What You Need to Know Before Buying an Engagement Ring

engagement ring, buying an engagement ring, flower

Robert Matthews Photography

Thinking about proposing to the love of your life? Find out everything you need to know before selecting an engagement ring, from the 4 C’s to budget and design. We reached out to Head Designer and Owner of Christian Caine, Christopher Rankin, to get an inside perspective on buying a ring.


Engagement Rings 4 C’s


The 4 C’s of an engagement ring are color, clarity, carat weight, and cut, but these are not the only elements that matter.


“There is real value to seeing the diamond and its personality (how it faces up and sparkles) and matching that visual experience to the paperwork,” Rankin said. “Great paperwork is just that. It does not always equate to the brightest diamond in a specific quality. So, let your 4 C’s characteristics guide you, but do not let it make the selection. Let your eyes be the final decision maker.”


Check out this link to better understand the GIA grading system.

engagement ring, buying an engagement ring, flower

J St. Clair Photography

Engagement Ring Budget


Rankin said budgets are personal, and there are many schools of thought, from 2 month’s salary to the sky’s the limit. The budget isn’t as important as how the ring comes to be.


“A ring that is purchased for 100k from a box store or online with little time or thought does not match its purpose,” he said. “A ring that represents the sum of your commitment should be designed and created with intent and careful consideration. One should be involved in the details and work with people who share their vision for what this will become and continue to be for generations.”

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Molly Majher Photography

Matching Your Partner’s Style


When it comes to purchasing a ring that will match the recipient’s style, ring size and personality, Rankin said to think about their style in general – the type of clothes, patterns and color they wear. Do they go for bold colors, or a clean, monochromatic look?


“If possible, visit a designer together,” he said. “A well-trained jewelry designer can ask questions and show elements that really unlock and reveal a person’s design style.”


Check out this design profile questionnaire from Christian Caine to help you design your dream ring.


Engagement Ring Misconceptions


Purchasing an engagement ring is the combination of a financial and emotional decision, which can cause anxiety in many people.


“Relax,” Rankin said. “Over the years, many of our clients said how fun and easy the process was compared to their initial perception.”


Rankin also said while diamonds and gold are relatively expensive, it doesn’t mean it is out of reach in most cases. With some flexibility in design style, a well-made ring can be created to match nearly everyone’s budget.

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Sandy Ma Photography

Diamond Alternatives


Diamonds aren’t the only gemstone to consider when buying an engagement ring.


“My favorite is probably sapphire,” Rankin said. “It is very hard and durable as a gem and comes in every color of the rainbow. I just finished a violet purple sapphire engagement ring, and it was stunning! If you love color this is a great option.”


When to Buy an Engagement Ring


When creating a custom ring, Rankin suggests starting about 6 months ahead of time. This allows time to participate in the process and not become overwhelmed with decisions as the ring comes together.

“Many of our clients actually help me physically work on their rings, which is very cool,” he said. “We can create some custom rings in about 2 weeks if necessary.”

Rankin also wanted to remind future ring shoppers that this is a very special time, and one of the most important decisions you can make.

“Let the experience of creating the ring and the relationships you make along the way be special too. It will be something you both remember forever.”

Contributed photo

Christopher Rankin is the Head Designer and Owner of Christian Caine. Although educated in gemology and manufacturing, Rankin has always been a designer at heart.


After studying with Robert Ahrens, the former head designer for the famed French jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels, he began traveling and designing across Europe opening a design studio in Nice, France. His design style is characterized by clean, flowing lines and by a distinctive interpretation of classic motifs.


Rankin is the winner of the prestigious, national “People’s Choice” design award presented by the Jewelers of America. He currently divides his time between the CC Design Studio in Nice, France, and designing for clients here in the states.

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