Finding the right engagement ring can be tricky and confusing but it doesn’t have to be. The diamond specialists of Malak Jewelers are here to help with a comprehensive step-by-step guide on choosing the perfect engagement ring your lover will surely say yes to.
First things first, the diamond. You start by choosing the shape you want followed by the cut, color, clarity, and carat. Then we can help you decide on the right the setting and style of the band and finally, the metal. Let’s go!
Diamond Shape and Cut
A diamond’s shape is not part of the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, carat) that you’ve probably heard by now but it’s an additional factor to consider.
A diamond’s shape and cut are not the same. The shape refers to the appearance of the stone.
A diamond's cut refers to the proportion and arrangement of its facet and the quality of workmanship. The amount of brilliance, sparkle, and fire in a diamond is determined by the cut. In other words, the diamond's ability to reflect light.
Most diamond shapes are round, square (cushion), rectangular (princess, Asscher, emerald, radiant), heart-shaped, pear-shaped, oval, or marquise (like a pear but pointed on both ends). The easiest way to distinguish the two is with pictures shown bellow.
You will often see cut and shape used interchangebly but beware the cut of a diamond is graded as EXCELLENT, VERY GOOD, GOOD, FAIR, or POOR. The grade scale may vary as it depends on the institution that graded the diamond.
Continue reading to find a sample report from GIA and AGS.
The Terminology Most Jewelers Use Regarding Cut:
The round cut, or brilliant cut engagement ring, which is the most popular cut used in engagement rings, is cut in a round and spherical shape. It has 58 facets, which allow for the most light to reflect off of it, giving it the most dazzling sparkle.
The princess is the second most popular cut for engagement rings in which the diamond is cut into a brilliant square stone. It is also the most recently created diamond cut, only having been created in the 1970’s.
An emerald cut is rectangular with cropped corners and long, stair-step-like facets. While it was originally created for the emerald, hence the name, an emerald cut diamond on an engagement ring is absolutely captivating.
The asscher cut is similar to an emerald cut, but is more square in shape than rectangular. It became popular during the art-deco movement, so it is typically found in art-deco style today. The asscher cut is the cut of the diamond adorning Gwyneth Paltrow’s intricately designed halo-style engagement ring from Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
The cushion cut is a cross between a rectangle and an oval. Its shape is similar to that of a pillow, hence the name ‘cushion cut.’ It is also commonly referred to as an antique cut, as it was at its height of popularity in the nineteenth century, when nearly all diamonds were cut as cushion cuts. Many of the most famous historical jewels we revere today are cut as cushion cuts including the Blue Hope diamond, the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, and the Regent Diamond.
The marquise engagement ring cut is a diamond or gemstone cut as an oval with pointed ends. According to legend, the marquise cut gets its name, which is the term for a rank between a Duke and an Earl, because it was first commissioned by King Louis XV for a lover, who requested a shape of diamond to match her smile.
The pear cut is characterized by its unique raindrop shape, which is wider and rounded on one side and tapers to a point on the other side. Uniquely to the pear cut, if you wear it with the point facing away from your body, it will give you the appearance of having a longer, more slender finger.
Heart cut diamonds are relatively new trend in engagement rings. This stunning design is a beautiful symbol of love and looks dazzling in an engagement ring setting and while it is not a very popular cut, many celebrities including Lady Gaga have sported engagement rings feature diamonds cut in this beautiful style.
Oval cut diamonds are another recently popularized cut of diamond, only having been created in the 1960’s. They vary in shape, from slimmer and longer to wider and thinner. While they are very similar to brilliant cut diamonds, simply being a modified version of the brilliant cut, the oval cut diamond has the advantage of making a smaller diamond appear larger due to their longer shape.
In most diamonds, the term actually refers to the absence of color. The less color in the stone, the more desirable and valuable it is.
This is true for traditional engagement rings; however, diamonds may come in many colors like steel gray, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink to purple, brown, and black.
The colored diamonds are formed when foreign particulates are trapped during the crystallization process from which diamonds are formed, it affects and alters the chemical process and thus, changes the outcome. The result is a beautiful, rare, and exceptional diamond with unique colorings - called natural colored diamond.
Diamond Clarity measures the amount, size, and placement of internal inclusions and external blemishes.
Inclusions are those imperfections that diamonds tend to have.They may come in the form of air bubbles, scratches, or other minerals inside the diamond. Small crystals can become trapped in a diamond when it's forming. Sometimes as a crystal grows it can develop irregularities in its atomic structure.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
- - Flawless (FL)
No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
- - Internally Flawless (IF)
No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- - Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- - Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
- - Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- - Included (I1, I2, and I3)
Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.
Diamond Carat refers to a diamond’s weight. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone.
Two diamonds of equal carat weight, however, can be different prices because they have different qualities.
The quality of a diamond is a factor that you have to take into account. The diamond’s quality will affect the price drastically. Look into a diamond’s grading as well as if the jeweler is with an association like AGS. Your diamond should be certified!
The setting is the way the diamond sits on the ring. It can affect how much light the diamond gets, as well as its stability in the ring.
Channel Setting – An engagement ring with a channel setting has two long tracks of precious metal that hold a row of gemstones side-by-side, just like a “channel” of water.
Bezel Setting – The bezel setting is one of the earliest methods of setting gemstones to jewelry and metal. This setting contains a gemstone encircled in a thin, flat piece of metal.
Pave Setting – The pave setting is a style of setting commonly found in engagement rings where a central stone is surrounded by smaller gems (typically diamonds) that are set very close together.
Prong Setting – In this engagement ring setting, the metal claws that hold the diamond raise the stone in a way that allows the most light to reflect off of the diamond. Four prong settings and six prong settings are among the most popular of this style.
Cluster Setting – In this setting, several small diamonds surround a larger center one in a beautiful star-shaped, round, spherical, or oval shape.
Gypsy Setting – In a gypsy engagement ring setting, stones are sunk into holes so that they are flushed with the ring’s surface.
Bar Setting – In this type of setting, there are gemstones or diamonds on the metal band with parts of the metal showing in between each gemstone. Band Styles- When choosing your ring setting, it’s important to consider the style of ring you prefer.
SOLITAIRE- The solitaire engagement ring setting highlights a single diamond or a center stone. It is the most popular style of engagement ring because its design shows simplicity and elegance. The gemstone is usually set high, which gives the diamond or stone maximum exposure to light, enhancing its brilliance. The most well-known style of the solitaire is the Tiffany setting, which uses six prongs to hold a center diamond. The Tiffany setting dates back to 1886 and was originally set with white gold or platinum, as the two metals tend to disappear on the skin and enhance focus on the gems; thus, it looks as if the diamond is floating on the finger. The solitaire engagement ring is best suited for the woman with classy taste and style.
HALO- The halo engagement ring features a central gemstone surrounded by a “halo” of smaller diamonds. This emphasizes the sparkle and makes the diamond or stone appear larger and more brilliant. The halo has regained popularity with the desire for vintage looks. The halo engagement rings were especially popular during the Victorian era and later in the 1920's Art Deco era. Vintage and ornate halo rings may be easily found amongst estate jewelry. This could be for the special woman with fashion-forward taste. This design tends to be considered an “upgrade” from the solitaire, although the price of a halo can actually be less than that of a solitaire style ring due to a lesser need for a large center stone.
THREE GEMSTONE- The engagement ring that features a set of three gemstones usually accentuates a larger center stone with two gems beside it, which adds depth and brilliance. The two gemstones on either side of the centerpiece compliment and highlight the centerpiece with utmost elegance. With the three-gemstone engagement ring, one has the opportunity to mix-and-match favorite gemstones, birthstones, and diamonds, or to feature solely diamonds. The engagement ring with three jewels is a great choice for the sentimentalist who enjoys symbolism.
PAVE- The pave engagement ring takes its name from the French word “paved,” which means “to cover or lay with concrete, stones, bricks, or the like, so as to make a firm, level surface.” In this engagement ring, gemstones are set so close together on the band to give the appearance of a solid diamond surface. This makes it so that little to no metal is shown. It is ideal for the ones who want to make a statement and for those who love glittery, sparkly, and shiny jewelry.
CATHEDRAL- The cathedral setting engagement ring draws its name from the elegance of the European cathedrals. The marked features of the arches, which differentiate a cathedral from chapels and churches, are mimicked in this setting by the arches on either side of the center stone that stem from the band and hug the pronged center stone. There are many variations to this style: one may prefer the arches concave or convex, the center stone can be vaulted or sit low to the finger, and the arches may have a single band or may stem. The cathedral setting provides extra protection to the center stone and may be a wise setting choice for couples looking to feature a colored gemstone such as tanzanite or emerald, which scratch more easily than diamonds. The cathedral setting does a splendid job of drawing the eye to the center stone and establishing the focus of the room from the moment a woman passes through the threshold. It is perfect for the woman who is always on the go.
VINTAGE - There is no one design for the vintage engagement ring, and that is the beauty of it: each one is unique in style and history. The vintage engagement ring is a style that may utilize a combination of engravings, detailing, filigree, and such intricacy in its design. It is certainly a beautiful ring that can be used for the special someone who loves historic, intricately designed jewelry that is one-of-a-kind. Malak Jewelers carries an expansive gallery of unique estate jewelry, including vintage engagement rings.
CHANNEL-SET- In a channel-set or bezel-set diamond engagement ring, small diamonds are embedded along the band, in between the metal, as a compliment to the center brilliant piece of the diamond. One may choose the essence of the ring by deciding between featuring trillion, baguette, or brilliant-cut diamonds in the wedding ring band. This gives a fresh, modern look to anyone who wears it. This setting is a very classy and elegant choice. SWIRL- The swirl diamond engagement ring is unique because the metal band around the diamond “swirls” in such a way to create a beautiful spiraling design. This feminine and romantic style of ring is perfect for the artistic and creative woman who desires something unique.
COLORED GEMSTONE- Engagement rings don’t have to carry diamonds. Some carry colored gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, tanzanite, or emeralds instead of the traditional diamond centerpiece. On the other hand, a diamond can also be carried in a colored gemstone engagement ring in which the colored gemstones are actually the ones complimenting the diamond centerpiece. In this case, the colored gemstones are paved or set on either side of the centerpiece in a way that will add dimension and depth to the ring. When seeking inspiration for colored gemstone engagement rings, look to Princess Di’s ring and Duchess Kate's exquisite sapphire center stone, surrounded by a halo of diamonds. They tend to be popular among women who relish in individuality and veer from traditionalism.
Metals- Choosing the right metal is an important part of the process of finding the right engagement ring. Your metal choice affects the durability of the ring, the level of shine, and the style significantly.
YELLOW GOLD Yellow gold is seen as the classic jewelry choice. It is most the most common among vintage engagement rings. Gold, in its purest form is far too soft to be used in jewelry, so it is mixed with other metals such as copper, silver, and zinc to make it more wear-resistant. The higher the carat, the more gold content there is, and the less durable the ring will be. 18K gold is 75% gold, it is not very durable, but with special care, it is durable enough for everyday wear. 14K is the most highly recommended for jewelry, as it is durable while still being composed of 58.3% gold. 12K gold is not as popular, as it is only 50% gold, but it is very durable.
WHITE GOLD White gold is currently the most popular choice for engagement rings. It is gold that has been combined with either nickel or palladium. 18K is 75% gold, 14K is 58.3% gold. It is typically plated with rhodium to enhance the whiteness.
ROSE GOLD Rose gold is a gold alloy that is characterized by its charming pinkish tone, which it gets from the copper in the alloy. 18K rose gold is 75% gold, while 14K rose gold is 58% gold.
STERLING SILVER Silver is the most cost-effective choice, as it is inexpensive, however it is not very durable and will age much quicker than any other choice. Many couples choose silver for its affordability and then upgrade later when their budget allows.
PLATINUM Platinum is very popular among more extravagant designers. It can be better shaped into more intricate designs and it has the brightest sheen of any of the metals found in engagement rings. Platinum is more rare than gold and, like gold, is too soft to be used independently in jewelry and has to be alloyed with other metals, generally iridium, ruthenium, or cobalt.
Once you have selected the perfect aesthetics for you engagement rings, it’s time to focus on logistics and aftercare. Be sure that you choose a size that fits well and factor in the fact that the ring will fit looser on your finger in the winter than in the summer. Find out what kind of financing options your jeweler has. Many Jewelers like Malak Jewelers offer a variety of financing options with Sychrany Financial. Don’t forget to look into insurance for your ring as well as find out what maintenance your jeweler offers so you’re prepared for anything that could happen to your ring.