How to Choose an Engagement Ring

How to Choose an Engagement Ring

Your engagement is a promise of marriage, and your engagement ring style is a public expression of that promise. You’ll want its appearance to signify your personal style as well as your mutual commitment, and it can be challenging to choose from a wide array of styles. Below you’ll find the information you need to choose an engagement ring that your partner will be proud to wear for a lifetime.

While some brides honor a grandmother or other ancestor by breathing new life into their special ring, others simply take inspiration from classic or antique rings when they choose an engagement ring. Some brides love chic, contemporary styles and some want the romantic look of the classics. To choose yours, it is good to have an understanding about the array of sparkling possibilities.

Style, setting, and stones together determine the look and feel of a ring. It may be luxe, modern, classic, or vintage-inspired. The gemstones may be mounted into the precious metal band as Solitaire, Pavé, Halo, or Trilogy—with variations on those designs as shown in the photographs below. Whichever you choose, your personal taste will illuminate how you choose an engagement ring style. 

1.  Diamond Solitaire Rings are classics that endure.

 The most iconic Solitaire diamond engagement ring is the Tiffany setting, designed more than 130 years ago by Louis Comfort Tiffany himself, with six small prongs that raise the diamond above its band. Four-prong solitaires highlight the diamond even more since there are fewer metal prongs to obscure the jewel. These types of rings are as classic as it gets, although they can be designed with a modern twist. 

Diamond solitaire ring Ruan Redelinghuys Photography
Photographed by Ruan Redelinghuys Photography - South Africa wedding photographers
Three rings displayed on flower petals Katie Kaizer Photography
Photographed by Katie Kaizer Photography - Nantucket, Massachusetts wedding photographers
Trio of gold and diamond rings Timmester Photography
Photographed by Timmester Photography - North Carolina wedding photographers
Diamond ring trio Carrie Kizuka Photography
Photographed by Carrie Kizuka Photography - Pennsylvania wedding photographers
Big brown dog with ring on paw Kivus and Camera
Photographed by Kivus and Camera - Raleigh, North Carolina wedding photographers
Modern Solitaire ring Sara France
Photographed by Sara France Photography - San Diego, California wedding photographers

2. Pavé Rings appear extra sparkly, with small diamonds set closely together on the band, creating a "paved" or encrusted appearance.

For this elegant, romantic design, the smaller pavé diamonds–or other gemstones–that fully or partially encircle the band naturally draw the eye to the central gem, creating the illusion of a paved pathway of glittering stones. The intricate arrangement of stones requires skillful precision, making each ring a unique piece of art. Pave rings not only radiate elegance but also symbolize a commitment to craftsmanship and the celebration of timeless beauty.

Oval diamond on diamond band Anna Schmidt Photography
Photographed by Anna Schmidt Photography - Washington, DC wedding photographers
Ring against leaves David and Sherry Photography
Photographed by David and Sherry Photography - Ontario, Canada wedding photographers
Ring trio on green velvet Chrystin Melanie Photography
Photographed by Chrystin Melanie Photography - Grand Rapids, Michigan wedding photographers
Dynamic wedding ring photo As the Crow Flies
Photographed by As the Crow Flies - Sacramento, California wedding photographers
Rings on burning sparkler Wes Shinn Photography
Photographed by Wes Shinn Photography and Film - Outer Banks, North Carolina wedding photographers
Halo ring with ruby Yun Li Photography
Photographed by Yun Li Photography - Long Island, New York wedding photographers

3.  Halo Rings tend to maximize the appearance of the central gem size.

In a Halo setting, a circle of round or faceted, sometimes colorful, gemstones surrounds the center stone, creating a halo effect. The light-catching effect of the smaller stones draws attention to the center stone, and visually enhances the size and appearance of the center stone.This style allows for versatility, accommodating various gem shapes and sizes, making it a customizable choice when it comes time to choose an engagement ring.

Halo ring duet Talita Tarro Photography
Photographed by Talitha Tarro Photography - New Mexico wedding photographers
Halo diamond rings and earrings Into Dust Photography
Photographed by Into Dust Photography - Seattle, Washington wedding photographers
Oval diamond ring displayed on diamond tiara Anna Schmidt Photography
Photographed by Anna Schmidt Photography - Washington, DC wedding photographers
Diamond halo ring nestled into autumn leaves Wes Shinn Photography and Film
Photographed by Wes Shinn Photography and Film - Outer Banks, North Carolina wedding photographers
Trio of rings reflected Procopio Photography
Photographed by Procopio Photography - Washington, DC wedding photographers

4. Trilogy rings are considered to symbolize the past, present, and future, of your committed relationship.

 Trilogy rings settings have three stones, said to represent you and your partner’s past, present and future together. This versatile style first rose to popularity in the Victorian era (when diamonds were first discovered in South Africa) and continued through the Art Deco period to the present. In ancient Egypt, it was thought to represent the three phases of the sun (rising, noon, and setting) or the three stages of life (birth, life, and death). This style is also suited to adding other types of gems to complement the central diamond.

Trio of diamond rings Stanlo Photography
Photographed by Stanlo Photography -  The Bahamas wedding photographers
Trilogy diamond ring on stand Iryna Shostak Photography
Photographed by Iryna Shostak Photography - New Jersey wedding photographers
Flat lay displaying rings Kate McElwee Photography
Photographed by Kate McElwee Photography - Boston, Massachusetts wedding photographers
Engagement ring in peach roses bouquet Cameron Zegers Photography
Photographed by Cameron Zegers Photography - Seattle, Washington wedding photographers

Equally beautiful and stylish rings that use ethically and sustainably sourced diamonds may align better with some couples’ values and are becoming increasingly popular choices. Options include:

1. Lab-grown diamonds, which have the same chemical and physical properties as mined diamonds.

2. Heirloom diamonds, which have been repurposed from a previous piece of jewelry, reducing the demand for new diamond mining.

3. Fair trade or ethically mined diamonds, which are mined in a socially and environmentally responsible way, and are certified by organizations such as the Fairtrade Foundation.

4. Alternatives to diamonds, such as moissanite, white sapphire, cubic zirconia, and other gemstones. 

To choose an engagement ring that your partner will love and others will admire, pick the ring with your partner, present them with a family ring, or get their friends involved who can help you find the ideal style. What if you get to “yes” but the ring isn’t quite right. Don’t worry, almost all jewelers will let you exchange it. Be sure the jeweler you work with makes their policy clear before your purchases. 

Good luck and best wishes!

For inspiring photos of vintage and antique rings, see our blogpost on Romantic Vintage Engagement Rings.

To see more engagement rings and wedding bands in a variety of styles, visit our Fashion Gallery. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest and pin your favorite photos from World's Best to get more gorgeous wedding ideas before your special day.