So, you’re ready to ask the woman of your dreams to marry you, and you are in the market for the perfect engagement ring. There are some things you should know before making a final decision. After all you are investing a considerable amount of money for the right ring, so it has to be right. Here are the things to look for in the perfect diamond ring.

5 C’s of Diamonds

First, you should familiarize yourself with the 5 C’s of Diamonds, which are carat weight, cut, clarity, color, and certification.

Carat refers to the weight and size of the stone. A typical, one-stone, engagement setting will contain a one-carat diamond. Other styles are available which utilize three quarter-carat stones. Normally, the higher the carat weight, the more the ring will cost.

Cut refers to how the diamond has been shaped. The “gold standard” of diamonds is the round brilliant cut, but emerald, princess, square, and marquise cuts are also popular. There is research available that facilitates matching cut-styles to personality types.

Clarity is measured according to the amount of imperfections on or in the diamond. Because diamonds are formed deep within the Earth, small inclusions of other minerals may be contained within the stone.

Color refers to how clear the color of the diamond is. Those rated at D, E, or F are glass-like, and no discoloring is visible to the naked eye. As the letter rating increases, a slight yellow/brownish hue can be detected.

Certification is made by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and officially documented for each diamond. This document will contain a serial number which matches the one etched into your diamond’s girdle (widest part).

Ring and Setting

Gold is rated in Karats (not to be confused with Carats). 24K (or 24-Karat) gold is pure gold, and is too soft and malleable for jewelry. Most rings will be 14 or 18K, meaning that the gold has been alloyed (mixed) with another metal (usually nickel) to strengthen the ring. 14K is brilliantly colored and strong, and is a good choice for diamonds.

Budget And Bidding

Last, but not least, you will want to pick something within your budget. Historically speaking, 3 months’ salary has been the generally accepted rule for determining the appropriate cost of a ring. When you are ready to find a diamond ring, visit U.S. Auction Online to make a bid, or you can register to view winning bids to get an idea of the value of diamonds.