Confused on where to start when choosing the perfect engagement ring?
Read our 6 Top Tips to find that dream ring!
With over 20 years of experience designing and creating everything from contemporary solitaire diamond to unique Claddagh engagement ring, we have learned a few things about engagement ring shopping and how to choose the perfect engagement ring. There really is no-one that wants you and your fiancé-to-be to love your ring more than the person that designs and creates it.
So, we've decided to share the knowledge by gathering together our easy 6 Top Tip guide on how to choose the perfect engagement ring without stress.
Engagement rings are often considered to be the most significant and valuable piece of jewelry you will ever purchase, in both sentimental and financial terms. The bride-to-be will wear this ring for the rest of her life, so it’s vital you choose a ring that stands the test of time. Most importantly of all, her engagement ring will act as a symbol representing your love and commitment to one another, throughout your lives as a married couple.
So, we know you want to get this right!
Choosing a ring that ticks all the boxes may seem like a daunting task. Fear not and read on to find out everything you need to know to get it right. If you need help or have questions on how to find a unique engagement ring for your partner, read our 3 easy steps to ordering a Custom Engagement Ring - how it works
1. Know her Size
It goes without saying that a ring that fits is one of the most important considerations when it comes to your engagement ring. Too big, it may slip off and get mislaid. Too small and it won’t fit on her ring finger for the proposal. While getting her ring finger measured is obviously the most accurate approach, this may not always be possible.
There are numerous ways you can get your fiance-to-be’s ring size before popping the question. From covert operations involving a visit to a local jewelry store with a trusted friend, to borrowing the ring she wears on her ring finger for her measurements.
There are hundreds of ways you can do this but that's a whole other blog post. For now, do a little research and choose the approach that works best for you!
When determining a size for an engagement ring proposal, it’s worth bearing in mind it’s better to reduce the size of the ring, than to make it bigger.
Reducing involves hammering the precious metal into the correct diameter, while expanding means stretching the precious metal. Expanding any metal can potentially make it more brittle and in turn, reduce its longevity. Apart from the fact the ring won’t slip onto your fiance's finger, the integrity of the ring may also be compromised. So if in doubt, always size up slightly.
2. Understand Diamonds
It’s often believed that engagement rings must contain a diamond. In recent years, an ever increasing number of couples are choosing to opt for meaningful engagement rings or engagement rings with birthstones or unique gemstones. These may be a specific type of ring that holds significance to you as a couple or your partner.
Engagement rings carrying beautiful sentiments have become increasingly popular as couples choose not to opt for the traditional diamond ring. We often see our personalized Ogham Rings or our Contemporary Claddagh Rings being chosen for marriage proposals.
Ogham is the oldest from of writing to be found in Ireland and allows you to inscribe a message of love.
The deeply symbolic Claddagh design represents commitment to love, loyalty and friendship. An extremely popular choice with our international customer and global Irish.
For the more traditional bride-to-be, this classic option of a Claddagh Engagement Ring with birthstone or without is available in a variety of precious metals by request. Alternatively, you may have your own idea for a one-of-a-kind bespoke engagement ring which can be created as a custom order.
As diamond engagement rings remain the most common gemstone of choice, we have focused on these for the purpose of this post.
Experts spend years studying the physics and complex interplay of the various elements of diamonds, in order to better understand their performance. For those of you that don’t have years to prepare for your wedding proposal, we’ve summarized the essential information to help you make your decision.
With diamonds, there are four elements to be considered - cut, clarity, color and carat.
Color: True diamonds are not completely transparent, but will have a slight tinge of yellow or brown when viewed in bright light. Of course, there are colorless diamonds but these are extremely rare and not to mention expensive. More often than not, the perfectly clear diamond ring you think you’re looking at, is in fact its poor synthetic cousin, cubic zirconia.
Clarity: The clarity of a diamond refers to flaws or blemishes visible when seen under a microscope. As a general rule, all diamonds will contain some tiny ‘inclusions’ or marks. The fewer inclusions, the better quality the diamond. A diamond completely free of blemishes and inclusions is probably out of most grooms’ budgets! Your jewelry designer, silversmith or jeweler will be able to provide you with options within your budget and talk you through these.
Carat: The carat is the weight or density of the diamond – the higher the carat, the more expensive the diamond. While two diamonds can be the same carat, their price and value may differ due to clarity, cut and color.
Cut: The cut of a diamond is, at its most basic level, the shape and proportion of the gemstone. Diamonds are specifically cut to ensure the best brilliance (reflectivity). Different cuts include solitaire, oval, pear, princess, radiant, and emerald.
Diamonds are a complex gemstone and every diamond is unique in how the 4Cs interact with one another. Your expert jeweller or jewelry designer will begin by sourcing and providing you with the best quality diamond options available to you within your budget. Understanding the basic tenets of the 4Cs will allow you to make a more informed decision. Diamonds don’t come cheap so if you need clarification on any aspect of your diamond, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A trusted and reputable expert will gladly talk you through your options in more detail and explain the differences between each gemstone. For more information, the Gemological Institute of American (GIA) have published an excellent article on Diamond Quality Factors
3. Choose a Metal
So how to decide on the metal for an engagement ring? This one is easy. Choose the same colour they currently wear! If their jewelry box is filled with classic gold, your safest option is to choose gold. Or do they always wears rings in a shade of silver? Then white gold, platinum, palladium or even silver are your best bets. Unless otherwise stated by your partner, we recommend this as the safest route to present them with an engagement ring they'll love! Over the past decade, we have seen a huge shift in popularity from yellow gold to white gold engagement rings. White gold is gold, plated with a white metal, usually rhodium due to its highly reflective qualities. White gold engagement rings tend to be slightly brighter and whiter than their silver counterparts.
There are also various other types of gold with rose gold engagements trending over the past few years. Yellow gold is also still very popular offering a classic option for the more traditional among us. Precious metals are measured in carats. Carat is the amount of pure metal in the alloy that makes up the piece. 24 carat gold is pure gold (at least 99.95 per cent pure gold), while 22 carat is between 91.66 – 95.8 per cent pure gold, and 9 carat is 37.5 per cent. Variations may differ slightly from metal to metal, as does the different types of carats. For example, the US use 10 carat, while here in Ireland we use 9 carat. At Claddagh Design, we work with high quality precious metals hallmarked by the Irish Assay Office, Dublin Castle.
An important point to note here is the higher the carat, the less durable the metal will be. Other metals mixed with the pure gold increase hardness and durability. Lower carat pieces work best for everyday wear. For this reason, we use 9ct gold and white gold in our workshop when creating wedding and bridal jewelry.
4. Decide on a Setting
The setting of a ring is the piece or pieces of metal attached to the band that holds the gemstone firmly in place. There are two main styles of engagement ring settings; prolonged and invisible. Prolonged settings usually have four or more prongs that hold up the precious stone allowing light to enter from different angles. While invisible settings are, well, invisible! This is where the gemstone sits directly into the metal surface. Prolonged settings are generally considered to be the more secure of the two but as the stone will be positioned higher on the ring it may also be prone to catching on clothes etc.
For this reason, our silversmith ensures that the setting does not sit too high when designing wearable engagement rings. Invisible settings are better suited if the ring wearer lives a very active lifestyle. With wear and tear, there is the risk that gemstones may loosen in the setting so always best to ensure the ring is checked regularly and maintained over time. You can choose to combine settings with your choice of precious stone. A talented silversmith can combine and adapt almost any setting to suit your gemstone. In many cases, it even works out cheaper to create a unique ring allowing you to combine your own choice of settings over shop bought or manufactured engagement rings.
5. Remember your Wedding Rings
There is a long history behind the tradition of the bride-to-be receiving an engagement ring as a means of marriage proposal and commitment to share your lives together. Wedding jewelry and the exchange wedding rings during the wedding ceremony is an age old rite of passage. The bride will wear these two rings for the rest of her life, so it just makes sense that the two rings should sit well together. There are no rules that state the bride and groom’s wedding rings must match. We see many couples choose complementary rings, similar in design or colour but customized to their individual tastes. Either way, the bride may very well wish to wear a wedding ring that fits well with their engagement ring. This is always worth remembering when working with your jewelry designer on an ornate engagement ring design!
So, how much should you spend on an engagement ring? You may have heard of the tradition that a man should spend three month’s salary on an engagement ring. Nowadays, people are more likely to base their budget on what they can afford without getting into any significant debt. Every couple is different and there is no right or wrong way. Various elements of your dream ring can be adapted to suit your budget.
Your first step is to contact a trusted jewelry designer or silversmith with your ideas and budget. They will work on a design sketch for your perfect ring. If you find that your wallet won’t stretch to that exclusive diamond rock that you'd like to present your partner with, keep an open mind and consider alternative options. Your engagement ring designer can recommend adapting elements of your design concept (metals and gemstones options) to come in closer to your budget while still achieving the style you are looking for.
If you'd like to discuss commissioning your engagement, feel free to Contact Us on the link at the bottom of this page
Our Top Tips When Choosing a Wedding ring
Practical Considerations! To make sure you’re getting the best quality and value for your engagement ring, something your significant other will love, here are are final reccomenations to help you on your way!
Ask for Help
Consult a trusted friend or a close family member that knows your partners taste/style in jewelry. Talk your ideas through and search for inspiration online with them. Pinterest and Google Images are great resources to find ideas. You don’t have to do it alone and in our experience, your loved one will live being included in the planning stages of your big proposal!
Trust the Experts
When choosing a jewelry designer, silversmith or jeweler to create your partners engagement ring, don’t be afraid to ask them questions before committing! Any reputable professional in this industry will respect this. We are committed to delivering a high quality service by answering any questions you may have. So don’t be afraid to ask question no matter how simple it may sound.
Set a budget for you and your partner’s engagement ring. Once you have found a jewelry designer or silversmith to work with, they will search and source to ensure you get the best quality precious gemstone and metal that you can afford. Afterall, It's Good to Talk
Talk to other people who have been through the process already. They’ll be able to give advice on all sorts of other handy tips and tricks.
You have made your decision on your engagement ring. Now time to plan proposal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or ridiculously romantic, but do put thought into who your partner is and what they would like. Is she the type that puts endless effort into romantic gestures and thoughtful gifts, does she love music or have a favorite place that she loves to bring you? Find a place where you are both the happiest version of yourselves and tell her why you want to spend the rest of your life with her.
So she has said yes! Congratulations! But now, let’s put the romance aside and discuss the practicalities of owning wedding jewelry. Unfortunately, wedding jewelry can get lost, damaged or even stolen. We hate to hear when this happens so we strongly recommend that you contact your Home Insurance company and find out if your wedding or bridal jewelry will be covered under your home content insurance. If that’s not possible, check out other options. Find a reputable specialist insurance company that will insure individual pieces of jewelry. We fully understand how heart breaking it can be to lose such a sentimental item such as wedding jewelry.
So avoid the tears, take photos of your wedding jewelry and insure. If the worst happens to your rings, you can contact your silversmith to replace them with an exact match. If you have read all of our tips on our engagement ring buying guide. And you are still at a complete loss as to what she'd like, you may consider investing in a Promise ring. See our handmade Irish rings for some ideas. Proposing marriage to your loved one will be one of the most nerve wracking moments of your life! No matter how sure you are that your bride-to-be will say ‘Yes’. So, all that is left for us to say is the very best of luck!
Handmade Rings : From Contemporary to Classic Claddagh Engagement Rings
At Claddagh Design, we work with you to create your perfect engagement ring. We offer a free engagement ring design service to ensure you are happy before we begin work on your ring. Within 6 weeks, your engagement ring will be sent directly to you with complimentary secure worldwide.
Feel free to contact us below with your design idea.
Custom Wedding Jewelry
Work with Claddagh Design to create your own unique wedding jewelry.