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The Perfect Guide: How to Choose Your Engagement Ring with Gem and Birth Stone Meanings

Updated on May 20, 2020
Gabriel Wilson profile image

Gabriel lives with her family on the Island of Madeira, where a warm climate provides the perfect environment to enjoy the outdoor life.

Kate's Engagement Ring

The Duchess of Cambridge's Engagement Ring
The Duchess of Cambridge's Engagement Ring | Source

The Duchess of Cambridge wears her mother in Laws engagement ring given to her by Prince William when they got engaged. When Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced the ring was given back to Charles and stored at the palace. Harry chose the ring as a keep sake while Prince William chose a watch. The boys exchanged the keep sakes of their mother when William decided to propose to Kate. It is a beautiful ring and a very popular style, however orginally Diana was criticised for not getting a ring made and her choice was considered a bad one. The ring is worth circa three hundred thousand pounds. Personally I think she made a great choice.

The Practical Guide

I appreciate these days many couples buy the girl's engagement ring together, but some guys still want to go it alone. Therefore this practical guide listed below covers both the couple and the guy when it comes to choosing the perfect engagement ring. The list is very simple and to the point but mostly very practical, which might seem strange when choosing an engagement ring but being practical when spending money on a life time gem is important.

  • Budget:

The most important thing to know: how much money have you allocated to spend on your ring. Decide on your budget and stick to it. No matter how gorgeous!

  • Carat:

Diamonds even flawed ones are expensive: 500€ to 1000€ will get you a 14-18 caret diamond of about 0.5 caret weight, while 3000€ to 7000€ will get you an 18 caret diamond of about 0.80 to 2.0 caret weight. Prices can fluctuate hugely depending on the quality as well as the weight of the diamond.

  • Ring Setting:

The next thing to consider is the actual ring setting. There are quite a few (see below). You must consider the shape of your finger: long and thin; slender; chunky; short. The wrong setting on the right finger will be the wrong ring! Think delicate finger and large stone or tiny stone and thick finger! Don't get the setting wrong, your ring won't look right or sit right.

  • Other Costs Include:

Materials (metal type); Karat (metal weight); Design (decoration); Gemstone (caret, clarity and cut); Vendor (the sales guy). Pay particular attention to this point.

  • Other Gemstones:

Passing on a diamond and giving another gemstone the chance to shine won't necessarily save your hard earned cash. Emeralds, for example can cost way more than diamonds.

A Little Wedding History

Betrothal rings are by no means a new idea. Indeed they were used way back during The Roman times. It wasn't until the 13 century that the custom of engagement rings was revived and became popular again. Thank goodness for that, I hear all the maidens cry.

Traditionally the girl gets the engagement ring, although in some cultures both parties wear a betrothal ring.

The meaning of the ring is of course the promise of a future marriage. Should the girl break the engagement off, the ring belongs to the guy and as the contract has been broken, it should be returned.

The end of the 19 century the engagement ring as we know it today was in full swing. By the late 1920s the diamond become the gem every girl wanted to wear on her third ring finger. Today a solitaire diamond is still a favourite choice with the ladies.

Let's face it, Ian Fleming's novel Diamonds are forever (1956) followed by the Bond movie (1971) has set every guy an expensive task when it comes to wooing his girl. The one he wants to keep anyway.

Shirley Bassey belted out the famous soundtrack ''Diamonds Are Forever'' eternally cementing the diamond as the must have gemstone for every girl alive. Diamonds are forever: They are all I need to please me...

History lesson over: Time to see what suits you...

First and foremost I must emphasis one crucial aspect in choosing your engagement ring; unless you're fortunate enough to have loads of money (which means you won't be reading this) you must have a budget and stick to it. Keep the loans for your mortgage. No bride (almost no bride) wants to live with her mother or your mother for that matter. Once her pretty feet have walked down the isle those pretty little feet will want to walk across their own threshold. No mothers in sight.

Ring Settings

There are many different types of settings and many different gems to choose from. In this case we are looking for the perfect engagement ring setting to fit your beautiful engagement gem. I have a picture to back the description of each setting, incase you feel a little confused: the perfect setting is crucial to display the gem in it's true glory. Read carefully and look at the photos to get familiar with the settings to help you choose the right one for you.

  • The Prong Setting: very popular for the solitaire gem. Usually 3 to 6 prongs or claws hold the diamond. This setting allows a lot of light to reflect through the diamond, although running your fingers through your hair can leave more than just the diamond between those said prongs. A small diamond may be lost among the prongs, meaning a good size diamond is required for this setting!
  • The Bezel Setting: the diamond is secured by a metal band. The good news, this setting can make the diamond look bigger and the surface is smooth so less likely to scratch or catch on clothes or other items.
  • The Flush Setting: the diamond sits in a space in the band. Again smooth, however make sure the stone has been sized and secured as it seems this setting type can be a little susceptible to lost diamond syndrome, and we don't want that!
  • Tension: the band actually holds the stone. Smooth and secure, although a little difficult to re-size. Make sure you have the right ring size.
  • Channel: think eternity ring and you have a good idea of this setting. A band of gems are placed within the ring metal. A beautiful ring style, smooth and secure.
  • Invisible: the words of description failed me here so the picture will have to do (stone is attached to the band, with discreet claws or other secure holdings).
  • Pave: the surface of the ring is covered with diamonds: similar or different sizes; a very effective and exquisite look. Numerous smaller diamonds can often cost less than one grand gem.
  • Cluster: multiple stones are fabulously integrated to give the illusion of one large stone. Often the design can simulate a great gem, a flower bud or an individual style.

Note: While I constantly refer to a diamond, other gemstones would equally look beautiful in any of the above settings.

Diamond cuts

A few tips on diamond cuts. Another major factor to balance on the cash barometer.

  • The round diamond is a very popular cut.
  • The princess cut is square and tends to look bigger than the round cut.
  • The emerald is a rectangle style shape and seems to be quite the social show off (bling) among the rich and famous.
  • The marquis is rather like two triangles back to back and also looks bigger than the popular round diamond.
  • Pear, a pear diamond needs the support of other gems to surround it.
  • Oval, another shape that adds volume to the solitaire diamond.

Other Gems

You know a little ring history, a little about settings and have a tip or two on cuts, but there is more. There are other gems that are equally as popular and loved as engagement gems.

  • The Pearl:

Did you know that the pearl is seen as a symbol of elegance and chastity, not to mention happy marriages. The pearl is the birth stone of June babies.

  • The Sapphire:

The sapphire looks majestic as a solitaire gem in a prong setting and was originally more popular than the diamond; these days the sapphire is making a come back. This gem represents values of faith and purity. The sapphire is the birth stone of September babies.

  • The Emerald:

A beautiful gem that renders the ocean, the mountains and the land; her captives of pure colour. Insight and well being are captured at the heart of this gem. The birth stone of May babies.

  • The Opal:

The gem of October babies. The symbol of innocence and purity. Many colours illuminate the dominating shades of black and white which are the colours the opal stone dons.


Boys, the birth stone is a hint. Perhaps an engagement ring with the lovely ladies birth stone would be a possibility if personal preference, style, money or diamonds don't make the equation. Another thing to consider is family heirlooms. Before you pop the question be sure there isn't a ring already waiting in the wings. Remember gems and settings can be altered. There is also the popular choice of synthetic stones and cubic zirconia stones. The latest and newest ''look a like diamond'' or rather ''a gem that is like a diamond'' is the moissanite. Check out the picture and check out the site.

What gemstone would you choose if money were no object?

See results

How do you really want your man to propose?

See results

Getting Engaged

OK guys and gals here comes the serious bit: getting engaged is all about the much bigger picture of marriage. While an engagement ring can mean mountains to some girls and probably most girls; the after party can be a bit flat as in the day after the big moment. To ensure that there are smiles all round and to get off to a good start, here's a few tips for the boys.

Tips For The Boys:

  • Know her ring size. If you're clueless ask her mother or a close girl friend to help.
  • Be aware of any metal allergies (ask mom).
  • Please God know what gems she likes (ask mom or friend if not).
  • If you really don't have a clue, ask her for her left ring finger and tie a thin pink ribbon around it (no this won't do instead of a ring, but you've popped the question on your own and now you can both go and buy the ring together).
  • Another real sweetie is a flower ring. A delicate ring made from real flowers. Pop the question and off to the jewelers you go (together).
  • Buy a bottle of sparkly. Once your sipping your chilled beverage wrap the gold foil from the lid around her left ring finger and ask the big question (bet you anything she keeps that piece of foil forever) and yes! you still need to visit the engagement ring department.


  • Remember to shop around within your budget and don't discount pawn shops, the internet, local jewelry shops, catalogues and the family heirlooms.
  • You might want to consider wedding ring sets. The combination of engagement ring and wedding ring are often very well priced as opposed to separate rings.
  • Whatever you choose remember to choose well. This is a ring that will be worn for a very long time and who knows, in the future your very own family heirloom.

© 2010 Gabriel Wilson


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