Are you looking into engagement ring design ideas, but don’t know where to begin? Whether you are looking to design your own engagement ring or one for your girlfriend, here are a few key questions to keep in mind.
To halo or not to halo?
A popular starting point is deciding whether your center stone will be surrounded by a circle (or two!) of smaller diamonds or whether you would rather see it go solo – also known as a solitaire setting. Halos look great with pretty much any size diamond… up to a point. Once you’re in the 1.50ct+ range, keep in mind that the halo will make the center stone appear even larger.
Diamonds down the band?
Both solitaire and halo style engagement ring settings look beautiful with or without diamonds down the band. A traditional classic solitaire does not include any diamonds other than the center stone, but adding diamonds down the band can lend some extra sparkle if that’s what you’d like.
U-set, bead-set, channel-set, we all set?
If you’ve opted for either a halo or diamonds down the band, or both, then the next decision is the style to set them in. Do you want the side diamonds u-set, bead-set or channel-set? Better yet, what does this all mean?!
U-set diamonds have spaces for them drilled into the band, creating small u-shape windows from the profile view. This is a classic, end-to-end look as all you see is diamond from the top view. The diamonds themselves are held into place by tiny prongs formed out of the metal, giving the entire piece a uniform and smooth look – also known as “pavé”.
Bead-set diamonds are also set with tiny prongs formed out of the metal, as per u-set, but a slight border accompanies them. This is a very elegant and classic look.
Channel-set diamonds are contained within a border as per bead setting, but rather than being held in place by prongs they are held by the border itself. This is a form of tension setting.
Straight or tapered band?
Now that the basic design elements are decided on, we can start to add some character!
When it comes to the band itself, you can opt for a straight band, or for a tapered band. The taper can also be a traditional or a reverse taper – as in the band can get skinnier or wider as it approaches the center stone.
Shoulders? On engagement rings?
Your engagement ring has shoulders… seriously. This refers to the part of the shank as it approaches the center stone. They can be as low as what will appear to be a full circle with the basket sitting on top of it, or they can start to rise towards the diamond as they approach it – known as a cathedral setting. The higher the cathedral the more “elegant” the diamond appears, but also the more cumbersome the ring becomes to wear. A low shoulder is also a very nice look, and slightly more modern vs. the classic look of a cathedral setting.
Prongs? Even the smallest details matter.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the center stone prongs. Those little metal arms that hold the diamond in place. Traditional prongs are rounded and they can never go wrong. Another option for the more modern and forward is what are known as cat, bear or eagle claw prongs. These are very elegant and sharp-looking, literally, pointed prongs. Alternatively, why not forget the prongs altogether with a bezel setting?
Now let’s get to work!
I hope this helps break down the key decisions when it comes to designing your engagement ring. There are many additional nuances that can be modified or implemented (band width, additional details such as milgrain, etc.), but these should serve as a framework for the overall structure of the ring.
As always, I am happy to answer any questions in the comments below. I would also be thrilled to meet you in person when you’re ready to get started with your own custom engagement ring!
Jonathan is the President & CEO of Kimberfire – a brilliant way to buy engagement rings, loose diamonds and fine diamond jewelry in Toronto, ON, Canada. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. Previously Jonathan worked in the Middle East, Belgium and Canada in various roles in the luxury goods sector including manufacturing, business development and diamond wholesale. Jonathan also spent a number of years as an investment banker with one of the large Canadian banks, where he focused on natural resources and diversified issuers.