Choosing your perfect engagement ring is an exciting process. With endless options for customization, you can create a piece that captures your style and personality perfectly. This guide will help introduce you to some of the commonly used design options and terminology you may encounter and put you on the right path to creating your dream ring.
Which metals can I choose from?
Here at Branciers, our focus is on creating jewellery that lasts a lifetime. When it comes to choosing a metal for an engagement ring, it’s important to choose a metal that is suitable for everyday wear. It is for this reason that we make all of our engagement rings with 14K or 18K yellow, white and rose gold, as well as platinum.
18K gold is made from 75% pure gold. The other 25% is an alloy of other metals used to strengthen and also to adjust the colour of the metal. White gold for example, contains silver and palladium to give the metal its whiter colour, and rose gold contains more copper to produce a pink tone in the gold. Yellow gold is a balance of the two, in order to maintain the bright yellow hue of pure gold.
Platinum is another popular choice for engagement rings. Containing 95% platinum and only 5% other alloys, it retains its bright white colour whereas 18K white gold needs to be routinely plated in rhodium to maintain it’s brightness. Although fine details lend themselves well to platinum, this metal can be more susceptible to scratches than white gold.
Another option to consider is to create a ring using a combination of two or more metals. A popular example of this is to use a white gold setting on a yellow or rose gold ring so as to keep a neutral colour under and around the diamond.
Diamonds & Gemstones - Picking the Perfect Stone
When it comes to choosing the centrepiece for your engagement ring It can feel like you’re faced with endless options, so we have broken it down to a few simple categories to help you decide.
As the traditional option, a diamond is a classic, enduring choice for an engagement ring. Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man, rating 10 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. This means it cannot be scratched by anything other than another diamond, so it will keep its crisp brilliance longer than all other gemstones. As well as their exceptional hardness, diamonds are prized for their ability to interact with light which provides us with those wonderful flashes of rainbow colours and that characteristic diamond “twinkle”. Head on over to our diamond education page to learn more about diamond characteristics.
Fancy Coloured Diamonds
The most popular diamonds are colourless, but the coloured varieties are equally beautiful. Diamonds occur naturally in many shades such as pale champagne colours to dark chocolate brown. Yellow diamonds are also increasingly popular and can be vivid in colour ranging to very subtle tints. The most valuable colours are also the rarest. Pink, red, blue and green natural diamonds are among some of the most beautiful and the most collectable gemstones in the world.
Choosing a coloured gemstone is a beautiful way of creating a unique engagement ring that complements the personality of its wearer. There are many different types of coloured gemstones out there, but not all are suitable for everyday wear. A gemstone’s hardness and ability to resist fractures are important considerations for an engagement ring.
Corundum - Sapphires and Rubies
For a coloured stone that ticks all the boxes for durability, beauty and colour range we recommend corundum – a crystal better known as sapphires and rubies. Corundum is the next hardest natural mineral to diamond, making it highly scratch resistant and a perfect choice for every-day wear.
While sapphires are most known for their stunning blue hues, they can be sourced in many other colours including gorgeous tones of green, yellow, pink, orange, black, purple, teal, mauve… almost any colour you can think of. A red corundum is referred to as a ruby.
The price range of sapphires and rubies is just as varied as their colour range. Here at Branciers our gemologists can source specific sapphires that suit your preference for colour, shape and budget. You will have the opportunity to view any sourced gemstones in person before you commit to purchase, so you can be 100% confident that you have the perfect stone for your ring.
Diamonds and coloured gemstones come in a wide variety of shapes. The most common of these are round brilliant, princess, cushion, radiant, asscher, emerald, marquise, pear, oval and heart.
The iconic round brilliant cut is the most popular shape worldwide accounting for over 75% of diamonds purchased, followed by cushion cut (square with rounded edges) and oval cut.
The shape of your centre stone is a very personal choice and each cut comes with a wide variety of ring designs to suit. At Brancier Jewellers we can create a completely unique design for you using the shape of your centre stone as inspiration.
A popular choice for adding sparkle to your design is to add accent diamonds or gemstones around the centre stone. Whether they’re in a halo, a cluster, framing the centre stone or down the length of the band, these diamonds can add stunning detail and bring your engagement ring design to life.
Generally, accent stones that add sparkle to a band are small and round in shape, but some designs lend themselves to square or rectangular stones offering a cleaner, more geometric look. Other unique shapes for accent diamonds include trillion, baguette, pear, marquise, halfmoon, trapezoid and bullet shapes which can create a lovely frame to a larger centre stone.
At Brancier Jewellers, our specialty is custom designed engagement rings where each design is custom made to your unique specifications. Getting to know the existing design terms that describe certain popular styles can help you understand your preferences and give you ideas on where to start.
The solitaire style, as the name suggests, refers to a ring with a single stone. Although solitaire designs are typically associated with round diamonds, a solitaire design can feature any stone or shape. This style is elegant and minimalist allowing the chosen diamond or coloured stone to take centre stage.
Rings with shoulder settings have smaller stones (usually diamonds) that run along the band on either side of the centre stone. There are many creative ways that shoulder stones can be positioned on a ring – along a straight band is a classic example, but we can also create a band that splits into two or crosses over on either side of the centre setting. As a general rule, shoulder stones run down the ring from the centre setting to halfway down the band.
A halo is the term used for a circle of small diamonds (or coloured gemstones) that surround a centre stone. A halo gives the illusion of extra sparkle and is a popular choice for emphasising the size of the centre diamond or gemstone. The halo usually sits tight to the centre stone and contains small diamonds to enhance this illusion. Halo designs look beautiful with or without shoulder diamonds set into the band.
As a slight deviation from a halo, a cluster design tends to have larger diamonds surrounding the centre stone. There is more of an emphasis on the surrounding stones, making a cluster more of a statement than a halo. Clusters and haloes are usually categorised together however they are slightly different.
A trilogy, or 3-stone design incorporates three main diamonds or gemstones. Generally, the centre stone is the largest and the stones on either side are smaller, but they can also be the same size. The three stones can be the same shape or a combination of one shape for the centre and a different shape either side.
Examples of vintage designs can be found in any of the above categories, but certain features distinguish them from modern designs. Intricate details such as scrolls, flourishes, filigree, engraving and millgrain finishes with grain set diamonds on the shoulders are features to consider for antique style appeal. These features will be elaborated on in the settings and finishing touches sections of this guide.
This style has been given this name because it mimics the curves and arches often seen in the ceilings and roof trusses of cathedrals. A cathedral design will have shoulders that sweep upwards from the band creating curved, triangular openings either side of the setting.
Setting Styles - Encasing Your Stones
There are many setting styles available for securing your centre stone and accent stones. This guide will outline the most popular setting styles and show the visual differences between them.
Accent stones like haloes and shoulder diamonds also have setting options. The most popular of these options is microclaw setting, this is where claws are carved from the sides of the band creating a secure setting for each individual diamond. With this technique, there is minimal metal visible around the diamonds allowing for a finer looking band with a lot of sparkle.
Grain setting, also called bead setting, is achieved by drilling under each stone allowing the diamond to drop in and sit almost flush with the surface of the metal. The stones are then secured by raising a bead of metal from the ring and pushing it over the edge of the stone. This setting features heavily in accent stones for vintage designs.
A variation of grain setting, known as Pavé setting, refers to multiple rows of grain set diamonds offset from each other. Translated from French, Pavé means paved which is why the term is used when diamonds form the appearance of a paved-like surface across the band.
As the name suggests, a channel setting is created when a channel is carved out of the ring and diamonds are placed side by side between the walls. The top edges of these walls are then lightly hammered securing the diamonds inside the channel.