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How to Choose an Engagement Ring You'll Love for Forever

Engagement rings are a symbol of commitment, a beautiful gift from your significant other, and hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime investment. It is a special piece of jewellery that you will most likely wear every day and will be treasured for a lifetime. It may even be passed down through your family for your children to enjoy as an heirloom or as their own engagement ring one day.

It's no surprise then that many people find the task of choosing an engagement ring a little bit daunting. Some people have a dream ring, and only this ring will do; whereas others have a family heirloom they've already inherited. Some, however, may need a little more guidance with finding the ring which suits their style, looks beautiful on their hand and captures their heart.

Research by events management company Chillisauce found that 16% of women would want to change the ring if they didn't like it, so getting it right the first time really is important. There are many factors to keep in mind when choosing this singular piece of jewellery, so if you are struggling with this decision, read on for some expert tips and advice.

Whether you are looking for the perfect engagement ring for yourself or searching for a ring for your spouse-to-be, here are some important questions to ask before you begin.

What's Your Personal Style?

If you're a big fan of fashion, then look for something that will work in harmony with your personal style. For those who love a minimal look, opt for a simple band with a statement stone. For something more whimsical, choose a vintage-inspired engagement rings. Or, if you have a quirkier style, you could consider a more unusual ring setting or incorporating coloured gemstones.

How Do You Work and Play?

The wide range of engagement rings available means there is bound to be one to suit every bride-to-be. Keep in mind personal characteristics, work, and hobbies. For example, if you love the great outdoors and spend a lot of time in nature, or have a job where you use your hands a lot, a very delicate or ornate ring is not likely to be the best option

What Engagement Ring Style is Right For You?

Has your personal style been consistent for most of your life, or do you tend to move with the latest trends? If you've always been a vintage-lover for example, and see yourself continuing with this style well into the future, then it's probably safe to choose a vintage ring. If you prefer to follow the latest trends, you may be better off choosing a more classic engagement ring that will stand the test of time, no matter how your personal style evolves.

To help you decide, here are some of the most popular engagement ring styles to consider.

Solitaire Engagement Rings: A Timeless & Elegant Centrepiece

If you want to make a simple, bold and romantic statement, a solitaire ring will certainly achieve this. As the name suggests, a solo diamond takes centre stage in a solitaire engagement ring. Solitaire engagement rings show off the beauty of the diamond with no other details or distractions. For those with a more minimal, less is more approach to style, a solitaire ring could be the perfect choice.

Halo Engagement Rings: For Dazzling Sparkle & Romance

Halo engagement rings have an inherent vintage-style aesthetic. The eye-catching centre stone encircled by a shimmering ‘halo' of smaller diamonds gives the ring a romantic, luxurious feel. If you want to give your centre stone even more brilliance, a halo engagement ring could be the right choice for you.

Vintage Engagement Rings: A Whimsical & Ornate Aesthetic

The vintage aesthetic exudes old fashioned romance and can be a beautiful choice for those who want something unique and distinctive. Little details like emerald-cut diamonds, art deco-style settings, and the use of gemstones like sapphires and rubies, can really set vintage-inspired engagement rings apart from more modern styles.

Multi-Stone Engagement Rings: When More is More

When one stone simply isn't enough, there are a number of multi-stone styles which showcase a collection of sparkling diamonds. Sidestone engagement rings feature one centre stone with smaller Pavé or Micropavé diamonds set into the band. You can also opt for a three stone engagement ring, which is a harmonious and beautiful way to incorporate multiple stones. Smaller side stones complement a larger centrepiece, which is often round, but also available in many other elegant shapes. Some three stone engagement rings incorporate diamonds alongside other stones such as sapphires.

Unique Engagement Rings: A One-of-a-Kind Love Story

Your engagement ring should be as special and unique as you, so why not choose something really personal? Infinity rings incorporate the infinity symbol into the band and setting of the ring. Options include single and double strands of diamonds which shimmer and lead the way to the main stone as a centrepiece. Or, create your own custom-made engagement ring by choosing the stone, setting, metal, and all the details.

Choosing Your Perfect Diamond

Diamonds are the most popular stone for engagement rings because of their brilliant sparkle, durability (diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth) and their unique heritage which symbolizes a lifelong commitment.

If you are considering diamonds for your own engagement ring, it's important to understand the 4Cs, including cut, colour, clarity and carat weight, which determine a diamond's look and its value.

Along with the quality, you will also want to consider the shape of your diamond. Each shape has its own unique characteristics. The ‘right' one for you depends on what you prefer and what looks best on your hand.

Round Brilliant Cut: Timeless Style & Versatility

The most popular shape is round brilliant cut diamond, which maximizes the brilliance and fire of each diamond. It offers flexibility, suiting most settings and flatting most finger shapes.

Princess Cut: Fit for a Modern Day Fairytale

Princess cut engagement rings feature square and rectangular-shaped cuts. Princess cut diamonds are the most popular non-round shape and emit distinct colours shown in the centre as well as the corners. These diamonds make for a classic, elegant engagement ring.

Emerald Cut: An Elegant Vintage Aesthetic

Emerald cut diamonds have a unique optical appearance, as the rectangular facets are step-cut into the diamond's pavilion. This is a popular shape for vintage-style engagement rings and can have an elongating effect on the fingers.

Oval Cut: Tradition with a Modern Twist

Oval engagement rings show off a combination of tradition and modernity. Ovals are a popular cut in all kinds of different jewellery and opting for an oval cut diamond is a great idea if you want an engagement ring which coordinates easily with your other pieces.

What About Gemstone Engagement Rings?

The popularity and timelessness of diamonds are beyond dispute, but they aren't for everybody. With many people from Kate Middleton to Blake Lively wearing gemstone engagement rings, it's clear they are a popular alternative.

Elegant and eye-catching gemstones may have a personal significance or can just be a beautiful alternative to a more traditional ring. Gemstone jewellery is generally ornate and designed to be seen, with giant sapphires and bold opals often taking centre stage.

Choosing a gemstone engagement ring for your spouse-to-be is easy if you know their favourite stone or colour. If not, you could opt for something meaningful like a birthstone or another stone with significant meaning, such as rubies which symbolize love and passion or pearls which symbolize purity.

Which Metal Should You Choose for an Engagement Ring?

Most people have a preferred metal for jewellery, which is usually the one which best suits their skin tone and style. Your choice of metal may also be influenced by practical factors like durability and cost.

Platinum engagement rings are the most popular choice due to the hardness of the metal, which is very resistant to damage. It also has a beautiful white sheen which is perfect for showing off the sparkle of a diamond.

If you prefer something warmer, gold could be the best choice for your engagement ring. Yellow gold is the more traditional option, but the pink hue of rose gold creates a very soft and romantic look. Gold also benefits from being resistant to rust, tarnish and erosion.

Some other metals commonly used for engagement rings include silver, cobalt, tantalum and sometimes tungsten, all of which have their own unique characteristics.

The Affordability Factor

Going into the ring buying process without a budget is never recommended. It's important to weigh up your financial situation first and set a budget which is both suitable and affordable. There is no ‘perfect' diamond which suits everyone. The perfect diamond for you is the one you love and can afford.

According to William May, the average engagement ring costs around £1,417.01, with costs ranging from a tiny £9 to beyond £40,000. The old rule of thumb was "three full months' salary" but this doesn't always apply these days. If you're unsure, take a look at this guide to saving for an engagement ring.

Diamonds vary greatly in value and the perfect diamond for you or your fiancé will depend on your personal circumstances. And remember — not all engagement rings have to include diamonds. If something else is a better fit, you may find the perfect ring is available for a more modest price.

How Will it Work With Your Wedding Ring?

Your choice of wedding ring may also influence the engagement ring you choose. Wedding and engagement rings can be perfectly matching in style and metals, complementary, with some similar elements which tie the look together, or completely unexpected with contrasting looks.

Plain wedding bands are traditional, but many people opt for diamonds in both their engagement and wedding ring — it truly is down to your personal preferences. And who doesn't love a bit of extra sparkle? If you're struggling to visualize how your engagement ring and wedding ring will look together, try our wedding ring matching tool.

A Word about Ethics

Diamonds have a chequered history and the ethical implications of a diamond engagement ring may be something that's important to you. Responsible retailers like Blue Nile are committed only to offering conflict-free diamonds and responsibly mined metals, avoiding the risks of "Dirty Gold". This gives our customers complete peace of mind.

Treasure for a Lifetime

There is no single ‘perfect' ring. Engagement rings are a symbol of eternal love and lifelong commitment — each one has its own individual characteristics and special meaning to the wearer. Understanding your likes and dislikes, lifestyle, and tastes, are key to finding the perfect ring for you. This isn't a process you have to rush and by taking time to consider the different options, you can ensure you have chosen a ring that will be treasured for a lifetime and beyond.