Whether you’re a man ready to get down on one knee and ask the girl of your dreams to be your wife, or a lady who wants a bit of control over her dream wedding, the engagement ring is a hugely important part.
When it comes to something she’ll wear for the rest of her life, the engagement ring needs to be perfect. They’re supposed to be a visual token of your love and dedication – not an afterthought or a consolation prize. With that in mind, Lycetts, experts in insuring engagement rings, has created a guide to what you should be looking for when buying an engagement ring.
The price of an engagement ring varies, although we advise picking a ring on the higher end of what you can afford. Don’t put yourself in crippling debt to get one – but spending a decent amount of money illustrates your commitment. The age old rule of three month’s salary is long dead, as you can get an eye-catching ring affordably. However, she’s going to wear it for the rest of her life, so spend as much as you can comfortably manage and see her eyes light up.
Band materials explained
When it comes to choosing your band material, you’ll have three main choices and a few ‘outsider’ picks.
- Gold: The classic wedding ring style, a gold band comes in various carats. The measurement indicates the purity of the gold and is in ascending increments between 9,14,18,22 and 24 carats. 22 is the purest form for jewellery.
- Silver: A long-standing precious metal that is beautiful in its simplicity, silver is nonetheless prone to tarnishing, so should be coated or protected.
- Platinum: Platinum gives a ring a bright white-silver look that is far shinier than other materials. It is a high-density metal that is ultra-durable. It is naturally hypoallergenic and carries lifelong hardiness. Of all the ‘silver’ bands, it is platinum that carries the most prestige.
- Palladium: A chemical that is softer and more affordable than platinum, palladium is naturally hypoallergenic and develops a patina over time. It is an ideal substitute for white gold or platinum.
- White Gold: White gold follows the same principles as gold, but is alloyed with precious white metals like silver or palladium to give it a beautiful, eye-catching polish and shine. The use of palladium makes the ring slightly more expensive compared to standard ‘yellow’ gold. The finish complements and enhances the shine of the diamond.
Picking a setting
Before you get on to choosing the stone, you’ll need to decide what style of ‘setting’ you’ll be buying. This denotes the way the diamond or gemstone is actually fixed to the ring and will change the overall appearance quite heavily. The most common are…
This refers to a small metal claw that grips the diamond or stone to hold it in place. These prongs can be rounded, pointed, flat of even V-shaped. Commonly they have four prongs, which allows plenty of light to pass through the diamond. However, prong settings can sometimes snap, making engagement ring insurance vital.
This is a popular variant of prong setting that involves setting the diamond quite high, which increases the risk of snagging.
Prong & Cathedral
This is when you set diamonds into the ‘channel’ of the band, often tightly together.
The bezel setting is a modern look, encircling the diamond with a thin overlapping rim. You can get these in full or partial bezels and they’re a good choice for active people as they’re durable and don’t snag.
Refers to small diamonds set in a circular pattern that repeats across the surface to create the ‘halo.’
This refers to rings which hold the diamond by tension, giving the appearance of the gemstone floating between the metal. Often, many tension-style bands use a prong or bezel under the diamond to firmly anchor it.
Bezel & Tension
From the French word ‘to pave’ this setting refers to a ring ‘paved’ with diamonds that have tiny beads or prongs holding them in place.
There are other settings available, which all come to the question: what style do you want from the ring – does your partner value simplicity, ornate design or something unusual? This will dictate your choices.
Choosing your stone
Finally you reach the most important part of buying an engagement ring: deciding on the stone. The classic diamond is the most common thanks to its brilliant lustre and shine. When you go to select one, you’ll need to decide on the carat, clarity, colour and shape.
The carat of the diamond varies and you can normally purchase one anywhere between 0.1 to a full 1 carat stone. However, as a luxury purchase diamonds can vary wildly in size up to 100 carats, worth millions. They refer to the weight of the stone and you can often net discount if the stone is slightly under popular weights such as 1/2ct, ¾ ct and 1ct. Sometimes, the diameter of the stone is different to the weight and a lesser carat can look as large as a full carat.
However, if you’re ordering from a bespoke engagement ring company, you’ll need to choose between gems that have different clarity grades. Obviously, you should buy the best clarity you can afford to ensure the diamond is as shiny as she’d expect. The colour isn’t too important, as the untrained eye will hardly notice differences – especially once it’s set in a ring that will give its colour to the gem.
Diamonds come in a variety of shapes.
- Round: The most popular shape, this simple style makes up 75% of all diamonds sold. It maximises brightness due to its reflective properties.
- Princess cut: a fancy shape that screams elegance.
- Oval: An elongated shape that helps create the illusion of greater size.
- Marquise: A football-shaped, brilliant-cut diamond that creates the largest surface area of any diamond.
- Pear: Pear-shaped diamonds combine marquise and round shapes to create good symmetry.
- Cushion: A cushion diamond is a square cut that has founded corners and is one of the most popular shapes.
- Emerald cut: a large, flat-faced diamond that creates a hall of mirrors effect.
- Radiant cut: similar to an emerald cut, but modified to have a vibrant, lively face with brilliant-cut design.
- Heart-shaped: say you love her with an iconic symbol.
Once you’ve selected all of the parts of your ring, the only thing that’s left is finding out her size. Whether you measure a dress ring or use a stealthier method, we’re going to have to leave it to you!