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Planning to propose? How to choose an engagement ring

Engagement Rings

Presenting your partner with a beautiful sparkler is key part of any proposal, but actually choosing an engagement ring is often easier said than done, especially when it has to be kept a secret. Making the big decision to ask for your partner’s hand in marriage may have felt like the biggest hurdle, but with so many options out there, many find that picking the ideal ring is trickier still!

So, just how do you pick an engagement ring your partner will adore? You may already have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, or you could be starting completely from scratch. Either way, in this guide, we’ll show you how to do your research and help you to understand the various options available, so you know exactly what to ask for when you begin shopping. Just keep reading to learn how to choose the perfect engagement ring.

Choosing an engagement ring style

The most traditional style of engagement ring consists of a simple gold or platinum band with a single, typically round-cut gemstone mounted in the centre — usually a white diamond. This style is commonly called a solitaire ring, and it’s one of the popular types of engagement ring, with a classic, timeless look that never goes out of style. Solitaire rings usually have a simple, plain band to help the diamond ‘pop’, but you could also go for a more intricate design or an asymmetrical band, too. 

While the solitaire is a traditional favourite, it’s not the only popular type of engagement ring. Other styles may have more than one diamond, or the addition of coloured gemstones. Three stone rings are an elegant choice for those who like to make an impression with an assortment of coloured gems. Cluster rings — which feature a cluster of small diamonds or other gems around the band — are also a popular choice, especially if your partner likes rings with lots of sparkle and fire.

Having some kind of precious stone present is usually expected in an engagement ring, but of course this is not a hard and fast rule. The most important thing is to choose a ring that you think your partner will like. Consider the style of jewellery they usually wear and speak to a trustworthy close friend or family member of theirs to find out if they have dropped any hints.

If you know that your spouse-to-be is concerned about sustainability, then you may want to ensure that you pick an ethical ring. Our guide to choosing an ethical engagement ring can help you learn more about this.

Should you choose a diamond engagement ring? Picking a gemstone

When you picture an engagement ring, you probably think of one with a large, sparkling diamond. These gems are by far the most popular stone for a proposal, so if you think your partner will like something classic and traditional, you can’t really go wrong with a diamond set ring.

While white diamonds are the most popular stone, there are no hard and fast rules about what an engagement ring should be, and many couples who go for something different. Prince William, for instance, proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother’s oval cut brilliant blue sapphire ring. While small diamonds are still present on the design, they certainly aren’t the focal point. So, if your partner might prefer something a little less traditional, you may want to consider going for a coloured gemstone, like sapphire, emerald, morganite, citrine, or garnet. You could even go for a stone in your spouse-to-be’s favourite colour or incorporate their birthstone into the ring for an extra personal touch.

When choosing a gemstone, there’s also the cut and shape of the stone to consider. There are many different ways to cut a diamond or precious stone — they could be round, square, heart-shaped or tear-drop shaped, to name a few. Additionally, the more facets the stone is given, the more it will sparkle when worn. To learn more about this, and to work out what sort of shape and quality is best for your ring, take a look at our comprehensive guide to diamonds.

If your partner wears rings day-to-day, take a look at the sort of styles they usually like to wear to get an idea of what style they might prefer. Of course, if they don’t have anything to use as a reference then it can be difficult to know the best course of action. In this instance, it can be helpful to trust your gut — the right ring may well jump right out at you.

Precious metal options

The type of metal used for the main structure of the ring is also important to consider, as this can really alter the overall look of the ring. This is where looking at your partner’s current taste in jewellery can be a help, as people tend to lean more towards gold or silver when it comes to everyday pieces.

If your partner has very little or no items of yellow gold jewellery, for instance, then it may be best to go for a lighter coloured metal, such as white gold or platinum, for the ring. Yellow gold and rose gold are also popular choices, with yellow gold being the more traditional.

These precious metals are able to stand the test of time and will always retain their looks with the correct maintenance. This is an important aspect of the engagement ring, as it represents an everlasting bond. The ring will likely be worn and cherished for many decades and may one day become a family heirloom for your children and grandchildren, so it’s important to choose the best quality metal you can afford.

How to choose the right size

Once you have a particular engagement ring style in mind, it’s time to get an idea of your partner’s ring size. Nothing quite dampens the moment of your proposal like an engagement ring that's far too small or far too big. If your partner wears rings day-to-day, then ‘borrowing’ one and taking it with you when you go shopping is the surest way of finding out an accurate size.

If you get it wrong, you can always have the ring adjusted and fitted properly by a jeweller after the proposal. This is a common practice, and a small adjustment is expected when the ring has been bought without the wearer’s knowledge.

If you’re debating between two sizes, go for the larger one, as this will be the easiest and cheapest to adjust at a later date. This way, you can also be confident that it will definitely at least fit on your partner’s finger during the crucial moment of your proposal!

Getting the most for your money

When it comes to diamonds, the bigger the stone, the more expensive it tends to be. For many people, the size of the diamond or gemstone on their engagement ring is the most important feature, and bigger is often seen as better. Of course, it’s the gesture that counts, but if you’re on a tight budget it can be difficult to find something that has that wow factor.

If you’re struggling to choose an engagement ring that matches your budget, there are a number of ways to cushion the cost. As rings made from precious stones and metals are made to stand the test of time, there are many pre-owned, antique and vintage pieces out there that can really help you to stretch your cash.

Why not consider giving a new lease of life to a timeless and beautiful pre-owned ring? When buying with us, it’s possible to get double the diamond for your money compared to a high-street jeweller.  If you’re looking for something eye-catching and expensive-looking without the price tag, take a look at the diamond set rings we have to offer. we have a wide variety of unique, pre-owned rings for sale which have been refurbished and cleaned to as-new standards.

Remember that when it comes to finding the perfect ring, there is no right or wrong answer: as long as you take your partner’s likes and dislikes into account, then buy from the heart, you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Here at Est1987, we have an extensive collection of beautiful pre-owned engagement rings with a huge choice of gemstones and styles, so the ideal style could be just a few clicks away! Need some help, or have questions about our jewellery? Contact the Est1987 team for more information.

Once you’ve found your ideal ring, you’ll need to come up with a plan for popping the question. If you need some inspiration, we’ve got nine creative, swoon-worthy proposal ideas, any of which is sure to sweep your beloved off their feet.