If you’re thinking of proposing, then you’re probably looking at buying a diamond engagement ring. Your search will likely lead you to a jewelry store. Be prepared for some questions as the jeweler tries to help you narrow your choices.

What will a jeweler ask?
1. Did you just start engagement ring shopping?
2. When do you plan to propose?
3. What is your engagement ring budget?
4. Are you familiar with the 4Cs of diamond quality?
5. Does she want a round brilliant or a fancy shape diamond?6. What’s her ring style?
7. What color gold does she like?
8. What’s her ring size?

1. Did you just start engagement ring shopping?

More than just a question to break the ice, a jeweler will ask this to get an idea of where you are in the diamond buying process and how much knowledge you might already have. If you’ve just started shopping, don’t be afraid to say so. Any good jeweler will happily describe the steps to selecting an engagement ring and begin educating you about diamond quality, jewelry settings and more.

If you want to get a head start, research diamond engagement rings beforehand. Browse websites. Thumb through magazines. Talk to friends or family who know your beloved’s style.

1.09 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring featuring emerald cut side stones.

Color and clarity are especially important in emerald cut diamonds, as inclusions can detract from their icy beauty. The center stone in this ring is a D color, VVS1, 1.09 carat (ct) work of art. Courtesy: LangAntiques.com

2. When do you plan to propose?

Before you buy a diamond engagement ring, the jeweler will want to make sure there is sufficient time to create your perfect diamond ring. Engagement rings preset with diamond melee (called semi mounts) are ready to set with the diamond center stone of your choice. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week. A custom ring can take up to six weeks to make, so be sure to plan your proposal accordingly.

3. What is your engagement ring budget?

Many people are embarrassed to talk about money. Don’t be one of them. This is a legitimate question to help you navigate through a wide range of price points. When buying a diamond engagement ring, prices can run anywhere from $500 to $100,000 and more. And given the incredible selection available, it’s tempting to stray into territory beyond your wallet’s reach. Setting a budget – and sticking to it – is essential, and it’s one of the first topics your jeweler will bring up. Answer honestly and don’t feel intimidated. Remember: your goal is to get the best quality engagement ring for your money. A good jeweler will get you there.

4. Are you familiar with the 4Cs of diamond quality?

This is by far one of most important questions, because the price of your engagement ring is largely determined by the quality of the diamond center stone. The diamond’s color (or how colorless it is), clarity (how free from inclusions it is), cut (its shape and cutting style), and carat weight (its size) define the diamond’s overall quality and ultimately its price. The 4Cs provide essential facts that describe a diamond. Here’s a simple rule that can help you: the higher the quality of a diamond, the rarer it is, and the more expensive it will be.

Each “C” is assessed differently and contributes to a diamond’s overall look in a different way. This is where it can get confusing. A well-trained jeweler will not only explain the 4Cs to you, but she will help you understand the differences between apparently similar stones.

Your jeweler may ask which of the 4Cs is most important to you and show you options that match. For instance, if a certain size is essential, you should know how carat weight affects the cost of a diamond. Large, beautiful, sparkling diamonds are more expensive per carat than smaller diamonds of the same quality.

A GIA Diamond Grading Report is invaluable when choosing a diamond. It provides an independent and unbiased diamond evaluation, including a full 4Cs assessment and more. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) created the 4Cs and is a nonprofit research and educational institution that neither buys nor sells diamonds.

A D color, Internally Flawless 2.78 ct round brilliant cut diamond.

Large, colorless, flawless diamonds are exceptionally rare. A diamond like this D color, Internally Flawless 2.78 ct stone is certain to be expensive. Photo: Robert Weldon/GIA. Courtesy: Rogel & Co., Inc.

5. Does she want a round brilliant cut or a fancy shape diamond?

Another question a jeweler is likely to ask you before buying a diamond engagement ring is, What is her favorite diamond shape? The round brilliant cut diamond is the most popular, with more than half of all brides wearing this diamond shape. It is beautiful and, if it is well cut, has unparalleled sparkle.

Even though the round brilliant is popular, take a look at other diamond shapes. Any shape other than round is called a fancy shape and each has its own charm. The marquise, for example, has an aristocratic heritage and elongated shape, like oval, which can make her finger look longer. Currently, emerald cuts and other rectangular cutting styles are trending.

If you’re not sure which diamond shape she prefers, look at the gems in her other rings to see if there is a favorite shape. Also, ask friends and family if they know which shape she likes best.

Three stone marquise cut diamond engagement ring with half-moon cut diamonds and a halo of round brilliant cuts.

Buying a diamond engagement ring with a marquise can make for a glamorous look. This three stone engagement ring has a marquise diamond in the center with half-moon cut diamonds on either side, all encircled by a halo of round brilliant cuts. Courtesy: Ziva Jewels

6. What’s her ring style?

Before buying a diamond engagement ring, your jeweler will want to know your beloved’s ring style. To uncover this, a jeweler may ask if she loves the latest fashions, or adores things antique. Maybe she likes bold pieces, or has a fondness for delicate jewelry. Perhaps she admires the diamond engagement ring of a favorite celebrity who just got engaged. Pay attention to these clues and you’ll be sure to find a ring she’ll love.

The jeweler may also ask you about her lifestyle. Why? To help you find the right setting. If she prefers movies and museums, the jeweler might suggest a prong setting. It will show off the diamond, but could be more vulnerable to damage. If she’s the athletic outdoorsy type, a bezel setting might be a smart choice. It will show off the diamond while protecting it from accidental bangs and bumps.

A bezel set 0.58 carat (ct) yellow diamond ring featuring a 0.05 ct colorless diamond.

Bezel settings protect a 0.58 ct yellow diamond and a 0.05 ct colorless diamond. Courtesy: K. Mita Design

A 1.74 ct round brilliant cut diamond set in platinum and accented by tapered baguettes.

Four prongs hold a 1.74 ct round brilliant cut diamond. It is set in platinum and accented by tapered baguettes. Courtesy: EraGem.com

7. What color gold does she like?

When buying a diamond engagement ring, you’ll have the option of selecting the metal, which is typically yellow, white or rose gold, platinum or a combination of metals. Yellow gold has been used in jewelry for thousands of years and was popular in antique and vintage jewelry, including Victorian era and Retro era diamond engagement rings.

Rose gold was also popular during the Victorian and Retro eras, and is currently trending. White metal was fashionable in Edwardian and Art Deco era diamond engagement rings, and it’s still going strong. Platinum or white gold are your two main white metal choices.

Rose gold diamond engagement ring accented with diamonds in the shank.

This rose gold ring is a delicate counterpoint to a colorless diamond. Courtesy: evelynH Jewelry, Inc.

Edwardian era-inspired engagement ring featuring a 1.23 ct diamond set with delicate metalwork.

Delicate metalwork made of platinum gives this Edwardian era-inspired engagement ring a timeless charm. A 1.23 ct diamond glitters in the center. Courtesy: LangAntiques.com

8. What’s her ring size?

You’ll want to make sure her engagement ring fits perfectly when you propose. A ring that’s too small or too large will mar the moment. If you’re planning to shop for the ring together, your jeweler will have a set of finger gauges to determine her exact ring size.

A set of finger gauges used to determine ring size.

Photo: Eric Welch/GIA

So what do you do if you want to keep the diamond engagement ring a secret and make sure it fits?

Here are two tips to help you estimate her ring size:

  • Press one of her favorite rings (one she wears on her ring finger) into a bar of soap until it creates an impression. Bring this to the jeweler.
  • Use a pencil to trace the inside of one of her favorite rings on a piece of paper. Bring this to the jeweler.

Our blog on How to Determine Ring Size is filled with other helpful tips – and pitfalls to avoid. Be sure to read it to ensure the ring will slip on her finger just right.

What to expect after buying a diamond engagement ring

A jeweler is likely to explain what kind of services they provide after buying a diamond engagement ring. Typically, they will recommend having the ring cleaned frequently and having the prongs checked at least once or twice a year to make sure they are holding the diamond firmly in place. Take advantage of these services, if they’re offered, because a loose or damaged prong can cause a diamond to fall out of its mounting.

After purchasing a diamond engagement ring, you should consider having it appraised and insured. An appraisal will provide the replacement value of the ring, which is used for insurance purposes. Appraisals should be done be an independent professional who has no stake in the sale. Getting the ring insured protects you should it ever be lost or stolen. It’s a smart move that can save you from potential heartache.

A round brilliant cut diamond engagement ring with intertwining rows of diamond melee.

Like a rose brightening a bush, a round brilliant cut diamond lights up intertwining rows of diamond melee. Courtesy: Sandra Biachi

Now that you know what a jeweler is likely to ask you when buying a diamond, take a deep breath, and dive in. You’re sure to find the perfect engagement ring to symbolize your love.

Ready to propose but not ready to buy an engagement ring? A placeholder engagement ring might be just what you need. You’ll still need to visit a jeweler, though…