How to Buy an Engagement Ring
HOW TO BUY AN ENGAGEMENT RING
PART I: WHY CATBIRD?
We want you to love your ring. Forever. Our goal is not to get you to spend the most amount of money, or to upgrade to a bigger stone, or to get you to buy something quickly. Our goal is to help you find the right ring for you. We are experts on finding and making beautiful jewelry, and taking care of our customers. This is our greatest privilege and there is nothing more important, or rewarding, to us.
When you buy a ring from Catbird, it is either handmade by our highly trained jewelers in our Brooklyn studio, or by one of the designers we work with closely. Working this way ensures that - no matter what your budget - your ring is of the highest quality, your stones are conflict-free, your gold is only recycled or fair trade and we can confidently offer a lifetime guarantee. Read more about our values and how we implement them here.
See what our customers are saying here.
We believe your ring should be a thing of true beauty, and that the primary purpose of jewelry is to add joy to your life for the long run — not only on the day it is purchased. For some that means a large center stone, for others it means a sprinkling of smaller stones. When designing or finding rings, we seek out fine craftsmanship, beauty, and magic above all else. We want your ring, and your experience with us, to be special and worthy of the journey you are about to embark on.
THE CATBIRD SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Catbird is a completely no-pressure environment. We understand that this is a big decision; we do not work on commission or sales goals. If you have questions, or would like some guidance, we have years of experience and are here to help. You can email our wedding experts, book a complimentary consultation at our Wedding Annex, or you can always just drop by our flagship store.
We also encourage you to take your time. Not 100% sure after looking at rings? Take some pictures, go home, sleep on it, get their best friend’s/sister’s/mother’s opinions and reassurances. You can come visit that ring as many times as you want before diving in.
“It wasn’t until I found Catbird that I understood that your ring should compliment your personality and you don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of a typical engagement ring, or wedding."
One of our customers, Hannah, explains our approach to the wedding ring experience:
“I chose Catbird because I remember looking at other people’s engagement rings and nothing ever felt like me. It wasn’t until I found Catbird that I understood that your ring should compliment your personality and you don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of a typical engagement ring, or wedding. I’ve always been drawn to delicate, understated gold jewelry and Catbird was the first company to show me that my engagement ring could totally capture this!”
PART II: THE FACTS ON OUR RINGS
We strive to make the most magical rings that are worlds apart from the ordinary. We curate a selection of rings from mainly local, always independent designers who share our vision and who meet our incredibly high standards of quality and ethical, conflict-free materials.
THE FOUR C'S
One of the first things you hear when you start researching how to buy an engagement ring, and particularly diamonds, is “Ask for the four C’s”. While we are of the belief that if a ring is beautiful and feels right, things like this don’t necessarily matter, it’s still good to know what you’re paying for. The four C’s are: cut, clarity, color, and carat.
“Cut” refers to the way the rough gem was sliced and faceted to increase its brilliance. Different cut names are a way of labeling different proportions and shapes. A brilliant cut looks like a diamond you’d draw on a piece of paper, while a rose cut does not have the pointed bottom. They both reflect light differently. Brilliants shine and are super glittery in the sun (bling), while rose cuts have a soft, romantic, subtle sparkle. Baguette cuts are rectangular shaped stones that look like they have little steps in them. Marquise cuts are boat shaped (cut to look like the lips of the Marquise de Pompadour, lover of the King Louis XIV), and so on.
All stones have natural inclusions in them. We don’t like calling them “imperfections” since those little characteristics are what makes gems one of a kind. There is a scale in which diamond clarity is rated from FL (which means flawless and is very very rare) to I3 (visible, and big inclusions). Most of the stones we carry fall somewhere in on the higher end of the middle of the spectrum, where inclusions exist but can only really be seen under a microscope.
White diamonds are always graded on a color scale. The scale runs from a pure white to yellow, D to Z. This scale is used just for white diamonds since black or pink or champagne diamonds don’t really fit into that scale. Our white diamonds typically sit on the G to H side of the spectrum.
Diamond carat is the unit of measurement used to describe the weight of a stone. Carat weight doesn’t always reflect on the diameter of a stone, since different cuts can hide or accentuate a stone’s profile, but is usually a pretty good indication of size.
We are committed to using ethically and responsibly sourced diamonds for the Catbird line, and require the same of the designers whose work we sell.
We use three different types of diamonds at Catbird: recycled, conflict-free, and cultivated. All of our brilliant cut diamonds are recycled (diamonds that have been used in jewelry before). All of our rose cut diamonds are conflict-free. This means we work closely with all of our diamond suppliers to insure that the diamonds we source are coming from places where workers are treated properly at all points of the process (this includes mines as well as cutting facilities). Currently, our Juno the Swan ring is available to purchase with a cultivated diamond, that is a diamond that’s created in a lab, which addresses many of the ethical and environmental doubts that come with traditionally mined diamonds.
Click here to learn even more about our diamonds.
We also offer rings that go beyond the traditional white diamond. Discover rings featuring black, gray and champagne diamonds.
Typically, you’ll want either gold or platinum for durability.
Gold can come in yellow, rose, or white. Yellow is gold’s naturally occurring color, while rose has a bit of copper added to give it a pinkish tint. White has other metals added to make it look a little more grayish-silvery. You’ll also see gold jewelry comes in different karats, typically 14k, 18k, and 22k. The higher the karat, the softer (and purer) the gold - but all are still very durable! The higher the karat, the more the warm tones of pure gold shine through. 22k yellow gold is a deep, warm and glowing yellow, like the sun right before it sets.
Platinum only comes in one color - a grayish-silver. Platinum is a tough cookie, looks great with white diamonds and is a classic choice.
Most Catbird rings are available in all the variants of gold and many are available in platinum.
PART III: OUR COLLECTION
CATBIRD ENGAGEMENT RINGS
It all began with the birth of our Swans in spring 2014 — eleven originally designed engagement rings, made to become instant heirlooms. Fairly-priced with ethically-sourced materials, the Swans are Catbird-exclusive rings that fit almost every style.
CATBIRD WEDDING BANDS
We also make Catbird wedding bands! Our collection features a variety of styles, from diamond pavé bands to simple, classic gold and platinum bands. Some of our rings have the option to be engraved, allowing you to personalize your piece so it’s truly your own. All are made to order in our Brooklyn studio, just for you.
The designer rings
We don’t just sell Catbird rings. We proudly work with some of the world's most exciting jewelry designers. Each and every piece is meticulously chosen, our collection is small, precise, intimate — just like our jewel box of a store. We work closely with our designers, many of them have been with us since we opened in 2004. Some of our most popular designer rings include the La Vie En Rose Ring and the Painter’s Blue Sapphire Ring by Jennie Kwon, both of which are alternatives to the traditional white diamond ring, with pale pink and watercolor blue sapphires.
PART IV: HOW TO SHOP FOR A CATBIRD RING
We are proud to be a part of your journey — our expert customer service team is here to support you every step of the way. Their years and years of Catbird experience make them unflappable guides who will shepherd you beautifully and kindly through this decision-making process.
First, some questions to consider when shopping for a wedding ring:
What size should you get?
Ring sizing is really tricky, and not an exact science. It depends so much on the shape of one’s fingers, how someone likes to wear their rings, the width of the ring, etc.
If you can, secretly slip a ring that she wears on her ring finger onto your finger and mark where it hits. If she wears it on her right hand (assuming that is her dominant hand), make sure to size down a ¼ size. You can use a ring sizer to see what size the ring is that hits that same mark. We also have some ring sizing information here. You can purchase a ring sizer here.
Things to keep in mind if you do not know her size:
After selecting the ring they want to propose with, some customers buy the floor sample for the proposal and then come in afterwards to get sized and order the exact size.
Some rings can be resized, some cannot be sized at all, and some can only be resized a little bit. Ask us about the style you’re considering if you don’t know her size and we can advise you! We are here to help.
Too big is better than too small.
How much should you spend?
Gone are the days of rules when it comes to budget. We think the one to three months salary standard is archaic. We have a wide price range - spend what works for you! Find a ring you love that is perfect for your partner but it’s only half of what you planned on spending? Who cares! More money to buy a beautiful band to go with it later. Or, go on vacation! We have a ton of heart-stoppingly beautiful options — no matter your budget, you’ll be able to find something special.
We’re always here to help! A Catbird concierge team member can work with you to find the ring that works with your price range and doesn’t compromise on style. We also offer financing options. We’ve partnered with Affirm to split any payment over $50 into monthly payments. You can read more about Affirm and their payment terms here.
Which ring is the right one?
Here are two tips we go by:
Consider your lifestyle
Do you want something that can be worn every day? Something that can be left on in the shower, working out, etc.? Consider the materials. Gold and platinum are tough metals, made to be worn. Diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are the strongest stones out there, while opals, turquoise, and emeralds tend to be a little softer (that is in the grand scheme of stones - they’re still pretty tough!) so they need a little more consideration and overall care when being active.
What’s your style?
Which words would you use to describe your — or your loved one's — style? Classic, tomboy, minimalist, maximalist, timeless? What’s your favorite movie or book? Your go-to outfits? Do you have a Pinterest board or do you follow any jewelers on Instagram? Do you think you would want a bold statement piece or prefer an understated, subtler ring? Isolating a few touch points about your aesthetic helps when going through ring options and allows you to focus on a smaller group of choices, making the process less overwhelming. If you’d like some help or advice, please email us! Feel free to include information about what you love (or what the person you’re shopping for loves) or pictures of what sort of jewelry you (or they) like to wear.
How do you want to shop?
There are two ways to shop for a Catbird ring: in-person or online. Both are highly immersive and personalized experiences, and will help you find the ring or rings of your dreams. While we would love to see your smiling faces in our brick and mortar store and chat with you in person about all the intricacies of our rings, our online concierge team is more than happy to assist you if you’re not local, or able to visit New York.
See what happens when you chat with us about wedding rings, both in-person and online:
Still have questions?
Wondering what to do if your ring breaks? Or what our warranty policy includes? And what exactly do we mean when we say your ring is “custom made”? We have more guides and answers below! Try our FAQ page.
We’re proud to have helped thousands and thousands of customers over the years make these very personal decisions. It is our privilege and passion. If you have any questions about a specific ring, or the process in general - please be in touch, we are here to help!!