In terms of jewellery choices, there are two items that top the list in terms of importance - your engagement ring and your wedding ring. These two items aren’t simply decorative accessories but hugely important symbols of love and commitment within a relationship.
From deciphering your partner's preferred engagement ring style to choosing your wedding bands, at Joshua James we’re here to talk you through the various aspects of wedding and engagement ring shopping.
Proposing is a huge milestone - potentially the biggest moment of your life so far. The stress of creating that one perfect moment is huge. With all things to consider - the location, the timing, what to say - there remains one main concern; finding the perfect ring to pop the question with.
If you’re delving into the world of engagement ring shopping, first consider:
There are a number of clues you can take when looking for the perfect engagement ring for your partner. The first of which is probably the most simple - take note of your partner’s existing jewellery style. Do they tend to opt for showstopping, attention grabbing pieces or do they prefer a more subtle style? Is gold their metal of choice, or are they partial to silver or coloured jewellery? Are they fashion forward, and likely to fall for a modern rose gold engagement ring? These indications are all vital in giving you a clear idea of their style and the pieces they may favour.
While generally engagement ring styles remain timeless, there has been a definite shift over recent years in terms of trends and buying habits. So, what is ‘fashionable’ in terms of engagement rings today?
While once upon a time engagement rings were simply silver and diamond, we can now see alternative, bohemian and art deco engagement ring styles becoming more and more popular. On top of this, colourful rings have also fought their way to the forefront of engagement fashion, with many couples eschewing the traditional diamond setting in favour of rich gemstones.
While this gives you somewhat of a free reign in terms of breaking tradition, it also opens up more opportunity to make a mistake! Using friends or family, or with very subtle questioning, try to determine whether your proposée would favour a classic or more alternative engagement ring style.
Once you have these clear indicators of style and taste, you can start exploring the more detailed aspects of engagement ring shopping.
If you’ve researched engagement rings at all, you’ll have no doubt stumbled across the phrase “the 4 C’s”. If you are opting for a diamond engagement ring, the 4 C’s should be your basis for studying and selecting a diamond based on its quality and beauty. The 4 C’s of a diamond are all factors that contribute to the value and rarity of a diamond, and they are: cut, clarity, carat and colour.
If you’re taking the plunge and buying a diamond engagement ring, be sure to consider;
Quite simply, this refers to the colour of your diamond. The most valuable diamonds have no colour at all, but shades can range from clear through to a light yellow. Truly colourless diamonds are rare, and are therefore treasured for their quality and beauty. The grading of colour runs backwards from letters of the alphabet Z-D, the more colourless the diamond, the higher quality grade “D” being the highest.
Carat specifically is a measure of a diamond's weight, this is the “C” most are familiar with. Larger diamonds are much rarer, therefore higher the price of the diamond will rise in line with the carat weight.
Almost all diamonds have tiny imperfections. Diamonds with few or no imperfections receive the highest clarity grading which ranges from Included to Flawless. These ‘imperfections’ are totally natural and can be caused by the pressure which is placed on diamonds as they form. These imperfections - or ‘inclusions’ - can interfere with the passage of light through the stone, therefore the highest quality diamonds are free from both external and internal imperfections. A stone is graded as Flawless if it has no internal or external imperfections. Flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare and priced accordingly.
Most often, the clarity of a diamond and the inclusions in the stone can only be spotted through professional magnification. This means, while worth considering, the clarity of your diamond will not necessarily affect the beauty of the stone to the natural eye.
Of all the 4 C’s, the cut is the most important characteristic to consider as it has the greatest effect on how your ring will actually look. The cut of a diamond determines the brilliance and refers to the facets on the surface of the diamond and affects the shape and style of the ring, as well as influencing the diamond’s sparkle. The better the cut, the better sparkle. Please keep in mind the ‘Cut’ of a diamond is different to the ‘Shape’. The two can quite often be confused. The cut of the diamond are its proportions and how the facets (each cut) are placed to optimise sparkle whilst the ‘Shape’ refers to round, oval, square etc. Diamond cut grading ranges from, Excellent and Very Good to Good or Poor. When a diamond is cut well the light rays are reflected up through the top of the stone, giving a blaze of light and spectrum colours. But if a diamond is badly cut then the light rays leak through the bottom and sides of the stone, making it appear dull and affect the sparkle.
Some of the most popular shapes for an engagement ring include round, cushion, emerald, princess, oval and pear.
If you’re settling on a diamond engagement ring one of the most important things to consider, besides the cut, is the setting. The setting is what holds your diamond in place - it offers security, and lends itself to the overall appearance of your ring.
Some of the most popular settings include:
The prong setting holds your ring like a claw. This setting elevates the diamond and holds it securely while not blocking any of the facets, thus enabling the maximum surface of the diamond to catch the light and sparkle.
A bezel setting offers a slightly more contemporary style. Rather than a prong, the bezel setting surrounds the diamond with a metal rim that holds the stone tightly in place. This offers a smoother, sleeker and more modern look, and unlike a prong setting there is no chance of snagging. However, a bezel setting tends to cover more of the stone than a prong setting, so less light reflection is achieved.
In a halo setting, the largest, center stone is surrounded by smaller diamonds or gemstones in a concentric circle or square, giving a ‘halo’ effect. This not only helps the center stone seem larger, but the smaller surrounding stones boost the overall light reflected, and therefore the sparkle, of the ring.
A cluster setting consists of a number of smaller diamonds, built up tightly together to give the appearance of one larger diamond. These smaller diamonds offer a unique look with lots of texture, and the multiple stones reflect light from one another, adding to the sparkle of the ring.
You can find out more about diamonds in our diamond buying guide.
There are a number of metals you can chose to make up the band of your engagement ring. As previously mentioned, it may be worth noting the style of jewellery your partner already wears - if all their jewellery is gold and warm toned, a yellow or rose gold engagement ring may be the perfect choice for them. If they prefer cooler hues and white metals, explore silver-toned options such as white gold, palladium and platinum.
Popular metals for engagement rings include:
You can find out more about different metals in our jewellery metal guide.
Once you’ve settled on the perfect ring, you have one final worry before popping the question - what size to buy?
There are a number of options when trying to determine your partners ring size. If any family or friends have previously bought them a ring as a gift they may hold vital clues to their ring size, so - if you’re discreet! - you could employ their help. Otherwise, measure one of your partner's current rings or even take it into a store to match it up the size. Bear in mind the fingers they wear their current jewellery on, as ring fingers tend to be slightly slimmer than middle fingers.
Despite every effort you can never guarantee a perfect fit until the moment they try it on! However, the majority of engagement rings can be altered after the proposal, so try not to worry too much!
For further clues, explore our blog post on how to find your ring size.
So you’ve asked the big question, and they’ve said yes! Sadly the smaller questions don’t end there! One of the most common queries about engagement rings after the proposal is; “Do I wear my engagement ring on my wedding day?”.
Put simply, there’s no set answer and the decision is really down to you and your personal preferences. Some would rather not wear their engagement ring on their wedding day, preferring instead to store it someplace safe. Others move the engagement ring to their right hand before the wedding ceremony. This leaves the left hand totally free for the traditional placement of the wedding ring “closest to the heart”, while still allowing you to show off your engagement ring. The engagement ring can then either be moved to sit above the wedding ring following the wedding, or stored safely for special occasions - it’s totally up to you.
At Joshua James we pride ourselves on the quality and style throughout our high end jewellery collection. If you’re looking for the perfect dazzling diamond for someone special, be sure to explore our rings collection.
After your engagement, of course, comes the wedding. Before you know it, it is time to start considering your wedding ring choices! This is usually a slightly less stressful affair than choosing an engagement ring, as you and your partner can explore ideas together. There are still, however, some important things to consider.
If you’ve already chosen an engagement ring, you most likely have an idea of the kind of metal you prefer. With a wedding ring, even more so than an engagement ring, it is important to think about longevity. Many will remove a engagement ring after their wedding and only wear it for special occasions, yet a wedding ring will almost always be worn daily.
For this reason, a classic yellow gold or white gold wedding ring remain extremely popular options. These shades are classic and timeless, as well as being extremely hard wearing and therefore practical for day to day wear.
Most wedding rings consist of a simple band. In terms of style, it is important to consider the width of your band, as different widths suit different hands and fingers.
One of the most common questions couples ask regarding wedding rings is; “Do our wedding rings have to match?”.
There is, of course, no set rule. Some couples like to choose matching styles, while others choose their own personal ring to fit in with their unique taste. If you have vastly different sized hands and fingers, certain widths will also be more flattering, so identical rings may not be the best option.
Most couples prefer to choose rings that complement each other, rather than being an exact match. Perhaps decide on a metal or general style together, then choose wedding rings with specific details that match your own personal style.