Engagement Ring Guide
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you purchase the perfect engagement ring for you!
Setting Your Budget
For a purchase that will last a lifetime, there are important considerations to make. For the best value, choose a budget that’s right for you and start with a ring style. Then devote the remainder to a beautiful, certified and conflict-free diamond.
Engagement Ring Settings & Styles
The most common and classic ring setting is called a prong setting. A prong is a little metal claw that grips the diamond tightly, holding it in place. Prongs can be rounded, pointed, flat, or V-shaped (the latter being the most common for princess-cut diamonds).
Most prong settings feature either four or six prongs; with the former you can see more of the diamond, but the latter is more secure. A benefit of this setting is that there is a minimum presence of metal, so that there’s more diamond to see and more light that can pass through the diamond, thus adding to its brilliance.
The halo setting refers to the placement of diamonds or other gemstones in a concentric circle or square around a center stone. The halo setting makes the center stone appear larger—a great option to boost the appearance of a small diamond—and it increases the overall sparkle of the ring.
A halo setting, then, can be a way to save money on a smaller-carat diamond while not sacrificing the overall appearance of the ring. In addition, adding a halo of colored gemstones or setting the halo diamonds with a different color metal can make for a contrast in colors.
Halos are often paired with pavé bands but could certainly stand on their own with a simple unadorned band. And as the name implies, a double halo setting consists of two concentric circles of gemstones that encircle the center stone.
The pavé setting, pronounced “pa-vay,” comes from the French word “to pave,” as in paved with diamonds. By closely setting small diamonds together with minimal visibility of the tiny metal beads or prongs holding the stones in place, the effect is one of continuous sparkle.
The jeweler typically drills holes into the ring, carefully places the diamonds into the holes, and finally forms tiny beads, or mini-prongs, around each diamond to secure them into the holes.
This setting is also known as a bead setting and in the case of especially small stones, may be called a micro-pavé setting. Diamonds are said to be pavé-set when they are as small as .01-.02 carats and any smaller than that would be called micro-pavé.
The channel setting is a secure way to set smaller diamonds in a row into the band of the ring, making a metal channel of sparkling stones flush with the shank.
The diamonds, or other gemstones, are set closely together into the grooves of the channel and decorate the sides of the band or the entire band. This setting is also popular for wedding bands or stackable rings that feature only smaller stones and no center stone.
Since there are no prongs, this setting is also a good option for a snag-free and secure design.
The three-stone setting is a versatile setting that can be used for engagement, anniversary, or any occasion. The three stones, set closely together, are said to symbolize the couple’s past, present, and future.
These stones can either be all the same size or, as is often the case, the center stone is larger than the two side stones. The most popular diamond shapes for this setting are the round brilliant cut and the princess cut.
It’s possible to personalize this setting with colored sidestones, such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds (see photo below), or other birthstones.
The bezel setting is the second most popular ring setting due to its modern look and suitability for an active lifestyle. Instead of holding the diamond with prongs, the bezel setting encircles the diamond, or center stone, with a thin metal rim custom-made to hold the stone tightly in place.
A bezel setting can be a full or partial setting: a full bezel completely surrounds the diamond whereas a partial bezel leaves the sides open. It’s a great choice for nurses, teachers, and others looking for a ring that won’t snag and will adequately protect the diamond.
Many of the antique/vintage styles are designed to fit specific time periods of jewelry fashion, such as Art Deco, Edwardian and Victorian era styles. Often these rings feature intricate detail work such as filigree and milgrain.
Filigree is a kind of delicate metalwork that solders together tiny metal beads or twisted threads of metal to the surface of the jewel. And milgrain engraving is a type of embellishment added to antique style rings to give them that “antique” look of tiny balls of metal decorating the sides of the band and the crown of the ring.
The cathedral setting is one of the most elegant and classic engagement ring settings. Similar to the graceful arches of a cathedral, this ring setting uses arches of metal to hold the diamond or other gemstone.
The cathedral may be set with prongs, bezel or tension setting since the defining characteristic of this ring is not how the diamond is held but rather how it is mounted with arches above the rest of the shank.
The arches can add extra height and make the center stone appear larger; they can also add cost-saving style for less money than adding more diamonds.
A popular engagement ring style is to mimic a tension style setting (like you see above), but in fact the diamond or gemstone is set in the band, typically as a bezel setting.
You traditionally hear of the 4Cs in choosing diamonds. But at Bashford Jewelry, we are advocates of 5: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat, and Conflict Free. The combination of the 5Cs determines the quality, beauty, and value of your diamond.
The cut of a diamond refers to how it is made. This impacts the diamond’s quality and brilliance. (Cut in this sense should not be confused with the shape which is sometimes referred to as cut, e.g., princess cut). Diamonds are prisms that reflect light. The sparkle that you have come to expect from diamonds will not be visible if the diamond was not formed (cut) properly. You want an ideal cut that best reflects light and makes the diamond seem alive.
From colorless to light yellow or brown, the color of a diamond will affect its grade. With a grading from D to X, with D being the clearest and most expensive, color is one of the most visible aspects of a diamond. Clear diamonds are the most popular but there are also rare diamonds with strong colors such as pink and canary which are highly prized.
Newly mined diamonds from the Canadian arctic are some of the few diamonds that best meet these criteria. Bashford Jewelry exclusively sources our diamonds from the Canadian arctic. Feel confident that there is no blood on your diamond purchases through Bashford Jewelry.
Further, properly certified diamonds ensure that your diamonds meet the requirements of the 5 Cs. Bashford Jewelry only uses CanadaMark™ certified diamonds and Gemological Institute of America (GIA)