Pre-Sale Buying Guide

Buying an Engagement Ring

An engagement ring is not just a token of your love, but a financial investment. So it is important to know what makes a quality ring. Before buying an engagement ring, learn about the four C’s of diamond quality: cut, carat, clarity, and color. Also, know basic setting and metal choices, as well as different diamond shapes. By learning the proper terminology beforehand, you can focus on finding the right ring and nothing else. 

Just as importantly, make sure you know what the bride-to-be wants. Most women have definite preferences for diamond shape, metal choice, and general ring appearance. The best way to discover these preferences? Ask her, of course. Or spend some time window-shopping together. If you prefer to surprise her, you can ask close friends and family about her preferences -- as long as they can be trusted not to spill the beans.


Ring Size:
 
The bride’s ring size is very important. Close friends may know her size -- if they can keep the secret. If she already wears a variety of rings on her left hand, choose one she often wears and sneak it over to the jeweler so they can properly measure it. If that’s just not feasible, you can also find an approximate fit with a ring size chart or finger size strip such as the ones you can print below.
     
Ring Size Chart:   Use a ring that already fits and place it over the nearest size circle. The inner edge of the ring should align with the outer edge of the circle. If your ring appears to fit between two sizes, buy the larger size.
     
Finger Size Strip:   To create your own ring sizer, print and cut the strip below. Insert the narrow end of the sizer through the "cut here" slot. With numbers on the outside, place the loop around the finger, and pull until the fit is snug but comfortable. Make sure to measure the finger at room temperature. Heat and cold can cause the finger to swell or constrict.


Setting Styles

Just as important as the ring design is how the gem is held in place.


Bezel setting:
 
A bezel setting is held in place by creating a metal frame around the circumference of the stone. It can wrap all the way around the stone or only partially surround it, depending on the style of the ring. This type of setting is good for protecting the thin edge of the stone (girdle) and often makes the stone look larger.
     
Invisible setting:   Invisibly set stones sit very close together, with their metal setting hidden underneath — so you see a continuous, uninterrupted surface of diamonds or gemstones. This is a great way to showcase the brilliance of princess cut diamonds, because there are no prongs or bezels blocking the light as it enters and illuminates each stone.
     
Prong setting:   This is the most common type of setting, especially for solitaire rings. The prongs are attached to the central setting of a ring, known as the head or basket. Each prong extends upward and outward from the head, gripping the diamond with an arch at the top. 

Prongs can be placed at four corners of a stone or at five or six points evenly spaced around the stone. Other variations include a V-prong setting, which is commonly used on marquise and pear shape gemstones to protect the pointed tips from chipping or breaking. 

Prong settings hold the stone securely while still allowing a good deal of light to enter your diamond or gemstone. The center stone is sometimes raised above the shank, to give it a larger, more prominent appearance, with very little metal showing.
     
Channel setting:   In a channel setting, stones are set flush between two strips of metal that hold them in place side by side with no additional prongs. This type of setting protects the edge, or girdle, of the gemstone. It is a very secure and smooth setting, so they are less likely to get snagged on hair or clothing.
     
Pavé setting:   This is a technique for creating the appearance of a surface entirely paved in gemstones. Many gemstones are fit into small holes and set almost level with the surface of the ring, with no metal between them.
     
Cluster setting:   A cluster setting is just what it sounds like -- diamonds or gemstones are set close together in a group. The stones are sometimes arranged in a shape like a flower or heart. Cluster rings are usually set multi-level, which adds considerable height above the hand. The arrangement of the stones can be open or more tightly arranged.
     
Bar setting:   A bar setting is similar to a channel setting, but a bar setting uses a thin bar of u- or v-shaped metal to hold diamonds or gemstones in place on two sides. With a series of stones set next to each other, you will see a narrow bar between each one.
     
Tension setting:   This sleek, modern setting uses pressure to hold a stone between two open ends of a metal mounting, creating the illusion the stone is floating.
     
Illusion setting:   A type of prong setting, this technique adds a faceted, shiny metal plate around the girdle of a diamond or gemstone. The reflective plate makes the stone appear larger and more brilliant.