Canadian Bee here.
The good news is you’ll find lots of choice (lol maybe too much). The US has tons of jewellery stores (chain – family – online) and everyone tends to have different merchandise… with a few brandnames that you’ll see in more than one spot (ie Vera Wang, Neil Lane, etc)
With a budget of $ 3 to 3.5 K you’ll have something decent to work with if you want a Diamond(s)… especially if you stay away fom the Brandnames / Designer stuff.
My best advice would be to do your Research now… learn as much as you can. Including knowing all about the 4 Cs – CARAT – CUT – COLOUR – CLARITY as well as the other Cs CERTIFICATION – CONFLICT FREE / CANADIAN – COMFORT – COST
The Blue Nile Website has an excellent Diamond Education Page = http://www.bluenile.com/ca/diamond-and-jewellery-education?track=NavDrawEdu
And of course you can learn a ton by just regularly visiting THE RING BOARD here on WBee.
In general you’ll want to have a basic idea of what you consider to be your priority for all the Cs
There is no right or wrong… everyone has their own list of priorities based on what they can afford… example for some the setting is very important so they’ll go with a smaller Feature Diamond, or decide to opt for a Non-Diamond / another Gem for that. And some gals, choose to buy the setting they love, and go “fake” CZ for the feature stone, with the idea to upgrading down the road in the future.
NOTE – Rings tend to come in 2 formats… some are mass produced and the ring is sold to you complete. While other rings you buy the setting and feature stone seperately.
(I say this, because evidently it has become apparent on WBee recently, that a lot of couples buying ERings didn’t know this until they actually got to the store, and were shocked to discover their budget might not have gone as far as they had anticipated)
And lastly, investigate the Customs issues you’ll face with your Ring when you fly back home. You’ll want to take that info into account as well. I know here in Canada that I personally found the Duties & Taxes to be higher than I was comfortable paying for such a large foreign purchase… so although we looked extensively in the USA… Mr TTR and I ended up buying my ERing here in Canada. (Not a bad thing, cause my exposure to the US Market told me a lot about what was possible in regards to styling… we lucked out when we found My Ring at a Family Run Store… BUT if I hadn’t found something I had liked we had already decided to go the Custom Route to incorporate some of the ideas that we’d seen on our vacation to the USA)
Hope this helps,