Popping the question? You’re probably already thinking about the engagement ring, but don’t rush to the jewelry store yet. We get it: it’s an exciting time and you’re eager to get that perfect ring for your loved one, but a little preparation can go a long way in getting you a better diamond.

Rick Antona, owner of Uptown Diamond in Houston, says consumers often don’t get what they pay for when it comes to diamonds because they simply don’t know much about them -- so he decided to write a book. “The Perfect Diamond Buying Guide” takes you through color, cut and carat weight to how to pick a jeweler, ring settings and insurance policies, so that you can get a good quality diamond at a fair price no matter where you shop.

We asked Antona to share his playbook for what you should do and know before you go shopping for a diamond. Here’s what he had to say. (If you want to delve deeper, you can download his book  for free.)

Give yourself time

Taking your time to shop for your diamond will pay off. When you rush, you risk not getting a quality diamond and spending too much for it. Antona suggests giving yourself one, two or even three months to shop around and truly see what’s out there. You’re likely to get a higher quality stone for less money.

Educate yourself

How much do you really know about diamonds? Do you know about clarity? Color grade? Cut? Fluorescence? These and other factors affect the price of a diamond but most people don’t know much about them. You should want to know what you’re spending your money on so read up and research, just like you would when making other big purchases.

Know what you want

Gather key information about what you’re looking to buy. Do you know what shape stone does she want? What size ring she wears? What metal she wants? What carat weight do you want to buy? Also, what’s your budget and timetable? It’s important to know the answers to these questions before you shop. It shows jewelers you’ve done your homework and hopefully protects you from paying too much for a not-so-good diamond.

Once you’re with a jeweler, follow these quick tips from Antona to evaluate the diamonds you’re considering.

Clarity: Make sure your diamond is eye-clean, meaning there are no inclusions (small imperfections inside the diamond) or blemishes that you can see with your own eyes. “Look at it from the front, the back, the side and if you see anything with your own eyes, do not buy the diamond because it affects the light passing through the stone,” said Antona.

Color: Look at the diamond face up. If it faces up white and has no yellow tint, you’re good.

Cut: How do you know if your diamond is cut correctly? Antona suggests asking for the proportions in writing. Diamonds are often cut too deep or too shallow so checking the proportions against guides found online or in Antona’s book will tell you if your diamond is well proportioned for its carat weight.

Carat: Buy just a little less carat weight than what you want. Price varies by carat so say you want a 1 carat diamond, ask for a .90 carat diamond. This gives you the same look for a lot less money.

Fluorescence: Fluorescence is how a diamond reacts to ultraviolet light. Check the diamond under a black light and make sure the diamond doesn’t glow blue.

Ultimately, if you’re lazy and don’t want to do any of this, buy a diamond with good guarantees, says Antona. While not many places will offer lifetime exchange or lifetime return guarantees, if someone is willing to give it to you, you know that they stand behind their product.