There are so many different options to consider, in terms of style, stone, carats, and of course, price.

With so much pressure in this situation, we are here to make things a little easier for you. Take a look at our ultimate guide to buying the perfect engagement ring.

Plan Your Budget

Before you even start looking for an engagement ring, you need to set your budget. Engagement rings can vary greatly in price so your budget will greatly narrow down your choices and help you to focus your search.

Be realistic in what you can afford – although you want to demonstrate your love, it is not worth getting into horrific debt in order to do so. Set out a practical budget for the ring you can afford without breaking the bank.

Do Your Research

Another important aspect of preparing to buy the ring is researching what your fiancée-to-be will like. Take close of the kind of jewelry she wears, and what she likes and comments on. Does she favor classic, traditional styles of jewelry or more modern pieces? Is she more likely to wear gold, silver or platinum jewelry? Here it can be useful to enlist the help of one or more of her close girlfriends, as they will have a good idea of her style and can give you advice.

While you are doing this research, don't forget to check her ring size. Rings can, of course, be easily re-sized, but having a ring which fits perfectly can really make the proposal that much more special. After all, you want to be able to slip the ring on to her finger when she says yes! The best way to check her ring size is to take one of her rings to a jeweler and have them check the size. This will take a bit of coordination to do so secretly, and you'll want to return it as quickly as possible before she notices. Also, make sure the ring you measure is one which fits the correct finger, rather than the middle or index finger.

Keep the Secret

There are really two ways you can handle this: you can go with your fiancée to choose the ring, or you can pick one yourself and use it to make a big surprise proposal. Although more people are going with the first option these days as this ensures she will like the ring, the traditional surprise approach is still favored by many.

If you decide to make the engagement ring a surprise, having the perfect ring can make the proposal even more spectacular. This does require a fair bit of work: you will need to make sure those who know about the ring and the proposal don't spoil the surprise. If you consult with your girlfriend's friends as part of your research, make sure you explain to them that you have a big surprise planned – if they are as excited as you are for the big surprise they will keep the secret!

Decide on the Ring Band

Once you have a general style, size, and budget in mind, it's time to think about specifics. There is a range of different variables and combinations when it comes to engagement rings, so you have almost limitless choices. However, don't panic, you can work through different elements to eventually choose the perfect ring. The first one to consider is the type of precious metal which makes up the ring's band.

For engagement rings, the metal used is most commonly:

  • Gold (which is further broken down into yellow gold, rose gold and white gold)
  • Platinum
  • Silver

Silver is the least common as it is the lowest quality and can tarnish easily, with yellow gold being the traditional metal used in engagement rings. These days, however, platinum and white gold are rapidly becoming the most popular. If your girlfriend is more into classic and traditional styles, yellow gold is probably the one to choose, whereas platinum or white gold are more suitable for the fashion-forward.

Decide on The Setting

The next major decision to make which will narrow your search is what stone you would like, and how it will be presented, or set, in the ring. When people think of an engagement ring they normally think of a diamond ring, however, this is not the only option (more on this below).

If you do decide to go for a classic diamond ring, however, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Cut – how the diamond is angled and proportioned, which contributes to how it looks and how much it sparkles
  • Colour – diamonds actually vary from completely colorless to light yellow. In the diamond industry, this is graded on a scale, with "D" referring to completely colorless, and "Z" being light yellow. D diamonds are considered the best and are the most expensive, but this is a matter of taste, so include this in your research of what your girlfriend will like.
  • Clarity – this refers to the number of imperfections in the stone. The higher the number of imperfections, the lower the clarity. Lower clarity diamonds are referred to as having "inclusions", that is fractures or other minerals in the stone.
  • Carat – this is the size, or most specifically the weight of the diamond. People often get caught up in the carat weight of a diamond, however, cut and clarity can have just as much effect on the overall appearance.

Dare to Be Different

When looking at engagement rings, don't feel constrained to choose the kind of ring which everyone else buys. An engagement ring should be a show of love to that special someone in your life, so make sure that whatever you choose is best suited to her. If she is someone who likes the classic, traditional style of jewelry, then a simple diamond solitaire is a good choice.

However, if she has a more distinct sense of style, it is better to choose a ring which is unique, just like her! Buying a ring which really suits her own personal taste will show how well you know her and how much you care. If you are looking for something a little different, Irish wedding rings make great engagement rings. You may also choose a ring with a different type of gemstone, such as a sapphire or ruby, rather than a diamond. If she loves vintage style, you could find the perfect antique ring.

Buying the perfect engagement ring doesn't have to be an impossible task. Follow these easy steps and tips and you can rest assured that you have the ring that will demonstrate all you want to show as you take one of the biggest steps of your life.