So you’re shopping for an engagement ring — the ring your partner will wear for hopefully the rest of their life. No pressure, right?
Don’t panic! At acredo, we’ve seen (and designed) rings of every shape, size, color, style, material, and budget — and we’re here to do the same for you! Before you come into our store to start comparing your options, it’s a good idea to study up a little bit. Here’s what you need to know.
Start With the Band
First things first: let’s talk about the ring itself. The band isn’t necessarily the most glamorous part of the ring, as the stone tends to draw the most attention, but it’s an important aspect. Of course, the classic engagement ring is a solitaire diamond (we’ll get to that) on a simple gold band with a polished finish, but the options for customizing your special someone’s ring are endless.
There are lots of options for the metal you can use to craft your ring. Here are just a few:
- Yellow gold — usually available in 14-karat or 18-karat for a good balance of beauty and durability. This gold is made of an alloy of gold, silver, and copper, which makes the metal harder and more durable while keeping its famous shine and yellow glow. At acredo, we also offer 22-karat gold, a symbol of purity and high value.
- White gold and gray gold — by altering the ratios of metal in the alloy and adding silver and palladium, the gold can be transformed into a brilliant silvery-white metal.
- Red gold and rosè gold — made by increasing the proportion of copper in the gold alloy. Red gold is a deeper, richer shade than traditional yellow. It is also a bit stronger than yellow because of the higher content of durable copper in the alloy.
- Platinum — the top tier metal that we offer. Platinum is a gorgeous white metal with incredible durability and luster. In addition, platinum is famous for developing a “patina” over time, showing its wear in a subtle and unique way.
When it comes to the profile and size of your ring, lots of websites will tell you to put a piece of string around your finger and measure it — but there’s so much more to sizing than that.
At acredo, we’ve developed 30 different profiles from years of experience fitting rings, designed to find the perfect fit for your finger. After you’ve picked out a profile, we’ll settle on a height and width for your ring. There are 16 or more widths to choose from for each of the profiles to ensure that the ring feels right for your hand.
We strongly recommend that ring sizing be done in person. We have sizers for all the sizes and shapes that we carry, so you can decide for yourself which one feels best on your finger. Measuring your existing rings isn’t a perfect solution, since different profiles will feel different even if they’re the same size. Even the time of day and the temperature can change the fit of a ring!
Picking a Setting for Your Ring
After you’ve picked out a band, you can start to plan how you’d like the stone displayed. You can set the stone in almost any way you can think of, but here are a few of the most common:
|Prong Setting — when you picture an engagement ring, this is probably what you’re picturing. Four to six metal prongs hold up the diamond, letting light in from all angles and maximizing the stone’s sparkle and shine.|
|Bezel Setting — a slightly subtler look than a classic prong, the bezel involves surrounding the edges of the central stone with metal, protecting and securing the stone better than a prong setting.|
|Halo Setting — a halo setting is characterized by a larger center stone surrounded by a frame of smaller accent stones. The surrounding stones draw attention to the center and create the appearance of an even larger center stone. Your ring can be designed with a single halo, or two or more halos around the center. For an especially bold look, mix up the colors! Surround a brilliant white diamond with deep blue sapphires, or a rich red ruby center stone with sparkling diamonds.|
|Two Stone Setting or “toi et moi ring” — meaning “you and me” in French, this design is one of the most romantic vintage styles that is enjoying a revival. “Toi et moi” refers to a ring with two gems that sit side by side or close to each other, symbolising two lives becoming one. A classic toi et moi ring features two stones of a similar size and cut, but recently jewelry designers have been using different shapes and gems.|
|Three Stone Setting — just like it sounds, this design features three larger stones, usually with a larger center and matching smaller side stones. They can be the same shape, or a mix like this oval center with a round brilliant diamond on each side.|
|Diamond Accent Setting — in addition to the large center diamond or gemstone, small diamonds or gems are added to the band for more dazzle.|
|Tension Setting — for a fresh and modern take, a tension setting places the main stone in a gap cut in the band itself. The tension of the metal, helped by barely-visible grooves on either side, is what holds the stone in place.|
Choosing a Diamond for Your Engagement Ring
Now we get to the good part: the stone itself. The traditional engagement ring has a white diamond in the center, but at acredo, our main focus is creating the ring you want, not the one the magazines tell you to get. Diamonds in other colors, rubies, and sapphires are becoming more and more popular these days, so follow your heart!
You’ll want to keep in mind “The Four Cs.” A long time ago, individual diamond sellers had their own systems for grading diamonds, using letters, numbers, or even names like “Cape” for diamonds from the Cape of Good Hope region. The 4C system was created by the Gemological Institute of America to institute a universal standard for diamond quality.
First is the carat weight. This is simply the size of the diamond measured in carats, each one equivalent to 200 milligrams. Most stones are measured to the nearest hundredth of a carat, also called “points.” A 0.25-carat diamond might be referred to as a “25-pointer.”
Larger diamonds tend to be more expensive, rising steeply in cost the larger the diamond. Since diamonds are cut from rough stones, it’s much harder to find a large rough diamond than a small one. Therefore, the larger the diamond, the rarer it is.
Next is the color of the stone, graded on a scale from D for a completely colorless diamond all the way to Z for a “light yellow” diamond. Diamonds are examined under very strict lighting conditions with a master diamond color set to ensure that the color is graded correctly.
The third C is clarity. Since diamonds are naturally formed under intense heat and pressure inside the Earth, they occasionally include tiny crystals that are visible in the stone. These specks are called “inclusions.”
If the diamond has no visible blemishes or inclusions, even under 10x magnification, it receives a “Flawless” grade. The lowest clarity grade is “Included,” and is likely to have flaws visible even to the naked eye.
The final C is the cut of the diamond. Diamonds scatter light into a rainbow of colors and the faceting of the stone is what determines how much light is scattered and in what way. The main components of cut are:
- Brilliance — the amount internal and external white light that the diamond reflects
- Fire — the way a diamond scatters light into all the colors of the rainbow
- Scintillation — the sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond.
The cut of a stone will also be judged on the skill of the cutter in the exterior polish and symmetry of the stone itself.
Our number one piece of advice? Ignore the romantic comedies. Designing a custom made diamond ring without consulting your partner and then popping the question completely by surprise works out in the movies, but in real life, it’s a lot more fun to talk about these things together before your proposal.
Your spouse-to-be might already have some preferences about their jewelry — rose gold or white gold, brilliant cut or princess cut, solitaire setting or three-stone setting, and so on — and unless you’re very intuitive, it’s easier to just ask.
Besides, ring shopping is fun! Make an appointment to stop by our store and look at the thousands of example rings we have on display. Match this band with that stone in that setting, digitally rendered using our proprietary customization software. See how the ring would look with engraving and pick the fit and profile that feels best on your partner’s finger, then order your ring knowing it’s perfect. After all, the real surprise is how you pop the question!