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engagement ring basics

Settings, stones, sets, and solitaires -- it can be easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for engagement rings. Fortunately, we've broken down the process to make it super simple to find the perfect engagement ring for your fiance-to-be. First, think budget. It used to be the rule that an engagement ring should cost what you could earn in two months, but that's an old-school way of thinking. Simply buy the best ring you can afford without going into major debt. Still unsure? We've got great tips for getting the most for your money (like how to make smaller stones look bigger than they are!). Not sure what style to buy? We have hundreds of photos of engagement rings from the industry's top designers to search through -- and advice for choosing the right ring to match her style. But the shopping doesn't stop after she says "yes!" Then it's time to find a wedding band (and not the musical kind!). Opt for wedding ring sets for a uniform look, or go nontraditional with a totally different metal or style. Don't worry, we didn't forget about the guys -- we have suggestions for finding the perfect men's wedding band to suit his style too. In fact, many wedding ring sets come with discounts for the groom's band, so don't forget to ask when you're ring shopping!

More About Engagement Rings Less About Engagement Rings

getting started

Before you buy an engagement ring, there are a few points to consider.

    know your 4 Cs

    The "4 Cs," are cut (the shape of the diamond - round, square, oval), clarity (the degree to which the diamond is free of flaws), carat (the size, or more accurately, the weight) and color (from white to faint yellow).

    know your budget

    Heard of the 2-month salary rule? That's just a guide. It's more important to come up with a number you feel comfortable with. Plus: Check out ways to save on an engagement ring.

    know how to shop

    Your jeweler should let you examine loose stones (stones outside of a ring setting) so you can examine them. Once you've picked your stone, you'll pick the ring setting and the ring metal.

Our Engagement Rings Editor, Jennie M.