By Andrea Cheng
Updated Jan 20, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

We're in the midst of awards season and engagement season, which means we're going to be seeing a lot of Neil Lane. Like, a lot. Brilliant, retina-searing Neil Lane diamonds have already been spotted on the red carpet (on the lobes and wrists of Lady Gaga, Kate Winslet, and Amy Adams at the 2016 Globes) and on the ring fingers of celebrity brides-to-be (ahem, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Suffice it to say, the man behind the brilliance knows a thing or two about jewelry. So, we went to the jeweler himself for insight into purchasing the most important piece of jewelry of all—the engagement ring.

Shop for the Ring as a Couple

Yes, you read that right—the job of picking out a ring isn't left solely to one person. In fact, couples doing the deed together is something that's been gaining traction for quite a while now. "The biggest trend that we’ve seen in the last 50 years is couples shopping together and that’s growing, because of the importance of the ring and style and fashion," Lane confirms. "Today, more than 50 percent—or even higher—of couples shop together, and it's something I'd recommend."

Do Your Homework

"An educated couple is the best client," Lane says. "When it comes to budget, there are many, many variables when it comes to deciding where you're going to put your money—if you want a quality diamond, a larger diamond, a really spectacular setting (which is where the diamond lives). Figure out what's important to you."

Understand the 4Cs

A part of doing your homework is knowledge of the 4Cs of the diamond, which will affect the cost—Clarity (a high clarity will have fewer imperfections), Cut (a high quality cut will result in higher brilliance), Carat (the measure of the diamond's weight—the bigger the carat, the bigger the diamond), and Color (diamonds that have little to no color will be graded higher).

Prioritize Design

"The 4Cs are important, but you should really get the design right first. Diamonds come in different clarities and levels of value, but that's not going to change the shape," Lane says. "What people are going to see is the design—how it looks (as in, the shape—round, emerald, pear, cushion), whether you want tiny diamondwork on the band, a halo effect, or little engravings."

Think About the Wedding Band

"You should consider what type of wedding band would go with your engagement ring," Lane says. "Try mixing metals, which is a big trend today, like pairing a white gold engagement ring with a rose gold band. The eternity band has been popular since the 1910s—it's a band with a continuous row of round-cut diamonds that looks good with any ring. Another option is to buy your engagement ring and your wedding band as a set."