Picking out an engagement ring is an exciting first step towards a marriage, whether you’re picking rings as a couple or surprising your loved one with a ring when you pop the question. But what engagement ring styles does your future spouse like? How do you know what to look for when choosing an engagement ring?
There are many factors to consider when deciding on a ring, so for those uninformed on elements like cut, clarity, and carat, this guide gives you everything you’ll need to know when selecting a diamond ring.
How To Choose an Engagement Ring
There are a number of factors that go into choosing the perfect engagement ring, whether you’re picking one out together or surprising your future fiancee with a ring when you propose.
Aside from learning about their personal style and preference, you should also know a little bit about diamond rings and how they’re designed, as well as some important terms like the 4 C’s, and gemstone shapes and settings.
Use our engagement ring style guide to learn the basics about engagement rings, diamond quality, and settings. From there, you’ll have to consider what your future spouse likes in terms of style – or consider asking their friends to get some advice!
The 4 C’s
Every diamond is different, and the 4 C’s are the global standard for assessing a diamond’s quality. If you’re shopping for a diamond engagement ring, it’s good to know about the 4 C’s before you meet with a jeweler so that you know what to look for.
The 4 C’s are cut, carat, color, and clarity. We’ll explain each one below.
Cut does not refer to the shape of the diamond, but rather the way that the diamond interacts with and reflects light. This basically means how sparkly the diamond is, based on light reflected, symmetry, and polish.
Cut is often hard to identify for the untrained eye, but a helpful trick is to compare the light and dark facets of the diamond when you look at it from above.
Carat is the measurement of weight of the diamond. Since weight generally coincides with size, the higher the carat, the larger the diamond. The average carat size for the main stone of an engagement ring is around 1 carat.
The carat of a diamond will factor into its price.
Diamonds are meant to be clear in color, so color actually means the lack thereof in a diamond. The rarest, most popular and expensive diamonds have no color, whereas other diamonds are less pure and sometimes have a slight hue to them. Color is rated from D (the clearest) to Z (visibly yellow in hue).
Clarity refers to the presence of inclusions or blemishes in diamonds, tiny flecks of color (usually black or white) in the stone. These occur naturally as diamonds form, but the most highly-valued diamonds are virtually blemish-free.
The more inclusions there are and how visible they are to the naked eye will affect the clarity of the diamond, and ultimately the price.
Engagement Ring Shapes
Shape is one of the most important factors when choosing a ring, and depends on the brides personal style and preference. There are more and more uniquely shaped diamonds out there, but we’ll go over the classic diamond shapes that you’ll find at any jewelry store.
Round shaped diamonds are circular in shape. This is a popular and classic look for any engagement ring.
Oval shaped diamonds are, you guessed it, shaped like ovals. This is an oblong circular ring, and another timeless look.
The princess cut is typically a square diamond, and a very popular style both past and present!
An emerald shape does not mean the stone is an emerald, just that it’s cut in the same style as many emeralds. Emerald shaped diamonds are elongated rectangles, usually with step cuts along each side.
Cushion cut diamonds are some of the most popular out there, with a square shape but rounded corners, kind of like cushion. Cushion shaped diamonds tend to have great dispersion, meaning they disperse beautiful rainbows when lit hits the facets.
Marquise shaped diamonds have a gorgeous almond shape, also called football shaped or eye shaped. They are pointed at each end but have round curves along the length.
A pear shaped diamond is also called a tear drop diamond, as they resemble both the fruit and a teardrop. These have an elongated shape, round on one end and pointed at the other.
Asscher cut diamonds are octagonal, but with a square overall shape. They are similar to emerald shaped diamonds, as they both have step cuts. Asscher diamonds have unique x-shaped facets.
Baguette diamonds are smaller rectangular diamonds, often with step cuts along each side.
Heart shaped diamonds are shaped like a heart! While these still exist, they have fallen out of style for engagement rings for being a bit too on the nose.
Engagement Ring Settings and Styles
The setting of the diamond is another essential element to consider, and refers to how the diamond sits on the band and what, if anything, frames it. The most popular setting styles include the following:
Solitaire is a single stone, the simplest and most popular engagement ring setting.
A halo setting means that small stones surround the main stone. They are often circular, but you can have different diamond shapes and halo settings.
A three-stone setting means just that – three stones.
Three stone features three diamonds next to one another, usually with a larger center stone and smaller side stones, representing the past, present, and future.
Pavé is the setting of one main diamond surrounded by tiny diamonds on the band to add depth and sparkle.
A cathedral setting means that the main stone is flanked by pieces of metal band that come up from the ring itself. This lifts the diamond, drawing more attention and focus to the gemstone so that it stands out from your ring. It also helps to secure the diamond.
A swirl setting means that the band of the ring swirls up and around the diamond or other gemstone, creating an almost whimsical effect. Often, swirl settings feature small pavé stones to enhance the sparkle.
An infinity setting resembles the infinity symbol. The wedding band looks almost like two bands interwoven in several infinity signs. This can offer some lovely symbolism for an engagement ring, as your love and marriage will last forever.
A channel set ring typically has small diamonds embedded along the band, in a track between two sides of metal.
A bezel setting means that the stone is set with a bezel, or edge, around it. A bezel means that your diamond’s edge is completely surrounded by metal. This is the most secure and protected way to set a diamond.
A tension ring means that the tension of the band holds the diamond in place. Compression holds the gem in place, and it may even look like it’s floating between the two pieces of metal. Keep in mind that tension rings can be difficult or even impossible to resize, as changing the tension will cause the diamond to lose its secure placement.
A cluster setting traditionally means small diamonds are clustered together to create the appearance of a larger diamond. Modern cluster rings can also include a larger diamond surrounded by other size stones, however. Some cluster rings create a more unique look for brides who want something different from the norm.
Other Factors to Consider
Now that you understand diamond quality, shapes, and settings, there are a few more factors to consider.
The band of the ring should take into account the bride’s personal style. Bands typically come in yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, platinum, and silver.
Picking the band depends on color preference and durability, as platinum is more durable than gold or silver, but also loses its shine faster.
If your loved one typically wears white gold jewelry, it is probably a good idea to get a band to match so that her engagement ring matches her other jewelry. If you’re not sure, ask a friend or your future spouse herself!
More and more, brides are choosing to get non-diamond engagement rings. Consider whether your future spouse would prefer a diamond, or something different like sapphires, opals, emeralds, or other precious stones.
Fire or Dispersion
Another term that is good to know before you visit a jeweler is a diamond’s “fire” or dispersion. This simply means how the diamond disperses light when light directly hits its facets. If you want a diamond ring that casts rainbows in the light, be sure to ask about the ring’s fire.
Engagement Ring Shopping FAQ
All of your questions about how to buy an engagement ring, answered.
How do I choose an engagement ring style?
The type of engagement ring you choose really comes down to personal preference and style – there’s no right or wrong engagement ring style. What’s important is that you consider what you think the person you’re proposing to will like best. If you’re not sure, consider asking her friends or family for hints, or even have a straightforward conversation about what styles they like.
How many carats should an engagement ring be?
The average engagement ring is about 1 carat. There are no real rules about what carat an engagement ring needs to be – again, it comes down to personal style and preference, as well as budget. A larger carat ring will be more expensive.
One thing to keep in mind is that carat is not the end-all be-all factor. Some people get hung up on carat and size, but other elements like the cut and clarity are often more important when considering the quality of a diamond.
It’s better to get a 1 carat diamond with a gorgeous cut, clarity, and color, as opposed to a 2 carat diamond with blemishes or discoloration.
Which diamond cut sparkles the most?
Round diamonds tend to have the most sparkle, but there are plenty of other shapes with gorgeous sparkle. Round brilliant diamonds are known to be the sparkliest, as they have 58 facets.
How much should I spend?
Engagement rings are about the sentiment, not the price tag. Everyone’s budget is different, and there’s no set rule about how much to spend. Check out our engagement ring cost guide for more information.
We hope this guide helps you better understand your options when it comes to engagement rings! Take some time to consider shapes and settings before you rush into your decision.
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