Guide to Engagement Rings
As your relationship with your significant other grows, you begin to think more about spending the rest of your lives together. Asking that life-changing question is a beautiful moment, and both it and your partner deserve an equally stunning engagement ring to mark the occasion.
Buying an engagement ring can be a daunting process, but there is no need to worry. With this guide to engagement rings, you'll soon know the basics and have an idea of what your spouse-to-be will love as much as they love you.
Four C's of Diamonds
The four C's are a set of qualities that distinguish diamonds: cut, color, clarity and carat. When you pick an engagement ring, you should have the best possible understanding of these four qualities. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) defines the four C's as follows:
Cut: The cut of a diamond does not refer to the shape of the gemstone. Instead, cut describes the diamond's facets, polish, proportions and symmetry. GIA rates the overall cut of a diamond as poor, fair, good, very good or excellent. The better the cut, the better a diamond's other qualities will appear.
- Color: For a white diamond, the desired quality is no color. GIA describes the absence of color in a diamond from colorless to light with faint in the middle of the scale. Diamonds with light color appear to have a yellow tint, while colorless diamonds appear white and are much more valuable.
- Clarity: Internal imperfections, blemishes and surface imperfections impact a diamond's clarity. While no diamond is pure and clear, the fewer inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the better its clarity will be. GIA evaluates a gemstone under 10-times magnification and grades diamond clarity on a scale from flawless to included.
- Carat weight: This quality is simply the weight and size of the diamond. The higher the carat is, the larger the diamond is, and that typically leads to a higher value. GIA measures the carat weight of a diamond to the hundredth decimal, meaning you may find measurements as exact as 1.07 carats. GIA also defines a carat as 200 milligrams for consistent measurement among all diamonds. Size isn't the only determining factor in price, though, as a smaller, colorless diamond with flawless clarity and excellent cut could be more valuable than a larger diamond with lesser qualities.
GIA uses the four C's to give consistent grading to diamonds, which retailers provide in a report that comes with diamond jewelry. The grading offers insight into the quality of the gemstone and its value. You may wish to compromise on one quality to find a diamond that suits other preferences. If your partner wants a larger diamond, you can step down in clarity or color to find a more affordable option.
Diamond Shapes for Engagement Rings
Diamonds come in an array of shapes and styles that give an engagement ring a design that ranges from dazzling and modern to elegant and vintage.
You'll hear various terms for the shapes diamonds come in, as well as the term "brilliant" to describe it. With a brilliant cut, the shape of the diamond contains more facets. Those facets contribute to a dazzling diamond and can even mask certain imperfections to the naked eye. Among some of the most popular shapes for diamonds, brilliant and otherwise, are:
This shape is a popular option, with over half of diamond engagement rings having a round gemstone. The shape is more uniform and circular, giving it a timeless look that functions well in modern and classic designs alike. Round diamonds also work well in most settings and styles of engagement rings, making them a stunning and versatile selection.
An oval shape diamond gives the same romantic, rounded effect of the previous shape, but in a unique style. It may appear larger than a round cut because of its elongated form, which is noticeable if you compare two diamonds with the same carat weight in an oval and a round shape. You also have more opportunities for unique sizes and ratios with an oval shape in contrast to a round one.
A princess shape diamond falls under the broad category of square shapes. This cut is more recent, having been created in the 1980s, but it is still a popular choice because it gives the illusion of a larger diamond. If you pick an engagement ring with a square diamond, be sure that it has a prong setting to keep the four corners safe from potential damage.
The appearance of this shape is that of a cushion with straight sides and rounded edges. Cushion diamonds evoke a vintage style, being the most popular choice for a gemstone shape until the early 20th century. It was such a popular cut until modern times because it saved as much of the original gemstone as possible during the cutting process.
A diamond in the pear shape goes from rounded at one end to a point on the opposite. This style was also popular in vintage rings and is favorable for its unique shape. Symmetry is essential in this style as any error is more noticeable in its design. If you choose a pear shape diamond engagement ring for your partner, be sure they wear it with the point facing out towards the fingertips.
The emerald cut engagement ring is marked by its precision and elegance. The long lives give the diamond a sophisticated, timeless look. The rectangular shape illustrates the stone's clarity and luster unlike any other cut.
Settings for Engagement Rings
The setting of an engagement ring is as essential to consider as the diamond itself. Some settings go well with particular shapes, and all of them have their advantages and disadvantages. The setting also influences the style of the ring. Balance your choice between what your significant other prefers and what will protect the diamond the best:
This setting grips the diamond with either four or six prongs. It holds up the diamond for all to see and for light to pass through easily and show off the brilliance. It also creates a classic look with straightforward maintenance, though this style can loosen over time or catch on clothing items. Choose low-profile versions if your partner wishes to wear the engagement ring daily but also has an active lifestyle.
A bezel wraps around the sides of the diamond for a secure setting. You'll find full and partial-bezel options, where a partial bezel shows off the sides of the diamond more than the full alternative. While this style provides a secure setting that helps prevent loss or damage, it does not let as much light pass through as a prong setting.
A cathedral setting focuses on the arches that appear with the setting, which can be a prong, bezel or another style. It adds a touch of personality and style to an engagement ring without needing to add more gemstones, making it a gorgeous yet often affordable choice. It can become dirtier than other styles due to the crevices that the arches create, but with the way it makes the center stone appear larger, it is still a popular choice.
A stunning arrangement of diamonds creates a cluster setting that gives the illusion of a singular large gemstone. You have the opportunity to find unique shapes that you couldn't get with a single diamond as a jeweler can use clusters of small diamonds to form fascinating shapes. A cluster setting requires more maintenance than a single diamond with cleaning and checking the individual settings, but it is worth it if your significant other wants a dramatic look that is unique and has plenty of texture.
Tension and Tension-Style Setting
These options are rare yet eye-catching. A true tension setting suspends the diamond between the band for a dramatic look that shows off much of the diamond. Some styles also mimic the setting, wrapping around the top, bottom and sometimes a side of the diamond. While it is more secure than it looks, there is the odd chance that this setting can be compromised, resulting in loss or damage to the gemstone. Tension settings are also difficult to resize, so be sure you know your partner's exact measurement if you choose this style.
Another unique style, the flush setting has a more masculine appearance as the diamond is set within the band. A flush setting is common for men's wedding bands, but any active spouse-to-be will appreciate the industrial style and security it provides the diamond. The diamond is not as visible as it is in other styles, but if your partner enjoys a minimal style, this could be a unique selection.
Styles to Pick in an Engagement Ring
Engagement rings come in an array of breathtaking styles to suit any partner's tastes, from the extravagant to the subtle. The shape and setting of the diamond contribute to the style, but other components of the ring have an impact, as well. Some styles and terms you're likely to come across when buying an engagement ring include:
The halo style features a ring of smaller diamonds that encircles one center gemstone. The result is a bolder style that gives the illusion of a large center stone. The small stones catch the light to add more dazzle to the ring and enhance the center diamond's sparkle. This eye-catching design can appear with a mix of the styles below for even more sparkle in the ring.
A halo engagement ring can have a vintage feel, but it's just as popular today as it was a century ago. If your partner wants to show off the engagement ring and have an eye-catching adornment to celebrate your engagement, the halo style is an excellent selection.
Pave or pavé bands appear to be paved with small and stunning diamonds held in place by small drops of metal. The result is a band that dazzles as much as the center diamond and has other advantages:
- Pave diamonds will not require as much maintenance as other settings.
- If your partner wants diamonds on the band, a pave design is more suitable for daily wear.
- Pave diamonds are smaller.
When combined with a halo style and a beautiful center diamond, a pave band makes an engagement ring stand out and sparkle even more.
A solitaire engagement ring only features one diamond. This timeless style has been around for some time and is here to stay, in part because of its simplicity. Solitaire engagement rings are an excellent choice if your partner has a minimalist style and doesn't wish to show off a large ring.
The solitaire design is also easier to change over time. Solitaire rings are great to add stackable bands to create a unique look to fit your style. Individuals can also add bands for special occasions.
A three stone diamond engagement ring has triple the brilliance. You can even find varieties with a pave band or halos around each of the three stones, adding even more drama and shine to the ring. In the layout of a three diamond engagement ring, there are some qualities and variations to know:
- The center diamond is typically the largest of the three gemstones.
- The two diamonds on the side are the same shape as each other to provide symmetry.
- The diamonds on the side may be a different shape that complements the center diamond.
- The diamonds on the side and the center diamond can be the same shape.
The diamonds in a three diamond engagement ring are most often round or princess cut. These uniform shapes fit well together on a band without throwing off proportions. Sometimes the center stone may have an oval or rectangle shape, set vertically between the two side diamonds to create a stunning style.
Engagement rings that evoke the natural world have been a growing trend in recent years, thanks to their stunning style and unique designs. In nature-inspired engagement rings, you'll often find:
- A solitaire diamond
- A textured band
- A band that features twisting components
- Leaf and flower motifs
- Organic shapes
Those qualities give a soft and romantic look to a ring, which may appear more abstract or more literal. Choose based on your partner's preferences, going with literal natural inspiration if they have unique, whimsical tastes or an abstract style with rounded shapes if they prefer contemporary, timeless styles.
Lab-Grown or Mined Diamond Engagement Ring
In searching for engagement rings or any diamond jewelry, you've likely come across lab-grown and mined diamonds. Both offer a quality gemstone, but you will have to choose between the two when you pick an engagement ring. First, consider these aspects of lab-grown diamonds:
- Better for the environment
- Conflict free
- More affordable than mined options
- Can purchase larger lab-grown diamond vs. mined diamond
- Can be customized for your ring
- A growing trend in the jewelry world
Lab-grown diamonds are also chemically and physically the same as a mined diamond, just created in a lab.
How to Pick an Engagement Ring
Among all of these diamond qualities, the most essential consideration you can make when buying an engagement ring is your partner's tastes and other personal factors. When it's time to make that big decision and pick an engagement ring, go in knowing:
- Your budget
- What gemstones your partner prefers
- The type of metal your partner wears most often
- Your partner's style
- Your partner's ring size
Find Beautiful Engagement Rings From Little Switzerland
With the knowledge you've gained in this engagement ring guide, making the perfect choice will be much easier. If the options still overwhelm you, our experts at Little Switzerland can help. We are the largest authorized jewelry retailer in the Caribbean and offer duty-free and tax-free shopping, making your experience more convenient as you pick an engagement ring.
Shop our diamond jewelry from Avance, Engrace and Little Switzerland Diamonds today to find the perfect engagement ring. Make an amazing choice for your significant other and begin your life together with a beautiful engagement ring from Little Switzerland.