Quick and Easy Buying Guide

Carat weight: 1 carat = 200 milligrams = 6.5 mm diameter. Doubling weight doesn't double diameter.

Diamond clarity: FL/IF/VVS/VS = super expensive, near perfect. SI = best value if you can check a photo for obvious inclusions (defects).


Color: D-G = colorless, expensive, only if you have money to burn. H-J = best value. Can go lower in gold metal settings than white metal.

Cut: Better cut ratings let more light into a diamond, making it sparkle more. Very important property, don't skimp here.

Set a budget and minimum cut (Premium). Go J color for gold and I/H for white metals. Go searching for SI1/SI2 clarity diamonds at James Allen. Pick a diamond with small/no inclusions. Choose a ring setting and buy it risk-free (60-day returns).

Buying In Stores

The traditional way to buy an engagement ring is of course to walk into a shop and buy it. Until recently, this was the only option for most people. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying in a store?

Sponsored Links

You Get What You See

When you buy in a store, you (almost) always get the actual ring you've looked at in the store (just make sure the jeweller doesn't do anything dodgy like swap it in the backroom, but this shouldn't happen with any slightly reputable jeweller). You can make sure that the diamond meets your standards in terms of colour, clarity, size and so forth.

This is especially important for people on a budget who are buying diamonds in the clarity range SI1 or SI2. Some of these diamonds will have inclusions that are visible to the human eye and some won't. By checking the ring and diamond out in a store, under a 10x magnification eyepiece, you can check that it looks acceptable to you.


When you buy from a "bricks and mortar" store, you can feel a little more secure knowing that if there is a problem, the store will (most likely) still be there and you can go back and complain. Of course, from that point onwards, it will depend on how stingy the jeweller is and whether you have a right to complain or it was your fault during the buying process. Solutions may range from the jeweller doing nothing to obtaining a full refund (but an exchange is more likely).

Human Advice

When you walk into a jeweller, there are store people there to help and educate you about rings and diamonds. They can educate you about the basics. However, remember that many staff aren't really 'experts' - they're casual or part-time staff who have picked up the necessary knowledge to do their job but nothing more. And they will almost all have an agenda - they want you to buy from them at their store. Beware of overly pushy sales staff - a good sales staff member won't need to pressure you because they'll be confident in the value of their product and under no pressure to make the sale. If you spend an hour online reading reputable ring and diamond education sites (such as this one), you'll probably have at least the same level of knowledge as some of the more casual sales staff.

Don't Be Rude

When you walk into a store, don't do it with a big attitude. If the staff turn out to be idiots, then by all means give them a serve - but give them a chance. Most staff are just trying to earn a living and do a decent job, so listen to what they have to say and their pitch for why you should consider buying from them. You can reconsider what their points later on in the privacy of your home without all the shiny jewellery in your face!

Mark Up

Brick and mortar stores have to pay rent, and rent can be a huge expense in most shopping centres. This means, that along with paying staff and earning a profit, often stores are quite a bit more expensive than buying online. You can decide for yourself by comparing apples with apples - go to a store and find the exact specifications on a couple of rings, and then compare them with the closest matching ring and diamond at a site such as bluenile.com.

For some people, the extra money is justified as they are much more comfortable buying in person than 'risking' it online. Other people will say that is silly and that as long as you're buying from a large and reputable online seller, it's the way to go. Ultimately, it's a personal preference.


This is a small but important point - it's much easier and more accurate to get a jeweller to size the lady's ring finger in store, than to try and guess it using the guides on the internet. All sorts of things can go wrong when trying to size a ring finger at home. If you're really cautious, get your finger sized at a couple of different stores and check the sizing matches.

If you want to have a look online before you jump into retail stores, check out James Allen by clicking on the banner below:

Princess Solitaire Ring