Are you ready to get down on one knee and ask your partner’s hand in marriage? Before your bride shops for a perfect wedding dress, you need the perfect engagement ring for the once in a lifetime occasion.
Engagement is a timeless ceremony having originated several centuries ago and introduced to the world by the Romans. The engagement ring is symbolic of love and commitment. It marks the first step a couple takes to embarking on a path of togetherness. Traditionally, the engagement ring is worn on the left hand’s ring finger as the Romans believed it to have the vein that runs straight to the heart. It is circular indicating that love goes beyond life itself and has no beginning and no end. Many people across various countries and cultures still wear this ring on the left hand.
Purchasing an engagement ring can be one of the most important decisions that you will make in your wedding process. It is also the decision that will last the longest – engagement rings often become heirlooms, passed down through generations. The process of researching your options can easily become overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be!
Some people may purchase a ring they are drawn to upon walking into a store – we love you for that! Others are meticulous researchers who are curious about every aspect of the process.
Whether you opt for a brand name or an independent goldsmith, there are a multitude of factors – big and small – that you’ll need to consider when shopping for an engagement ring. As with most important tasks, my advice is always to divide and conquer.
Most of us, regardless of if we are male or female, love rings and appreciate wearing them. However, buying a wedding ring can be quite challenging as your partner’s tastes may be unique, or we may not know what would suit them. They are fantastic for symbolizing eternal love, but you want to be sure that that the ring you choose is just right.
We will start by giving you a brief introduction to the anatomy of the ring, so you know precisely what we are referring to, then move on to the types of band, settings, and finally, the different kinds of metal that you can use.
All rings comprise of the similar component parts. Every ring will have a shank, which is more commonly referred to as the band. However, some rings will have some other features, and just a few of these are detailed below:
The setting which can sometimes be referred to as the head is where the main stone will be situated. There are many different styles of setting; some are designed to allow maximum light to enter the stone, while others focus more on protection.
The gallery is located under the setting and is visible from the side. In some rings, the gallery can be barely visible while on others it is a prominent feature and can sometimes house another stone.
Shoulders or Accent
The shoulders, also commonly known as the accent, are the sloping sides from shank to the setting. On some rings, they will remain plain, but often they are adorned with a series of small gemstones.
Prongs are a series of small metal claws rising from the setting which will hold the stone in place. Typically, there will be four to six prongs, and they will allow a large amount of light to pass through the stone displaying a gem’s, such as a diamond, famous sparkle.
When it comes to diamonds, many people talk learned of shape and cut as though they are the same thing. Confusingly, often they can have the same meaning – after all, things (including diamonds!) are cut into shapes. But when it comes to gemstones, there is a slight – but significant – difference between the two. Let us examine these, before looking at the most popular shapes for engagement rings, and the cuts that are required to achieve them.
What is a Shape?
As it sounds, a shape is the external silhouette of a diamond. For example, a diamond that takes the form of a heart (one of the most popular diamond engagement ring styles) is said to be a ‘heart shaped’ diamond. While you could say that it has been cut into a heart shape, you could not say that it was a ‘heart cut’ diamond.
So, What is a Cut, Then?
The cut, as well as forming the external shape, includes all the facets which are formed on the diamond. These facets (the word means ‘little faces’) give diamonds – in fact, all gemstones – their unique sparkling properties. This is because the crystals from which the stones are made reflect light in certain ways, and the cut can enhance or mute this according to the taste of the cutter.
Adding to the confusion, there are different kinds of cut too. Some words associated with the cut of a diamond: dull or brilliant, deep or shallow, refer to the reflectivity that the finished stone will throw out. So a flat, squared stone will almost always be ‘shallow cut’ because the stone does not have the literal depth for a ‘deep’ cut. The other kind of cut is usually named for the shape of the finished stone, but it refers to the many facets cut all over the stone, not just those used to create the external shape. A good example is the first and most popular shape and cut for a diamond that is to be used in a diamond engagement ring: the brilliant round. Brilliant means that the facets are designed (usually a vertical array) to make the diamond throw off a maximum of light, creating a brilliant sparkle, while ’round’ refers to the shape of the diamond, when seen from the top down. Let us look at popular engagement ring shapes and cuts in more detail.
As mentioned above, this stone is round when viewed from above. However, from the side, the diamond will have the traditional diamond shape, with a pointed end widening out to a girdle, before turning in and ending with a flattened top, called a table. When these stones are loose, they can be rested on their tables and examined for flaws, color, clarity and so on. This shape is the most popular as it shows good diamonds off to their very best.
The second-most popular diamond cut for an engagement ring, not only does this stone have a beautiful name, it has a beautiful and rather unusual shape, being squared, but with those brilliant vertical steps to enhance the sparkle of the stone. If you have a stone that has slight imperfections that might be shown up by the spare lines of a brilliant round cut, a princess cut can be more forgiving, minimizing flaws and enhancing that desirable sparkle and symmetry.
An emerald cut is immediately familiar to anyone who has ever looked at emeralds! It is a rectangular cut, often with shaped corners, and lending itself well to flat wide stones – a formation that natural emeralds often appear in. While it is unusual to have diamonds with an emerald cut, it is not unheard of, and some people prefer the more muted hint of inner fire that this cut can give a diamond, rather than the overt sparkle of the traditional diamond cuts. Emerald cut stones have flat horizontal facets cut in steps, that can be very forgiving of larger inclusions or clarity issues with a diamond. While it sounds like a ‘cheat’ in fact, diamonds are often improved, with the value increasing dramatically, by using the right cut to obscure faults and enhance the stone’s good points.
The name is a perfect descriptor, and oval engagement rings look striking, adding to the aesthetics of the hand they are worn upon by making the fingers seem long, slim, and elegant. Again, the cut can be used to disguise flaws in a stone, or it can be used to maximize the carat value of the stone, with the shape being chosen to snip off occlusions, leaving only high-quality gem behind.
Always an evocative name because of its association with aristocratic wealth and opulence, a marquise cut stone is shaped rather like a narrow rugby ball: an oval that ends in two points, rather than curving softly. Like the oval cut, a marquise cut engagement ring is strikingly attractive, lengthening the fingers and giving the whole hand an elegant and delicate appearance.
This unique cut is somewhere between an oval, with one curved end, and one more acute end – something like a tear drop. If the ring is designed so that the tapered end points towards the finger nail, it can create a wonderfully baroque, and yet aesthetically pleasing look.
For something distinctive and yet still beautiful, with that evocative brilliant sparkle, a trillion-cut diamond ring is rapidly gaining popularity. This stone is broadly triangular when seen from the top, can boast great depth, if the right size diamond is used, and looks very attractive when set into an engagement ring.
These are just some of the more common shapes and cuts that are used to create diamond engagement rings and hopefully now you can distinguish between a shape and a cut when discussing your own diamond preferences. Do make sure you look for accreditation from GIA and AGS, when buying a diamond: these two institutions are the guardians of diamond integrity in the USA, offering verifiable certification for all stones that pass through their hands. For more information and some extra shapes and cuts, check out this useful guide on diamond shapes from Pricescope, one of the largest impartial diamond and jewelry forums. Consequently, if you are looking for wedding gowns or bridesmaid dresses, check out website at Best for Bride.