Today’s couples often take a collaborative approach to marriage. Instead of the hopeful groom surprising the bride with an impromptu proposal, many couples decide together that they should get married. And they go shopping after the joint decision is settled on.
This approach takes a great deal of pressure off the would-be asker. You won’t have to make guesses about her style and preferences. But on the other hand, you have to work out details about the budget together, too. And that can be a little, shall we say, unromantic?
To preserve the drama and surprise of the moment, some still opt for a “surprise” proposal. On average, men spend about three months exploring their options and researching engagement rings before they make a purchase. All of that time is well spent if you propose with a ring that not only fits but also meets her criteria for a beautiful piece of jewellery that she wants to wear forever.
Choosing the perfect engagement ring takes a great deal of consideration. You’ll need to think about her lifestyle and fashion sense. This will be a piece of jewellery she’ll wear every day of her life. It needs to be durable as well as lovely, and it should reflect your love and commitment to her.
If your pulse is now speeding up, take a deep breath. Though daunting, choosing her ring isn’t as scary as it seems. You just need a bit of know-how and some common sense. We’ll provide the background you need to choose a beautiful engagement ring at a cost that fits your budget. Let’s get started.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
How Much Should I Spend?
Where Should I Shop?
Choosing Your Diamond
Customising Your Ring
Choosing a Style and Setting
Insuring Your Ring
How Much Should I Spend?
Setting a budget is one of the most critical steps, but it’s a step that’s often neglected. Without parameters for your purchase, the shopping process can seem overwhelming and dangerous to your financial health. Australians spend, on average, around $5,000 for an engagement ring, but that doesn’t mean you have to aim for average. Depending on your current situation and other wedding expenses, you may choose to spend less or more than average.
You’ll also hear plenty of myths surrounding how much you spend on a ring. For example, you may have heard that an engagement ring should cost two months’ salary. That rule of thumb originated from a De Beers ad campaign many decades ago.
When it comes down to it, only you can decide the right budget for your purchase.
It doesn’t matter how much you spend on a ring, as this isn’t necessarily connected to how beautiful your ring will be. Take this Natalie Mariehandmade trio ring, featuring a marquise-cut Rutilated Quartz centre and two trillion cut white diamond sides. At $2585, the ring is well below the national average, but it’s absolutely gorgeous and the just-right piece for a lucky bride.
Once you start looking around, you’ll see there’s no reason to go into debt for an engagement ring. By establishing a budget, you’ll narrow your options and make it easier for the jeweller to help you find options within your chosen price range.
Where Should I Shop?
The cost of an engagement ring can vary depending on where you shop, but with so many talented Australian jewellers out there, prices are competitive. These days, one of the biggest shopping questions is this: should I buy the ring online or in a physical store?
The most apparent benefit of purchasing an engagement ring at a brick-and-mortar store is that you can see, touch, and even try on the ring before you buy it. It’s nearly impossible to judge the size and scale of a ring from a digital image. And when you shop for a diamond in person, you can hold stones in your hand and see the way their facets reflect light.
If you buy the ring from your local jeweller, you can easily take the ring in for cleanings, check-ups and resizing, if necessary. And it’s nice to build a lasting relationship with a jeweller you trust. With Q Report insurance, you can always return to your chosen jeweller for repairs or replacement.
On the other hand, shopping online offers boundless options, competitive prices, and the ability to compare various styles and prices effortlessly. Even if you don’t end up purchasing your ring online, you won’t find a better way to research your options.
The internet has changed the nature of jewellery shopping. If you’re not particular about seeing the stone before you purchase, you can save upwards of 20% on your diamond. In addition to seemingly endless choices, you can also mix and match the 4Cs (clarity, cut, carat and colour) to ensure that you find the perfect stone in your budget.
Online stores also have very competitive prices, and most have excellent after-sales services, such as resizing and returns. Gary Thyregod Jewellery, for example, offers a goods exchange or refund on damaged, incorrect or faulty goods within 14 days of an online purchase for any of their pieces, such as this Diamond and Ceylonese Sapphire ring.
One winning strategy is to combine the benefits of physical stores and online stores when narrowing down your selections. You might begin by exploring the rings at local jewellery shops and trying them on for size and style. With a better idea of what you like, you can check out your online options and ring other local jewellers to see if they offer your favourite styles.
Choosing Your Diamond
When it comes to an engagement ring’s cost, the diamond often holds the lion’s share of the value. Before we dive into the ins and outs of diamond pricing, let’s take a step back.
Although coloured gemstones have been trending in wedding jewellery, diamonds are still the number one choice for engagement rings. At this point, there’s no indication this will change anytime soon. More than 4 in 5 couples choose a ring with a diamond as its featured gem.
If you opt for a diamond, selecting the stone is a big step. For in-depth information on this diamond pricing, check out our Guide to Diamond Prices.
When choosing a diamond, you’ll need to be well-versed in the 4 C’s, cut, colour, clarity and carat weight. With a solid understanding of these components, you can play around with different combinations to find a stone that best suits your ring and offers the best value for your budget.
With such a big purchase, it’s critical that you see the diamond clearly before you purchase it. Many online jewellery stores provide multiple images and a grading report of each diamond, but it’s essential to keep in mind that two diamonds with similar grading reports can have astonishingly different looks. Ultimately, you want a diamond that is eye-clean (with no apparent defects) and no unsightly tints.
You’ve set the stage, lit the candles and timed the sunset. At just the right moment, you present that stunning sparkler and find that...it doesn’t fit!
Avoid this unfortunate situation if you can. If it happens, however, don’t despair. You can always take the ring back to your jeweller for resizing. Apart from certain styles like eternity bands and tension settings (which need to be entirely re-built if they don’t fit), retailers like Xennox Diamonds offer free resizing following a purchase. To avoid potential issues, check on resizing conditions and options for your particular piece of jewellery, no matter where you buy your engagement ring.
But if you want to avoid the problem altogether, take precautions to avoid buying the wrong size in the first place. You can download a ring sizer guide online for free here.
Are you looking for a method of ascertaining her size on the sly? Wear a ring that fits her finger perfectly and make a mark (with a pen or marker) at the point where it stops on your finger. Wrap a piece of yarn or thread around your finger at that point. Fold the yarn in half to find the diameter. With this measurement, you can use the ring sizer to find the accurate size. You can also outline the inner circle of the ring on paper and use this to measure out the diameter.
If you’re afraid your geometry skills aren’t up to par, simply “borrow” a ring that you know fits her perfectly, and take it to your favourite jeweller to be measured.
If none of the above tips seems feasible, remember that it’s always easier and simpler for the jeweller to make a ring smaller than to make it bigger. Err on the large size if you can’t ensure a perfect fit from the start, but remember that it’s difficult (and sometimes impossible) to resize a ring more than two sizes in either direction.
Customising Your Ring
A custom ring sounds expensive, so many people with limited budgets tend to avoid customisation altogether. But before you skim on to the next section, know that there are many ways to customise a ring that cost very little.
If you want the ring to be as one-of-a-kind as she is, consider customising it in one of these ways:
Engraving the ring with your names, a meaningful date or a special phrase.
Using the Design Your Own Ring features on jewellery sites like Diamond Exchange. You can combine all of your favourite features into one unique look.
Updating a family heirloom ring to reflect more modern sensibilities.
Designing a bespoke ring like those created for clients by APS Jewellery.
The cost varies depending on your chosen method of customisation. Engraving and using “Design Your Own Ring” processes can be very affordable. Don’t immediately rule out more expensive options, however. Depending on the materials you choose, bespoke jewellery can be surprisingly affordable as well.
As you dive into the shopping process, you’ll have to make some decisions right off. Will you buy a loose stone and then select a setting for it? Or will you choose an all-in-one package with the stone chosen by the jeweller?
When you choose to go with a loose stone, you might save money and end up with more options. With this method, you can then select a setting that best suits your diamond.
Diamonds come in ten perennially popular shapes: Radiant, Princess, Cushion, Heart, Pear, Marquise, Asscher, Emerald and Oval.
Many people confuse the terms “cut” and “shape” when speaking about diamonds. The shape refers to the geometric form of the diamond, and the cut refers to the shape’s symmetry, proportion and facets. “Cut” is one of the 4C’s that we hear so much about when shopping for diamonds.
What factors should you consider when choosing a diamond shape for an engagement ring? Personal taste and the shape of her hand should play into the decisions. Some shapes come in and out of style while others maintain their popularity year after year.
The most sought-after diamond shape is the round brilliant, with over 70% of engagement rings sold each year featuring this classic. The second most popular is the princess cut, which is square and stately. The round brilliant and princess shapes are classic, brilliant cuts that are versatile and flatter any hand.
Lately, vintage cuts like the emerald and the cushion cut have been trending as vintage styles come back in style. Ovals and Asschers have also seen a revival in the past few years.
If your partner likes to buck tradition, consider one of the fancy diamond shapes, such as marquise, pear, oval or heart. You can also save money by choosing a less-common diamond shape; radiants, because they’re always popular, cost more per carat than other shapes.
Choosing a Style and Setting
Once you’ve chosen your diamond, it’s time to select the perfect setting for showing it off. A ring’s setting is the way the stone is held in place on the ring. A ring’s style refers to its overall appearance.
As you explore your options, you’ll soon start to be able to sort the rings into common styles and settings. The first style you’ll probably notice is the solitaire, which is the quintessential engagement ring. In this style, a single diamond stands up from the band with prongs holding the stone securely in place. When people think of “diamond ring,” this is usually the style they picture in their minds. This 18ct white gold pear cut diamond ring from Soklich & Co. has “engagement ring” written all over it.
But of course, that’s just the beginning. Other popular settings include bezel, halo, channel, and pave. Every setting has its pros and cons, and you’ll have to think carefully about what kind of style and setting will best suit her taste and lifestyle.
A cathedral setting, for example, with its tall profile, probably won’t suit a person who works with her hands all day long. It will catch on things and could be damaged with everyday wear. She might need a bezel setting, which protects the sides of the stone and usually keeps a lower profile.
To choose the right engagement ring for your partner, consider her style. Minimalist brides often love solitaire or simple east-west settings. If your lady loves drama and sparkle, however, she might prefer a halo, three-stone, or split-shank ring.
Vintage-inspired engagement rings have resurrected a host of older styles that we haven’t seen for some time. Edwardian rings, with their intricate filigree and details, might be perfect for a bride who loves the romance of the past. And an Art Deco style could be the best choice for a bride with avant-garde taste.
Confused about the pros and cons of different settings? Dive deeper into the topic with our article on stone settings.
For years, it seemed you could only find engagement rings in white gold and platinum, but many brides are now opting for traditional yellow gold once again. Warm and sunny, yellow gold provides a brilliant contrast to colourless diamonds and vibrant gemstones alike.
White gold and rose gold remain popular choices for engagement rings as well. The silver-hued precious metals (white gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium) provide a cohesive backdrop for diamonds. Rose gold, with its feminine colouring, creates exquisite settings for unique gems like morganite.
If you have a larger budget for your engagement ring, platinum can be an attractive option. With its beautiful white lustre and highly durable surface, platinum is the ultimate precious metal for wedding jewellery. As a bonus, platinum is hypo-allergenic, perfect for those with sensitive skin.
The colour of the precious metal you choose affects the appearance of your selected gemstone. Silver-hued metals enhance the sparkle and brilliance of colourless diamonds, and yellow gold provides an exciting contrast. Diamonds with warm yellow tints tend to pair well with yellow and rose gold.
Some jewellers create incredible works of art by combining several different metals into one intriguing ring. Mixed-metal rings are trending at the moment, and it’s easy to see why. Take a look at Smales Handcrafted Halo Diamond Sapphire Ring with its white gold band and rose gold setting. The contrast creates something wholly new and unexpected.
When choosing a metal for an engagement ring, think about both appearance and durability. Here’s an example. While platinum is a very hard metal, it tends to lose its lustre over time. Gold, on the other hand, has better shine. But its softness wears down more quickly. For many people, looks take priority over durability, and if this is the case for you, go with the precious metal she loves best.
Insuring Your Ring
Once you find the perfect engagement ring, you’ll need to make sure it’s protected from loss, theft and damage. Because of its small size and top-dollar value, fine jewellery regularly appears on the top ten list of items stolen in burglaries.
And when you’re on your honeymoon, the last thing you want to worry about is losing an engagement ring during your travels.
Most people are surprised to learn that the cost of engagement ring insurance is singularly affordable. And with Q Report jewellery insurance, you can always return to your family jeweller for repairs or replacement.
While home and contents insurance and travel insurance offer some cover for your jewellery, the per-item limits typically don’t cover engagement rings. We love jewellery as much as you do, so we offer an agreed value policy, which includes a 125% cover benefit. If your jewellery can’t be replaced for the amount shown on your policy, we’ll pay up to an extra 25% to make sure what you receive matches what you lost.
To learn more about the cost of engagement ring insurance, get an instant quote today. Or if you’re more of a talker, feel free to ring us to learn more. You can also obtain Q Report insurance directly from a Q Certified Jeweller when you shop at their stores. When you purchase a policy through them, your ring is covered from the moment you walk it out of the shop.
For more information about engagement rings, read up on some of these topics: