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 engagements rings, we have learned a few things on engagement ring shopping. 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 Tips 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 acts as a symbol representing your love and commitment to one another, for your future together as a married couple.
So, we know you want to get this right!
Choosing a ring that ticks all 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 any questions on how to create a unique engagement ring, 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 and 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 they wear on their engagement ring finger to get measured. There are hundreds of ways on how you can do this so we’ll keep that for another 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 that it’s better to reduce the size of the ring, than it is 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 fiances finger during your dramatic proposal, the integrity of the ring may also be compromised if the ring requires any significant increase in sizing.
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 unique gemstones such as her birthstone. These can be rings that hold significance to you as a couple or the recipient. Engagement rings that carry beautiful sentiments worn with or without inset stones have become increasingly popular as couples choose not to opt for something different. For example, our contemporary White Gold Claddagh Rings are often used as engagement rings both with and without inset precious stones like emeralds or amethyst. The deeply symbolic Irish Claddagh design represents commitment to love, loyalty and friendship and has become extremely popular with our international customers, Irish and customers of Irish heritage worldwide.
As diamond engagement rings remain the most common gemstone of choice, we have focused for 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 when making 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 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 any 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, 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 jewelry, choose gold. Or do they always wears jewelry in a shade of silver? Then sterling silver or white gold are the best options. Unless otherwise specified by your partner, we recommend this as the safest route if you’d like to present them with an engagement ring they’ll love!
At Claddagh Design, we work with various high quality precious metals hallmarked by the Irish Assay Office, Dublin Castle. Over the past decade, we have seen a shift in popularity from yellow gold to white gold engagement rings both with our Irish and international customers.
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 a very popular and offers a classic option for the more tradition 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. While variations may differ slightly from metal to metal, as does the availability of different types of carats. For example, some countries use 10 carat (US) while others will opt for 9 carat (Ireland).
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 on a lower carat piece for everyday wear.
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 requirements as a couple and your budget. Your first step should be to contact a trusted jewelry designer or silversmith with your ideas and budget. They can then sketch a design and create the closest possible match to your dream ring within your budget.
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.
Proposing marriage may 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’. If you read all of our tips All that is left is to ‘Wish you the very Best of Luck!’
At Claddagh Design, we work with you to create your perfect engagement ring with free secure international delivery directly to your door. Contact us below with your design idea and your available budget for us to work within.
Custom Wedding Jewelry
Work with Claddagh Design to create your own unique wedding jewelry.