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Diamond Engagement Ring: A Complete Buying Guide

Take these steps into choosing the perfect engagement ring

The process of buying an engagement ring is centered on education. From understanding certification to navigating the 4Cs of diamond quality, it is understandable that buyers may feel overwhelmed when they begin their journeys. Shape, size, quality, and budget are key factors in choosing an engagement ring, but they are not the only considerations.

Anything is possible! Engagement rings can be as classic as a fairy tale or as unique as your own love story.  At Washington Diamond, we have been helping customers buy engagement rings for more than five decades. We’ve created this complete guide to get you started today.

Step 1: Choose A Diamond

How to Choose the Diamond Shape

Choosing a shape for your partner will be a marriage of practicality and personal style. Emerald diamonds are for class where as cushion diamonds speak for comfort. For a girl on the go with an active lifestyle, round brilliant, and oval shapes might be more suitable – but this is only a guideline.

The classic round brilliant-cut diamond continues to stand as the leading choice for brides to be. With exceptional sparkle and durability, it is a timeless shape that suits any wearer or ring-setting design. There is no denying the alluring sparkle of a round diamond, but you should not feel limited to this shape.

Each diamond shape holds unique properties and benefits that are destined to bring a distinct style to your beloved’s ring. We have listed some of the most popular shapes below so that you can review the qualities that each has to offer.

Consider The Four Cs

Carat | Clarity | Color | Cut

These words will come up frequently during the diamond engagement ring buying process. An understanding of these qualities will ensure you select a beautiful, sparkling diamond within your budget.

Remember why we choose diamonds for engagement rings: durability, brilliance and endurance. These properties are best showcased with an exceptional cut and a balance of color, clarity, and carat weight. Together, they define what makes a diamond so precious.

The Fifth C

GIA Certified Diamonds

At Washington Diamonds, we only sell natural, untreated, ethical diamonds that carry GIA certifications. The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA is an internationally renowned grading lab, offering consistent and reliable grades. The GIA represents the highest standard of diamond certification, offering peace of mind to our customers.

Discover the benefits of purchasing GIA certified ethically-sourced natural diamonds for a successful diamond shopping experience.

Loose Diamonds vs. Preset Diamonds

Selecting a diamond separately from the settings provides three key benefits:

• Choosing a loose diamond gives you total control over the quality. You can refine and select the specific characteristics of your diamond to and work comfortably within your budget.
• You can decide how much of your budget to allocate to the diamond and how much to the setting.
• It offers flexibility in the budget, the style, and in the appearance of the ring.

For some, the process of buying a loose diamond and selecting a setting can seem too much. Buying a pre-set diamond ring offers an ‘in and out’ experience for those who need a ring quickly. And some customers simply fall in love with a pre-set ring! There are no wrong answers.

Our Diamond Price Calculator can help you learn more about diamond pricing.

Step 2: Choose a setting

How To Choose The Engagement Ring Setting Style

There are many different engagement ring styles. The setting is the basic style that defines how the diamond is held in place. Each of these settings can have a number of embellishments and creative flourishes that make them unique. From intricate galleries (the section below the central diamond) to engraved bands, these little touches elevate the design to echo the unique personality of the wearer.

Choosing A Metal Type

Diamonds must be set in a precious metal as it allows your partner to wear their engagement ring every day with guaranteed secureness. Platinum and gold (white, yellow, and rose) are traditionally the most suitable for engagement rings.

Consider preferences, budget, and durability when deciding between gold and platinum for your cherished engagement ring.


Consider platinum for engagement rings. Its durability, hypoallergenic nature, and timeless elegance make it a popular choice. Platinum's strength ensures longevity, symbolizing enduring love. Its white luster complements diamonds, enhancing their brilliance. Choose platinum for a lasting, exquisite symbol of commitment.


Radiating warmth and elegance, gold offers classic charm. Its warm hues and variety of options, like white, yellow, and rose gold, cater to personal styles. Compare to platinum, gold is more affordable, with a soft luster and malleability. Explore the beauty and budget-friendly options of gold versus the durability of platinum.

Step 3: The Finishing Touch

When Should I Buy an Engagement Ring?

Choosing the right time to buy an engagement ring is crucial for a stress-free experience. Plan around three months prior to your proposal for resizing, customization, and thoughtful design selection. This timeframe ensures you have ample opportunity to explore options, reflecting your partner's style while avoiding rushed decisions. Enjoy a seamless, relaxed process that results in a truly meaningful and unforgettable engagement moment.

How Do I Take Care Of My Engagement Ring?

Caring for your engagement ring ensures its lasting beauty and significance.

For regular at-home maintenance, gently clean your fine jewelry using mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft bristle toothbrush, avoiding harsh chemicals. Remove your ring before vigorous activities to prevent damage. Store it separately to prevent scratches or loss, and consider ring insurance for added protection.

At Washington Diamond, we encourage customers to schedule an in-store professional cleaning and inspection every six months to address wear and tear - and maintain its 'like-new' sparkling quality. Treating your ring with love and attention preserves its brilliance, making it a cherished symbol for years to come.

How Can I Keep the Proposal a Surprise?

A popular question is how to keep the element of surprise while planning a proposal. Here are a few top tips:

You can buy cheap ring sizers online to measure any rings your partner wears to ascertain her size. Remember that full eternity bands cannot be re-sized so these carry a little more risk when bought for a surprise proposal.

2. Choosing a loose diamond gives you the added benefit of proposing with only the diamond and letting your partner select the setting afterward. This is an excellent option for anyone having difficulty choosing a setting.

3. Try it on! An in-store experience allows you or your partner to get a feel for the style and find the perfect size.

4. Consider her personal style before choosing a setting. If she is a traditional and tailored girl go for a classic like a prong setting or a subtle cluster. Does she like a bold statement? Go for a bezel setting or add a dash of color with side gemstones like sapphires or rubies. Is she a lady who loves to sparkle? Try a pave setting.

5. Be confident. It is a big decision but we are here to help!