Expert Guide to Choosing Engagement and Wedding Rings
Congratulations! You’ve got engaged and are planning your wedding. Now you have a small but vital decision to make: choosing a wedding band that works with your engagement ring.
I sat down with an expert from TheDiamondStore.co.uk, the UK’s leading luxury online jeweller specialising in diamond engagement and wedding rings, and got them to share their expert knowledge on this important topic.
First, the ring size
The golden rule when buying any ring is to always get the correct ring size first. Never measure ring size using DIY methods, such as a string and a ruler, as they almost always end in disappointment. Instead, do…
- Download a ring sizer app such as this one for your phone and use it to measure an existing ring, or
- Get a ring sizer tool, TheDiamondStore.co.uk will send you one for free, or
- Visit a jeweller and have your finger measured
You can find out more information about measuring ring sizes here
BUYING AN ENGAGEMENT RING
Do you have an engagement ring already? If so, you can skip to the last part of this article, on wedding rings. Otherwise stay with us and we’ll help you choose the perfect engagement ring for you.
Whether you’re the groom shopping solo, or the couple making a purchase together, the key is to consider the bride’s taste and style first. She must love her ring, because she’ll be wearing it for a lifetime. Her clothing is a great cue, and existing jewellery is another. If the ring’s wearer likes simple, elegant styles, then an understated solitaire is best. If she normally goes for large, opulent jewellery, consider a more extravagant ring. Grooms, don’t hesitate to ask the bride’s friends or sisters for advice!
Here are some popular diamond designs: (accompany these with images)
Solitaire – a single diamond
Halo – a solitaire encircled by smaller diamonds
Sidestones – extra diamonds on the ring’s band
Cluster – several small diamonds are grouped closely together
Gemstones – colourful gems like emeralds, sapphires or rubies
You can view all the different style engagement rings here
Choosing a setting
Now find out if she’d prefer yellow gold or a silvery-white metal. The white precious metals are: white gold, platinum, palladium. 18K gold (yellow and white) has more gold content than 9K gold, but it’s more expensive. Platinum is the most durable precious metal, but it is the most expensive of all precious metals. White gold looks the same as platinum, and is less expensive, but it requires regular re-coating maintenance which raises its price long term. Palladium is a relative newcomer on the jewellery market; it’s a beautiful white precious metal similar to platinum but priced about the same as white gold.
It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with some ‘diamond speak’, like the Four Cs – cut, colour, clarity and carat weight. However, don’t get too bogged down with the technicalities, as the most important factor is that the bride loves the ring. Just decide the style and your budget, then let an experienced jeweller guide you to the best possible purchase for your money.
Most people like their diamonds to have lots of sparkle. Because sparkle depends on a diamond’s cut, let’s take a quick look at diamond shapes: (images of rings with different shapes here)
- Round ‘brilliant’ cut – This is the sparkliest diamond cut, with most facets reflecting light
- Princess cut – A square diamond shape, elegant and also very sparkly
- Marquise cut – Cut with two rounded sides that taper into points, it offers medium sparkle
- Pear shape – Resembling a teardrop, this shape gives off medium sparkle, like the marquise
- Emerald, baguette and cushion cuts – Rectangular in shape, flat on top, and with the least facets, these diamonds give off long, sustained flashes of light rather than sparkle
As for diamond quality, the smaller the diamond, the harder it is to see any flaws (markings) inside it. We’d generally recommend that if you’re choosing a solitaire between 0.50 to 1.00 carats, go for a minimum of H/Si grade, or even G/D and Vs grades. However, anything better than those qualities would be extremely difficult to spot in a one carat diamond, unless you’re a diamond expert studying the stone with a magnifying loupe! So if you have any budget left over at this stage, use it for a slightly bigger stone or upgrade to platinum. For very small diamonds, premium quality can be good enough.
If you want LOTS of diamonds on a small budget
If you want to get a big diamond ring but have a small budget, go for a ring with a cluster of smaller diamonds, rather than one big solitaire stone. Many small diamonds will cost you less than one big one, even if they amount to the same carat weight.
BUYING A WEDDING RING
Contrary to popular belief, your wedding and engagement rings’ bands don’t have to have matching metals. In other words, it’s fine to have a white gold engagement ring and a yellow gold wedding band, or vice versa. The Queen’s wedding and engagement rings are proof that this is acceptable etiquette!
However, it’s vital that your wedding and engagement rings sit comfortably with each other, style-wise and also in terms of design. Here are some tips to combine the two:
- An engagement ring with a large centre stone can push your wedding ring away from it, so there’s a gap between the two. To resolve this, choose a ‘bridal set’, where the wedding band and the engagement ring come as a set that have been designed to fit perfectly together. In bridal sets, the wedding ring is designed to curve around the engagement ring’s stone. Or you could choose a ‘wishbone’ ring as your wedding band: its V-shaped upper face will give more room for your engagement ring’s stone.
- If you love lots of sparkle, opt for a diamond wedding ring. Choose one with either a full circle of diamonds going around the entire band, or diamonds along the top face of the ring.
- It’s OK to mix and match eras, but avoid extreme style differences. For example, a classic blue sapphire engagement ring will look good with a diamond wedding band. But an ornate Art Deco engagement ring wouldn’t necessarily suit a modern-minimalist wedding band.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
It’s never too early to order your rings. The temptation during the hectic months of wedding planning is to leave the wedding rings until the last minute. However, most jewellers don’t stock each ring in every finger size, and may have to handcraft or order yours – which could take from several days to a few weeks. So to get the ring you really want, always order early.