When it comes to diamond engagement ring styles, it may seem like there are endless options. How are you to choose? The good news is that there’s no wrong answer.
Because the truth is that every setting has its strengths, and it simply comes down to a matter of personal taste. Everyone has their own preference, and the more people you ask, the more answers you’ll get.
The most important things to keep in mind, in addition to your budget, is personal style and taste. At the end of the day, choosing an engagement ring style is much like choosing a life partner – it’s a decision based on gut instinct and emotion. So ask yourself, “How does this ring make me feel?” The one that gives you goosebumps, makes you smile, elicits a gasp or gives you that feeling of, “I just know” is probably the right one for you.
If you’re shopping for someone special, you can always refer to their Instagram or Pinterest accounts to see if they have their eye on a particular style. Perhaps you’ve been window shopping with them and know what catches their eye. With these hints in mind, you’ll choose the setting that they’ll be thrilled to receive – and you’ll be proud to give.
Buying a diamond engagement ring is a huge undertaking – for many people it’s a substantial financial investment, and the pressure to buy something that will bowl over your girlfriend, and that she will be happy to wear for the rest of her life, shouldn’t be understated.
However, don’t be intimidated. Even if your partner really hates the ring you buy, it’s unlikely that she’ll say no to marrying you altogether. Be prepared to do research to establish what kind of ring is right, or get one that has a money-back guarantee, so you can change it for something else if you get it horribly wrong.
An alternative is to purchase the ring together, which takes out a lot of guesswork around size and style. It’s your choice, though, if you want to propose with a ring that is a complete surprise.
Many ‘how to buy an engagement ring’ articles dive straight in to ‘how to choose a design you like’, but honestly, there are things you need to think about first. So, let’s work through the big points that you’ll need to consider. No apologies, this is a long ride!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT DESIGN
Finding a style of ring that will be something that makes your intended fiancée go giddy with delight when she sees it is not a small challenge – we appreciate this. Here are some pointers to help you get it right.
- Check out her existing jewellery. Is everything silver coloured, or rose gold? Is it simple and elegant, or more elaborate? Is art deco her thing?
- See if she has a Pinterest board, or has been liking engagement ring posts on Instagram. What’s the theme you’re seeing there? Is every single ring emerald cut maybe?
- Has she been dropping hints? “Have you seen X’s engagement ring? It’s lovely / horrible / too big / too small.” “I’ve always wanted a solitaire.”
- Can you take in an accomplice? Sisters, cousins, best friends or even children may be able to shed some light on her preferences, if they can be trusted to keep it secret that you’ve been enquiring.
- Consider her lifestyle. If she’s always cycling, or riding horses, or wears gloves for work, a bezel setting might work better than a big elaborate one. If she always has perfect nails and immaculate grooming, then she might appreciate a larger, more glamorous ring as opposed to a simple solitaire.
- Consider the shape of her hand and fingers. We have a whole blog about this, but make sure the ring is in proportion to her hand-size, and neither too wide nor too slender for her finger. Choosing a ring to suit your hand
- Will she appreciate a diamond, or diamond – AND? Engagement rings featuring a central ruby, or sapphire, or with a diamond flanked by emeralds, are more unusual than rings with diamonds alone, so are an excellent choice for a fiancée who likes to go against the flow.
When it comes to showing off a brilliant singular stone, the solitaire reigns supreme. Without other stones or design elements to distract, the diamond captures the viewer’s full attention. Because of this, a high – quality diamond is essential.
The simplicity and minimalist beauty of the solitaire is beloved by many, making it the most popular ring setting styles. Its unadorned band complements every diamond shape, so the stone’s true personality shines brightly. The delicate, unobtrusive prong setting allows maximum light to stream through the diamond, allowing the stone to sparkle most brilliantly.
Whether you choose white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum, a solitaire ring is timeless. Its style is sure to be as enduring as the union it celebrates.
A classic setting is essentially an upgraded solitaire setting. The centre stone is still very much the main attraction, but additional accent stones on the band enhance the sparkle. Classic settings are in high demand because of this dazzling combination. The refined simplicity of a solitaire with an extra dose of glamour is extremely compelling – and versatile. Diamonds of all shapes captivate in classic settings. The number of bands can vary, too. You’ll find one to three bands intertwined, twisted, woven or laid flat to create a range of gorgeous options. Classic for a reason, these engagement rings remain enviable throughout the years.
Another popular engagement ring style is the cathedral setting. The diamond is elevated off the band by graceful arches, mimicking architecture of an actual cathedral building. This allows additional light to enter the diamond, creating even more opportunity for brilliance and sparkle. Because of the stone’s height, the diamond is featured even more predominantly, guaranteeing an eye-catching engagement ring. In turn, this style can make smaller stones appear larger than they actually are.
While the cathedral arch brings added interest to a solitaire setting, it can also be used to enhance halo, three-stone setting and vintage style rings. You can bring even more customisation and personality to a cathedral setting with subtle embellishments, like additional stones or intricate metal work, revealed only when given a closer look.
Design options for the cathedral may seem dizzying, but whatever you choose, this setting promises stunning sparkle and shine.
Halo diamond engagement rings always dazzle. This design features a centre stone that’s encircled by pavé, or micropavé, of smaller accent stones. Some halo settings feature two concentric circles around the centre diamond, adding even more shimmering sparkle. In every case, these halos call attention back to the centre stone and create the illusion of an even larger diamond.
There are several diamond shapes that are beautifully suited for a halo setting. A round diamond haloed by smaller round stones is famously a favourite. But look beyond that enduring combination, and you’ll see there’s plenty of room to play. Explore how a pear or oval shape come alive with a sparkling halo. With white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or platinum to choose from, there are endless possibilities to create something truly breathtaking.
It’s no wonder halo rings have become the modern classic. They make a bold statement while remaining true to tradition. And yours is sure to become a treasured symbol of love and, undoubtedly, an heirloom.
Vintage settings marry the design details of bygone eras, such as the Edwardian, Victorian or Art Deco time periods, with the brilliance and beauty of a modern centre stone. These nostalgic settings often include intricate details of milgain or filigree to create elaborate, feminine styles. Or, if they’re inspired by the geometric expressions of Art Deco architecture, you’ll find stunning symmetrical designs with clean, crisp parallel lines.
Regardless of the time period they were inspired by, vintage settings bring an artistic flair to the exquisite diamond you’ve chosen – and won’t inhibit its ability to sparkle. Your ring will harken back to a more romantic time, but will be crafted with the precision of today’s highest standards.
The three-stone setting is an elegant update of the solitaire setting. It features three diamonds, as its name implies. The largest is usually the centre stone with two smaller stones flanking its sides. All three diamonds can be the same shape which creates a sophisticated, unified look, or the side stones can be different shapes from the centre diamond creating a bolder, more modern take on the setting.
Regardless of the shapes you choose, this setting is designed to signify your past, present and future as a couple. With this poetic backstory, the three-stone setting takes on a deeper, more romantic meaning. There’s no better choice for those who are looking to start the next chapter with a ring imbued with symbolism and significance.
Depending on the diamond shapes and metal you choose, you’ll find the three-stone setting can be a stunning classic or transform into a distinctive statement. There’s plenty to customise to create a ring that’s perfectly suited for your bride-to-be.
Our modern settings were designed to be unique yet enduring. In this collection, you’ll find extraordinary, diamond-studded settings that are perfect for brides who desire a timeless engagement ring. In each of these settings, the centre stone remains prominent, but the band brings style and flair all bring extra personality to the ring. Explore our wide variety of artistic stylings and exquisite detailing within our modern collection to find a bespoke ring fit for your bride.
There is a ‘rule of thumb’ or ‘tradition’ that you should spend three months’ salary on an engagement ring. It used to be one month, and has crept up over the years. Did you know that the advice to spend a month’s salary originated from a marketing campaign by De Beers, the diamond mining conglomerate? They ran an ad campaign in the 1930s suggesting one month’s salary was appropriate. By the 1980s, their ads suggested two months, and now received wisdom states three months.
Can you see why a diamond conglomerate would encourage you to spend more on an engagement ring? And doesn’t that make you want to ignore it?
The sensible way to decide how much to spend on an engagement ring is to use the same reasoning that you would use on any other major purchase: how much can you reasonably afford for what the item will be worth to you? What does your budget have to cover? Are you saving up for a big wedding, or a house? Does your budget have to cover a new baby arriving soon? Don’t spend multiple thousands of pounds on an engagement ring that you can’t afford, or where the purchase could land you in hot water!
We offer a finance option if that is a way that you can make a more expensive ring an option, but please be sensible.
The next question you need to consider is where your ring comes from. Online, or the high street is often the first question people consider. More engagement rings are now being purchased online than ever before, but you may decide that you need to see rings in person, before you buy. You could aim for the best of both worlds, by looking at styles in shops before ordering online, where there is a much greater choice available.
If you would like to visit our boutique showroom in Truro, Cornwall, then you are more than welcome to make an appointment Monday to Saturday, 9am-4pm. We have a range of styles available to see, and mock-ups, and can discuss your requirements with you.
For many people, making ethical choices matters, and the diamond industry’s history of human rights abuses and environmental damage has put them off mined diamonds.
We’re right there with you on that one! If you’re not sure, see our our blog here:
As far as diamonds are concerned, the only truly ethical choice is a diamond that has not been mined at all, so a lab-grown diamond, or the IQ Diamond that features in many of the diamond engagement rings that form part of the Ethica Diamonds collection.
For everything you need to know about the IQ Diamond, see the Compare Diamonds page on our website.
It is also the case that other gemstones are not exactly eco – friendly. See our blog about Lemurs and Sapphires for one particular instance, but you should know that the IQ Diamond can be created in other colours, eg. sapphire, ruby, emerald and more.
When considering proposing, it’s worth thinking in plenty of time about when you are going to propose. The peak engagement points in the year are Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day, with other major holidays, birthdays and anniversaries also featuring high on the list. So, if you’re planning to propose on your holiday in August, you need to consider a ring at least as early as May, to make sure that you can get something you want, with enough time to get it ordered and crafted and delivered.
Almost all of the rings featured on the Ethica Diamonds website are made to measure from our online catalogue. You can specify the metal, the size of the IQ Diamond(s), the size you need, and then we make it for you. There is an order time of 16 working days for catalogue rings.
We have a few rings held in stock in our showroom – see our website for details of these – which you can receive in 5 working days. Alterations to the size, and engraving options are possible, but this will take slightly longer.
Bespoke rings, which are made to your design, will take at least six weeks, as we need to work with you to develop your style ideas and produce a design which meets your requirements.
You can find out more about bespoke rings here:
For many people, diamonds are the way to go for engagement rings. There is something special about that sparkle and fire, and we are delighted to offer a huge choice of ethical diamond engagement rings, here at Ethica Diamonds.
Have a careful look at where your diamond comes from. The companies who mine diamonds are struggling to clean up their act, even nearly twenty years after the introduction of the Kimberley Process, which attempted to stamp out blood diamonds in the international diamond trade.
Lab grown diamonds are man-made alternatives, which are in every way identical to a mined diamond, except for their origins and eco-credentials. You can find out more elsewhere on our website, if you’re interested.
THE 4 C’S
Choosing a diamond, wherever it comes from, you will read about ‘The 4 Cs’. These are Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat.
Cut – describes the shape and facets of the diamond, and is designed to reflect the most light and sparkle back from the stone. Many of the IQ Diamonds in the Ethica Diamonds catalogue are ‘round brilliant cut’, but we also have rings with heart cut, emerald cut, marquise cut and other shapes of stones. We have a blog discussing the different shapes in more depth, and you can search our catalogue by shape of stone, if you have something particular in mind.
Clarity – is the internal structure of the diamond, whether it has imperfections (known as inclusions) inside it. Inclusions are measured on a scale, ranging from Internally Flawless (IF), through Very very small inclusions (VVSI), to Very small inclusions (VSI), Slightly Included (SI) and Included (I). Obviously, the fewer flaws internally, the more expensive the diamond. Mined diamonds are available in all grades, but you will find many lab-grown diamonds, and the IQ Diamond, are only created in the highest grades, as we can control the process of creation where nature likes to do her own thing!
Colour – which is graded alphabetically, from D to Z, with D-F being colourless (and more expensive) and a faint yellow tint becoming more pronounced as you get nearer the end of the alphabet. Fancy coloured diamonds are rare in nature, and command a high premium in price, but pink, blue and other colours can be created as IQ Diamonds, because the growing process is strictly controlled in the lab.
Carat- is the size of the diamond. It refers to the weight, rather than the size, so it’s possible to get diamonds of the same carat size which actually look very different in size, depending on the cut. A 1 carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams, and, if cut as a round brilliant stone, will be 6.5 mm across. An emerald cut 1 carat stone will be 7 x 5mm.
When talking about diamonds, many people add in additional ‘C’s, to give people further points by which to consider their purchase. We usually consider Certification, Conflict and Cost, but you will sometimes see Conscience as well.
The IQ Diamonds we use are certified by an independent grading process, so that you know they are what we say they are, and the carat size, etc. All the IQ Diamonds are laser etched with a unique identifying number that can be read with a jeweller’s loupe.
Any mined diamond is at risk of having origins in conflict, because even through the Kimberley Process attempts to prevent diamonds of dubious ethical origins from reaching the international diamond markets, there are significant loopholes. Read more about these on our blog here:
We have already discussed cost, as far as it impacts your pocket, but it’s worth stopping to think about environmental cost, and why the monetary cost for a mined diamond is so high. This, again, can be brought down to De Beers, ultimately, which has managed to convince the diamond-buying public that mined diamonds are rare and expensive. There is more extensive information about this on the Buying Diamonds page here:
The final design question is what metal you should use for the ring. Ethica Diamonds offers platinum, and 18k gold in three varieties: yellow, rose and white, so we will focus on those. Elsewhere you will be able to purchase titanium or other metals, but we have chosen to focus use platinum for our diamond set engagement rings, as it is possible to create more delicate designs because platinum is more malleable.
Gold is a fascinating metal, with pure 24 karat gold being too soft to use in jewellery. Our gold is all 18 karat, with additional metals added to improve durability and also add colour. Rose gold has copper added, to give a red hue, and white gold has additional white metals, to ensure that it remains a silvery colour. Incidentally, we never produce jewellery in silver, as it is not robust enough.
If you purchase a gold ring from Ethica Diamonds, you will be able to choose between recycled and Fairtrade gold. Recycled gold is sourced from recycled jewellery, and gold retrieved from other uses. Fairtrade gold commands a slight premium, and comes from artisan gold miners who are paid fairly, and work in better conditions than is normal for artisan gold production. You can find out more about Fairtrade gold here. Fairtrade gold
Platinum is heavier than gold, so is more expensive as they’re both sold by weight. Some people like the extra weight on their hand, while others do not – it’s personal preference, so see if you can find out which your future fiancée likes. It is a harder metal than gold, so will gradually rub away at a gold ring, if they are worn side by side, so be aware of this when considering engagement and wedding rings.
You can read more about the different metals here on our website here if you are interested:
Getting the size of the ring right is important. At Ethica, we make all our rings to order, although we can re-size later if necessary.
There are a number of factors to consider when specifying the size of the ring you want –
- The ring should be able to turn comfortably.
- The hand swells when it’s warm, and changes shape during the day as well.
- Left and right hands won’t match.
If you’re buying a ring as a surprise, you need to do some detective work – is there a ring you can measure that’s already the right size, have they already measured it that you can find out?
We have some more hints and tips on our page about getting the right size ring, as well as links to a ring sizer that you can print out, to measure both existing rings and fingers. Don’t use string; it stretches!
If you truly can’t find the ring you want anywhere, or have seen a picture but can’t find a physical one like it, or want one you’ve seen with mined diamonds to be reproduced with an ethical alternative, a ring designed just for you might be what you need. Here at Ethica, we have a bespoke service where we work with you from the initial ideas to the finished ring, aiming to create something that exceeds your expectations. You can find more on our Bespoke web page, along with a host of examples of rings that we have created for happy customers in the past.
LOOKING AFTER IT
A final consideration, for anyone making a major purchase like an engagement ring, is looking after it.
Any diamond, whatever its origin, has the potential to scratch other gems, so storing rings in separate compartments or ring slots is good practice, to ensure that they remain pristine. We recommend warm water and a gentle detergent, plus a soft brush, to clean your Ethica engagement ring, to ensure it retains its original sparkle.
Taking the engagement ring will help keep it away from grease and oils that won’t damage the stone itself, but may collect in the mount. We recommend that you remove your rings when you are inside the house doing chores etc and get into the habit of keeping it in a safe place so when you go out, you put on your jewellery after moisturising your hands etc. Also remove all your rings when you are doing sport or gardening.
Insuring your precious purchase, should the worst happen, is essential. Again, it’s not something that features in the shiny articles in magazines, but it’s a part of real life. Make sure that your insurer will give you a like-for-like replacement, and covers items away from home. Check also whether there is a ‘specific items’ clause, and what the value limits are here, so you can list your jewellery, if necessary.
Most insurers will not have come across the IQ Diamond before, and yours will probably want to see the certification and the receipt of purchase, which we provide for you. We will work with any insurer in the event of loss or damage, although we hope you never need to ask us!
We have a blog here that may interest you:
You want the ring you chose to be perfect, but if your fiancée doesn’t like it, then you need to know that you can return it, or exchange it for something else.
At Ethica, we have a 30-day approval period for all our jewellery, and will offer a complete refund on all items returned to us in new, complete, un-worn condition, within that period. We also offer an exchange policy. Just make sure that the ring that you are returning comes back to us in an unworn condition with the security tag still attached. There are certain exclusions, including for bespoke or customised items.
We will also repair or replace any of our products that are damaged.
Half the fun of proposing is presenting your beloved with a ring in a beautiful box, and watching her face light up as she opens it.
But we are aware that sending diamonds through the post could carry a risk of theft, plus there is a chance of spoiling the surprise if a parcel turns up marked ‘with ‘diamonds’ in big letters. You should ensure that there are safeguards in place to protect any online purchase of diamonds.
Any jewellery ordered from Ethica is packaged in our beautiful, eco-friendly signature packaging, then in a second outer layer, which contains the certification information, and has no external branding at all. It is sent by insured delivery, with UK deliveries using the Royal Mail Special Delivery service, which is signed for, and overseas parcels travelling by an insured courier.
The full details of the packaging and delivery are on our website here:
So, that’s everything we think someone needs to know before buying an engagement ring. Truth be told, you’ve done the difficult part already, finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with – this is the easy bit!
We wish you all the best, and hope that you get a ‘yes’ once you pop the question. Good Luck!