How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring

Grooms, we’re here for you! Our weekly column will give you tips and tricks to help you navigate the confusing, stressful process known as wedding planning. This week, we focus on the very first step: selecting the perfect ring

A few popular engagement ring styles, all available at Tiny Jewel Box. Photographs courtesy of Tiny Jewel Box

We talked to Matthew Rosenheim, president of Tiny Jewel Box, about his top tips for buying a ring she’ll love.

Do Your Research

Before you enter a jewelry store, have a solid idea of what ring style your future intended might prefer. “Do a little sleuthing,” suggests Rosenheim. “Some guys are comfortable getting direct feedback from the recipient, but if you don’t want to be too overt, ask a friend or family member for advice. Even just knowing the type of clothing, brands, and accessories she likes can help a salesperson point you in the right direction.”

It’s also a good idea to be armed with some knowledge about the four c’s­—cut, color, carat weight, and clarity (check out Tiny Jewel Box’s Web site for more on those).

Set a Budget

“The old ‘three months’ salary’ thing is antiquated,” says Rosenheim. “Spend a amount of money you feel comfortable with­.”

Decide What’s Important

“Regardless of what you want to spend, the biggest challenge in choosing a diamond is finding a balance between size, quality, and price,” says Rosenheim. “Some guys might want a two-carat diamond no matter what, while others might not put a big premium on size but the want something high-quality. Know what’s important to you before going shopping.”

Know the Trends

If your intended is herself unsure about her ring preferences, or simply doesn’t have any, Rosenheim has some ideas.

“In the last ten years, the biggest trend was diamond-intensive, decorative mountings, but nowadays, cleaner, more contemporary mountings are moving toward the forefront,” he says. “As for shapes, the strong trend is rounds, which dominate the market, as well as cushion-cut.”

Diamonds aren’t her thing? “Sapphires are the most common stone used in non-diamond engagement rings,” says Rosenheim.

Another trend: “People come in and want actual antique, Art Deco rings,” says Rosenheim. “They love having something one-of-a-kind and uniquely theirs.”

In terms of sizing, the most common range from slightly under a carat to two carats. And for metals, platinum is outpacing white gold, with yellow gold still at the back of the pack. (Still due to Carrie Bradshaw’s hatred of the metal, perhaps?) Sapphries


“One of the biggest mistakes guys make is focusing too much on what they personally like rather than listening to their recipient,” says Rosenheim. “She might say that she likes clean, modern rings, but he decides that he likes more ornate vintage styles. Be a good giver and focus on getting something timeless.”

Don’t Go It Alone

“I would say about 40 to 50 percent of men look for an engagement ring with a friend or family member, and another 20 percent actually bring the recipient,” says Rosenheim. “Most guys want a second opinion, which can be a good idea.”

Size Doesn’t Matter

“Knowing her finger size isn’t a prerequesite,” says Rosenheim. “We can make any ring an average size temporarily, and then adjust it after the fact.”

Give Yourself Time

“I would say give yourself six weeks in between your first shopping trip and your intended proposal date,” says Rosenheim. “Of course, we always try to work quickly, but you’ll have a fuller breadth of options if you have a longer timeframe.”

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.