Engagement Ring University

Read our buying guides so that you can graduate with the perfect engagement ring!

Engagement Rings 101: A Crash Course

Learn How To Pick the Right Engagement Ring and Not Get Ripped Off!


So, you’re looking at engagement rings. Obviously, this is a big decision and you want to get the right ring. This crash course to engagement rings will help you get the best ring that you can for your budget. There are a lot of different stores and information out there and we want to make the process as simple and easy (and fun!) as possible.

We’ll break this down into 2 sections: How to Choose Your Setting and How to Choose Your Diamond.

1. How to Choose Your Setting

We suggest choosing your setting first. The setting makes for 90% of the difference between engagement rings — a diamond is a diamond, regardless of the ring that it’s set in.

A lot of people get confused by this, but it’s really pretty simple. Picking your setting is all about figuring out what kind of jewelry (specifically rings, of course) your soon-to-be fiance prefers. She might have dropped hints about rings that she likes – that’s one clue. The jewelry that she wears right now is another clue. Asking her, while not for everyone because she might guess at your intentions, is a way to figure out for sure what she likes.

Use a combination of the tips above to get an idea of what style ring to get. Then use the combination of that knowledge with your gut instinct and what you prefer to pick out your setting!

Engagement Ring Wall Tip

We aggregate engagement ring settings from online jewelers all across the web. Search our rings to find rings that you love. Also, you can use your Ring Box to save rings that you like to keep track of them for later.

2. How to Choose Your Diamond

You have probably heard about the 4 C’s. If you haven’t, the 4 C’s are cut, clarity, color, and carat. They represent the features of a diamond that judge how good the diamond is going to look. In this guide, we’ll break the 4 C’s down and show you exactly how to pick out your diamond to get the best diamond for the money.


This is the most important of the 4 C’s, so if you’re going to spend extra anywhere, this is where to do it. It isn’t always worth the extra money for a better grade (as you will see below), but it’s worth the money for a diamond with a better cut grade. Cut judges how well a diamond was cut and reflects how well the diamond is going to reflect light (aka shine and sparkle). Common cut ratings are Ideal, Premium, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Most jewelers also have a proprietary rating to represent their Hearts and Arrows diamonds — these are very high quality diamonds, even better than Ideal.

Final verdict: Stick with a Hearts and Arrows (best), Ideal (2nd best), or Premium (3rd best) diamond. Again, it’s worth the extra money for a diamond that has a better cut grade.


This measure how colorless the diamond is, less color being better. Color grades range from D to Z (although you will rarely see anything less than K being sold – if you do, run away!). D is completely colorless and the best grade, and comes with a premium in price for being so. However, it’s not worth spending the extra money for a D graded diamond! The difference is extremely minor and you probably will never notice any difference between a D diamond and F diamond, for example.

Final verdict: Get a diamond that’s graded anywhere from D to I. You can get a D color diamond if you want to, but realize that you’re going to pay a basically unnecessary premium for it.


This measures the presence of flaws, or inclusions, in the diamond. This is another characteristic like color – the highest grade is much more expensive and usually not worth it. Clarity grades go from IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, SI3, I1, I2, and I3 (best to worst).

Final verdict: Get a diamond that’s eye-clean. What’s eye-clean? It means that there are no visible inclusions to the naked eye.  Often, you’ll see pictures at 20x or greater magnification where the flaw is easily visible. However, in person without magnification, the flaw might be invisible. People don’t walk around with loupes in their pocket to inspect engagement rings, so it’s not worth it to pay extra money for a better clarity as long as the diamond is eye-clean. Generally, a good range for clarity grades will be VVS2 – SI1.  These diamonds are usually eye-clean, but not “too perfect”.


This is the most simple of the 4 C’s. Carat refers to the size of the diamond – bigger carat, bigger diamond. Here’s one tip, though: Diamonds that are just under a round weight such as .5 carat, 1 carat, 1.5 carat, and so on usually come with a bit of a discount. So, a 1.47 carat diamond, for example, will be significantly cheaper than a 1.5 carat diamond, and the difference is barely, if at all, noticeable.

Final verdict: Get the biggest carat diamond that you can afford (as long as it fits the criteria for cut, color, and clarity above).

More Engagement Ring Tips

Hopefully by now you’ve found your diamond and your setting and you’re ready to go! However, here are a few more tips to help you with your engagement ring:

  • Online or offline? Obviously this site is online, so we focus on online jewelers. Generally, you can get a much better price on rings (more specifically, the diamond) online because mall jewelers and other jewelers in physical stores are notorious for overcharging. Why? They have higher costs, such as the building that they’re renting, salespeople, and advertising. For example, identical 1 carat, VVS2 clarity, E color, ideal cut diamonds will cost you around $20,000 at a physical store and $14,000 at a good online dealer.
  • Don’t try to get your diamond from a family member who promises to get you a “great deal,” no matter how tempting it might seem. This is usually a recipe for disaster.
  • Try not to buy a diamond that was graded by any lab other than the GIA or AGS. They produce the most accurate and strictest reports. Other diamond grading labs are more liberal and give better grades to diamonds that shouldn’t deserve the grade, which means that they will be overpriced.

I hope this guide has been helpful to you! By now, you should be ready to pick out your ring and make a great decision. I hope everything goes well for you — good luck!

A great start would be our homepage to view engagement rings from across the web. From there, you can find the setting that you like and then pair it with a great diamond!