Buying an engagement ring. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to do this once.
Not because the process is boring or complicated (online sellers have made buying diamonds fun and nearby), but because a diamond ring is supposed to mean forever and ever.
But can you get the same quality diamond ring online? How much can you trust online jewelers? And how can you be sure that you will like it because of the computer screen?
Don’t worry, we’ll have your back. Here’s everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring online.
Pros and Cons of Buying an Engagement Ring Online
- You are guaranteed more choices when shopping online.
- You can rate and filter each diamond by quality, so you don’t have to rely on commission sellers to give you the right information.
- You can customize the ring according to your requirements and see how it will look right away.
- You usually pay much less for your ring as online retailers don’t charge extra for overhead costs.
- You can’t see the ring live. Even with a 360-degree view, you won’t recognize exactly what it looks like until you get it.
- If you don’t know anything about buying engagement rings, the task may seem a little daunting. Some may prefer to have an expert guide them to a regular location.
- Online shopping is not a fast process. More inventory means more to view – and more to self-assess.
Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring Online
Find a site you trust
It’s understandable to be skeptical about buying engagement rings online. You may think that you are being scammed or that your multi-thousand dollar purchase might get lost in the mail.
These are legitimate concerns, but any reputable online seller will guarantee your order. After all, the jeweler’s reputation is at stake.
Look for stores that offer a gemologist certificate, such as James Allen and Blue Nile.
Review the return policy
Established online jewelers should offer at least 30 days to return an item after you’ve bought it so you can inspect it yourself, try it on, and even take it to another gemologist for evaluation.
Do not hurry
Okay, you’ve found a site you trust. Now put on your elasticated pants and pour yourself a glass of wine – you’re about to fall down a deeper rabbit hole than you can imagine.
You have literally hundreds of thousands of diamonds and settings to scrutinize – and many combinations of both.
You may find dozens of browser tabs open only to experience analysis paralysis, close them all, and do the same the next day. Be patient – the perfect ring will be worth the hours of research.
Make sure your diamond has passed an eye test
Diamonds contain varying degrees of “inclusions” or imperfections that can be seen under magnification. However, some inclusions are so egregious that they can be seen with the naked eye. If you agree to this in exchange for a lower price, don’t worry. But you can often find an inexpensive diamond with almost invisible inclusions.
And when examining diamonds, don’t just zoom in – try zooming out to get an idea of what the stone would look like in real life. If it seems good to you (even if the description may indicate flaws), go for it!
Ignore Urban Legend Wedding Etiquette
Have you ever heard the “rule” that you have to spend two, three, or even four months of your salary on an engagement ring?
This rule is horse apples. If you have that level of disposable income, congratulations. Otherwise, as long as the ring makes your future signature happy, that’s all that matters.
Read more: How much should you spend on an engagement ring
Where to buy an engagement ring online
We recommend James Allen more than any other online engagement ring jeweler. He has a huge catalog of over 500,000 diamonds from highly respected jewelers. James Allen also carefully inspects each stone before it is mailed. You can also set other stones in the ring such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.
One of the site’s best features is an interactive 360-degree view of every diamond in stock. You will be intimately familiar with your diamond long before it arrives at your doorstep.
There are many different filters you can use to find the perfect balance between price and aesthetics. Easy-to-use slide widgets allow you to prioritize certain characteristics of a stone, from its transparency to color and size.
James Allen is also praised for his customer service. It offers free maintenance and cleaning, including “dipping” the ring to revive its shine.
Visit James Allen or read our full review.
Blue Nile ranks #2 on our Best Engagement Ring Sellers list. He has very similar stats to James Allen and his gems are also top tier. And yes, you can buy other gems like James Allen.
Blue Nile’s customer service is (usually) highly rated, which is essential when making such an expensive online purchase. But something Blue Nile has in comparison to its competitors is a handful of brick-and-mortar locations across the US. There are currently only 22, but others are in development. If you like the combination of an extensive range of diamonds with the benefits of personal experience, Blue Nile may be the right choice for you.
The site’s Achilles’ heel is that it doesn’t offer a 360-degree view of every diamond like James Allen does. You can find a diamond perfect for your budget only to find a photo of it instead of a great interactive image. In other words, you won’t be able to see the light coming through it until you receive it.
Visit the Blue Nile or read our full review.
Rare Carat offers a larger range of diamonds than James Allen and Blue Nile combined. It works with many diamond retailers to provide you with the widest selection. Plus, its fun quiz lets you quickly narrow down your search.
However, there are several reasons why you might want to opt out of Rare Carat:
- The site only sells diamonds and settings, so if you’re looking for other gemstones, you’re out of luck.
- Like the Blue Nile, you can see many, but not all, of the rocks in a magnificent 360 degree. In fact, some diamonds don’t even have an image!
- The vendors Rare Carat uses are reportedly not as reputable as sites like James Allen and Blue Nile. The company where the diamond came from can be a little ambiguous.
There are thousands of rave reviews about Rare Carat. If you choose them, there is a high probability that everything will go perfectly. However, the above is worth noting.
How to get a high quality engagement ring at a lower price
The best tool for getting high quality at low cost is knowledge.
Adjust 4 C
There are four main attributes that affect the value of a diamond. You can compromise on some and demand perfection on others, depending on what is important to you. I’m talking about the “four Cs”: color, clarity, weight and cut.
For example, you may want a huge diamond and don’t mind if it has tiny specks (inclusions). Or you might not mind if the diamond is a little yellowish, as long as it’s super shiny.
Let’s take a quick look at these “four Cs” so you can better understand the implications of upgrading or downgrading each one.
The neckline is widely considered to be the most important factor. A well-cut stone will have greater strength and will shine much brighter than a badly cut one. And it’s that lustrous sheen everyone’s looking for.
Each diamond contains microscopic defects. The clarity range affects how noticeable these imperfections are.
If you’re comfortable getting a stone with a slightly lower clarity, you can save some serious money. In many cases imperfections are not even visible to the human eye, so a slight reduction in clarity won’t really affect how it looks to most of us. In fact, anything with a grade of SI2 or higher will most likely not have visible defects.
Choosing a diamond with a slightly tinted tint can mean a huge price reduction. And if you are strategic about how you set your stone, such as setting it in yellow gold, you may not even notice the difference.
The only time you will notice a drastic difference if you compromise on color is when the stone is placed next to another (much more expensive) colorless diamond. In other words, you will only be caught when your fiancé (bride) compares his ring to his friends’ rings.
The carat of a diamond affects its shape and weight. The carat value gives you some wiggle room to lower the price.
The price rises sharply with each added carat, but if you choose 1.94 carats instead of exactly two, the price won’t jump as much. Once you reach that exact carat value, you are subject to a much larger price spike. The difference is barely noticeable, but avoiding the exact carat mark can save you a lot of money.
The standard round shape is the most expensive option due to high demand and higher luster. But if you choose an alternative form, you can save a lot.
By opting for a less-perfect rounded shape, such as an oval, marquise, or pear, you will substantially reduce the base price.
Diamond created in the lab
Lab-created diamonds typically sell for about 20% less than natural diamonds. Their appearance, durability, and quality are on par with mined diamonds, but some people may not like the idea that their diamonds come from a lab and not from the earth. However, this is a great budget option.
Read more: Lab grown and natural diamonds
Buy your free diamond online (and customize your ring later)
If you have something special in mind for your ring, you may need to physically bring it to the jeweler and explain what you are looking for.
However, you can buy a center stone online to save a mint and then bring it to a jeweler to figure out what design you want.
The diamonds you buy online are of the same quality as those you find at a jeweler at your local mall. But online diamonds can cost up to 40% less.
This is because diamonds in the physical store are marked up to account for their overhead. Online retailers don’t have to pay rent for a building, so they can afford to give you a big discount.
Reputable online diamond retailers will allow you to customize your engagement ring in style, setting, and all four C’s, giving you a ring that is not only one of a kind, but also within your budget. Best of all, they understand that it’s hard to buy a ring online, so they make it easy to return and exchange.