Guide to Engagement Ring Purchasing

My name is Nicole Mangiaracina and I have been a part of the Harry Merrill team since I was 14 years old. I started as an errand girl and worked my way up to manager of the company. After working with the company for eight years some of my favorite things to do at the store are educating customers on diamond buying, running the store’s social media, and being our jewelry photographer. I am here to guide through the steps it takes to become engaged to the love of your life! 


Step 1: Creating a Budget:
 As a consumer, this is probably one of your first large purchases, and also can seem the most stressful. We believe you should first start by coming up with a budget. According to online articles, they recommend you should spend about three months’ salary for an engagement ring. We believe you should not put yourself in debt over this purchase. We recommend working with what is comfortable for you. We have rings at all different price ranges and can work with any budget. We also offer financing and layaway options that can relieve some stress. The goal is to make your significant other happy without breaking the bank. 

Step 2: Brainstorming Ring Styles
An engagement ring is a gift from one person to the other to signify your love. We encourage adding your style into the engagement ring as well as adding details your partner would like. This makes the ring extremely personal and thought out. We are here to bring out your style as well as figuring out your partners. We can also add special details that are personal to the customer. For example one of our customers met at a horse race derby so we incorporated a horseshoe design into their ring. 

Whether you are shopping alone or with a family member or friend it can make the process easier to access liked photos of ring styles on social media outlets like instagram or pinterest. If they do not use social media, you can easily pinpoint a style based on their personality. If they are more understated they might prefer a classic solitaire or traditional three stone diamond ring. If they are a bit more flashy you can add a diamond halo to enhance the center diamond size and incorporate details like hand engraving to add more pizzazz to the design. 

Step 3 Choosing a Jeweler:
You should choose a jeweler that will guarantee a comfortable and non-stressful environment. Walk in customers often ask “How do you have customers when there are so many other jewelry shops on Jewelers Row”. The answer is simple: customer service skills. Harry Merrill & Son Jewelers Inc. has been setting ourselves apart from the others since 1956. We treat customers that need a watch battery the same as a customer that wishes to purchase a $30,000 diamond engagement ring. You are greeted with a toothy smile the moment you step into our shop. Once the customer tells us that they are looking for an engagement ring we begin asking questions like: Do you have a ring design in mind or any photos of rings they like, do you know if you want a diamond or colored stone for the center, if so do know what shape stone, and carat size. As this may sound overwhelming you do not have to worry. Our shop is a stress free environment. We are here to guide and answer any questions along the way. Owner, Robert Schwartz always suggests that the only bad question is the one you do not ask and go home and stress over. We like to build a relationship with our customers. Bonding over where you are from, how you met your partner, and hobbies you like. We want to become a part of your special occasion. Our main goal is to not only have you leave more comfortable and informed but to have also created a relationship with you.

Step 4: Selecting a Center Stone:
The cost of a diamond is based on a strict grading chart (The 4 C’s) that was created by the Gemological Institute of America. Our goal is to educate what each “C” means while evaluating loose diamonds together. Once you choose the shape of the diamond we will begin going over the 4 C’s grading chart.


This factor determines the diamond’s brilliance. If the diamond is cut too deep it will appear dull and look smaller than it really is and if a diamond is cut too shallow will show a larger stone but all the sparkle will be on the sides of the stone and the center will be liveless (“Gemological Institute of America”). The cost of a diamond with poor cut will be less expensive than a diamond with a proportion cut showing all fire.


The G.I.A scale uses letters to represent color, starting from D-F showing colorless, G-J showing near colorless, K-M showing faint yellow, N-R showing very light yellow, and lastly S-Z showing light fancy yellow (“Gemological Institute of America”). The closer to colorless you get the more the price increases.


The clarity shows how many natural inclusions are shown to the naked eye. G.I.A’s color scale starts with VVS1, VVS2 (very very slightly included 1 & 2) VS1, VS2 (very slightly included 1 & 2 ) SI1, SI2 (slightly included 1 & 2), and finally I1, I2, I3 (Included 1,2 & 3). These inclusions can appear as black, clear, or white inclusions, so if a customer purchases an I1 Diamond with scattered clear marks that do not show to the naked eye you can save money on the stone.


Carat is the weight of the diamond. There are a hundred points that total a carat. All of these components into the overall cost of a diamond. As for colored stones they are priced based on similar factors as diamonds such as carat weight, cut, and natural inclusions. Another factor is how evenly the color is spread and if the stone is treated with heat or other stimulants that makes the color more vivid. The closer to the stone’s natural form and amount of vivid color, fine cut, and larger carat, the more expensive and desirable.

We often recommend choosing the diamond that catches your eye the most. You may ponder why you prefer the diamond with more color or more clarity rather than the more perfect one. Robert Schwartz states, Diamonds are cut by an individual and not a machine. This means that each diamond has a personality of its own and that is why you may gravitate to one diamond more than the other

Step 5: Settings (Deciding to go the custom route or not)

Completed Settings
Our store has numerous already made gorgeous custom designed and name brand designer settings like Kirk Kara and Dara designs. These settings are already made and just need a center stone and to be sized to your partners finger to be an engagement ring. If you do not know the finger size do not worry we can gauge the size based off of a photo or description of your partner. We also offer the first sizing free of charge because we know you can not accurately guarantee a person’s ring size without them physically being there. Once the ring is sized and the center diamond is set we then will photograph and type up an appraisal for insurance. 

Custom Design
The custom design process allows you to be extremely creative. Our trained jewelry designers will work with you to describe how the process works.

  • STEP 1: Sketch up a design
    Our designers will help create your idea using aspects from other rings or photos into a sketch.
  • STEP 2: Pick a layout for side stones
    Once the sketch is completed we will hand pick and match a layout of small diamonds or colored stones for the design we are creating.
  • STEP 3: Choosing a metal
    You have the option of choosing a metal for your ring to be made in. We use 14k gold (yellow, white, or rose). The closer to 24k pure gold the softer and less durable. We use 14k to allow stability. An even stronger metal is platinum. Platinum is a white, heavy, dense, and pure metal. For customers debating on a white metal and have a type A personality we recommend platinum. Over time if your profession requires you to constantly wash your hands the bottom of your white gold ring will acquire a yellow tinge. This will happen because gold is naturally yellow no matter what other alloy is mixed to create white or rose gold. You can easily bring in the ring to be re rhodiumed with a white luster. Platinum is a pure metal so you will not have that issue.
  •  STEP 4: 3-D computer renderings
    Our computer-aided-designers create three dimensional renderings based off of the sketch. These images can be emailed, texted, or reviewed in our store. You have the option to make changes to the renderings. We will revise until you are happy with the renderings.
  • STEP 5: Approving the design and completing the ring
    Once the renderings are approved our jewelry artisans create the ring in metal and begin to set gemstones and add details like handenegraving and milgrain beading depending on your specific design. Once the stones are set and the details are added the ring is then polished and carefully inspected.
  • STEP 6: Appraise for insurance
    The completed ring is then photographed and appraised for insurance.


We hope you found this blog helpful for your engagement ring purchasing needs.