January 22, 2021

How to Buy an Engagement Ring Online

Read more about Diamonds
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Buying a diamond ring online is perfectly safe - as long as you know what to look for. Here is the ultimate guide to buying an engagement ring online.

More and more grooms-to-be are turning to their laptops to buy an engagement ring. And it may even be your only option right now.

But it's scary to make such an important purchase sight unseen. Luckily, the online engagement ring shopping experience has really improved and it's no longer such a gamble.

In this guide, we'll walk you through:

Should You Buy a Diamond Engagement Ring Online?

First, should you be making this important purchase online? It could be the right choice for you and your sweetheart if you:

  • Want to save money - online jewelry stores offer pricing as much as 50% less than traditional big-box engagement ring retailers.

  • Want to custom design your own ring on your own time.

  • Don't like the high-pressured environment of a jewelry store or pushy salespeople.

If these are all sounding good to you, then read on! Let's answer some of your biggest concerns.

Is It Safe to Buy a Diamond Ring Online?

Buying a diamond engagement ring online is completely safe as long as you purchase from a reputable jeweler.

When looking for a safe online jeweler, be sure to look for:

  • No-questions-asked full-money-back return policy
  • Free fully insured shipping
  • All diamonds are conflict-free
  • All diamonds are lab certified
  • Free resizing and warranty

If the jeweler offers all of these above, then you can trust that it's a safe company to buy from. You're fully protected in case something goes wrong (your ring doesn't arrive or you just don't like it).

Diamond retailers depend their good reputations too, so they're not out to scam you. Just use your best judgment and don't go to a sketchy website without clear policies.

Some of our favorite trustworthy online diamond retailers include James Allen, Blue Nile, Whiteflash, Brilliant Earth, and Ritani.

A lot of online diamond retailers do actually have a physical showroom in a select city (or few). Even if you're not able to visit a showroom, that's still a sign that it's a legit company.

Can You Buy a Quality Diamond Online?

Yes, you can absolutely buy a good quality diamond online.

The quality of a diamond depends on its characteristics - the 4C's (carat, cut, color, and clarity). We'll briefly go over this later (or you can bookmark our detailed guide to read later).

The important thing is that the diamond has a lab certification. This verifies the quality of the diamond so you know that you're getting the real deal. This is true whether you're buying online or in-store.

We recommend only getting diamonds certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society). These are the two leading authorities with the best grading system. If a retailer takes the trouble to get their diamonds certified by one of these labs, then you know that they're serious about their products.

Some online vendors will even include a free appraisal as part of your purchase documents. This is another certification that confirms the quality and value of your diamond ring.

Can You See Real Photos?

Online diamond shopping has changed a lot. In the past, you had to buy a diamond blind only based on the 4C's.

But now, a lot of online stores provide HD photos and/or videos of the diamonds. The photos are enlarged so you can really see the details of each stone. This makes it easy to judge if a diamond is eye clean.

View each diamond from every angle.
View each diamond from every angle. Screenshot from James Allen Website

James Allen and Blue Nile both have HD videos of their diamonds. Check it out for yourself to see how clearly you can see little details.

Some retailers even go beyond just photos. Whiteflash provides diamond light performance imagery with each diamond (which shows you how well it reflects light). Even physical retailers don't show you those!

What if I Need to Return the Ring?

It's important to look for an online vendor with a "no questions asked" full refund policy. Make sure it's a money-back return (not in-store credit).

Usually, you can return within 30 days of when it was shipped. This gives you plenty of time to receive it, propose, and even appraise the ring if you wish.

Trustworthy online retailers will offer free insured return shipping, so you don't need to pay to send it back. Ritani will even arrange to have it collected at your door at no cost.

We bought a ring from James Allen and returned it, and it was completely hassle-free. They didn't ask any questions and it was all handled in a very timely manner.

How Does Shipping Work?

A trustworthy online vendor will offer free fully insured shipping. If your package gets lost or stolen, you won't have to pay anything.

Your order is usually shipped by overnight mail and will require a signature upon delivery.

The package will arrive in an unmarked box, so no one will know what's inside. This way, you can keep the proposal a secret.

What if the Ring Doesn't Fit?

If you're buying a ring as a surprise, then there could be a chance that you didn't get the size right.

A good online retailer should provide one free ring resizing. The terms may vary depending on the vendor.

James Allen and Blue Nile and Ritani all offer one free resizing within 1 year of purchase. Brilliant Earth's free resize policy is within 60 days. So just be aware of the terms.

Note that some styles cannot be resized (such as tension rings and eternity wedding bands). If you're ordering one of these styles, then it's best to discuss with your partner so you get the size absolutely right.

What About Online Customer Service?

A lot of sites have 24/7 customer support so you can reach someone at any time. Sites like Blue Nile, James Allen, and Whiteflash all offer live chat to get questions answered quickly.

James Allen even offers free instant consultations with an expert gemologist. You can screen share with the rep and compare diamonds together. Similarly, Brilliant Earth offers a complimentary, 50-minute Zoom consultation.

Another pro point is that the reps aren't motivated by commission. So you won't be getting the hard sale. A lot of people even prefer this kind of no-pressure, online support.

Now that your top concerns are answered, let's go over where to buy a diamond ring online.

Best Places to Buy Engagement Ring Online

Now we'll go over our top recommended trustworthy retailers to buy engagement rings online. We have detailed reviews for each, so be sure to read up more on anyone that sounds interesting.

All the retailers we have listed have a good diamond selection, competitive prices, and clear, generous policies.

James Allen

Low prices; huge selection

© CreditDonkey

James Allen (see review and unboxing) is our top choice for a lot of reasons. It offers some of the best pricing among diamond retailers. All diamonds are certified and conflict-free.

It offers a huge selection of natural diamonds, lab diamonds, color diamonds, and gemstones. So there's something no matter what you're looking for. All stones come with an HD 360-degree video. You can even request a super-zoom for 5 stones to really see them in close detail.

One of the best features is that you can get free expert consultations with no appointment needed.

You can also find designer rings, women and men's wedding rings, and pre-set gemstone engagement rings.

Blue Nile

All GIA certified diamonds; competitive prices

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

Blue Nile (read full review) also has a huge inventory and similarly competitive prices. A main difference is that Blue Nile doesn't offer lab diamonds or gemstones. All their diamonds are certified by GIA - the leading gemology lab.

It also offers a Diamond Price Match guarantee. If you can find a lower-priced diamond of the same quality and specs graded by GIA, Blue Nile can match the price.

Their customer service team is available 24/7 via phone and messaging. You can also book a virtual appointment to chat with an expert.


Try different styles at home for free

Ritani (see review and unboxing) knows that buying an engagement ring online is nerve-wracking. That's why it offers a Try at Home feature. You can choose 3 engagement rings to try on at home to see which style you like. Then just return them using a pre-paid shipping label. There's no obligation to buy at all.

We also like Ritani's best value page. These are diamonds that have been evaluated by their gemologists to be superb value in terms of beauty and price.

You can also schedule a free one-on-one virtual gemologist consultation.


High-quality, super ideal cut diamonds

Screenshot of Whiteflash Diamond
Screenshot of Whiteflash Diamond

If you're looking for top-notch quality, you need to check out Whiteflash (read full review).

Whiteflash is all about maximum sparkle. It focuses on diamonds with the best cut. Whiteflash's signature A CUT ABOVE diamonds have perfect ratings in light performance, symmetry, and polish. In simple terms, this means that the diamond is super-sparkly.

It also gives you an insane amount of details for each diamond. You get real photos, brilliance & sparkle videos, and all sorts of light performance images.

Did you know? 86% of women say that a diamond's quality is more important than the size. [1]

Brilliant Earth

Ethically sourced diamonds and metals

via Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth (read full review) is the leading jeweler for ethically sourced diamonds. All their diamonds come from ethical mines with fair wages, safe working conditions, and no human rights abuses. It also offers more budget-friendly lab diamonds.

The ring metals are also from recycled parts. Everything, down to the wooden ring boxes, are responsibly sourced. Plus, they have a great social mission in mining areas of Africa. It's a great choice for eco-conscious shoppers who want to do good with their purchase.

Brilliant Earth offers complimentary one-on-one Zoom consultations if you need help through the shopping process.

Leibish & Co.

Leader for fancy colored diamonds

If you're looking for something that will definitely stand out, consider a color diamond. Leibish & Co. is the place to go.

This jeweler specializes in fancy colored diamonds and has one of the largest online collections. You can find diamonds in all colors of the rainbow.

Each diamond has its own special color, hue, and intensity. The ring settings are also custom crafted to bring out the diamond's color in the best way possible - making each ring truly one-of-a-kind.

If you need help, a dedicated rep will be assigned to work with you for your entire shopping journey.

How to Buy an Engagement Ring Online

Now that we've addressed your top concerns, here's a step-by-step guide on how to buy an engagement ring online.

We have a ton of more detailed guides for individual steps (which we'll link along the way), so feel free to read up more.

1. Set a Budget

The first step to making any big purchase is to figure out how much you want to spend. This can be quite hard because an engagement ring is such an emotional purchase.

A good budget should be something that you can reasonably afford without going into debt. It's best to have an open discussion with your partner to come up with a price range that works for you and your future goals together.

Having an engagement ring budget in mind will also let you know what kind of ring you can afford.

Read more on how much to spend on an engagement ring.

In 2019, Americans spent an average of $7,750 on an engagement ring. But in reality, brides don't expect a ring to cost that much. In a CreditDonkey survey, 36% of women think an engagement ring should cost less than $1,000. 3 in 5 women don't expect a ring over $3,000. [1]

2. Find Her Ring Style

The engagement ring needs to fit her personal style. 86% of brides care more about the overall design of the ring than the diamond carat size.[2]

The ring design includes:

  • Type of center stone: Not all women even want a diamond! If she has more unique tastes, she may want a sapphire, emerald, ruby, or even another gemstone (personally, I love morganite).

  • Diamond shape: Round is the most popular shape, but it's not for all women. She may want something different, like princess, oval, or pear. Learn more about the different diamond shapes.

  • Setting style: Would she prefer a simple, classic solitaire? Or a more flashy halo? Or maybe a unique, vintage style? Here's a quick guide to all the different setting styles.

  • Metal color: The ring color is also important to express style. Would she prefer luxurious-looking platinum and white gold, warm yellow gold, or romantic rose gold?

This is something you may want to talk to her about. Most women already have their dream ring in mind. If you really want to keep the proposal a surprise, then it's best to recruit help from her family/friends instead of just trying to guess what she likes.

3. Learn About the 4C's

The 4C's are a good place to start learning about diamonds. These determine how much a diamond costs. We won't go into the nitty-gritty details here, but you can read more in our full-length guides.

  • Carat: Carat is the weight of the diamond, which determines the size.

  • Color: Color refers to how much of a yellow tint is in white diamonds. But most people cannot see a slight yellow tint, so you can save a lot here.

  • Clarity: Clarity refers to how many flaws are in the diamond. Likewise, most people can't see tiny imperfections with their naked eye. So this C isn't as important.

  • Cut: Cut refers to how well the diamond is cut to reflect light (NOT shape). A well-cut diamond will be more sparkly and beautiful. Because this actually makes a visible difference, cut is the most important.

Pro tip: You only need a diamond that looks white and has no visible flaws. For best value, we recommend H color and VS2 clarity. You'll get more bang for your buck, and the diamond will still be beautiful.

4. Figure Out Her Ring Size

Even though online retailers offer a free resizing, it's best to get the size right the first time. If you're not discussing the engagement ring with your partner, then you'll have to secretly figure it out.

Here are some ideas to find out her ring size without her knowing, including some ring size charts.

You can also request a free ring sizer from one of the above retailers. Or you can use their virtual sizer to help you out.

5. Plan When to Buy the Ring

After you know the ring you want to buy, you need to plan when to buy it based on when you want to propose.

This part needs a bit of planning because it's not entirely predictable when you will get the ring. Unlike a physical store, you can't just arrange to pick up the ring on a certain date.

Before you check out, the website should give you an estimated delivery date. Usually, you can get your engagement ring in about 2 weeks from when you place your order. Since the rings are made to order, the time depends on the style of ring you selected.

If you're concerned about shipping delays, you can place your order a little earlier (about a month before your planned proposal date). This should still give you enough time to receive the ring, propose, and return within 30 days if you need to.

6. Design and Order Your Engagement Ring

This is the fun part! You can custom design a ring by picking out a loose diamond and setting.

When shopping online, it's easy to filter your selection to look for the specs you want. We'll show you the process using screenshots from James Allen (the other sites have more or less the same shopping process).

To find a diamond, set your search filters to what shape you want and the 4C specs. Or you can filter according to your budget.

screenshot from jamesallen.com

You can even select advanced filters, like table percentage, depth percentage, fluorescence level, symmetry, and polish.

Next, select your engagement ring setting (you can do this vice versa too). Select the style of ring and metal color.

screenshot from jamesallen.com

When you've picked both the diamond and ring, you'll see a preview of what your final design looks like. As well as the final price.

And, of course, if you don't love it, just start all over! You can try out lots of different designs from the comfort of home.

Bottom Line

Buying an engagement ring online is perfectly safe (and fun!) as long as you go to a trustworthy vendor. We're personally a big fan of buying online because you can save a lot more.

Make sure the retailer sells all certified diamonds and insured free shipping, as well as full money-back return policies and lifetime warranty. This way, you're fully protected in case something goes wrong.

Overall, the online engagement ring buying process has never been easier or safer. The real diamond photos and videos allow you to shop with confidence. And with competitive prices, you don't need to worry about getting ripped off.


  1. ^ CreditDonkey, Survey: Diamond Engagement Rings, Retrieved 12/20/2020
  2. ^ CreditDonkey, Engagement Ring Statistics, Retrieved 12/29/2020

Anna G is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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