The process of choosing an engagement ring can be overwhelming. There are so many different styles available, plus you need to factor in your partner’s personal taste. Even once you have overcome those two important steps, the process of shopping for a diamond is in itself a minefield.
You may browse our website and feel decision paralysis. We pride ourselves on offering the widest range we possibly can, in the hopes that anyone can find their perfect ring at WRD. However, we understand that when it comes to engagement ring shopping, many of our clients are jewellery novices.
Many modern couples decide to shop for engagement rings together, to avoid the difficult buying process. However, if you want to surprise your partner the old fashioned way, we love the romantic sentiment. If the latter appeals to you, we have put together a handy guide to get you started.
Step One: Choosing the Style of Your Engagement Ring
The most classic style of engagement ring is the solitaire. A solitaire ring features a single stone in the centre of the band. Of all the engagement rings that we sell, the solitaire is the most popular choice. You can make this timeless style your own by selecting the diamond shape which most appeals to you. The centre stone really gets to shine in a solitaire.
There are different stone shapes to choose from such as princess cut (square stone), brilliant cut (round stone), and fancy cut diamonds such as emerald, marquise, heart and oval cut diamonds. Discover more about diamond cuts in our in-depth diamond guide.
After the solitaire, the most popular engagement ring style is the trilogy. These rings feature three diamonds, either of a similar size, or a larger centre stone with two smaller flanking diamonds. A trilogy ring is a great option if you want your ring to have the maximum finger coverage. It is also a great way to play with diamond shapes, as you can choose one shape for your centre stone and another for the side stones.
If you think your partner would prefer a more detailed engagement ring, you may wish to consider a vintage style ring. We have a full collection of engagement rings inspired by the Victorian and Georgian era of sparkle and glamour. Vintage style rings usually have intricate details such as decorative shoulders or halos.
Halo engagement rings are a great choice if you are looking for the sparkle factor. The term “halo” refers to a border of small stones (usually diamonds) that runs around the centre stone. This helps the centre stone appear larger whilst also adding extra light refraction to the ring. It also acts as a protective barrier for the centre stone. If you want to buy an engagement ring with a gemstone instead of a diamond, a halo is a good way to keep that protected. This is particularly important for softer stones such as emeralds or opals.
If a large centre stone is not in your budget, then you may want to consider a cluster style engagement ring. Cluster rings feature a closely set cluster of smaller diamonds which give the effect of a single stone. Some clusters are arranged to resemble flowers, while others imitate classic diamond shapes.
Step Two: Choosing a Metal
When you purchase a ring from WRD, you have the opportunity to select every feature to ensure that your ring is perfect. A key decision in this process is selecting the metal your ring will be made from. Your choice of metal will have a big impact on your final ring. Not only will it alter the way the ring looks, but each metal has unique properties that will change the way the ring wears and feels. For example, platinum is the heaviest of our alloys. A platinum ring will feel more weighty on the hand, but it will also provide the most security for your centre stone due to its flexibility and strength.
Some alloys require more upkeep than others. For instance, white gold requires rhodium plating to preserve its bright white colour. We usually recommend that rhodium is re-applied every year or so, but some people may find it wears off more or less quickly. Rhodium plating is a chargeable service, so it is best to factor this future cost in when choosing your engagement ring.
One final note on choosing you engagement ring metal: remember that to keep your rings looking their best, it is recommended to match the engagement ring metal to the wedding band metal. This is because each alloy has unique properties, and a harder material rubbing against a softer material can cause damage over time. So, if you want to splash out for a luxurious alloy such as 18 karat gold or platinum for the engagement ring, be prepared to match it when wedding band shopping.
Step Three: Understanding Diamonds
Buying diamonds is a unique experience. There is no other commodity on the market that is shrouded in so much symbolism and mystery. The best way to look at it as a novice is to accept that diamonds are not as rare as they are made out to be. A diamond is very rarely a strong investment, and can often go down in value after purchase. They are, however, extremely beautiful, appealing stones. Their strength and lustre makes them an incredible choice for an engagement ring. If you love diamonds, then don’t let the question of value and investment hold you back from choosing one.
For an in-depth explanation of the four Cs, please read our complete diamond buyer’s guide.
When buying a diamond, there are four attributes to keep in mind:
The carat of a diamond refers to it’s weight. Rough diamond is most commonly found in small pieces, so the larger a diamond is, the more valuable it is. Not only that, but as larger pieces of rough are more rare, diamond value exists on a curve. This means that a two carat diamond would be valued at more than double that of a one carat stone.
While a higher carat weight means the stone will be heavier, it does not always appear larger. This is due to the cut of the stone. Some diamonds are much deeper than they are wide, which will give the look of a lower carat weight when the stone is set.
The colour grade of a diamond refers to how colourless or “white” a diamond is. As a colourless or “white” diamond allows more light to pass through it, it means they emit more sparkle and fire. The colours are graded from D (colourless) to Z (yellow).
Due to the natural diamond formation process, it means that only a handful of diamonds are truly colourless. This means that colourless diamonds are more rare and therefore more valuable. Diamonds with colour grades towards the Z end of the scale should not be confused with ‘fancy yellow diamonds’, which are a separate commodity with their own characteristics and grading scales.
Diamonds can be cut into many shapes. Each diamond cut is designed to allow the most light refraction within the stone as possible. Brilliant cuts such as rounds, ovals, and pears have lots of little facets to enhance the stone’s brilliance. These shapes will give off a real sparkle in the light. Step cuts such as emerald and asscher cuts have larger, flatter facets. This creates a hall of mirrors affect within the stone and a more subtle shine.
Diamonds are just like us really. Formed in the natural world, even these precious stones have imperfections! These blemishes are known as inclusions.
Inclusions are ranked on a scale of perfection, or clarity, which ranges from FL (no visible characteristics under magnification) to I (characteristics visible with the naked eye). This grading method rates diamonds on the size, nature and positioning of the birthmarks and requires an expert eye to assess.
Clarity becomes more important the larger the diamond. Generally you will be unable to see inclusions in a smaller stone, simply because they are so tiny. However, we always view diamonds before selecting them for our customers. We ensure that no diamond we sell has visible inclusions.
Popping the Question
If you find yourself more lost than confident at this point, please know you are not alone. Buying an engagement ring is a huge decision, with so many variables to consider. If you want to keep the proposal a surprise, but avoid choosing the ring yourself, then you may want to consider a proposal ring. Most of our engagement rings are available as a CZ replica on our website. So, if you find a style you like but aren’t quite ready to commit to, you can always opt for the proposal ring version. This way you can propose with that ring, and then decide together if that is the final design you want to go for.