It’s one thing to buy new headphones or a fun sundress online. It’s another thing entirely to buy something as special (and expensive) as an engagement or wedding ring online. But it’s an increasingly popular option for modern couples thanks to the rise in online-only retailers and social distancing practices.

“The biggest advantage of picking engagement rings and wedding bands online in today's web-based world is the vast variety of options out there to choose from. A simple Google, Instagram or Pinterest search will yield hundreds of options,” says jewelry designer Grace Lee.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to shopping for such an important piece of jewelry virtually. Namely, that “you cannot physically see the stone you are going to purchase, and there are many marketing strategies that can make it seem like you are getting a great deal when you are not,” explains Ashley Zhang, owner of Ashley Zhang Jewelry.

Luckily, many retailers have implemented workarounds, like at-home try on programs that bring together the best of both online and in-person shopping experiences.

So, if you’re looking to pop the question or are getting ready to tie the knot, here are some expert tips for finding your dream ring from the comfort of your home.

1. Choose a reputable retailer

Before jump right in and fall in love with a ring, you want to know exactly who you’re buying it from.

“Reputation is key. I would advise asking friends for recommendations, seeking online reviews, and, when possible, verify how long the retailer has been in business,” says Lee.

Couples should also look for a retailer that’s transparent about where they’re sourcing their gemstones from.

“Make sure you can get warranties on your stones, that they’re certified by the right places. For example, we certify all of our diamonds through the Gemological Institute of America, adds Madeline Fraser, founder of online jewelry platform Gemist.

2. Look for great customer service

Since you can’t just stop into a brick and mortar store, it’s doubly important to choose an online retailer that’s communicative.

“It’s really important that the brand is communicating with you. So, if you email them and have questions, make sure that they’re very responsive and engaged with you – that they’re willing to help you through this process,” says Fraser.

3. Consider your lifestyle

In addition to your personal style, you should factor in your lifestyle when selecting an engagement or wedding ring, says Sarah Dickinson, e-commerce manager at Mociun.

“If it’s something that you never want to take off, you want to wash your hands with it, you want to sleep with it, I would recommend a totally different ring than someone who is willing to follow care guidelines and take their jewelry off when they’re exercising.”

4. Get your finger sized

“Our hands tend to fluctuate slightly in size depending on the time of year, what you’ve been eating or your level of physical activity just prior, what pieces you’re going to be wearing with the particular ring. All of these things need to be taken into consideration when determining your ring size,” says Dickinson.

So, even if you think you know your ring size, take the time to get it adequately measured. You can either stop by a physical store to get it sized in person or get an at-home ring sizer (which many online ring retailers provide).

5. Give it a test run

The best way to ensure you’ve chosen the right ring for you is to see it in person, which is why many online retailers, like Mociun and Gemist, have implemented at-home try on programs.

Typically, these programs work by having customers put down a refundable deposit and then shipping them a ring – either a replica or the actual ring they’re interested in. Then you have a pre-determined amount of time to try it out before sending it back.

“It’s nice because you get to do it in the comfort of your own home. There’s no pressure to make any decision right then and there. You can show your family or whoever else you live with and get some feedback. It’s a lot more on your own terms and on your own time,” says Fraser.

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