Engagement rings are one of the biggest investments you are likely to make in your life. You are unlikely to wear anything as expensive as that special ring on your finger. Aside from the financial value, your engagement ring also has tremendous emotional and sentimental value.

Therefore, it is important to take some to time to choose the best ring. These days, it is very common for a woman to choose her own ring, whether after a surprise proposal, or as part of a mutual proposal. Choosing your own ring is obviously a great first step in making sure it is perfect. However, there are also some rules and tips you should know before making such a major purchase.

Here are the essential rules of buying the perfect engagement ring to suit your personal style,

Know the 4 Cs

Although you don’t need to be an expert, knowing the basics of what makes a good quality diamond is important to being able to make a good purchase. Having an understanding of these means you’ll be able to discuss options with your jeweller and make an informed choice.

Diamond quality comes down to the 4 Cs:

1) Cut – how a diamond is cut affects it sparkle and overall appearance. A great cut can also make up for deficiencies in the other 3 Cs.

2) Color – this is really the lack of color, as the ideal diamond is completely colorless. Most diamonds actually have a slight yellow tinge, which may or may not be visible to the naked eye, depending on the level of color.

3) Clarity – all except the highest-quality (and most expensive) diamonds contain small imperfections. In most cases, these imperfections and microscopic and not visible.

4) Carat – this is the size, or specifically the weight of the diamond. The higher the carat, the higher the cost. Many people emphasize the carat above everything else, but in reality the setting, design and cut are much more important to the overall look of the ring.

Don’t Be Limited to Diamonds

Having said all that, engagement rings can be so much more than just diamonds. There are some truly stunning diamond settings so you may choose to go with one of those. However, you don’t have to: open yourself up to the possibility of the many other unique and creative designs that you could have for your ring. Look at other precious stones such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires, or even something truly unconventional such as an opal. Browse vintage jewellery stores for unique heritage pieces. Other non-traditional engagement ring ideas include unique bands and settings, or throwing the ring out entirely for a ring tattoo instead!

Your Engagement Ring Should Be Timeless

Fashion trends change by the year or even by the month. However, your engagement ring is something you plan to wear every day for the rest of your life. Therefore you want to make sure this is a timeless design that won’t date overtime and that will look equally stunning decades from now. Although you want your ring to reflect your own unique sense of style, avoid overly trendy design elements or those which reflect changeable fashions.

There is No Set Rule on How Much to Spend

It used to be said that a man should spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. Of course budget is important when choosing a ring as this will effect what kind of ring you should buy. However, your engagement ring budget is something very personal and depends on a variety of factors, so there is no set rule when it comes to this. This will depend on finding the balance between what you want and what you can afford. As with any purchase, it is important not to overstretch your budget as a couple, and make sure you don’t spend so much that this will put you under financial stress. However, this is an important item so if you really want a particular kind of ring and you can afford it, you should go for it! On the other hand, the design you love may not be the most expensive one, so don’t feel like you have to spend a certain amount!

Try Before You Buy

This may seem obvious, but it is important to try the ring on before you buy it. When it comes to the in-depth process of buying an engagement ring it is easy to get caught up in consultations, designs and customization that you may actually forget to see how the ring looks on your finger. This is important because it needs to look and feel great on your hand, and every hand is different! If you are designing your own ring ask if there are similar models you can try on in the early stages of the process.