Engagement Ring Buying Guide


How do you choose a quality engagement ring without overpaying?

Don’t make this critical decision without doing your research. Here is everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring from budgeting to brilliancy. We tell you how to find out what she likes, including the metal, gemstones, and setting for her gift of a lifetime.

Along the way, we will show you how to look at diamonds and other gemstones, the documents to request, and other considerations that come with buying and owning jewelry that is precious to both the heart and the wallet.

Establish a Budget

First of all, forget the old adage about spending a certain amount of your annual salary on an engagement ring. Spend what feels comfortable for you. The worth and value of an engagement ring comes from its meaning, not its price.

Establishing a range you would pay for a ring gives you the freedom to thoroughly explore all the options for ring design within that range. Without parameters, you would be faced with too many details and alternatives to be confident with your final choice.

Determine Your Fiancee's Style

Unless you are shopping for a ring with your fiancée, you are faced with deciding what she would like. Most men don’t shop for jewelry often, and you may not consider a ring as a fashion accessory. But the way your significant other dresses most of the time can give you powerful insights into her personal style.

Does she tend to wear classic clothing or something more modern? Is she more into the look of nature, or does she prefer glamorous clothing and jewelry? What color jewelry does she usually wear, if any? Is it simple, ornate, delicate, or chunky?

Remember, this ring will be on her finger for her entire married life. It will need to go well with the full range of styles she wears from blue jeans to formal wear.

Another consideration is her lifestyle and her work. If she’s active or outdoorsy, a ring with a low profile that won’t get caught or knocked against things. However, if she’s the glamour girl type, a statement ring with a higher profile might fit her aesthetic better.

Find Out Her Ring Size

This seems more difficult than it is. You have several ways to “sneak a peek” at her ring size. If she wears rings, you could borrow one from her jewelry box and have it sized at a jeweler.

If you think she might notice one of her rings is missing, lay the ring on a piece of paper and trace the inside, or you can press it into a bar of soap to get an impression. Many jewelers can tell the size from that.

One more way to show a jeweler ring size is to place the ring on one of your fingers and mark where it stops.

If she isn’t the type to wear rings or you just can’t get your hands on one without giving away the surprise, you can go with averages. The most common ring size for women is six to six and a half. The estimate is made using an average female from the United States who is five feet four inches tall and weighs around 140 pounds.

If your lady is more slender or fine-boned, you may go with four and a half to five and a half. A heavier, taller, or larger boned woman may require a ring in the six and a half to seven and a half range. Check her dress size, jewelers can estimate the size of ring from the dress size.

When looking for a jeweler, ask about the store’s resizing policy. Most rings can be resized unless they are incredibly ornate. Also, it’s better to err on the large side; it’s easier to resize down than up.

Looking for Something Unique?

Maybe your fiancée prefers the unusual or unique. A diamond solitaire isn’t for her. That’s OK because you have plenty of other options.

  • Antique rings are an excellent choice for someone who is a history buff or loves period books and movies. She may appreciate a vintage ring that has a potentially romantic history. Antique rings often cost less than comparable new rings.
  • If you are artistic, collaborate with a local jeweler to create a custom ring. You can decide the metal, the stones, the setting, and every other aspect of the ring to make a truly unique engagement gift.
  • If you aren’t sure about the style, consider purchasing a loose gemstone and have it placed in a temporary setting. After she says, “Yes!” she can pick out the permanent setting.

Choosing a Diamond

The most common and classic stone for an engagement ring is a diamond. It’s been called the King of Gemstones and is the hardest of them all, rated as ten on the Mohs hardness scale of one to ten. In your research, you have probably run across something called the 4 Cs for grading and choosing a diamond.

The 4 Cs are color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Out of those four characteristics, the most important is the quality of the cut. Does that surprise you? The way a diamond is cut should show off all of its beauty. A poor cut can ruin a perfect diamond while a high-quality cut can make even a mediocre diamond shine - literally

Download our free engagement ring guide for detailed information on the 4Cs.


Would She Prefer a Gemstone?

While 90% of all engagement rings feature a diamond, your lady may prefer a different gemstone as the centerpiece of her ring.

  • SAPPHIRES are the second most common gemstone used for engagement ring settings. Where a diamond is a ten on the Mohs scale, a sapphire is just behind at nine, nearly as hard as a diamond. Because of their relative hardness, sapphires hold up well under daily wear, just as diamonds do. However, large sapphires cost less than comparably sized diamonds. Sapphires are made of corundum and are not limited to deep blue in color. In fact, sapphires come in a host of colors, including white, yellow, and pink, except for red. A red sapphire is called a ruby. The blue of a pure sapphire is created by the presence of titanium and iron.
  • RUBIES are considered the Queen of Gemstones. Since it is made of the same material as a sapphire, it is also relatively hard and wears well. Pure rubies with thin inclusions called needles are softer in color. They are called silk rubies and cause light to scatter across the facets. Rubies range from deep wine to light blush and can be a good choice for Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Again, keep in mind the colors your fiancée prefers.
  • EMERALDS are less common for engagement rings and can be difficult to cut due to jardin, an inclusion found in these stones. Cutters have established a square or rectangular cut to make things easier. This is why a square or rectangular cut is often called the emerald cut. Emeralds range in color from sea foam green to dark pine.

Gemstone Shapes

The most popular cut for an engagement ring for almost any stone is round. Three-quarters of all diamond purchases feature round-shaped diamonds. However, round can be more costly, partly due to its popularity and it takes more rough to cut a round diamond. Selecting a different shape can reduce your costs.

When choosing cuts, understand that cutting styles with fewer facets require stones of higher clarity. Also, certain shapes pair better with other gems in a multi-stone setting. Round, oval, and marquis cut gems go well with most settings while pear and heart-shaped cuts are more challenging to work with.

If she prefers modern, clean lines, go with a rectangular or square cut like an emerald or princess cut. If she is more traditional, round is an excellent choice. If she prefers a highly unique or bohemian style, check out an unusual shape like trilliant or marquise.

When in doubt, go with the classics.

Ring Metal

You have fewer selections for the metal of the engagement ring, and the one you choose should complement the stones. Most rings use gold, but platinum is also popular because it and white gold showcase diamonds so well.

  • PLATINUM is highly durable, and the color will not fade over time. It’s unlikely to require replacing. But it costs more than the same amount of gold, simply because it is a denser metal. If you choose platinum or white gold and decide on a diamond for your gemstone, have the jeweler show you the stone you selected alongside the metal, because cooler colors bring out the yellow in diamonds.
  • GOLD is softer and more malleable, so it is mixed with other metals to make it more robust. Gold comes in different shades, from white to dark yellow and rose. It’s versatile, and yellow and rose gold are preferred by those who enjoy warmer colors.
  • ROSE GOLD is the most durable of the gold metal used in jewelry because it combines gold with a copper alloy, which also eliminates the need for rhodium plating. Choose 14K or 18K gold for their purity.


The setting is probably the hardest part of selecting an engagement ring. Listen to any hints your future wife has dropped and consider her lifestyle.

Popular Settings
  • Prong or solitaire: Four to six prongs holding a diamond in place. Tiffany and Co trademarked a specific multipronged solitaire arrangement in 1886.
  • Pavé: The center stone is surrounded by a paving of tiny diamonds. It’s also called a bead setting.
  • Halo: The center stone is surrounded with small diamonds, creating a halo effect and making the center rock stand out. Halo settings can make a smaller central diamond appear larger.
  • Cathedral: Uses arches of metal to hold a solitaire diamond in place with prongs.

What is GIA Certification?

The Gemological Institute of America provides critical grading reports of diamond quality attesting to its authenticity. Termed a GIA Certification, it is a determination from an independent lab of the quality of a diamond.

  • It identifies a specific diamond through cutting angles, clarity imperfections, and girdle inscriptions.
  • It shows whether it is a natural diamond or lab-made.
  • The certification also tells you whether the diamond has undergone HPHT or laser drilling treatments.
  • The final report records the description of the diamond and all of its characteristics like cut and clarity.

The report features a specific number, the date of examination, shape, cutting style, measurements, polish and symmetry grade, and many more features. If a jeweler hesitates to offer a GIA Certificate, it should be a red flag that the store may not be reputable.

Do You Need Insurance?

Precious engagement rings may require insurance. Most homeowners insurance does not include engagement rings, or if it does it only covers theft. You can obtain an insurance rider to cover the ring, or you can purchase separate insurance that will pay the full replacement value of a stolen or lost ring or certain types of damage.

When purchasing insurance, read the fine print to make sure it covers everything you expect. If it doesn’t explicitly call out loss, it may not cover anything but theft. You must supply proof of purchase and price and a document from a reputable appraiser declaring the value and attributes of the ring. You cannot use the GIA certification as the appraisal.

You should also be able to say where the ring will be located (such as your residence) and any security and safe information if applicable. You may wish to include a photograph in case it is stolen and recovered.

Finding a Jeweler


Are they local?

There are several reasons to work with a local jeweler, including the convenience of service. A local jeweler will know about local availability and pricing for gemstones and will be there for you when you have questions, want a ring sized, or other services. It is also convenient for you to come and see the gemstones and rings for yourself before buying.

How long have they been in business?

New businesses have no history of customer service or quality to judge whether they are reliable. Inter-Continental Jewelers has been handling gems and fine jewelry for over 40 years in the Houston area and 27 years in our current location.

Do they offer a warranty?

Inter-Continental Jewelers offers a lifetime warranty on manufacturer defects.For 1 year from the date of purchase, we guarantee setting of all small diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, and against all defects in material and workmanship. We will repair or replace your stones with charge if any defects are found within this time (excluding the center diamond).

Do they offer financing?

A quality engagement ring may cost more than you feel comfortable paying all at once. We offer 6-month special financing with zero interest Additionally 1 and 3 year financing is also available subject to credit approval. We also offer six-month layaway plans.

Check out their reviews.

Inter-Continental Jewelers enjoys one of the best reputations in the industry with many positive reviews of our quality products and service.

While online jewelers are tempting for those used to online shopping, the purchase of an engagement ring requires a personal and collaborative touch in a face-to-face setting.

Want to learn why you should but your engagement ring in-store vs. online? Read on

Why Inter-Continental Jewelers?

Inter-Continental Jewelers is the best jewelry store in Houston, where you will find high-quality diamonds, gemstones, and workmanship, attentive and knowledgeable customer service, and unbelievable savings.

Beyond Conflict-Free Guarantee

Our policy ensures our diamonds are conflict-free. We know we have a responsibility to make sure our purchases are ethical and that humanitarian standards are in place to protect workers worldwide. We provide only conflict-free diamonds with documentation from the highest caliber institutions. Our diamonds pass the Kimberley Process Certification for rough diamonds, which controls production and trade, preventing conflict diamonds from entering legitimate trade.

Lifetime Warranty

We are proud of the quality and craftsmanship of our fine jewelry. We offer a lifetime warranty against any manufacturer defects. If you experience ring damage within one year, we guarantee the setting of all small diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, and against all defects in material and workmanship (center diamonds excluded). We suggest that you get insurance for your jewelry so that it will be covered under your insurance policy). We will repair or replace your stones without charge if any defects are found within 1 year.

Lifetime Upgrades

We offer a 100% diamond trade-up for a lifetime. If you trade in your center diamond, you receive the full price toward another diamond of at least double the trade-in value.

Custom Design

We are fully capable of creating any engagement ring you desire. If you have a special request or design, do not hesitate to consult with our experts.

Free Appraisals

There is no price for the sentimental value an engagement ring holds, but it is essential to understand its current value for insurance purposes. A certified gemologist will inspect your jewelry, diamonds, and gemstones.

Our Commitment to Our Customers

For over forty years, our customers have been the heart of our business. We’re passionate about sharing our love for high-quality jewelry at prices our customers can afford. Our 100% customer satisfaction guarantee is our promise that you will be more than happy with your purchase.

Let our lifelong love of jewelry find the perfect ring for your lifelong commitment.