Engagement rings are the ultimate sign of commitment between a couple. They are the symbolic representation of their love, showing the world that they are destined to be together forever. However, while we all know that engagement rings are an important indicator that you’re taking your relationship to the next level, there is still a lot that most people don’t know about this iconic piece of jewellery. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about engagement rings to set you in good stead for going out shopping for your own.

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

One of the most commonly asked questions is how much to spend on an engagement ring yet there is no single answer to the question “how much should an engagement ring cost.” Rather, the answer is determined by the couple in question and, specifically, their preferences and their budget. 

One complicating factor is that if you type “how much should I spend on an engagement ring?” into a browser you’ll end up with a host of arbitrary rules. For example, you may see articles telling you that you need to spend as much as three months’ worth of your salary on one. There’s no need to feel bound by such “rules”. Instead, it’s best to think about how much you feel comfortable about spending. 

Engagement rings needn’t always be expensive, although of course there are many that cost eyewatering amounts. Even if you’re tempted to spend a fortune on a beautiful ring, there’s a good chance that your fiancee to be won’t want you to get into debt buying one. So, be sensible and work out how much you can afford before you even start going to stores or browsing online for designs. 

Although it can feel like you’re under a lot of pressure to buy an expensive ring, there’s no need to worry if you want to propose but can’t afford to go overboard. You can always upgrade to a more extravagant ring at a later date should you and your fiancee choose to do so. 

Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rings

Which Finger Does An Engagement Ring Go On?

In the UK as in many other western countries, the engagement ring is worn on the left hand’s fourth finger which is otherwise known as the ring finger. This has a long historic connection dating back to the time of the Ancient Romans who believed that there was a vein in this finger that ran straight to the heart. Since the heart was believed to be the central point of all emotions, the fourth finger was said to be the right finger on which to wear an engagement ring since it represents your love and commitment to another person.

However, in other countries, there are different traditions. In Germany, Russia, India and Norway, the engagement ring is worn on the opposite (right) hand. The reasoning for this is that in Latin the word for left was “sinister” and this meant that some believed the left hand was unlucky. 

Interestingly, in some countries it isn’t just the bride-to-be who receives an engagement ring. In Chile and Sweden, men wear one too. In fact, in Chile, the engagement ring is won on the wearer’s right hand until after the wedding when it is switched onto the left hand.

Which Order Do You Wear Engagement, Wedding And Eternity Rings?

Not everyone knows how to wear an engagement and wedding ring together in the correct order, and more complications are added into the mix when an eternity ring is worn too. The traditional way is to wear the wedding ring first so that it’s closer to the heart. The engagement ring would then go on top. If an eternity ring is then worn as well there is no set order for this to be placed. Some people believe it should go on top of both other rings while others say it should be worn in the centre between the two. Some people even prefer to wear theirs on their right hand, especially if they have a very large engagement ring. At the end of the day, it’s down to the preference of the individual.

Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rings

How To Clean An Engagement Ring

There are many reasons for engagement rings getting dirty, but perhaps the most common is using cosmetics. Perfume, makeup and lotions can make diamond engagement rings look dull but it’s possible to bring them back to life so they sparkle and shine once more. To do this, full up a small bowl with hot or warm water, add some washing up detergent then allow your ring to soak in the water for around 40 minutes.

Once this step is complete, using a soft toothbrush (with no rubber bristles) to brush the stones. You may want to use a child’s toothbrush since this will usually be softer. Take care to brush the diamond’s lower part since lots of dirt tends to build up around the ring base in which the diamond has been mounted.

Once you’ve completed the brushing process, rinse the ring under running warm water and dry it using a linen or cotton cloth. You can then rub the ring over a polishing cloth to make it shine perfectly.

If your engagement ring has become especially dirty, you may fill up a bowl with some floor cleaning solution, pop the ring into it and leave it to soak overnight. This loosens tough dirt and grime so you can clean it following the above steps more easily without damaging the ring. 

What Metal Should An Engagement Ring Be Made From?

Many people think that engagement rings are always made from yellow gold but this isn’t necessarily the case these days. In fact, when you’re choosing between the different engagement rings available for sale today, yellow gold is just one option. While it’s the classic choice, white gold is actually more versatile since it’s stronger and more durable.

Another popular option is rose gold which is fashionable thanks to its pink hue which is derived from the copper which is mixed with yellow gold. One further choice is platinum which is hypoallergenic, extremely durable and especially beautiful thanks to its white-silver colour.

Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rings
Photography by Nathan M

Which Stone Should Be In An Engagement Ring?

Although diamonds are the traditional choice for engagement rings, in fact there are lots of other options too. There are other types of precious stone such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds, which are more affordable and make a better choice for anyone on a budget. Also, these stones are more colourful and may suit your fiancee-to-be better.

Some popular gemstones other than diamonds which are used for engagement rings include tourmaline, topaz, opals and amethysts. Next to diamonds, sapphires are the most popular choice for engagement rings and indeed were the choice of Prince William when he proposed marriage to Kate Middleton.

Of course, if you want a classic engagement ring, diamonds are the preferred stone since they symbolise strength, rarity and longevity. However, there are many different cuts, shapes and colour of diamond to choose from. Fancy coloured diamonds may be rare but they’re a wonderful choice for engagement rings thanks to their beautiful shades. You can find red, purple, orange, blue, pink and green diamonds which all look beautiful when set in white, rose or yellow gold bands.

Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rings

How Do I Get The Right Size Of Engagement Ring?

If you want your proposal to be a surprise to your partner you will need to choose and buy the engagement ring without her being present. This raises the problem of how to pick an engagement ring that is the right size. It’s important to get the sizing right since not all rings are able to be resized to fit the wearer’s hand. Resizing rings involves cutting a sliver out of the band and then closing the gap or adding more metal. Engraved rings, engagement rings that have gems wrapping around the band, rings with tension settings, and antique rings can’t be resized easily. Also, some people believe that it’s bad luck to resize engagement rings. With all of this in mind, it’s definitely best to try to get the size right from the start. 

If you can get your hands on one of your partner’s rings that fit on the appropriate finger the process of choosing the correct size is quite simple. You can either borrow it from their jewellery box to take to the jewellers or put it on your finger then trace with a marker pen around the band so you can see how far down your finger it slid. When you go to the jeweller, they will then be able to match the measurement using a sizing tool.

Do Engagement Rings Have Different Settings?

There are two things which have a major impact on the appearance of engagement rings – the shape of the central stone and the style of setting you choose. The shape of the stone could be round, princess cut, emerald cut or oval among many others, and this certainly affects the way your ring will look. However, another factor to bear in mind is the setting of the ring. This may be classic, modern, vintage inspired or unique among other options. 

The term “setting” is used to describe the way in which the gemstone is fixed onto the band of the ring. There are many different choices including prong, tension, bezel, pave and channel. Finding the right setting is key when it comes to delighting your fiancee-to-be. Would she prefer a single stone as a focal point? Or would she prefer a row or cluster of small stones? When you get the setting right, the stones may appear bigger, more striking or more sparkly, so consider the engagement ring as an entire piece instead of solely considering the value of the diamond itself when you’re making your final choice.

What Are The 4 Cs When Choosing Engagement Rings?

If you prefer traditional engagement rings you’ll be looking for one with diamonds in its setting. However, before purchasing any diamond ring, you need to know about the four Cs. These are the quality gradings that each diamond are awarded:

Cut – this grades the cut of a diamond which impacts on the way it captures the light.

Colour – this measures how colourless white diamonds are.

Clarity – this grades the flawlessness of the diamond, both externally and internally.

Carat – this measures the weight of the diamond to indicate its size.

Diamonds will always be priced according to their cut, with round diamonds being the most costly. Marquise, heart, pear, oval, princess, cushion, asscher, and radiant cuts follow in that order with emerald cut diamonds being the most affordable.

The colour of a diamond will always be graded by how colourless or white it is. The colour scale ranges from D to Z. As you approach K, L and M, the diamond has a slight tinge of yellow and the closer to Z the grading is, the cheaper it will be even if it has the same clarity, cut and carat as a D grade diamond.

Most diamonds will have some inclusions or inner flaws which occur when the diamond is forming. The more flaws there are, the lower its price will be. Internally Flawless (IF) and Flawless (F) diamonds don’t have any internal inclusions. VVS1 and 2 (very very slight inclusions) diamonds are cheaper than these. 

Everything You Need To Know About Engagement Rings

Where To Buy An Engagement Ring

You have two primary options when it comes to buying engagement rings. The first is to go out to a jewellers to look at rings in person. The other is to go online to browse different options over the internet. However, these aren’t your only choices. You may wish to use an engagement ring which is a family heirloom to propose to your fiancee. Alternatively, you may wish to shop for a vintage ring at an antiques store. The final option is to custom design a ring. This can be done in person or online and is the most personal option.

How To Buy An Engagement Ring

Shopping for engagement rings is certainly fun, but it’s something that can be fraught with problems if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s sometimes confusing to shop for this all-important piece of jewellery, so here are some things you need to know about how to choose an engagement ring. 

You may not be aware, but often centre stones and settings are sold separately so you may need to shop for two separate things when you head to the jewellers. There are, though, some engagement rings which come with the centre stone already pre-set. This is something you should be aware of before you set off to the store. 

The first consideration when shopping for engagement rings is how much you can afford to spend. Avoid spending so much on a ring that you get into debt. There are lots of beautiful rings which are surprisingly affordable and it is better to choose a ring that your fiancee will love than one which has cost the Earth.

Once you’ve set your budget you need to decide whether to go for a diamond ring or whether a different type of gemstone would be better for your fiancee’s tastes. If you do decide that diamond engagement rings are the way to go you should remember the four Cs (cut, carat, clarity and colour) when shopping. If you decide to opt for a different type of stone you need to determine which colours and types would suit your loved one best. Consider the shape and cut of the stone as well as the size and weight of it. Bigger isn’t necessarily better since a lot will depend on your fiancee-to-be’s preferences and the size of her hands. 

Another consideration is the metal of the band. Platinum or gold are the top choices for durability, but you can choose between yellow, white or rose gold. It’s often best to choose the metal of your engagement ring’s band to match the type of jewellery she wears every day. For example, if silver is her favourite type of jewellery she may prefer a white gold or platinum ring. On the other hand, if she prefers yellow gold, a matching engagement ring is the best solution. Rose gold rings may be ideal for a woman who wears lots of jewellery of this type.

When you’re looking at different engagement rings, remember that you’re choosing something that your loved one will like, not something that’s to your own taste. Hopefully if you’re planning to propose you already know a lot about your partner’s preferences and preferred style, so remember to bear them in mind when you’re shopping. If you aren’t sure what she would like, another possibility is to bring one of your loved one’s friends along to the store with you. They may be able to give you a better idea of the sort of jewellery that your fiancee-to-be would prefer. 

Sizing the ring is the next problem to deal with. Unfortunately sizing rings isn’t a precise science since it depends on the finger shape of the wearer as well as the ring’s width. It’s easier if you can bring one of her rings into the jewellery store with you to get an accurate size, but you may be able to mark on your own finger where one of hers falls. If you’re unable to do either of these things there is another possibility. You can purchase a ring and then return afterwards if it doesn’t fit to get it resized.

Bear in mind, though, that not all rings are resizeable and even when they can be, they may only be able to be resized by a very small amount. If you think that there is a possibility that the ring you choose will need resizing it’s best to talk to the jeweller first before you buy as they will be able to suggest rings which are suitable for resizing.

If you’re in doubt, remember that a ring that is too big will always be better than a ring that’s too small. If you want to avoid making a mistake, you could always propose using a cheap ring and then take your fiancee with you to the jeweller so you can choose together. More couples are choosing this option and it’s a surefire way to ensure you get the size right first time.

Should I Insure Engagement Rings?

If you’ve purchased an engagement ring for your fiancee-to-be it makes sense to insure it straight away. Even the more affordable engagement rings are still costly and if it should be stolen it would represent a significant financial loss. Insurance companies often ask for a receipt to prove that you’ve purchased the ring already, and may even ask for an appraisal of its cost depending on how much cover you’re seeking. 

Do I Need To Consider Wedding Bands When Choosing Engagement Rings?

One consideration that many people forget about when shopping for engagement rings is the wedding band that they will eventually be putting on their bride-to-be’s finger. Although the engagement ring symbolises your union, you need to think about whether the wedding ring and engagement ring will be worn together after the ceremony. If so, (and they usually will be) you need to think about the metals of both bands and how they stack together. White gold, rose gold and yellow gold can all be worn together with no problems, but it can be problematic to wear different gold karats against silver or platinum since those metals have a different level of hardness and this could threaten the softer metal’s integrity.

Now that you know everything there is to know about engagement rings you’re ready to start making your final decision. Once you’ve made your choice it’s time to pop the question to your partner. We hope that she says yes – good luck!