How to choose an engagement ring
Choosing the perfect engagement ring for your proposal might seem a bit daunting, especially if you're new to the world of ring shopping. There are so many decisions to make, and the terminology can be confusing if you’ve never heard it before…
What is a bezel ring? Why is 18K gold more expensive? Are lab grown diamonds real? And what is the difference between diamonds rated D or Z?!
In this extensive guide, we'll answer all these questions and more. We’re breaking down every part of choosing an engagement ring and offering practical advice to help make the process enjoyable and stress-free.
Let’s get started!
Decide on your budget
Start by setting a realistic budget for your engagement ring. Deciding how much you're willing to spend now will help narrow down your options and make the selection process more manageable. Consider your monthly income, expenses and financial goals, and set a budget that suits your lifestyle.
Read more: How much should an engagement ring cost?
What is the “Three Month Rule”?
Some people insist engagement rings should cost the equivalent of one to three months' salary. However, this “rule” was only invented in the 1930s as a marketing campaign for a diamond company. So, forget about tradition and set a budget that feels comfortable for you.
Created Brilliance also offers the option to spread the cost by using Klarna to pay for your engagement ring in three instalments.
Research engagement ring styles
Next, start thinking about the overall style of the ring. Some couples find it helpful to discuss ring designs beforehand to make sure the chosen ring matches both your tastes. Discussing these styles can help you both narrow down your preferences.
However, if you want to keep the proposal and engagement ring a total surprise, this is the time to do a bit of detective work.
Pay attention to your partner's current jewellery preferences. Notice if they lean towards classic, vintage or modern styles. Do they like colour and lots of sparkle? Or something more minimalist?
Remember, the goal is to choose a ring your partner will happily wear every day of their life. You can also ask for help from one of their close friends or relatives who knows their taste and preferences.
Here are a few popular engagement ring styles to consider:
- Solitaire: This timeless engagement ring style is set with a single diamond or gemstone.
- Halo: Halo rings have a larger diamond or gemstone surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds that add brilliance and make the centre stone look bigger.
- Trilogy/Three-Stone: This engagement ring style features three stones in a row, representing the past, the present and the future. Sometimes, the centre stone might be larger than the side stones.
- Vintage: Inspired by historical eras, these engagement rings often feature intricate details, filigree and unique diamond shapes, like marquise and pear-cut diamonds.
- Pavé: Pavé rings feature a band “paved” with tiny diamonds or gemstones. They’re often used for eternity rings or wedding bands, but this clean, contemporary look is also rising in popularity as an engagement ring style.
Read more: Guide to engagement ring styles and designs
Pick a metal type
Now that you have an idea about the design, let's talk about metals. The main metals used for engagement rings are yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and platinum.
Most people prefer one colour or another, so it’s a good idea to check which metal your loved one wears the most.
- Gold: Yellow gold is a classic choice for engagement rings. The carat number indicates the purity of the gold, with 24K the purest. However, pure gold is too soft for jewellery, so it's often alloyed with other metals to improve its durability. 18K gold is the best balance between purity and strength. But higher carat gold is also more expensive, so 9K may be a better option if you’re on a budget.
- White Gold: White gold is a popular alternative to yellow gold. It gets its silvery-white appearance from alloying with white metals like palladium or nickel. The colour highlights diamond clarity and looks great with bold gemstones. Keep in mind white gold will need replating every five years or so to maintain its silvery tone.
- Rose Gold: This romantic metal is made with yellow gold alloyed with copper and silver. The pinkish tones are elegant and offer a distinctive alternative to more traditional metals.
- Platinum: Known for its durability and silvery shine, platinum is a premium choice. It doesn't have a carat rating like gold but is often more expensive due to its density and rarity.
Choose your gemstones
When it comes to gemstones for engagement rings, diamonds are the classic choice. However, there are many other alternatives, including colourful gems like sapphires, emeralds and rubies.
If your partner has dropped hints about their dream stone, that's great. If not, consider their favourite colours and overall style – are they more traditional or contemporary? Do they wear bright colours or prefer a more neutral palette? You can even try and match their stone with their birthday. For example, if you’re born in September, your birthstone is sapphire.
Some gemstones are softer than others and may not withstand daily wear. Diamonds and sapphires are the most durable gemstones, making them excellent options for an engagement ring.
If you opt for a diamond, familiarise yourself with the 4Cs – cut, colour, clarity and carat. Understanding these factors ensures you make an informed decision based on the quality of the gemstone and your budget:
- Cut: This refers to how well a diamond reflects light. A well-cut stone sparkles more, making it visually stunning.
- Colour: Diamonds can be found in an assortment of colours, including red, pink and grey. Regular diamonds, however, are scaled from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow or brown). The less colour a diamond has, the more expensive it is.
- Clarity: Clarity assesses the presence of any internal flaws (inclusions) or external blemishes (blemishes) on the diamond. The clearer, the better.
- Carat: Carat measures the size of the diamond. While bigger diamonds can be impressive, the other Cs also play a significant role in the diamond's overall beauty.
Read more: The 4Cs of Diamonds
Engagement ring shapes
Diamonds and gemstones can be cut into a various shapes, including:
Consider which diamond shape your partner would want to wear forever. Would they love the timeless brilliance of a round, brilliant cut diamond? Or maybe they’d prefer the dramatic, vintage shine of an emerald cut?
Ethical engagement rings
Lab grown diamonds are a fantastic option for couples concerned about the ethical aspects of their engagement ring.
These stunning diamonds are 100% chemically, physically and optically identical to mined diamonds – even experts can’t always tell them apart! The only difference is that lab grown diamonds have been created in a lab.
Lab created gemstones are also a stunning option for anyone who loves the bold colours of a sapphire or ruby. They offer an environmentally friendly and conflict-free alternative to mined stones, with the added bonus of costing a fraction of the price.
This means that you can get a bigger lab grown diamond engagement ring for your money, as well as helping reduce the impact on the planet.
Read more: What are lab grown diamonds?
Decide on a ring setting
Choosing the right engagement ring setting involves considering both personal style preferences and more practical aspects, such as lifestyle and comfort.
Remember your partner’s ring should be able to survive their daily activities. Prong settings are elegant and offer maximum light exposure to show off your diamond’s sparkle. However, if your partner works outside or with their hands, a bezel setting may offer more security.
- Prong Setting: Classic and timeless, the prong setting uses four to six metal claws to hold the gem in place. This is the perfect setting for couples who prefer a traditional and elegant look, and those who want to show off the size and sparkle of their diamond.
- Bezel Setting: The bezel setting has a thin metal rim surrounding the gem. It’s a sleek and modern choice, offering a clean and minimalistic appearance. This type of setting is also ideal for those with an active lifestyle as it helps smooth and protect the stone edges, reducing the risk of it being dislodged.
- Halo Setting: Vintage-inspired charm defines the halo setting, where a circle of smaller diamonds surrounds the main stone. This ring setting is perfect for anyone who loves a bit of sparkle and appreciates the halo’s touch of glamour and romance.
- Channel Setting: The channel setting arranges a line of tiny diamonds or gemstones neatly between the metal “walls” of the band. It’s a clean and elegant looks that’s often used for eternity rings but is also rising in popularity as a sophisticated engagement ring style.
Learn more: Engagement ring settings and styles
Don’t forget to check the ring size!
Getting the engagement ring size right is important. This is a big symbol of commitment and taking the time to get that perfect fit will make the proposal even more special.
Ring sizes are different to each country, so you’ll need to check your local measurement system to avoid any confusion. In the UK, ring sizes are labelled from F (the smallest) to Z (the largest).
The most accurate way to get the sizing right by ordering our free ring sizer. This little tool allows you to measure your partner's finger size at home.
Fingers can swell and shrink through the day, so make sure you measure when it’s at its largest: usually in a warm environment and in the evening.
Remember, it’s easier to resize a ring that’s slightly too big than one that’s too small – so if in doubt, always go for the larger size.
Shop 'til you drop (to one knee)
Now that you know the basics of choosing an engagement ring, you're all set!
An engagement ring is more than just jewellery – it's a symbol of love and commitment to your partner. So, take your time to find a ring that suits their taste, fits in with their lifestyle, and sits perfectly on their finger.
Ready to shop? Browse our collection of ethical engagement rings and start your journey today.