Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Ever since my partner proposed last year, the one question everyone wanted to ask (before the where, when and how), was how did he choose the ring? And in all honesty the answer is always the same–I don't actually know. There is such huge pressure to find the ring. Not only is this piece of jewellery expected to sum up your feelings about the person, your relationship, and be something the recipient will fall immediately in love with, it's often a surprise, making it a totally blind decision.

"This ring will follow you in your everyday life and needs to represent you," says Valerie Messika, Founder and Creative Director of Messika. "It is essential to take your time and understand your desires, your emotional and symbolic relationship to the jewel. Diamonds are more than magnificent gems, it’s a stone that transcends the story of each couple. Each stone is as unique as each love story!" So, no pressure. 

Of course, if you are receiving a ring and are already a jewellery wearer, the buyer can take visual cues from what you've bought for yourself as to what style you might be more inclined to like. But for those of us who hadn't already thought about exactly what style we could visualise on our finger, the endless amount of options can be overwhelming. 

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@natashandlovu
 

"Buying, commissioning or sourcing an engagement ring is an incredibly exciting but also sometimes, intimidating process," says Josephine Odet, Head of Fine Jewellery at Omnēque. "One simple google search can leave you feeling overwhelmed by choice. But research is important (and we’ve all taken mental notes when we’ve seen rings we love in magazines, on the fingers of friends, family or celebrities), so whether you are looking to buy virtually or in person, make a start by looking at what’s on the market. Don’t hesitate to ask for support and advice from a specialist in the field - we love to share our experience, give gentle guidance and provide inspiration".

Is the bride-to-be a free-spirited, anti-traditionalist who would love an unconventional band with a unique stone? You could always follow their lead and design an entirely bespoke design. Or, are they a minimalist who would love nothing more than a simple, timeless style with a classic cut of diamond? No matter princess, cushion, marquise or pear-shaped, there are plenty of antique specialists and refined jewellers to cater to clean lined, architectural design. 

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@omnequeofficial
 

So, in a bid to answer your most important questions before committing to the one, we reached out to some of the UK's best Jewellers and Fine Jewellery Buyers to ask everything you need to know when it comes to saying "I do" to the ring.

When Buying an Engagement Ring, What Are the Most Important Things to Consider?

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@heartzeena

1. Longevity 

"Always think of a design that is reflective of you and will grow with you," recommends Fernando Jorge, founder of Fernando Jorge. "An engagement ring will be worn for years and years to come, so high quality craftsmanship is essential for longevity. It is equally important to consider that not every ring suits every hand, so trying lots of designs on to see what feels right for you is vital. Stay true to your personal style and embrace what you know you like."

2. Choose a Band that Will Work With the Quality of the Stone 

"Think of the centre stone as a piece of art and the ring as the frame," recommends Eliza Walter, founder of LYLIE. "You can be bold and do something different and unique, but it is important that the ring design reflects the stones quality. White metal or mixed metals (white and yellow) tend to match everything, so we suggest either for those seeking something chic and timeless. Ultimately, this is something you are going to have on your hand for the rest of your life, so think about choosing something timeless that will bring you joy at all stages of life."

 

3. Shop Around 

It goes without saying that such an expensive purchase requires plenty of research in advance. Not only into the look of the ring you want, but the style and reputation of the jeweller too. A good jeweller will take the time to create what you want, factoring in your budget and invest the kind of time to reflect your own personal connection to the ring in question.

"It is essential you work with a brand you trust; with experts who will guide you through the process and make it an exciting  journey too!" Advises Sara Prentice, Creative Director of Garrard. So be sure to take the time to find jewellers that come recommended or have a reputable sourcing process, a good business will be upfront with their credentials and won't rush you to buy.  

4. The Four Cs

Buying a diamond? There are 4 globally accepted standards to rating any stone, and these assess the 4 Cs–the quality of Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat Weight. 

What Are The Most Popular Engagement Ring Styles for 2022?

When it comes to shopping for an engagement ring, looking at popular trends might be a good place to start, but ultimately your choice has to consider the recipients personality and style first and foremost, urges Odet"Individualism, uniqueness and the unusual or rare are general trends I’ve noticed. When buying an engagement ring, following trends are perhaps something to be ignored. Trending styles are often given a premium price tag, as the market takes advantage of their popularity. And more often than not, the ‘trend premium’ is not worth it in the long term." Instead, take inspiration from the trending styles to help to inform what they will (or won't) love, this could even be the basis of designing your own ring from scratch. 

1. Antique Old Cut Diamonds 

The new style? Going old school, as more shoppers look for unique rings with a lot of history. 

 "I have recently had a surge in clients asking for old cut diamonds (old mine-cut and old European-cuts in all shapes, sizes and colours)," says Odet. "They love the fact that each antique diamond, which would have been cut by hand is slightly different, and that this is old ‘material’ as opposed to newly mined material, giving this choice a more sustainable angle. They are less concerned about high colour and clarity, instead celebrating the fire, subtle brilliance and character in those lovely, old, chunky stones." 



A late Victorian ring featuring five fine old-mine-cut diamonds weighing an impressive combined 5.6 carats. 

"Antique cuts are increasingly growing in popularity – particularly old mines and old European cuts. They are incredibly romantic, soft stones because they have been cut by hand and not a machine and are very tricky to find. I think also they are also a great choice for someone looking for a stone that hits a lower environmental impact: you’re repurposing an existing stone, so this is always an attractive option."  - Emma Clarkson Webb, founder of Emma Clarkson Webb

 

A 1920s art deco style ring featuring a marquise cut set in a simple, platinum band. 

2. Bombé Rings 

Curved and domed the bombé shape is not your typical engagement ring. The chunky, larger shape allows for a multitude of variations, from large stones to rows of pearls.

"A gypsy set, bombe style ring makes for a very cool, wearable statement piece. I love the bold, sculptural aesthetic of them and the fact they are often quite serious pieces yet manage not to be too showy. The move away from the traditional claw set engagement ring feels new and modern, yet these types of rings remain very classic and timeless. I like to bezel-set a diamond into white gold and then drop that down flush into a yellow gold ring. This really highlights the diamond, so it doesn’t get lost in the piece and it really keeps its life." - Jessie Thomas, founder of Jessie Thomas Jewellery

 

An 18ct yellow gold large bombe ring with a single brilliant diamond is set into a yellow gold bezle setting, handcarved by Jessie in her London studio. 

 

A vintage Cartier find, this honeycomb ring is set with twenty one cushion shape old mine diamonds.

A one-of-a-kind Petit Bouton Pearl ring set with five graduating white Akoya pearls in handcrafted 18k yellow gold.

A vintage sapphire and diamond bombé ring, set with a sugarloaf cabochon sapphire weighing 9.10ct.

3. Blue and Green Stones 

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@minkajewels

If classic, clear diamonds have never been your thing, express your individuality with eye-catching stones in vibrant greens, deep blues and refreshing aquamarines.

"We have really noticed a trend for green stones in the past 6 months and the enquiries so far for bespoke engagement rings this year have matched this too: particularly green tourmalines and emeralds. Yellow and blue sapphires are also very popular as they are all just so unique. Colour is such a lovely way to make your engagement ring a little bit different as it is such a personal choice, so it really does make a ring stand apart from the rest." - Lucy Crowther, Founder of Minka Jewels

 

Expect carefully selected, high-quality gemstones from Minka Jewels, from exquisite engagement rings to bespoke one-of-a-kind jewels, all in rich hues.

"The beautiful domed lustre of a sugarloaf cabochon emerald is the centre stone in my latest commission and a bespoke cut hexagon emerald will form the centre of my next engagement piece. Rare gemstones are also becoming more popular with many of my clients keen to be part of a longer process looking for hard to find stones like a deep blue spinel I have recently sourced. There is a clear trend for celebrating these unusual stones in settings that are unfussy and simple with a strong sculptural design." - Liv Luttrell, founder of Liv Luttrell

 

"People are gravitating towards bright and bold colour, which Garrard is recognised for. Our iconic 1735 collection comes in sapphire, emerald, ruby, aquamarine, and white diamond. The collection takes inspiration from Princess Diana’s sapphire cluster engagement ring – arguably the most famous engagement ring in the world! - and is a truly timeless piece." - Sara Prentice, Creative Director of Garrard

4. Toi et Moi Rings 

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@vraiofficial

As the name suggests, the french 'Toi et Moi' i.e you and I ring pairs two different stones on one wrapped band to signify partnership, allegedly made famous after Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to Josephine de Beauharnais with one, and still has famous fans.

"Celebrity has a real impact on trends particularly when it comes to cut and style," suggests Clarkson-Webb. "At the moment we are seeing a lot of interest in Toi et Moi rings – thanks to Emily Ratajkowski, Megan Fox and co", something that Rachel Boston, founder of Rachel Boston agrees with.

"We're generally seeing a move towards more playful, bolder styles this year: classic solitaires are getting an update with diamonds set in bold, chunky band styles, or toi et moi rings are created to showcase different shapes and sizes of stones for a really graphic effect... Even as customers lean towards something more traditional - for example, a trilogy ring - we are seeing a real demand for unconventional twists like exploring more unique side stones shapes, such as half-moons, kites, or epaulettes, to compliment a timeless oval or round diamond."

A totally unique 1.05ct hexagon cut diamond in a distinctive cognac colour, and paired with a 1ct baguette cut diamond. 

"In France, the trend remains on relatively classic models, we also noticed a strong increase on “shaped” diamond cuts other than round brilliant diamond cut. But in the UK, customers are looking for more original models such as the My Twin ring which revisits the “Toi et Moi” by combining two diamonds of opposite shapes: the emerald cut and the pear cut." 

Valerie Messika, Founder and Creative Director of Messika

Vrai's customisable rings mean that you can take the basic toi et moi shape, and choose your own stone pairings, metal colour and style of band.

A bold, domed take on the toi et moi, this handcrafted 14k solid gold ring features a pear cut and a cushion cut diamond for double the impact and shine.

A white gold ring paved with diamonds and a wraparound serpent motif.

5. A Sculptural Ribbon Band 

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@mareinewyork

Imagine a traditional ribbon band, but turn up the drama. Although still elegantly wrapped around the finger, the new ribbon bands have spiky edges, intricate loops and plenty of maximalist sparkle. 

Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger’s signature engagement ring comes in many iterations, but this ribboned ring set with a round brilliant diamond centre stone surrounded by pavé diamonds, makes a bold statement. 

Each piece from Shaun Leane's award winning collection is intertwined to represent the eternity of love and the unerring individuality of human commitment.

A brilliant marquise-cut white diamond centre stone mounted on a glittering pavé-set brilliant white diamond setting and handcrafted in 18-karat yellow gold. Inspired by the intricacies of Arabic calligraphy. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Buying Vs Designing Your Own Engagement Ring?

Everything You Need to Know About Buying An Engagement Ring–According to Experts

Photo:

@bettinagoldstein 

So you've found a style, cut and colour. The only decision left is whether to design your own ring or buy ready made. 

"The pros of buying a ring (i.e already made) means, hopefully, no surprises. You try it on your finger, it fits beautifully, it's the look and quality that you are searching for, within your price range and no need to imagine beyond that," says Odet.

"When buying antique and vintage, it's one of the more sustainable options, which is a huge pro. And buying antique and vintage also means that the ring will still have a very unique quality rather than an ‘off the shelf’ feel. But that doesn’t mean that there are not sustainable, demi-bespoke or one-of-a-kind options on the market in contemporary jewellery - there are.

Designing a ring is a very different journey. Firstly, it’s much more personalised. It gives you much more flexibility, especially when it comes to price range. It’s also a journey, filled with emotion, story and experience. From choosing the loose gemstones or diamonds, to having drawings, renderings and gouache created, to deciding the metal, hidden elements and then having it created by hand as a complete one-off piece."

 

Looking for more inspiration? Up next,The Best Celebrity Engagement Rings of All Time

Related Stories