The Engagement Ring Cheat Sheet

Engagement ring

The other day, I tried on someone’s engagement ring. I’m not sure why I did it (alcohol) or why she let me (alcohol), but one second I’m standing there with a so-naked-I-should-be-arrested-for-public-nudity finger, and the next second? I’m rocking a gorgeous ring some sucker gave her. As I lifted my hand to my face to see what my stubby fingers looked like with something that cost more than my rent, I was in awe.

It was freaking gorgeous and I felt like a million bucks.

If we cut the shit for a second, most of us can admit that we dream about the day we’ll get a ring. Not just because it’s pretty as hell and literally requires triple digit Instagram likes, but because of the other stuff. You know, like love or whatever. It means that you get to spend your life with someone, maybe pop out some kids or travel the world, and throw a bomb ass party that will make all of your friends jealous AF.

But the first step, before the wedding hashtag and before the bouquet toss is, of course, landing the ring. And the first step towards that (besides finding a boyfriend who you’ve tricked into wants to marry you) is knowing what you want. It’s easy to say you want “something big” but other than that, how is the poor guy supposed to know what to waste his money on? So here it is. The big breakdown. Everything you want to know about engagement rings and a few that you need to know. Casually leave this page up with your Pinterest ring board in another tab, and you might actually be living the ring by spring life. Or be considered crazy. Either way, really.


First of all, the anatomy of the ring. There’s a lot more to it than just the rock. There’s the way it’s held in, the special little add ons (like more diamnonds, designs, or engraving), and the type of metal.
ringImage via Pinterest

The Head

The head is exactly what is sounds like. It’s the head of the ring. It’s the thing that holds the big ol’ diamond your soon-to-be fiancé lost part of his soul over. When considering the head, you consider how you want the gem held in. Four pronged? Diamond tipped. The metal wrapped all the way around? Sure it seems like a tiny aspect, but it can make a world of difference when you’re the one staring at it for the rest of your life (or until marriage number two).
ringImage via Pinterest


First of all, lol at “the shank.” Second of all, think of it as a bird’s eye view of your ring. Or I guess, your view of your ring when you look down. It’s how you want it to look straight on and how the band will meet the diamonds. Will it have a clean, tradition look or something more regal like a cathedral? A lot of times this is one of the main things people focus on, so make sure you pick something you love, and not just something that’s in style.
ShankImage via Pinterest

Accent stones

Because the only thing that makes a diamond ring better is, of course, more diamonds. Do you want accent stones? If so, how would you wrap them around the ring? What design do you want them to make? Are you ready to cry yet?
Accent StonesImage via Pinterest


This is where ring personalization gets “fun.” Do you want something simple and classic or more intricate and danty? The number of options for embellishments will probably make you want to swear off this whole marriage thing and just hit up your local animal shelter. But if you can sift through all of the choices, you’ll find something that’s perfect for you. Hell, you can get fucking leaves on it. Shit’s cray.
embellishmentsImage via Pinterest

Type Of Metal

The type of metal pretty much makes the ring. What you want to think about is what color jewlery you like, what you wear the most, and what looks best on you. Just because rose gold is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Consider cost, durability, and whether or not you’re doing it for Instagram or for yourself.
MetalImage via Pinterest

4 C’s

And now, my friends, we’re moving on to the exciting stuff. The diamond. As you may or may not know, when picking a ring there are four things to look for (also known as “the four c’s”):
• Carat
• Cut
• Color
• Clarity


Here is it. What you were waiting for. The size (actually weight in this case) of the stone. I know we say bigger is better, but surprisingly when it comes to diamond rings, that’s not always the case. Consider your lifestyle (if you’re really active, craft/graden/do other messy things with your hands), how it will look on your hand, and how much money he has to spend. This is where a halo comes in. While trendy (and therefore very likely to be super dated in 10 years), it gives the illusion of a bigger ring for a lesser cost. But remember — you’re starting your life together. The money he puts down on a ring is less money towards getting that dream house or going on ~adventures~ together. Still, the four-carat dreaming heart wants what it wants.

CaratImages via Pinterest

Shape and Cut

The shape and cut of the diamond are actually different. The shape is well, the shape. Do you want oval? Princess? Heart (gag)? It’s pretty easy to figure out what you want here (and if not, go with round — it’s timeless). But the cut? That’s a different story. The cut actually determines how sparkly the diamond is. The cut pretty much shapes the way light enters and exits the ring, and includes things like the colors (fire) that flash off of it in the light and whether or not your friends will pass put from envy. Just because you have a big stone, if it isn’t cut properly no one will gush about it the way they do in your fantasies.

Images via Pinterest


When it comes to color, it’s pretty easy. For traditional rings you basically want something as colorless as possible, so a D-J. Maybe you want a hint of yellow, or hell, maybe you want a completely different color. Colored rings are coming in style, and you won’t seem like a total weirdo if you stray from the colorless diamond path. But if you want something classic, be sure to stick to the top two categories.
ColorImage via Pinterest


And finally, clarity. This is how clear and clean the rock looks. Obviously flawless is the most expensive, and some people venture to the VS2 region to lower the costs. The plus side, almost no one will notice if there are a few teeny tiny flaws in the diamond. It’s up to you whether you want to spend that money on a different aspect of your ring or life.
ClarityImage via Pinterest

Diamond Alternatives

Maybe you can’t afford a diamond. Maybe you want to be *different.* Maybe you don’t want one for ethical reasons or maybe you don’t care that much. There are tons of gem alternatives, that will save money and still look banging, to consider:
• A man-made diamond.
• Moissanite.
• Colored rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
• White sapphires.


The last and worst aspect of an engagement ring is, of course, the cost. It’s the reason you won’t get a rock that makes your hand hard to hold up. When it all comes down to it, these things are freaking expensive. A perfect, colorless two-carat diamond can cost you (read: him) more than $40,000 and an imperfect one-carat diamond still costs up to $10,000. If you want it to be “conflict free” that will put you back even more, and if you think you’ll get the absurd ring you’ve been drooling over forever, check the price tag and maybe think again. That’s not to say you don’t deserve the best, but remember the reason behind the ring, and find something sensible. The average cost in the US is around $4,500 which should help you evaluate (or reevaluate) your situation.

Whatever you choose and whatever you want just remember, it’s the reason behind the ring that has the real value. It doesn’t matter how big the rock is or how shiny the cut is, as long as a man I love gets down on his knee, I’ll be happy**.

**note: I’ll be happy as long as it’s a rose gold, 1-1.5 carat white sapphire ring with vintage embellishments and if there’s a halo just kill me, okay?

[via Buzzfeed, source goes here, source goes here]

Image via Shutterstock

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Rachel Varina

(yeahokaywhat) Aspiring to be the next Tina Fey, Rachel spends her free time doing nothing to reach that goal. While judging people based on how they use "they're" vs. "there" on social media, she likes eating buffalo chicken dip, watching other people's Netflix, and wearing sweatpants way more than is socially acceptable.

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