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Engagement ring shopping tips: Thinking about proposing on Christmas? Here's what you should know

These expert tips break down everything you should know before you buy an engagement ring this holiday season.

Man proposing to his wife on Christmas Eve
Here's what you need to know before proposing this Christmas. (Getty Images)

If it seems like every time you open social media there's a new engagement announcement, you're not imagining things. With the holidays just around the corner, we're well and truly in the throes of peak engagement season.

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Based on a study by The Knot, December is the most popular month of the year to get engaged, with Christmas Day taking the top spot of the year as the most popular day to get engaged.

With just a few weeks to go until the big day, if you’re looking to find the perfect ring to commemorate your relationship, keep reading for everything to consider before making your purchase.

Close-Up Of Cropped Hands With Wedding Ring
Take the stress out of engagrment ring shopping eith these expert tips. (Getty Images)

How much to spend on an engagement ring

The decision on how much to spend on an engagement ring is a personal choice — despite the outdated "rules" that may suggest otherwise. While costs can vary, the average engagement ring in Canada is around $5,500, while in the United States the average cost in 2023 was $6,000, according The Knot.

That said, you should decide on a budget that fits within your income and lifestyle before you set out to purchase an engagement ring.

Consider your engagement ring's centre stone

There’s no denying the appeal of a diamond ring to mark an engagement, since the precious stone symbolizes commitment, faithfulness and love.

Stones like Moissanite are gaining in popularity as alternatives to traditional mined diamonds, diamonds remain the most popular stone of choice with with 85% of ring shoppers choosing them as their centre gem.

However, in light of growing ethical and environmental concerns, the gemstone’s appeal seems to have tarnished lately, and consumers are instead opting for alternatives that are fairly-traded, as well as cost-effective. Enter, the lab-grown diamond.

Oval diamond ring with halo setting in a prach ring box
Choosing between mined and lab-grown diamonds can save you money.

What is a lab-grown diamond?

Rather than being mined from the earth through often questionable practices, lab-grown diamonds are instead manufactured under controlled lab conditions. Technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process is used to create the stones, with a fraction of the environmental impact of mined diamonds.

In addition to being better for the planet, lab-grown diamonds are less expensive and offer a guarantee that they haven't been mined from a conflict zone.

"It's like getting ice from your freezer versus getting it from a glacier," explains Anna-Mieke Anderson, founder of lab-grown diamond company MiaDonna.

When should you start shopping for an engagement ring?

If you’re part of the majority and are planning to pop the question this Christmas and have yet to start shopping, it may be a little late to start according to jewelry brand Couple’s cofounder Jeff Brenner, especially if you're looking for something custom-made.

“I usually recommend shopping for a ring six months ahead of time to be safe, but at least three.” Brenner said. “It really depends on how confident you are in what your partner wants and how much advance research you’ve done.”

Though last minute rings can always be sourced (look out for items that are ready to ship), an engagement ring is definitely a purchase you shouldn’t rush. Before buying, you should take your time to shop around and compare designs from multiple retailers, and make sure that you aren’t pressured into buying something you don’t love.

What to know before you buy an engagement ring

Ahead of making an important jewelry purchase, whether it’s an engagement ring, a push present, or a gift for any other special occasion, Brenner shared his top tips that every shopper should consider:

  1. Listen, observe and pay close attention. You have no idea how many people make the wrong call because they are just not listening and picking up on hints like open magazines left on the coffee table.

  2. Set a budget, learn about the options that fall within it and take time to consider your choices.

  3. Finally, if you can’t make a decision, opt for a timeless design vs. trying to create something unique.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, shop some of our favourite diamond engagement rings that are sure to be a hit this holiday season.

This engagement ring features a 1-carat oval diamond with side accent stones.

$3,925 at Brilliant Earth

This ring features lab-grown diamonds for a more affordable take on mined stones. 

$5,448 at Catbird

Three emerald cut diamonds are the star of this engagement ring.

From $3,222 at Vrai

A twisted band adds a unique touch to this halo setting.

$2,991 at Blue Nile

This ring features a pear cut diamond center and side accent stones.

$4,800 at Aurate

Moissanite is another affordable alternative to diamonds.

From $1,061 at Etsy
Paris Jewellers

While this ring appears simple from above, it has a hidden halo along the basket.

$4,199 at Paris Jewellers

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