Creating Your Ring

Buying an engagement ring can be intimidating. What do you look for? How much should you pay? Should you buy online or in a store?

This publicity photo provided by Gemological Institute of America shows seven diamond cut shapes, from left to right: cushion, Asscher, emerald, modified radiant, oval, marquise, and pear. A simple round cut is the most common for modern diamond rings but some of the more unusual shapes, which have a retro look, are experiencing a resurgence, according to Melissa Colgan, senior style editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, because they are being seen on celebrities. (AP Photo/Gemological Institute of America)

A great start for this process is learning about the 4C’s of diamonds: carat, color, clarity and cut. This system of grading diamonds was developed 60 years ago by the Gemological Institute of America and still stands strong today.

Then do some research online or visit jewelers. You’ll soon understand your options. Here’s a primer on the 4 C’s of Diamonds and other advice.

The Breakdown

The Stone

Along with all the excitement that comes from just getting engaged, also comes the revelation of what the ring looks like. For most, the center stone is what will catch the eye. The Diamond on her finger should uniquely express how pure and everlasting the love between you truly is. So when shopping for that special ring, for that special someone, it is important you know what to look for to make the right decision.

The Setting

There are various ways in which the center stone can be placed on a ring. Some even allow the stone to seem larger than what it actually is. There are a variety of settings available in the jewelry industry, below are some of the most common settings for engagement rings. Like buying clothes online, see and trying on a style are a completely different experience; you may love a certain style, but just like ordering an outfit online that you loved on the model, you may absolutely not like it on you. Engagement rings are the same way and sometimes it’s just best to try on a few different styles and shapes to see what suits you!


In a channel setting the stones lay side-by-side forming a continuous row and are settled into a metal channel or pathway.


A bezel setting is when the stone is completely enclosed by metal making it completely secure. It is usually known for its longevity and simplicity. This setting can accommodate any diamond shape.


The pave setting consists of many small stones being set close together, creating a brilliant surface. A good setting will not have any stones raised above the surface, the surface should be completely smooth and the stones evenly set.


This is the most common and traditional setting used for an engagement ring. This setting exposes the stone, allowing the maximum amount of light to enter the diamond. The prong is lifted above the shank, making the stone completely visible and attractive.

The Metal

Not all metals can be used in its purest form when used in jewelry. This is because metals can be either too hard or too weak and usually must be combined or alloyed with other metals to make it more durable. Some metals are rare and more expensive while others are more common and affordable. Yet, each metal has unique characteristics that can make it appealing to any individual.


What makes this metal so desirable is its durability. In jewelry it is used almost in its pure form. Unlike other metals, platinum is resistant to most damage. Although it can still be scratched like other metals, it is not damaged the same way as the rest. Its hardness and strength do not allow the metal to chip and will allow it to maintain its color and brilliance the same.

Unlike white gold, platinum is a mostly white metal that does not need to be plated. Since platinum is a rare metal and isn’t easily found, it is usually more expensive and more valuable than gold. Platinum weighs a lot more than gold and its durability makes it last a lifetime.


Gold in its pure form is too soft for everyday use, so it is combined with a mixture of other metals to make it more durable. Gold is an enduring metal that is naturally yellow, but it is also the most malleable. The natural beauty of gold is its workability, high value and is one of the world’s most important metals when it comes to jewelry.

Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and is unaffected by air and most reagents. Heat, moisture, oxygen, and most corrosive agents have little effect on gold. To ensure you are getting real gold, be sure that your piece is stamped. By law real gold should have a karat stamp on the piece. (Karat is the measurement used for gold, not to be confused with Carats which is used for diamond weight)

White Gold

This metal has become more popular because it has a similar look to platinum, yet it is more affordable. White gold has the same components as yellow gold, however it is mixed with different metals such as nickel, zinc and palladium, which give it the whitish color.

White gold is usually plated with rhodium, which is a hard element. Although rhodium can begin to wear away with time, and the yellow gold it contains can make it develop a yellow tarnished tint, white gold can always be re-plated and restored to its original appearance.


You can also have a piece that will have a combination of the different metals. For example, the ring may have white gold and yellow gold or white gold and rose gold giving it a two-tone look. Or some may even have more than two different metals combined.

The Price

Although true love does not come with a price tag, price can definitely be a factor when making that special purchase. You want to make sure you get the best that you are able to get for such a significant moment in your life.

As you shop for your ring you will see that all the components from the stone you choose, to the setting you like and which metal you prefer, will all take part in how much you will spend. It is important you know your budget. What can you afford and what are you willing to spend? This will put you a step ahead in the process of choosing that special piece for the one you love.

Conflict-Free Diamonds

In the 1990s, concerns arose that some African diamond mines supported rebel movements undermining legitimate governments. The U.S. and 79 other countries agreed to a set of rules called the Kimberley Process to ensure that diamonds sold within their borders are “conflict-free,” meaning they do not come from mines supporting rebel activity, according to this definition.

Some organizations like the Anti-Slavery Society and the Responsible Jewellery Council are working to raise awareness of issues not addressed by the Kimberley Process, such as harmful environmental practices or child labor in diamond production. Interested consumers should ask retailers about their involvement with these efforts.