It can be daunting when you begin considering how to pick out an engagement ring. Most diamonds are highly-priced, ring styles vary frequently, and with the significant presence of social media, the pressure has never been higher for your engagement ring to wow and delight. Plus, looking at multiple engagement rings can just get overwhelming after a while.
We understand that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when selecting a diamond ring, so we’ve compiled this handy guide. Here we offer tips and tools on how to choose an engagement ring. Don’t worry; you’ll be relaxing on your honeymoon in no time.
Know Your 4Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight
You may have already heard the term “4Cs of diamonds” thrown out when mentioning to others that you are searching for that perfect engagement ring. But what are the 4Cs, and why exactly are they important? Generally speaking, before the 4Cs, there was really no way of determining the quality of diamonds, resulting in a lack of a universal language and grading system around diamonds. Thanks to the Gemological Institute, the 4Cs were developed, resulting in a universal standard unit of quality measurement, and selecting a diamond (and the diamond industry) has never been the same. Read on to discover how each of the 4Cs contributes to a diamond’s beauty.
The cut of a diamond is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing the perfect engagement ring—the Gemological Institute grades cuts of diamonds into seven categories.
The first three categories are appearance-based: Brightness (how much light reflects off a diamond), Fire (how the light being reflected is refracted into the colors of the rainbow), and Scintillation (the balancing of light and dark cuts in the diamond to produce the characteristic sparkle of the diamond).
The last four categories focus on the craftsmanship of the diamond: weight ratio, polish, durability, and symmetry. The cut of a diamond is responsible for how the diamond reflects natural light to create the diamond’s brilliance and shine.
Diamond-Cuts vs. Diamond Shapes, what’s the Difference?
Many people mistake the cut of a diamond to be the same thing as the diamond shape. In actuality, cut is the “arrangement of facets to create an attractive face-up appearance,” and shape is how those cut facets are arranged. The shape of the diamond is a massive component of ring style and is best discussed with your partner before you start ring shopping. For more information on diamond shapes, see below!
Did you know that the color of your diamond is dependent on trace amounts of elements located deep inside the stone? As a rule, higher quality and rare diamonds are ones with as little color as possible. It can be challenging to pick up on color at your local stores with a naked eye – most diamond experts grade the color of diamonds only with the aid of special lights and conditions.
Like humans, each diamond is unique due to its own formation deep within the earth’s mantle. It is not uncommon for diamonds to have a sort of birthmark via internal inclusions or blemishes. All jewelers need a jeweler’s loupe to see most inclusions or blemishes. Man made diamonds tend to have fewer inclusions but are not all flawless as there is still happenstance in their production. There are 11 grades for clarity, with Flawless (FL) being the highest score possible. After Flawless, there is:
- Internally Flawless (IF ): Only a skilled jeweler, viewing the diamond with a 10x magnifier can see inclusions, imperceptible blemishes
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2): Slight inclusions within the diamond are difficult for a jeweler to see
- Very Slightly Included (VSI1, VSI2): Minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy for a jeweler to see
- Slightly Included (SI1, SI2): Inclusions are easily noticeable under a 10x magnifier.
- Included (I1, I2, I3): Inclusions are noticeable under a 10x magnification and may affect the brilliance of the diamond.
Carat weight is always one of the first things mentioned in tabloid magazines, as the carat weight of the diamond reflects the size of the engagement ring. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the weight of a paperclip. Because carat weight can significantly increase the price of an engagement ring, jewelers are incredibly precise when measuring carats, often measuring to the hundredth-thousandth of a carat!
What’s the Ideal Size of Engagement Rings?
It’s important to remember that when you buy an engagement ring, you purchase a ring graded on all four of the 4Cs. While carat weight is one aspect of its grade, it is not the be-all-end-all. You may sometimes find that one ring with the same carat weight, or even one with a smaller carat weight, is actually more expensive. This is due to the ring receiving an overall higher grade in different areas in addition to carat weight. So remember, when ring shopping, size doesn’t have to matter.
Consider Your Partner’s Style
One of the most important things you can do before beginning your engagement ring search is to consider the individual style of your spouse to be. What other types of jewelry do they prefer, and how might those preferences inform the engagement ring you pick out? Do they have custom pieces already in their closet? Would they prefer a natural diamond or a certified conflict-free diamond? What about a two stone engagement ring? Different people prefer different things, and it is not a one size fits all situation. Try to have conversations about ring preferences before engagement ring shopping. When in doubt or unable to ask your partner directly, consult their family and friends! They may be able to provide clarity in ways previously not thought possible.
Decide on Your Shape
There are so many different styles and shapes of engagement rings. It can be challenging to decide which one suits your partner the best. Popular shapes include:
Round: A circular diamond style that maximizes the fire of the diamond to ensure that your partner is always sparkly.
Oval: An elongated version of the round diamond with just as many facets, and oval engagement rings are an elegant choice for brides looking to lengthen their fingers. This shape is particularly suited to salt and pepper diamonds as the nature of the oval engagement ring style makes its irregularities more visible to the naked eye.
Emerald: This timeless classic is known for its use in Art Deco jewelry. The emerald cut has a long silhouette and angular lines creating a chic minimalist style.
Pear: AKA ‘the teardrop’ pear cut diamonds actually date back to the 1400s and are beloved by brides who dance to the beat of their own drums.
Princess: Have princess cut engagement rings ever gone out of style? The bride is sure to feel like a princess when she wears this engagement ring which is known for its modern look and stunning brilliance.
Cushion: The cushion cut diamond is another style that has surged into popularity in the past. It was first in its heyday in the 19th century and is well-loved for its square cut with round corners.
Radiant: True to its name, the radiant cut diamond is well… radiant. Unlike the princess cut, this sparkler has eight cut corners, diminishing the chance for scuffs and chips.
Ascher: Another cut that rose to fame during the Art Deco era, the Ascher-cut diamond features 58 facets allowing it to sparkle and gleam.
Marquise: Characterized by its oblong, nearly oval shape and two pointed ends, the Marquise-cut diamond is well known for its brilliant sparkle and distinctive football-like shape that does well as a center diamond.
Heart: Your bride can not only wear her heart on her sleeve but on her finger, too, with the heart-cut diamond. Because it takes great skill to cut the heart shape, these diamonds tend to be on the more expensive side.
Choose a Metal for the Band
Engagement rings are traditionally made of white gold, silver, or platinum—though recently, rose gold has emerged as an innovative alternative. At this stage, it is essential to consider how your partner uses their fingers: if they are avid bakers and constantly have dough stuck beneath their nails, consider a metal that will hide scratches and stains from daily use. Knowing the work your partner does is also essential in making this decision. If your partner works in a field that regularly handles heavy equipment, it may be worth considering a metal that won’t be easily damaged by constant contact with steel or other metals.
Gold: Gold is a popular option because it’s so versatile: it comes in 14-karat, 24-karat, or white gold variations. For example, if you wanted a white-gold band with a yellow gold gemstone setting, you can do that! Or, if you want a classic yellow gold band but are worried about allergies to gold, consider getting it plated in rhodium. This will transform the look of your engagement ring from yellow to white gold and ensure that your partner won’t have an allergic reaction.
Platinum: Platinum is a classic and durable metal beloved by brides the world over. Depending on its purity, it can be more expensive than gold (platinum is available in 2 grades). But it’s a gorgeous metal that looks great on everybody and has the potential for a lifetime of memories (and hand-holding) ahead.
Rose Gold: One of the most distinctive new trends in metal is rose gold. This shiny, lustrous alloy of gold and copper offers a soft, feminine look that’s particularly popular among women and girls. Rose gold has been around for a long time—as far back as the 1800s—but has been experiencing a renaissance recently, thanks to its soft color. Are you confused about the difference between rose gold and white gold? This handy guide will help you out.
Select Your Setting
The ring setting refers to how the gemstone is attached to the band. The difference between wedding bands and engagement rings is that the latter features a center stone. Engagement rings symbolize love and commitment, so it’s essential that you choose one that reflects your personality. When selecting your ring setting, consider these styles:
Halo Settings: This setting features a larger center stone surrounded by smaller accent stones. It creates a stunning sparkle and can make a diamond appear larger.
Classic Solitaire: One of the most popular settings for engagement rings, this type of setting features a center diamond or gemstone on top of a plain band. Choose from plain metal bands or more elaborate designs, such as bands with filigree or milgrain edges (tiny beads) along the band’s edges.
Three-Stone Rings: If you have trouble choosing just one stone, opt for an engagement ring with multiple diamonds or gemstones arranged in various ways. As the name implies, a classic three-stone ring typically features a larger center gemstone framed on either side by slightly smaller or equally sized gems.
Choose a Band Shape That Fits Her Finger and Lifestyle
Your ideal setting will depend on the shape of your partner’s finger and their lifestyle.
For example, if they have small hands and smaller fingers, we would recommend a smaller diamond shape. You generally want to avoid choosing large diamonds for people with small hands, as this can make their fingers appear even smaller.
What does your partner do, and how might a ring either get in the way or compliment that? If your partner works with their hands, you might want to consider an oval or cushion-cut band. The softer edges of these shapes will prevent the ring from cutting into her finger for long periods, even if she’s working at a computer.
Set the Budget
Engagement rings are expensive. If you’re planning to buy one, it’s essential to set a budget for yourself early in the process.
Start by looking at your finances: how much do you have in savings? How much money do you make every month? How much money can you afford to spend on an engagement ring?
If the amount of money you can afford is less than what you’d like to spend, it might be a sign to start saving. You could look into opening a savings account or adding a certain percentage of your monthly income to an existing savings account.
You could also consider choosing a different ring style—for instance, a solitaire diamond costs less than a ring with multiple stones. There are plenty of engagement rings for various budgets, and with our help, you can be sure to find engagement rings that are stylish and affordable.
Get the Right Size
Despite the obviousness, the choice of size of a ring helps keep the excitement in the proposal raging. Having the ring not fit may hinder its feeling. The correct dimensions mean the ring needs replacement which can take days to weeks according to your set design and the size you are trying to fit.
So how do you ensure that your partner’s ring size is correct? It can certainly be challenging to get the right ring size sometimes. The surefire way for an accurate ring size is to take a ring your partner already has to a jeweler. They can measure that ring and provide you with precise sizing. No ring available? We’ve got you covered!
Add Special Meaning
When shopping for engagement rings, it’s essential to consider the special details that you know about your partner.
You might want to ask yourself questions like: What are their favorite colors? Do they have a favorite flower? What jewelry do they already own, and what colors or styles would match the rest of their collection? The more thought you place into the engagement ring, the more meaningful of a place it will hold in your partner’s heart.
Online Vendors vs. A Brick and Mortar Store
The biggest pro is that you get to see the engagement ring up close before you buy it when it comes to in-store shopping. This will help you make sure that it’s the size and style best fits your significant other’s tastes. Plus, trying on different styles can help you find the right fit for her finger.
Another pro is that you can get all of your questions about engagement rings answered by a salesperson who can help guide you through the whole process, from budgeting to ring sizing, with ease.
But there are some cons, too: for example, many jewelry store salespeople are very pushy and may try to pressure you into making a purchase right away or spending more than you planned on spending.
Conversely, online retailers are well known for their convenience; you can shop from anywhere with an internet connection, and you don’t need to worry about making it to the store before closing time. Online retailers also offer many rings to choose from, so you’re more likely to find something that suits your loved one.
On the other hand, online shopping has its drawbacks. You can’t try on the ring before buying it, so you might get something that doesn’t quite fit right. And if you’re interested in a diamond ring, it can be hard to know what quality stone you’re getting.
Luckily, Clean Origin provides independent lab certification of all of our diamonds to ensure that you are confident in the engagement ring you choose. Plus, we offer complimentary resizing and a 100-Day Return Policy so you can shop with peace of mind.
Plan to Have Your Ring Appraised and Insured
Sure, the engagement ring is gorgeous and brings a smile to your fiancé’s face every time she looks down at it, but it can also be easy to forget that it’s a valuable piece of jewelry.
So before she wears her diamond ring every day, we recommend getting it appraised and insured. It’s essential to know how much your ring is worth. This way, if something were to happen to it, you’d know how much a replacement would cost. And insurance will cover the cost of replacing or repairing the diamond ring if anything happens to it.
There are three main types of insurance policies. The first is rider, which is attached to your homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Next, we have independent appraisal, which is purchased as a separate policy. And finally, there is the personal articles policy, which also works as an independent appraisal. All three options are lovely as they provide an added layer of security.
Relax, You’ve Got This!
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to find the unique diamond ring that’s perfect for your loved one. To begin your search, consider looking at popular engagement ring styles, their carat size, clarity, and cut, and choose an option that complements both their personality and style. From there, it’s a matter of narrowing down the opportunities within this style. Remember that it is not always quantity over quality. And pick a diamond that is a sign of your love for one another. Understand that picking out a ring can be stress-inducing, but you’re sure to find the right one with some planning and guidance.