Everything You Need to Know about Buying Engagement Rings Online

People shop online for everything from books to boots to bottles of wine. Yet when it comes to buying engagement rings online, many shoppers insist on sticking to traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

It's understandable. An engagement ring is a major investment, and you want to be sure you're getting exactly what you pay for. With that said, more and more shoppers are embracing the convenience, vast selection, and competitive pricing you can only find when buying engagement rings online.

Are you considering a virtual approach to ring shopping? Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

Start Offline

That's right—you'll have a much better understanding of what you're looking at online if you've seen the real thing in person. Stop by a few jewelry stores and check out their wares. Let the diamond experts tell you about the four C's: color, cut, carat, and clarity. If you get a feel for what you like in terms of size, shape, and style, it will make it easier to find what you're looking for online. And if your proposal isn't going to be a huge surprise, consider taking your significant other along with you—you know, just to browse.

Do Some Snooping

This is where the beauty of shopping for engagement rings online lies. Check your significant other's Pinterest boards, bookmarks, and Instagram account for photos of rings she loves. Chances are, if you've even casually discussed marriage, she's saved at least a few images of rings she'd love to say "yes" to. If you're lucky, that pretty pin or bookmark will lead you right to a site with the ring of her dreams. It doesn't get much easier than that, does it? Just be sure to clear out your search history when you're done.

Look for Reputable Sellers

You're probably about to spend a good deal of money on this piece of jewelry. This isn't a situation where you want to wire money to an eBay seller in Bangladesh. Limit your search to reputable diamond dealers. If you don't already recognize the seller's name, do some background research to find customer reviews and ratings, and make sure there are no red flags associated with the seller. If you're still not sure it's legit, you may just want to shop somewhere else.

Read the Fine Print

One good way to tell a reputable seller from a not-so-safe bet is to examine its store policies closely. Does the store offer free insured shipping and free, no-hassle returns? Will it provide a lifetime warranty on the diamond and an independent grading report? These are all good signs the seller is prepared to stand behind its products.

Get an Independent Appraisal

Even if you buy from a very trustworthy seller, it's a good idea to do your due diligence and get the diamond appraised by a third party. You'll need to do this anyway if you plan to get the ring insured—which, by the way, you should definitely do. Be sure to bring the grading report along for reference. Do all of this within the ring's return period so that if anything comes back fishy, you can send it back to where it came from.

When it comes down to it, where you buy your ring is really a matter of personal preference. Whether you choose to buy in-store or look for engagement rings online, be sure to approach the purchase with care so you'll find a ring that's perfect for your bride-to-be.