Skip to main content

Tips for Buying an Engagement Ring from an Expert

buying an engagement ring
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Many people buy diamonds only a handful of times in their lives, and for some, only once: when they get married.

It’s hard to become an expert when you only try something once. So, before engagement season (November-February) gets into full swing, we found someone to bring us up to speed.

After nearly 30 years in the diamond business, Chris Del Gatto has had his hands on more diamonds than you or I could imagine.

delgatto-diamonds-2-1
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Del Gatto founded his company Delgatto after decades working as a diamond cutter and diamond merchant. Through the company’s secondary diamond marketplace, I Do Now I Don’t, Del Gatto hopes to revolutionize the secondary jewelry market. Already, over 40 percent of the diamonds bought on the platform are purchased through people’s phones. We talked to Del Gatto about how to buy the perfect engagement ring, and unsurprisingly, he felt that the perfect engagement ring is really about buying the perfect diamond.

The size of diamonds is of course measured in carats, and there are also ratings for things like color and clarity. But for Del Gatto, knowing how those things works will only get you part of the way to finding the perfect rock. Here are his tips for getting the rest of the way.

Do Your Aesthetic Research

Del Gatto says the diamond-buying process is an extremely personal choice, especially when considering diamonds for wedding rings. “Whenever I hear regret, it’s because something else drove the decision besides passion,” he says.

Del Gatto’s advice is to take the investment seriously by doing a significant amount of research into different diamond aesthetics. This probably should include lots of in-person ring shopping with your fiance, even if you plan on buying online. “Why wouldn’t you go in person and just try on things with your fiance? You know, it’s kind of a fun thing to do anyway, but then you get a sense of, ‘you know, a 2-carat is bigger than I thought, I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it everyday,’” he says.

delgatto-diamonds-3-1

Find Someone you Can Trust to Talk about Options

If possible, it’s best to find a third-party source who can be unbiased when you bring them your buying criteria. Up-selling is in a salesperson’s job description, so it’s much harder to get honest advice from a person from whom you will likely buy a diamond.

For example, many people believe color and clarity are the most important aspects of a diamond, but for Del Gatto, the cut of the diamond (and who is doing the cutting) is the most important element for what people are describing when they say a diamond pops or sparkles. While you may be able to use scores in a diamond resale listing to rate the color and clarity, you may not know the ins and outs of different diamond manufacturers. An unbiased source can help you compare brands and cuts.

When in doubt, call in an independent third-party appraiser–someone who has no stake in an evaluation and will provide you with an accurate value of the diamond. This site has a helpful, interactive list of independent appraisers by state.

Don’t Listen to Advertiser Rules

One common rule you may hear is that a diamond for an engagement ring should cost the equivalent of three months salary. Del Gatto says this advice comes from advertising departments and should be ignored. Your budget is totally personal and may be more or less depending on your financial circumstances, the timeline of your engagement and wedding, and what type of ring your partner can imagine wearing long-term.

delgatto-diamonds-4-1

Check out the Secondary/Estate Marketplace

As is the case with cars, buying diamonds in the secondary market can save you a great deal of money over paying retail. But unlike cars, diamonds won’t continue to depreciate in value forever. As a commodity, diamonds will fall to a wholesale price below which they won’t drop. For this reason, buying on the secondary market can save you a great deal of cash, especially if you’ve honed your aesthetic preferences and are looking for an older style cut.

Put Everything into the Diamond, Not the Mounting

While much of Del Gatto’s advice boils down to making a personal decision based on passion and research, the one hard rule he does recommend is putting all your funds into the diamond and not the mounting. Because the diamond is a commodity, it won’t lose value over time. The mounting, on the other hand, has a high mark-up and will depreciate as passing trends make it less desirable. If, in the future, your financial circumstances change, then you can change the mounting to your liking while maintaining the beautiful diamond investment you made to begin with.

To summarize, do your research, follow your interests, follow unbiased advice, and your partner will have a rock they are happy with for as long as the relationship lasts (hopefully, forever).

Editors' Recommendations

Zach Middleton
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Zach Middleton is a writer and reporter based out of the University Park neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. He's covered tiny…
Get up to $130 off Tom Ford colognes in this rare sale
Someone spraying a Tom Ford cologne on themselves.

Jomashop has some fantastic cologne deals with up to $310 off select Tom Ford colognes. Whether you’re buying your favorite fragrance, looking for a gift for someone, or want to try something new, there are great options here. As always with such huge sales, it’s a smart move to check it all out for yourself. Do so by tapping the button below. However, if you want some insight into what we recommend, keep reading and we’ll take you through our favorites. In all cases, don’t count on stock staying this price for very long.

What to shop for in the Jomashop Tom Ford cologne sale
With some of the best colognes around, Tom Ford colognes are well worth checking out. One highlight is the which is down to $144 from $295. It has top notes of rosewood, cardamom, and Chinese pepper, while there are heart notes of Oud, sandalwood, and vetiver. For the base notes, expect the delights of Tonka bean, vanilla, and amber. One of Tom Ford’s older colognes, it has a timeless quality to it.

Read more
Burberry sale: Jackets, shirts, belts, and more, from $200
Burberry Kensington

Burberry is one of the most recognizable and popular brands in the world with their tailored apparel, luxurious accessories and of course, their famous checkered print. If you don't already own at least one piece of apparel or an accessory from this coveted brand, now is the perfect opportunity to find something that suits your needs.

Gilt is offering a huge sale on over 150 different Burberry styles including shirts, belts, sunglasses, wallets, footwear, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets and more. You can find apparel for as low as $200 and accessories or cologne for as low as $30. Click the button below to start shopping all of these Burberry products before time runs out.

Read more
Steven Kurutz and American Giant endeavor to create a flannel 100% American made
Follow American Giant to bring flannel back to the USA
man in flannel holding a book

What makes the flannel shirt something that stays with us here in America? Is it the quintessential garment of the American worker? Does it make us feel as though we are driving horses across the plains in the old American West? How about working the day away, clearing logs from the Pacific Northwest to supply the entire country with the lumber needed to build houses, decks, and shop fronts? Or maybe we don't have to reach back as far to imagine the flannel renaissance of the 1990s bringing us the nostalgia of our childhood imitating Kurt Cobain on stage. Either way, the flannel is a staple of Americana, and American fashion brand American Giant has spent years attempting to bring that garment back home.

What started out as an article in the New York Times blossomed into a half-decade journey for author Steven Kurutz to chronicle AG's desire to bring flannel-making back to the shores of the United States and to save factory jobs in his new book, American Flannel. As a native of a small town in Pennsylvania, Kurutz has watched his town wither away as factory jobs were shipped overseas. For him, the book was more than a story of American determination; it was a personal connection to a quest to save his own hometown and others like it.
American Flannel spotlights the brands bringing garments back home

Read more