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Planning on popping the question? Let us help you find the all-important ring

The ultimate engagement ring guide

Buying an engagement ring can feel very, very serious. And so it should – an engagement ring is a momentous piece of jewellery attached to a major life decision. For many couples, it is also the most expensive purchase they’ve ever made together. It doesn’t, however, need to be intimidating – there is a wealth of independent designers, expert brands and even concierge services that can help you navigate through the myriad stones and styles to find the perfect ring.


The first point of call? "Find yourself an established, qualified, reputable jeweller who is happy to spend as much time with you as you need, answering your questions and showing you options," explains Guy Burton, bespoke director at Hancocks London, who specialises in spectacular antique stones. In fact, it’s wise to seek more than one opinion.

"If you're buying as a couple, shop around," suggests London-based designer Rachel Boston, who is admired for her unusual cuts and contemporary settings. "Schedule different consultations, meet with different designers to see who you are called to work with, try on styles you think are maybe too 'out there' for you but that you might love – you might be surprised by what you end up gravitating towards."


It may help to break down the decision into two separate steps: the stone and the setting. "Most of your money is going into the main stone – therefore keep in mind that the ring setting can be changed one day, but the stone will be the thing you take through with you," says goldsmith and jewellery designer Jessie Thomas. When buying a diamond-set design, it is crucial to ensure the proper certification is in place, too.

"You should only ever buy a diamond accompanied by a certificate from the GIA [Gemological Institution of America], no one else; it is your insurance and guarantee that you have indeed bought what you think you have," explains Burton.

A diamond’s certificate will advise on the stone’s technical qualities in terms of cut, clarity, carat weight and colour – famously known as the 4Cs. "Don't get fixated on the diamond certificate though; it is there for your information and peace of mind but it is the ring that you will look at every day, so if the stone is beautiful to you, that is what is most important," he adds.


With the stone sorted, it’s time to consider style and setting. "Getting the design right can be daunting as it reflects someone’s personality," says the founder of Minka Jewels, Lucy Crowther. It’s worth trying on a broad selection of styles to get a feel for what suits you best, and it can’t hurt to give your partner a steer on your favourite designs, either. "We even have a little ‘drop a hint’ button on the website that sends a link directly to someone’s inbox," she adds.


How then, do you know when you’ve found the right piece? "If you leave the consultation thinking about it and are still thinking about it the next day, and the next... chances are, it's a strong contender," says Boston. "Ultimately you need to trust your instincts, your eye and your judgement," agrees Burton. "Ignore trends, ignore what your friends and family think, and pick the ring that makes your heart sing."


It is easier to spot imperfections within emerald-cut diamonds because they have such striking internal planes, so only the highest quality stones should be used. This ‘1895’ solitaire ring by Cartier speaks to Maison’s legacy for creating classic but compelling engagement rings – those who err towards timelessness over trends will appreciate its sleek lines.

There are diamonds, and then there are coloured diamonds. Yellow, blue, pink, red and green diamonds are staggeringly rare, making them the pinnacle of all gemstones for a proposal. Tiffany’s bluish-green diamond ring is a spectacular example of a one-of-a-kind Tiffany Heritage stone, meaning no one else will have one like it. A Tiffany ring also comes with another advantage - that iconic little blue box.

At Tiffany, diamonds are dazzling and more vibrant because the best team of the world’s most talented diamond cutters and polishers craft them that way. Here, a cushion-modified brilliant cut diamond of over 5 carats shines from a platinum setting encrusted in over 52 round brilliant diamonds.

The ring that has propelled sapphire engagement rings to the top of millions of brides’ wish lists for the last 40 years – Garrard’s iconic 1735 design is, of course, most famous for its royal pedigree. First worn by Princess Diana in 1981, the traditional sapphire cluster ring is now worn by the current Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, and remains just as enchanting. The timeless design is available in various carat sizes, each lovingly crafted by this behemoth of British jewellery making.

A modern-day classic, the elegant oval silhouette of Princess Diana’s iconic engagement ring is radiantly interpreted in our 1735 Double Cluster aquamarine ring. Combining delicate colour and superb brilliance, the design features a delicate halo of pavé diamonds accompanied by a second, more prominent diamond cluster, which together form an intensely scintillating frame around the aquamarine.

Harmony Round Brilliant Diamond Double Cluster Engagement Ring In 18 Carat Yellow Gold with White and Yellow Diamonds

A stellar design showcasing a superb 1.70 carats F VS2 round brilliant cut white diamond, accentuated with yellow diamond accents, our Harmony engagement ring is a vibrant showcase of our signature cluster setting. Designed to enhance the brilliant beauty of the centre stone, a luminous halo of yellow diamonds is accompanied by a second, scintillating cluster of white diamonds, with each accent stone perfectly positioned so that the light reflects back on the round brilliant cut diamond, intensifying its legendary sparkle.

As the Maison responsible for establishing diamonds as the go-to stone for engagement rings, De Beers is the ultimate destination for a classic, round diamond with natural fire and brilliance. The perfect choice for those focused on the quality and credentials of a stone, small tweaks and twists can be made to modernise the setting – such as this rose-gold style, paired with a pink pavé diamond wedding ring.

Toi et moi’ engagement rings are currently trending, in large part thanks to Megan Fox, who recently revealed an emerald and diamond engagement ring designed by by Stephen Webster. She’s not the only one: Emily Ratajkowski, Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner and Solange Knowles all opted for ‘toi et moi’ designs. Each stone is said to represent each half of the betrothed couple, making this a particularly romantic style.

Modern and intriguing, Vertigo combines technology with tradition with mixed media materials of titanium and ceramic enamel, precious metals, diamonds and exotic baguette-cut spinels. Vertigo is a collection of strong angular lines, bold colour and altered perspective set to challenge reality, creating an illusion of depth and dimension.

Drawing you up from the depths with the Vertigo Gaining Perspective Ring created in 18ct yellow Gold set with white enamel and white baguette Diamonds (0.51ct).

Few maisons know how to emphasise the beauty of coloured stones like Van Cleef & Arpels, whose master gemologists select each stone. First founded in 1906 in Place Vendôme, the hallowed high-jewellery-making hub of Paris, Van Cleef & Arpels is authoritatively placed to create precious engagement rings with great prestige – seek out their rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

Kimai’s ‘Grace’ ring is a dynamic take on a classic diamond solitaire, with a contemporary wave-style band. Kimai offers each design in either white, rose or yellow 18-karat recycled gold, and the brand works exclusively with lab-grown diamonds – man-made alternatives to natural diamonds with the exact same chemical and physical properties, fully traceable from source to setting, yet more affordably priced.

18-karat recycled gold and lab-grown diamond ring, from £2,870, Kimai

A marquise shape diamond can elongate the finger – plus, it’s an unusual choice that stands out in a sea of identikit round stones. London-based legacy brand Boodles now works exclusively with Single Mine Origin gold, making this exquisite ring an eco-conscious choice, too. A slender yellow gold band with subtly scintillating diamonds would be its perfect partner.

For an oversized, jaw-dropping engagement ring, LA-based brand Retrouvai is a must-visit. Channelling the big, bright and beautiful aesthetic of her wider jewellery collections, founder Kirsty Stone pulls no punches when it comes to engagement ring designs. Her green sapphire ‘Heirloom’ ring is the ideal choice for those who gasped at Jennifer Lopaz’s green diamond engagement ring – an unusual alternative to a traditional white stone.


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