So, you’re ready to pop the question… congratulations! Searching for an engagement ring and designing the proposal is an exciting but stressful time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start, especially with words like carat, solitaire and prong being thrown around! Whether you’re searching for the ring together or shopping solo, we’ve put together step-by-step instructions to guide you through the searching and buying process, including our favourite materials, gemstones, and styles.
Explaining the parts of the engagement ring
When you start searching for the perfect ring, you’ll experience a new vocabulary that you may not have heard before! Prongs, settings, shanks, and a whole dictionary of jewellery terms will be thrown your way. While you’re not expected to know all the answers, we want to help you and stop you from running as fast as you can away from the jewellers! Let’s start by explaining the different parts of the engagement ring. The engagement ring has five main parts: Prong, Setting, Shoulder, Profile and Shank.
Prongs are the little metal bars that hold the gemstone in place. Prongs range from three to eight bars depending on stone size, but four or six are the most popular number. The setting is the part of the ring that holds the stone. It works alongside the shoulders of the ring, which are the sides that support and holds the gem in place. The profile is the cross-section or side view of the ring, and the shank is the band or hoop of the ring.
Choose the perfect size
It’s important to make sure you get the size of the ring right. There’s nothing worse than popping the question with the perfect ring and having to return it because it doesn’t fit! If you’re buying the engagement ring together, you don’t have to worry as you’ll have them there to try on rings or to get their finger measured. However, if you’re wanting to keep it hush hush, you’re going to need to find a way to get their perfect size!
To help you avoid guessing her size, you need to know that ring size is measured in letters – the smallest is A and the biggest is Z. The engagement ring goes on the ring finger on the right hand. If possible, find a ring of theirs and ‘borrow’ it to find her size, whether you take it to the jewellers or measure it with string or paper. The riskiest way is to subtly ask them for their ring size or get a friend or family member to help you ask to avoid suspicion!
Choose the perfect material
Now on to the more exciting parts of ring shopping – choosing the jewellery material. Traditionally engagement and wedding rings are made from yellow, rose, or white gold, silver, and platinum. All metal types make a beautiful engagement ring, so you need to narrow down your options by looking at your budget and figuring out what your other half would like the most.
In general, if your future fiancé is a lover of gold, choose gold! Yellow gold is a beautiful and traditional choice, which adds plenty of warmth to an outfit. Gold jewellery is timeless and has become popular in more casual everyday jewellery trends, so a gold engagement ring won’t look out of place. Rose gold has started gaining popularity for engagement rings, due to its romantic pink colour, making it a great modern choice. For subtle or simpler colours, choose white gold, silver, or platinum. Cooler tones act as a nice backdrop and contrast for coloured gemstones and brings out their brightness.
While picking your metal and colour, make sure to check the price tag. Silver is the cheapest option, gold sits in the middle and platinum is for the big spenders due to its rarity and density. Another thing to consider is how your metal colour is going to look against the stones.
Choose the perfect gemstone
While you can have an engagement ring without a gemstone… what’s the fun in that?! The gem sets the engagement ring apart from other rings and steals all the attention. Diamonds are the most typical and popular choice of stone. They work well with a variety of colours and have an understated but powerful beauty. Diamond experts often tell you to reference the four C’s when shopping for diamonds – colour, cut, clarity and carat. This helps define the stone’s quality and helps you pick what you’d like your stone and ring to look like.
If you want to stray away from tradition and pick something colourful, we’d recommend emeralds, sapphires or rubies, which work beautifully on their own or surrounded by diamonds. More modern stones have also been making their way into engagement rings, like pearls – see Ariana Grande for inspiration! – amethysts and citrine. With a stone in mind, now you need to decide the cut and carat.
Choose the perfect cut & carat
Let’s start with the cut of the stone. The cut refers to the shape of the stone on the engagement ring. Popular cuts include round, square, princess, pear, baguette, oval, and emerald. Depending on what you and your fiancée-to-be prefer, pick a cut which you enjoy the look of and that will go nicely with the metal. It’s also important to pick a cut that works well with your gem. Round cuts are a great choice with diamonds as it complements the gem and shows off its sparkle. In comparison, emeralds work well in an emerald or square cut and oval cuts suits sapphires the best.
Each cut is priced differently and is typically a different size or number of carats. Round cuts are more expensive, whereas pear or marquise cuts are on the lower end of the price spectrum. A carat is a unit of measurement used to measure the size and weight of gemstones, specifically diamonds. The higher the carat the higher the quality and price, so it’s up to you if you want a big rock or a smaller selection of stones – plus what your budget will allow.
Choose the perfect setting
Picking a setting refers to how the stone or stones are going to be set on to the band. Settings accommodate the size, shape, proportions, and surface quality of your stone, helping it shine and catch in the light from every angle. There are many setting styles, including bead, bezel, channel, claw, cluster, halo, pave, solitaire, tension and three stone. Settings depend on how you’d like the stone to be positioned, if you’d like it surrounded by other stones or if you’d like the stones embedded within the metal or held above it.
Choose the perfect shank
Finally, choose the shank of the ring. The shanks’ shape and width contribute to the overall look of the ring and how it sits on the finger. There are many types of ring shanks ranging from simple to extravagant. The three most popular styles are straight, split and tapered.
A straight shank is a straight band that has the same width at all points. It’s formed of a rectangular strip of metal that creates flat sides around the band. This band naturally fits the shape and circumference of the finger and is designed to hold the centre stone perfectly.
A split shank is a single metal shank that splits in two as it nears the stone, giving the illusion of two bands. This split varies in design, shape, and width. Often studded with gems leading up to the main stone, it’s one of the more dazzling shank styles.
A tapered shank becomes thinner as it reaches the setting and stone. This gives the band different widths at different points, giving the ring more shape and making the stone appear bigger than it is. This makes the band look more delicate and adds length to the finger.
To help you start your search, take a look at our selection of rings and find the style you like!
Image Credits: vogue.com