engagement ring
North State Photography

While the coronavirus pandemic has put many things on hold, it’s not stopping many couples from moving forward with their plans to get engaged—and it shouldn’t! Even though you might still be planning on proposing to your partner, the circumstances surrounding how you plan to propose have likely been shifted as a result of the pandemic. “Traditionally, people would go to a retail store to look at rings, but some have chosen to buy an engagement ring online,” says Dan Moran of Concierge Diamonds in Los Angeles. But, unlike buying an outfit or a new coffee table, purchasing an engagement ring is no simple endeavor. “If you’ve never been educated on diamonds before, how do you know what you’re getting is a good quality stone or a good deal?” Moran points out.

Timelines for when making rings and when diamonds can be procured have also been a bit unpredictable. “Even if jewelry is made in the U.S., in many cases diamonds are cut and polished overseas, which means that they have to be shipped in from various countries around the world or even various states just within the U.S.,” says Slisha Kankariya, founder of Four Mine, an online jewelry retailer specializing in engagement rings. “Because different countries and different states have different schedules for closures and different restrictions on their business, shipping has been unpredictable.”

Luckily, many engagement ring retailers are working with clients in a virtual manner. If you do decide to buy an engagement ring online, here are some tips experts recommend following for an overall positive experience.

Work with a professional.

The best way to work around the engagement ring-buying pitfalls involved in a COVID-19 world, according to Moran, is to work with a diamond expert, the same way as you would work with any other professional skilled in their job. “Working with an expert, especially one who operates as a wholesaler, can not only help you navigate the pitfalls of shopping for stones online, but also potentially save you money by not having to pay retail for your ring,” he says.

In addition to choosing a reputable jeweler, Kankariya recommends making sure the company has a return and warranty policy. “This will ensure that you're able to buy with confidence and if something isn't perfect you can return it,” she says. “A lifetime warranty also ensures that the jeweler stands behind the quality of their jewelry to begin with and for years to come.”

While we do recommend working with a local jeweler when possible, a few reputable places to look at and buy engagement rings online include Blue Nile, James Allen, Kay Jewelers, Jared, and Zales.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Of course, you probably want to keep the fact that you’re looking to buy an engagement ring online under wraps so that your soon-to-be fiance(e) doesn’t find out, but you are making one of the biggest purchases, likely, of your life. Consider asking someone close to you both, perhaps her sister, mother, best friend or even a diamond industry expert, to help guide you in making the right selection. “More and more women these days want to be involved in the design of their engagement ring since it's something she will be wearing on her hand and looking at every day for the rest of her life,” suggests Sophie Quinn, jeweler with Couplet.org.

Choose a simple setting.

While you're working with an online stone retailer, Quinn suggests opting for a solitaire setting, a more affordable setting where the center diamond or stone is held in place by tiny prongs that help hold it in place. “It's not worth investing a lot in the setting when so little is in your control right now,” she says. “This way, there's no harm, no offense taken, and no loss if you want to rework the setting down the road or even as soon as shelter in place begins to lift.”

Don’t get more than you're comfortable with.

Your engagement ring will likely be one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, however it doesn’t have to be beyond your means—or comfort zone. “An engagement ring should be enough of a commitment to make you think twice about spending the money, but it should not be something that is a burden,” says Moran.

Avoid fire sales.

A sale is always great, but you want to avoid a deal that seems too good to be true. “Diamonds are priced on the four C’s (color, clarity, cut, carat weight) and retain their value, so if someone is moving a two-carat stone for $10,000, the first thing you’re going to want to find out is why,” says Moran. “Unless you’re an expert or working with one, be very careful of unscrupulous outlets online.”

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.