Most Important Engagement Ring Qualities
When it comes to an engagement ring, the details matter. Choosing “the ring” is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The choice you make should reflect your fiancée’s personal style as well as your commitment to each other.
Although there are countless options, learning more about them can help you make a decision. Start by familiarizing yourself with the key engagement ring qualities. This will make it easier to pick the right ring at the right price.
Here’s a guide to the most important qualities to look for when buying an engagement ring:
The Ring’s Style: Diamond Shape and Setting
It’s important to choose a ring that matches your fiancée’s style. The key components are the shape of the diamond, as well as the style and metal options for the setting.
The diamond shape is an important aspect that helps determine the overall look of the ring. Although the majority of engagement rings feature the classic round diamond, several other shapes, often called fancy cuts, are available. Princess diamonds, for example, feature a more angular, square-like shape. Oval, pear, and marquise diamonds have an elongated shape and make fingers appear more slender. Other options range from elegant emerald diamonds to versatile cushion diamonds.
Another important part of an engagement ring is the setting, which is the metal framework in which the gem is mounted. With the setting, both the design and material come into play. The classic and most popular engagement ring style is a solitaire, which is a ring that features one center diamond. This elegant choice can be further enhanced with the addition of accent diamonds, or with a basket or trellis setting to make the diamond stick out more.
Another popular option is a pavé setting, which features a continuous row of small stones on either side of the center diamond. A bezel setting, meanwhile, gives the ring a fresh and modern look.
In all cases, the setting should be matched with the diamond shape to achieve the desired look.
Precious Metal Options
In choosing a setting, it’s important to pick the precious metal that your fiancée prefers. Oftentimes, looking at the jewelry that she usually wears will give you a clue as to what kind she likes. A woman who mostly wears gold may want the same for their engagement ring. For women that love pink, a rose gold engagement ring may do the trick.
Platinum and white gold are similar in their bright silver appearance, but platinum works well for women who may have an allergy to gold or nickel. Platinum, currently the most popular option, is also more durable.
Once you’ve established what style of ring your fiancée would like, it’s time to look at the quality of the diamond itself.
The 4 C's: The Keys to a Diamond’s Quality
Choosing the right diamond is key. The center gem is usually the most valuable diamond on the ring, the one that will catch the eye and the one that your fiancée will tell her friends about. You want to make sure this diamond uniquely expresses your love.
To choose the perfect stone, consider the 4 C's, the universal standards used to judge the quality of the diamond and determine its value. These grades make it easier for buyers to understand the subtle differences between diamonds that may not be visible to the naked eye. To be sure of the accuracy of these grades, look for diamonds that are certified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
The cut of a diamond determines its brilliance. The better a cut, the more sparkle the diamond will have. Diamond cuts are typically evaluated based on their proportions and symmetry on a scale from excellent down to poor. This is one area you don’t want to skimp, as it has the greatest impact on the overall appearance and quality of the diamond. In most instances, you should look for an excellent or very good cut. By choosing ones of these, you can often compromise on the other 3 C's without much noticeable effect.
The color refers to how little color the diamond has. The less color it has, the higher the quality of grade. The grade ranges from Z, for a diamond with a strong color such as yellow or brown, to a D for a rare colorless diamond. Most diamonds are “near-colorless” and between G and J. Choose a diamond as close to colorless as your budget allows. One thing to note is that diamonds matched with a yellow gold band can be slightly less colorless (closer to J than G) and still appear colorless due to the way the diamond blends with the gold color. Alternatively, a platinum ring will make any color in the diamond more noticeable and a G or better is recommended.
This is a measure of the diamond’s imperfections. Those with no imperfections receive the higher grade in this category. Most diamonds have some natural flaws, known as inclusions and blemishes. A clarity guide will give you an idea of a particular stone’s flaws. An F clarity diamond is flawless. An IF is internally flawless with some blemishes on the surface; while all other grades indicate some inclusion, which is an imperfection inside the diamond. An I3 rating is the lowest. Any diamond graded SI1 or better will be free of any flaws when viewed by the naked eye. The most common clarity is VS2 or SI1. Another thing to keep in mind is that clarity becomes more important as the diamond gets bigger. A diamond of 1.30 ct. will show flaws more than one with 0.90 ct.
Speaking of carats . . . they are a measure of the diamond’s weight that also tends to stand in for its size. Keep in mind, though, that two diamonds of different sizes may be the same carat weight. It’s typical to see diamonds listed like this: 0.80 ct. or 1.11 ct. Although the difference between 0.90 ct. and 1.00 ct. may seem minor, there is often a large price difference between fractions of a carat, especially once 1 ct. is reached. While a larger diamond can make an impression, it’s also more likely to reveal flaws, necessitating higher clarity.
But the most important aspect of carat weight is that it determines the rarity of the diamond. The heavier the diamond’s weight, the rarer it becomes. By paying close attention to a diamond’s surface area measurements, you may be able to find a lighter diamond with the same surface area as a heavier diamond. If so, the lighter (i.e. less carat weight) diamond would cost less and achieve the same appearance.
Now that you know the key engagement ring qualities, show her how show special she is by picking out the perfect ring. If your fiancée is most concerned about the overall impression the ring makes, a dazzling setting filled with small stones may be the way to go, while compromising the rarity aspects of the center diamond. If she wants a center diamond to be the star of the show, a simple band with an excellent cut diamond may be the best choice. Knowing these details also makes it easier to prioritize and find a ring in your price range.
Ready to pick a diamond engagement ring for your future wife? Check out our step-by-step "How to Pick A Diamond Engagement Ring" guide, get educated and prepare to pop the question!