Say "I do" to your dream engagement ring with the help of these expert shopping tips — from learning the Four C's to landing the perfect style for you.

Engagement rings are as personal as your relationship. Some brides want to be surprised, never having imagined the ring until the moment he flips open the ring box to propose, while other women hand their men a thick portfolio of photo research on what constitutes the perfect ring. Some couples discuss budget, and others wear their ring for years without having any clue what it cost. Some brides dream about a splashy, eye-catching hunk of diamond, while others prefer a vintage, retro style.

In terms of the four C's, the way a diamond's value is evaluated — by its cut, color, clarity, and carat weight — some brides are laser-focused on size (carat weight), while others are all about achieving maximum sparkle (cut). Some express their love of fashion with an on-trend ring style (like a rose gold band or a halo), while others go classic (a round-brilliant diamond solitaire). Some brides prefer the history of a hand-me-down family heirloom of a great-grandmother's ring, and others prefer to help custom-design something new that's exactly what they've always imagined. Some brides experiment with colored diamonds — think the six-carat pink diamond Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with — or include bold stones like sapphires or emeralds.

But despite the fact that couples may go about ring shopping differently, or that brides may choose totally different styles, one thing stays the same: the meaning of an engagement ring, how good it feels to know you found your dream ring, and knowing that you get to wear it for the rest of your life. Explore the history of engagement rings, learn about how to shop for one and care for it, and check out fun facts about the ring that means "forever."

Photo: Gia Canali

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