this is your ring and should be expressive of you and your love. It’s okay if it doesn’t speak to everyone else, as long as it brings you joy.”


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