Engagement Ring Shopping 101: The Ultimate Guide

We get it.

Choosing the perfect engagement ring can be an intimidating task. But it doesn't have to be! Let us walk you through some basics to help get you started on the right track. And if there's anything else you want to learn, let us know!

The center diamond

Let's start with the Four Cs. They stand for: Color, Clarity, Carat Weight and Cut.

As Zed Mervis says, a diamond's job is to be beautiful. Brilliance and sparkle are the two most important things to look for. Cut relates to the actual proportioning of the diamond. Simply put, if the diamond is cut perfectly, you’ll get maximum brilliance. If it’s cut less than perfectly, it won’t.

For example, look at a side view of a round brilliant cut diamond. The major components, from top to bottom, are the crown, girdle and pavilion. A round brilliant cut diamond has 57 or 58 facets, the 58th being a tiny flat facet at the bottom of the pavilion that’s known as the culet. The distance from the bottom of the girdle to the culet is the pavilion depth.

A pavilion depth that’s too shallow or too deep will allow light to escape through the sides or the bottom of the stone. A well-cut diamond will direct more light through the crown. At Mervis, we'll show you diamonds that you can touch and see with your own hands and help you make an educated choice on the perfect cut.

>> More of a visual person? Watch Ronnie Mervis break it down further in this video.

Diamonds come in many different colors and each one has a different degree of rarity on the color scale, which affects the price. The less color, the higher the value (the exception to this are fancy-colored diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this color range).

The GIA’s color-grading scale for diamonds is the industry standard. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or near-colorless.

>> Want more info on Color? Watch Ronnie Mervis discuss what to look for.

Each diamond has a certain purity (or lack of purity). Because diamonds are formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure, they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).

The GIA Clarity Scale contains 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories:

  • Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are clearly visible under 10× magnification but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance absence of these inclusions and blemishes.

>> Ronnie shares more info about Clarity.

Carat Weight:
Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip. Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weights 0.50 carats.

But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other members of the Four C’s: clarity, color, and cut. The higher the Four Cs, the greater the price will be. It's the summation of each of the Four Cs that determine the diamond's value. However, it's SO important to understand that although GIA diamond certificates are helpful guides to the Four Cs, they should not be the only measure of your diamond's quality. The most important factor is how the diamond looks, something we refer to as visual beauty.

>> Everything you need to know about Carat Weight from Ronnie.

The shape that most people will be familiar with is the round diamond. This represents the classic diamond, the example of brilliance and shine. However, there are actually several other shapes in addition to the standard round. It takes a careful and precise hand to cut these various shapes flawlessly. Below, you will find examples of the different shapes that you might find in our store.
>> Learn more about diamond shapes.

Engagement ring settings

At Mervis, we offer a wide range of both designer and custom settings for you to choose from. Below are a few of the most common:

Solitaire: A plain setting with a single diamond is simple, elegant and classic. A solitaire will go with any wedding band and will allow you to put more of your budget into a bigger diamond.

Semi-Mount: A ring with diamonds on the band is also called a semi-mount. There is an extremely wide range of designs to choose from.

Three-stone: This setting features two smaller side diamonds to help accentuate the center diamond.

Halo: Halo rings have diamonds that surround the center diamond to add size and maximum sparkle.

Matching sets: Most engagement rings will also have a wedding band that matches

What's her ring size?

Don’t worry too much because here at Mervis, your first sizing is free! Finger size can change depending on the weather, time of day, stress levels, and more.

Our experts will help you take that into account. If she can’t come in before choosing a ring, you can try to bring another ring, or use an app that will help you find out.

Engagement ring budget

We will help you find a gorgeous ring and diamond at any budget. As a family owned business, we can give you outstanding value, provide great financing options including 0% interest rates, and have the best diamond trade-up policy that gives you the full value of what you paid for your Mervis diamond towards a new one.

Seeing is believing

You've done your research, you have an idea of the type of ring she wants, so what's next? We recommend booking an appointment at one of our three stores to look at several different options in person. We have three convenient locations in the DC Metro Area: Tysons, VA, Rockville, MD and on K Street in Washington, D.C.

Our diamond consultants will sit down with you in a private room and get to know your style and personality. They'll show you a wide range of options, help you stay within budget, and make sure you have a wonderful experience with us. If you have any questions, give us a call at (800) 437-5683.