10 Steps to Pick the Perfect Engagement Ring

Planning a proposal is not a small task. The biggest dilemma is often the most important: the ring! This is one gift where the idiom “it’s the thought that counts” takes a backseat to whether the ring is the right size, style and stone. It takes some sleuthing to learn about your partner’s unique style, but our matchmakers have compiled a guide to help you pick the perfect engagement ring from the start so your engagement can be everything you – and your fiancée – hoped for.

Covert Operations

Go through your girlfriend’s jewelry and look at her style. Does she like clean lines or more elaborate art deco pieces? Does she like traditional pieces with timeless appeal, or would she prefer a colorful, vibrant piece? If you can, borrow a ring you know fits her well and take it to the jewelry store with you. You could also place the ring on your own finger and mark where it falls with a pen or sharpie to help gauge the size.

Metal Minded

Consider the type of metal your fiancée-to-be prefers to wear. Each type of metal will play off the stone differently. Gold tends to make diamonds look slightly yellow, while silver and platinum maintain a cool shine. If your partner prefers sapphires, emeralds or another stone, then that could also be a factor in the type of band you choose, since those colors will also look different with each metal. Most jewelry stores will offer:

  • Gold
  • White Gold
  • Platinum
  • Silver

Get her Opinion

When in doubt, just ask! It helps to be discrete about your intentions, so wait until you are in a large social setting and then make a comment about someone else’s ring. Something like, “I don’t know about the gold band on Karen’s engagement ring. What do you think?” could go a long way. Also consider enlisting the help of family and friends who are good at keeping secrets.

Family Values

Some couples are very progressive about their relationships and others are more traditional. If your partner falls in with the latter, consider asking her father, step-father or closest relative for permission to propose. This is less about needing someone’s approval and more about showing respect for your future fiancée’s family. Asking permission includes them in the process and helps everyone get excited about the impending nuptials.

Think Globally

Your future bride might feel strongly about fair trade or diamonds from conflict-free areas. Consider investing in a ring made from recycled gold or a stone that has been ethically sourced. Brilliant Earth and Tiffany & Co. both deal exclusively with environmentally-sound, conflict-free sourcing, which means you and your bride can feel good about your purchase. In fact, many retailers have caught on to this demand for ethically sourced jewelry and offer a wide variety of ring styles and stone cuts.

Don’t Buy a Ring (Yet)

Our matchmakers often see men choosing to propose with a simple engagement band or even with no ring at all, and then shopping for the real deal together. This not only eliminates a large stressor associated with an engagement, but it also allows your bride-to-be to get involved in the process of choosing her ring. This is one shopping trip you’ll be proud to take together.

Pay Attention to the 4 C’s

The four C’s are one of just many unexpected things that will rule your life while you are searching for the right diamond. The four C’s are:

  • Cut
  • Carats
  • Color
  • Clarity

While the cut of your stone and the number of carats are widely based on personal preference, clarity will tell you a great deal about the stone you are purchasing. Diamonds are magnified by 10 to judge clarity, so be wary of defects that are visible to the naked eye. Typical ratings are:

  • F1: flawless
  • VVS1 & VVS2: very slight inclusions
  • VS1 & VS2: slightly more noticeable inclusions
  • SI1 & SI2: higher instance of inclusions
  • I1, I2 & I3: imperfect

Consider Custom

Your girlfriend is not a one-size-fits-all personality, so consider getting her a completely custom ring that is just as unique as she is. Custom rings sound complicated, but this is actually one of the best ways to make sure your partner gets exactly what she wants. Mix and match stones with different bands to get exactly the right look.


Consider your bride-to-be’s lifestyle before making a ring purchase. If she leads a very active lifestyle and loves camping, hiking or playing sports, it might be wise to purchase a ring with a lower gemstone setting to protect the stone. If your partner is more fashionable and enjoys larger pieces, a higher setting might be more appropriate.

Cover Your Bases

Diamonds larger than one carat generally come with a certificate of authenticity. Ask if the jeweler has a warranty and, if so, get it in writing. Our matchmakers also recommend getting the ring insured prior to popping the question. Look for insurance plans that cover loss and theft. This gets all the paperwork out of the way so your fiancée can enjoy her ring immediately.

Remember you don’t have to be a man to propose. Many forward-thinking couples actually don’t mind if the woman proposes to the man. Get to know your partner’s preferences and use your best judgement when deciding if this option is for you.

Our matchmaking services have high rates of success so, naturally, we see a lot of weddings – and a lot of rings! It’s important to scope out your future spouse’s preferences as much as possible before selecting a ring and accept guidance from family and friends when it is offered. Still stumped? Reach out to our exclusive matchmaking team for personalized service.