Brides and Rings — A Guide to Engagement Rings and Diamonds for “Brides and Grooms-to-be”.

How to Select a Diamond Engagement Ring

Although shopping for an engagement ring can at first look a little daunting, the process is fairly straightforward:

  • Select the shape, size and quality of the center diamond.
  • Choose the setting style for your engagement ring.
  • Choose the type of metal (platinum or gold) and the ring size.

Despite claims to the contrary by some pundits and websites, buying an engagement ring isn’t rocket science. Read our guide, with tips and advice (below), and you’ll be well on your way to selecting the perfect ring…

Of course you’ll need to establish a budget. Engagement rings come in all price ranges. Our Ring Budgeting and Diamond Pricing Guide will give you a feel for what’s available in each price range.

Choosing the Center Diamond

When we talk about the “diamond” we are referring to the large center diamond that traditionally serves as the focal point of your engagement ring. The “setting” refers to the ring band, the mounting (which holds the center diamond in place) and any associated smaller side diamonds.

For the most part, selecting the diamond or setting can be done in any order. We’ll start with the diamond…

Choosing a diamond is about selecting the shape, size, color, clarity, cut and quality…

Diamond Shape

The center diamond is offered in many different shapes. The two most popular shapes are the Round and Princess Cuts. Cushion cuts are becoming more popular as well. Other common shapes are, Asscher, Emerald, Radiant, Heart, Marquise, Oval and Pear.

diamond shapes

Check out our Diamond Shape Guide for more information. The diamond’s shape is all about personal preference and style. Deciding on a Round Brilliant or the elegant Princess Cut will always be excellent choices.

The Four C’s

Once the shape of the diamond has been selected, it comes down to selecting the “Four C’s” – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. These are the most important characteristics that will determine the quality and price of the diamond. For information on the Four C’s, take a look at our Diamond Pricing and the Four C’s guide.

Cliff Notes:

  • Color: Select G, H or I. Anything else is either too yellow or too expensive.
  • Clarity: Select VS1 or VS2 or maybe SI1. Anything else has either too many imperfections or is too expensive
  • Cut: Choose Excellent/Ideal for the best brilliance and sparkle.
  • Carats: There is a price break just below 1 ct. A 0.9 ct diamond looks almost the same size as a 1.0 ct diamond but is several thousand dollars cheaper.
G Color

G color

H color

H color

I color

I color

There are a few other factors to consider when selecting your diamond, specifically: Polish, Symmetry and Fluorescence. Visit our Diamond Anatomy and Pricing page for more details.

Cliff Notes:

  • Polish: Choose Excellent
  • Symmetry: Choose Excellent
  • Fluorescence: Choose from none to medium

Preset vs. Loose Diamond Engagement Rings

One of the things the beginning engagement ring shopper may be confused about is that there are actually two ways to buy a diamond engagement ring. One is the popular “design-your-own-ring”, in which you choose a setting and loose diamond separately. The other is to buy a “preset-ring” where the diamond is already mounted in the setting.

Preset rings are popular with the chain stores such as Zales and Kays. The downside is that the chain store preset rings, in order to keep the price down, usually use lower quality diamonds ranging into the I1, I2 and even I3 clarity grades.

However, higher end jewelers, such as James Allen, often offer quality collections of preset rings. Which can give you more choices in your engagement ring search.

Selecting the Setting

Like selecting the center diamond’s shape, choosing the perfect engagement ring setting is all about personal style and preference. Does she prefer the timeless elegance of a diamond solitaire or the extra sparkle of a beautiful Halo? Below [left] is a classic example of a diamond solitaire engagement ring. Below [right] is a fashionable intricate setting: a split shank princess cut engagement ring from the renowned designer Ritani.

2mm Knife Edge Solitaire Ring

2mm Knife Edge Solitaire Ring

Ritani Split Shank Princess Cut Engagement Ring

Ritani Split Shank Princess Cut Engagement Ring

There are a wide range of ring setting styles available. Some of the more popular settings are: Solitaire, Halo, Intricate (including split shank and infinity bands), 3-stone and Pave…

The diamond solitaire setting is timeless and classic. more…

2mm Knife Edge Solitaire Ring

2mm Knife Edge Solitaire Ring

Six Prong Knife-Edge Diamond Ring

Six Prong Knife-Edge Diamond Ring

The Halo design is another very popular setting style. more…

Pave Halo Engagement Ring

Pave Halo Engagement Ring

Pave Cushion Style Halo Engagement Ring

Pave Cushion Style Halo Engagement Ring

Intricate settings, such as, Infinity Bands, split shanks and twisted bands are fashion forward and offer new looks to traditional designs. more…

Twisted Pave Shank Contemporary Solitaire

Twisted Pave Shank Contemporary Solitaire

Infinity Pave Engagement Ring

Infinity Pave Engagement Ring

The pave setting (pronounced “pah-vay”) has a band “paved” in a river of diamonds. more…

Thin French-Cut Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring

Thin French-Cut Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring

Vatche Petite Pave Princess Cut Engagement Ring

Vatche Petite Pave Princess Cut Engagement Ring

One of the most popular types of side stone settings is the “three stone”. more…

Verragio 3 Stone Princess Cut Engagement Ring

Verragio 3 Stone Princess Cut Engagement Ring

Verragio Twisted Shank 3 Stone Engagement Ring

Verragio Twisted Shank 3 Stone Engagement Ring

What setting should you choose for your bride to be? Before you answer, the question to ask yourself is, what ring would she choose? Taking a quick look at her jewelry can give you some idea of her style and preferences. These days you can also check out her Pinterest page, if she has one, you’ll almost certainly find plenty of ideas there! Also have a look at our Engagement Ring Tutorial page.

And visit our specialty pages for more ideas:

SolitairePaveHaloVintage StyleIntricate SettingsPrincess Cut.

Selecting the Ring Metal and Ring Size

The three most popular types of metals for Engagement rings are: Yellow gold, white gold, and platinum. In addition, Rose Gold is becoming more and more popular.

Ring metals

White gold is the most popular metal for engagement rings. An alloy of yellow gold and a white metal such as nickel or zinc, it is plated with rhodium to give it a brilliant whiter appearance. Platinum is considered a classic choice, but is significantly more expensive than gold. Women with dark hair and pink undertones to their skin often prefer white gold or platinum. Yellow gold may be best for women with gold tones in their skin or hair.

How to decide? Most women prefer either white or yellow metal, and want an engagement ring to match their other jewelry. All three options will provide lasting beauty, so let personal preference be your guide. For more info check out our Choosing a Ring Metal and Rose Gold Engagement Rings pages.

Lastly, you need the ring size. The average size is between 6 and 7, but don’t assume a ring that’s 6.5 is going to fit her! You can visit our Finding Out Her Ring Size page for a few tips.

Once you’ve selected the diamond and setting you want, together with the ring’s metal and size, you can add a personal engraving and voila! You’ve just designed the diamond engagement ring of her dreams!

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Ring setting images are from James Allen, Whiteflash and Brian Gavin Diamonds.