Personal Taste is an Important Factor when Selecting an Engagement Ring

Selecting an engagement ring is a major financial and emotional decision. Here are aspects to consider in picking a ring that suits your style.

1. The style

Solitaire or three stone? Halo or side stones? This is where you can let your personal style guide you. It’s an important step because — as Eva Hartling, vice-president, Birks brand & chief marketing officer, points out — the reason for most diamond ring returns (Birks has a handy 90-day full return guarantee) isn’t a declined proposal. “We see very few people coming back, but when we do, it’s usually because the ring didn’t fit the person’s taste or lifestyle,” she said.

A stunning solitaire is a timeless choice. As the name implies, a solitaire ring features a single stone, which tends to be set quite high to maximize brilliance. Its cost will vary based on the actual diamond, but the Birks Bloom™  ring is a beautiful example of this elegant style.

Another popular pick with modern brides is a halo, which features a centre stone surrounded by a diamond or gemstone pavé which creates the illusion of a larger centre stone. Despite being a fashion-forward option, it is also a classic choice that won’t look dated anytime soon.

Finally, the three-stone ring is destined for a comeback thanks, in part, to Meghan Markle’s engagement ring, which Prince Harry custom-designed. It boasts three diamonds set in a yellow gold band and is making waves in the jewelry world and beyond.

2. The colour

Coveting a clear diamond or prefer to make a statement with colour? While colourless diamonds are the most popular choice among brides today, there are plenty of alternative options that can save money — or cost even more!

Most diamonds we see look colourless, but diamonds do actually have a hue graded according to a scale ranging from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow). In general, the less colour present in the stone, the more valuable the diamond.

The exception to that rule? Fancy coloured diamonds like pink or yellow. In their case, the more saturated the hue, the more rare, and thus the more expensive. Choose a splashy colour diamond and you’ll be in good company. Jennifer Lopez has owned several coloured diamond rings, including a 6.1-carat pink one from ex-fiancé Ben Affleck and an ultra-rare 14-carat blue diamond stunner as an anniversary ring from Marc Anthony.

Finally, if you’re after colour without an A-list budget, precious gemstones are a solid alternative — just look at Kate Middleton’s iconic blue sapphire, or Victoria Beckham’s emerald, ruby and sapphire (just three of her 13 rings from hubby David Beckham).

3. The size

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to diamonds. In fact, according to Hartling, many women would prefer that the money be spent on other aspects of the wedding.

When it comes down to it, the size of the centre stone (measured in carats) is one of the most important deciding factors in its price. Typically, the more carats, the more expensive — but not always. A smaller diamond with a flawless rating can cost more than a larger stone with many inclusions. Rule of thumb? If you can’t see the imperfections with the naked eye, they’re not affecting the diamond’s beauty, meaning that it’s a good trade-off if you’re looking to get better value on a larger diamond.

4. The shape

Often confused with cut, the shape is the ultimate form of the diamond. (The cut refers to the cutting of the diamond from the raw.)

The most popular diamond shape at Birks is round. This classic shape made its debut in the late 1800s and is popular due to its extraordinary brilliance. Other popular shapes include cushion (a shape that dates back to the 19th century), oval (which has the added bonus of looking larger thanks to its elongated shape), pear (Paris Hilton’s recent engagement involved a ring with a pear stone) and emerald (a popular choice for gemstones, as it emphasizes colour).

5. The metal

If you want a yellow gold setting, 18-karat yellow gold is an increasingly popular option among fashion-forward brides thanks to Jennifer Aniston, Lauren Conrad and, most recently, Meghan Markle. Rose gold is also a popular trend for brides who want a more modern choice.

Most bridal jewelry today, however, is white in colour, crafted from either platinum or 18-karat white gold. While the former is prized for its extreme durability, it is the most expensive choice. The second option is actually plated yellow gold and is an affordable alternative to platinum but could lose its colour over time and require replating.

6. The feel

Ultimately, you want to follow your heart and select whatever ring feels right for you. Forget the trends, forget what your friends think and choose the ring that, like your significant other, makes your heart sing every time you see it.

Happy shopping!

A Visual Guide to Diamond Shapes

This article was original published in the National Post. Written by Christine Laroche, Postmedia Content Works.