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5 Tips for Buying Engagement Rings Online

Hexagon Ring, $38,465, Monique Pean, barneys.com

The scope of what I buy online dumbfounds my parents. Holiday presents, clothes, prescriptions, groceries, gadgets, more clothes, even furniture: my credit card statement lists way more e-commerce than in-person purchases. I'm lazy. I like convenience.

Still, there are some things I won't sign off on until I see them in front of me, like pets. Or apartments. Or, theoretically, engagement rings. Then my brother went and bought an amazing round cut diamond from BlueNile.com two months ago and I changed my mind on that last one. And yah, my parents kinda freaked out.

According to The Knot, my brother was in the minority, with only 9 percent of grooms-to-be buying an engagement ring online in 2011. Perhaps the rest are held back by the same reservations I had; that buying something so symbolic and permanent (well, hopefully) from a computer seemed a little cold. And scary—my parents, for example, couldn’t understand how my brother committed to such a major purchase with the click of a mouse.

But that's the thing: he didn't commit; engagement rings are returnable. too. What he did do was find a diamond of the quality he wanted for a fraction of the typical brick and mortar store price. Which means he was actually able to give his fiancé her dream ring. There's nothing cold about that.

And the e-commerce benefits aren't just limited to traditional, solitary stone diamond rings. Unlimited options online make finding the ideal engagement ring—whatever the look, whatever the budget— remarkably easy and secure, provided you keep a few things in mind. (With one in five women selecting their own ring, these tips might be handy for both you and him.)


Keep Scale In Mind

Most sites only display rings floating against solid backdrops, skewing their size.

Browsing netaporter.com and overstock.com's jewelry selection to see rings on models will help you better grasp a prospective ring's size. Alternatively, you could also refer to a ring you know the dimensions of and use it as comparison.


Look for Variety

One of the major benefits of internet ring shopping is the selection. You'll want to take the time to browse mom and pop style websites as well as household names in case something one-of-a-kind or vintage catches your eye. (The average groom ring shops for three months, regardless of where he's shopping.)


Get A Certification Certificate

Certification agencies assure a stone's quality via an unbiased, third-party standpoint. Which is kind of ideal for anyone who shares my parents' "But how do you know what you're getting?" anxiety. There are dozens of agencies out there (IGI, EGL, HRD) but you can't go wrong with two of the most trusted, GIA and AGSL.


Buy Solitary Stones

If you fall in love with a distinctive ring that's too expensive, turn to the interwebs. Buying a loose stone online and then having it set at a local jeweler can get you the look (and often with the same quality stone or better) without the massive credit card statment.

And those who want to propose with a ring but only feel confident about the stone, not the setting, are in luck, too: sites like Brilliantearth.com offer temporary settings free of charge.


Keep Track Of The Details

Refund policies, insurance offerings, shipping methods: take note of all the specific details that vary between sites. (While Zales.com has a 100-day refund policy, most sites only have 30 day return policies. Not something you'd want to confuse.)

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