8 Step Guide
- Step 1: Set Your Budget
- Step 2: Get the Ring Size
- Step 3: Choose a Jeweler
- Step 4: Design the Ring
- Step 5: Select a Diamond
- Step 6: Make the Purchase
- Step 7: Get Insurance
- Step 8: Care & Maintenance
Anatomy of an Engagement Ring
Like a well-tailored suit - comprised of shoes, socks, pants, belt, shirt, sportcoat, pocket square and tie - understanding each of the individual components and how they affect the overall outfit will help you piece together the perfect design.
Think of the center stone as the painted canvas and the ring as the frame. In this sense, the main purpose of the ring is to compliment the center stone and maximize its beauty and brilliance. You may prefer a sleek and simple “frame” such as a solitaire ring or something more ornate like a vintage inspired design.
Ring heads are the top portions of engagement rings that hold the center stone and optional side stones in place. With the head, form follows function. It should, first and foremost, be strong enough to resist bending and should protect the center stone from falling out under normal wearing conditions. But going overboard with too much metal and you risk looking bulky and covering up too much of the diamond. So, the goal is to find the perfect balance of beauty and strength.
A halo could be considered part of the head, but it certainly deserves it’s own mention. A halo is a row or rows of small diamonds, called “melees,” that border the center stone. This beautiful feature will add significant sparkle to any ring and has the added benefit of making your center stone appear larger than it really is. Consider the style in which these stones are set. A nice scallop or fishtail will enhance their sparkle. *More on this subject later
If you choose a setting with side stones, such as a 3-Stone setting, you will pay more, but you will also reap the benefits of added sparkle and increased total diamond carat weight. Make sure that you choose side stones that complement your center stone in shape and match it in color and clarity for the most cohesive final result.
The gallery rail is essentially a bar that sits about midway between the top of the stone and the ring rail or “bridge” and helps keep the center stone and side stone prongs secure. Some people choose to set diamonds on the gallery rails for a little extra sparkle.
The gallery is the area between the gallery rail and the bridge. On classic designs this area is simply left open, allowing viewers to see more of the center stone. It is a common belief that leaving this area open allows more light into the center stone which makes it sparkle brighter. This is a misconception as diamonds reflect the light that enters from the top back to the eye. So feel free to add some filigree or other Design Elements to this area as a customization.
The bridge is the part of the ring that rests on top of your finger. You want to make sure that this area does not have any sharp edges and is comfortable to wear and take off and on. Common customizations to this area include engravings or small pave’ diamonds.
The Shoulders are the top sides of the engagement ring. You’ll often find diamonds or gemstones set in this area as accents to the engagement ring. It commonly rises off the finger, and helps create the style or design of the mounting. The ring shoulder helps show off the center diamond and also protect it from damage.
These are the small diamonds, commonly referred to as “melees” that adorn the shank and give added sparkle and carat weight to a ring. Other areas accent stones are used include the bridge, gallery rail and head prongs. Consider the style in which these stones are set. A nice scallop or fishtail will enhance their sparkle. *More on this subject later
Adding extra features can enhance and personalize your engagement ring. Embellishments like engraving, milgrain and intricate galleries can turn a classic ring into a custom work of art.
The shank is simply the band of the ring that holds it on your finger. It can be plain or adorned with diamonds and/or embellishments. It is important that the “profile” or shape of the band has rounded edges and makes the ring comfortable to wear.
As the name suggests, this centrally located area at the very bottom of the shank is where the jeweler will make any ring size adjustments - cutting and removing metal to size down and cutting then adding metal to size up. For this reason, as well as it being the area that sees the most wear and tear, this portion of the shank is typically left plain.
All jewelry is required to be hallmarked or “stamped” by the manufacturer in order to identify its composition and value. Common hallmarks on gold jewelry include “18k” and “14k” indicating 18 karat or 14 karat gold. Common Platinum Hallmarks are Platinum, Plat, Platine, PT, and 950. Often a platinum hallmark will be followed by its "base metal." For example, an item may be marked 950 PLAT 5% Iridium; Indicating it is 95% Platinum with 5% Iridium as a Base.
In addition to the metal quality hallmark, you will often see the designer’s or manufacturer’s stamp. For example, here at Mint Diamonds all of our rings are stamped with our brand logo so that the ring is easily identified as being created by us.