Congratulations! You’ve met THE ONE and have decided it’s time to pop the question. You may already have the perfect place to propose but…HOLD UP…what about the ring?  Are you feeling confused and unsure of how to proceed?  Don’t worry, this engagement ring guide will tell you all you need to know.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right page; I am here to make life a little bit easier for you and make sure your intended will get the ring she loves.

On the quest for the perfect engagement ring

Top tip: Two heads are better than one when it comes to ideas for the perfect engagement ring. If possible, recruit her best friend, sister or mother to help. She may already know the engagement ring your girl has set her heart on.

Her Personal style

This will probably be the biggest indicator of finding a ring she will love:

Take a look at her style, in other words, the clothes she wears: Does she favour a classic style (think little black dress, white shirts, dark blue denim, blazer, ballet pumps) or is her clothing style a bit more rock n roll (skinny black jeans, leather jacket)?

Maybe she’s happiest in casual clothes or leans towards a hippy look? Does she prefer colour in her wardrobe or more neutral or dark tones?

Here are some ideas to help you decide:

For the Classic Babe, a traditional solitaire diamond engagement ring

Aya ethical engagement ring made with a CanadaMark Diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Aya ethical engagement ring made with a CanadaMark Diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold

For the Rock n Roll babe,  a pear shaped black diamond engagement ring

crow ethical engagement ring with a grey diamond pear shaped rose cut made with 18ct fairtrade gold

Crow ethical engagement ring with a grey diamond pear shaped rose cut made with 18ct Fairtrade gold

For the casual babe

Ruby-Caillou ethical engagement ring with 18ct Fairtrade gold and a ruby

Ruby-Caillou ethical engagement ring with 18ct Fairtrade gold and a ruby

For the boho babe, a salt and pepper rose cut diamond

Ida 1ct rose cut diamond with black speckles ethical engagement ring set in 18k Fairtrade gold

Ida 1ct rose cut diamond with black speckles ethical engagement ring set in 18k Fairtrade gold

Her personality

Her personality, like her wardrobe, should give you an inkling, of what she will and won’t like in the ring department:

Is she an eco warrior? Choose Fairtrade gold and a CanadaMark Diamond

Callie ethical engagement ring with 0.4 carat CanadaMark Diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold.

Callie ethical engagement ring with 0.4 carat CanadaMark Diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold.

Is she a free spirit?

belle ruby ethical heart ring with a 0.25 carat ruby heart set in 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Belle ruby ethical heart ring with a 0.25 carat ruby heart set in 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Is she classic?

Eos ethical engagement ring is handcrafted with 18ct Fairtrade gold and three CanadaMark diamonds

Eos ethical engagement ring is handcrafted with 18ct Fairtrade gold and three CanadaMark diamonds

A romantic at heart?

Lola ethical diamond heart engagement ring

Lola ethical diamond heart engagement ring

By now, you should have some idea of what might suit her, so let’s take a look at some of the details you need to know before purchasing a diamond.

The 4 C’s of diamond grading

A one carat diamond can wildly vary in price, depending of the quality of the stone; usually decided by the four C’s (cut, carat, clarity and colour). The GIA give a detail description of the four C’s which you can read here.

1 Clarity – measures the amount of inclusions or blemishes within the stone. Here’s a breakdown from the GIA:

FL flawless – no blemishes or inclusions visible under 10 x magnified.

IF Internally flawless – No inclusions visible under 10x magnification

VVS1 and VVS2 very very slightly included, which means they are hard to see under 10 x mag.

VS1 – VS2 very slightly included. Inclusions are seen (with effort) under 10 x mag.

SI1 – SI2 slightly included inclusions noticeable under 10 x mag

I1, I2, I3 inclusions are obvious. 

A perfectly respectable diamond will come in between the VVS1 and S1 markers.

2 Cut – A grading of how well the stone has been cut, so that it produces the most sparkle. The classification goes from excellent to poor.

3 Colour – The colour of the diamond will vary from White (colourless) to a yellow. The colour is graded alphabetically from D to Z. Again I would recommend somewhere between E to H.

4 Carat – this refers to the weight (and size) of the diamond

Any diamond above a 0.30 carat weight should come with a GIA certificate like the one below.  

GIA certification certificate

The Ethics of your Ring

The question of ethics is an important one in this day and age.

We’ve all seen the movie Blood Diamonds and most of us do not want to buy a stone that has funded wars or caused human suffering. So let’s consider your choices for an ethical diamond.

CanadaMark Diamonds

These are among the most responsibly sourced diamonds in the world, while also meeting high standards for clarity, cut and colour. When these beauties are set into 18ct Fairtrade gold they become the most ethical engagement rings in the world today. To find rings click here.

Each CanadaMark diamond (above 0.3 carats) comes with a certificate card as well as a number laser inscribed on the girdle to prove its origin and authenticity.

canadamark certification card

Old Cut Diamonds

These diamonds, usually taken from old estate jewellery, date back to pre Victorian times. They include: old mine cut, old European cut and rose cut.

They all have a lovely antique look about them. Perfect for women who favour the vintage look. I love how they twinkle under candlelight. Get in touch if you are interested in these old cut diamonds.

Tatiana ethical engagement ring with a 0.5 carat rose-cut clear diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Tatiana ethical engagement ring with a 0.5 carat rose-cut clear diamond and 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Coloured gemstones

Coloured gems are a great choice too. The most common being precious gems such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds but there are thousands of less precious coloured stones to choose from.  

Ruby

Ruby-Rose ethical engagement ring 18ct Fairtrade ethical gold

Ruby-Rose ethical engagement ring 18ct Fairtrade ethical gold

Sapphire

Molly an ethical engagement ring with a rose cut blue sapphire and Fairtrade Gold

Molly an ethical engagement ring with a rose cut blue sapphire and Fairtrade Gold

or perhaps an emerald?

Uli an ethical engagement ring with rose cut emerald and Fairtrade Gold

Uli an ethical engagement ring with rose cut emerald and Fairtrade Gold

Hopefully, by now you will have in mind the type of stone and shape you think will be a winner so let’s move on to:

What type of precious metal will you choose?

Gold comes in several different colours (yellow, rose and white) and in varying degrees of purity, also called carats but not to be confused with carats (diamond weight).

For example, you may be surprised to know that 9ct gold only contains 45% pure gold. 14 ct gold has 54%, 18ct has 75 %, 22k contains 91% and 24 carat is pure gold.  

22 and 24 carat gold can be very soft and it may end up changeing shape after a year or so of wear; but 9 carat gold has more silver than gold and so is only faintly yellow in colour. For looks and durability I always use 18 gold.

Yellow gold – the most well known type and my personal choice. Yellow gold is still, and probably always will be, a firm favourite for engagement rings.    

Callie ethical diamond engagement ring with Chooli ethical wedding ring made with 18ct Fairtrade Gold

Rose gold – again has a lovely vintage look about it as it was popular in the Victorian era. It can suit paler skin tones.

Rose ethical engagement ring is handcrafted with 18ct Fairtrade gold and a CanadaMark diamond

Rose ethical engagement ring is handcrafted with 18ct Fairtrade gold and a CanadaMark diamond

White – this gold is not exactly white, but has a brown/grey tinge to it. Most jewellery shops either rhodium or platinum plate their white gold to make it whiter and brighter however, after a few years when the plating wears off you can be left with a mottled and rather nasty looking finish. So always check, when buying, if the ring has a plating.

Faith ethical ring with 18ct Fairtrade Gold and small diamond

Faith ethical ring with 18ct Fairtrade Gold and 0.10 carat diamond

An alternative to white gold is platinum. Known as the earth’s most precious metal or the ‘king of metals’ is has a steely look about it and is also 1.5 times denser than gold, making it a weightier option.

Diamond shapes

The most popular diamond shape is the round brilliant cut, but there are lots of others to choose from too. If your girl is uber romantic, then a heart may be a good option for you.

A chart of diamond shapes

Ethical Gold 

My first choice for an engagement ring is always going to be Fairtrade or Fairmined gold. You can read my other blog post on How to choose an Ethical Engagement ring for more details, but if you want a ring that lives up to its ethical credentials, then this is the gold to go for. Any ring made with either of these ethical golds will have a mark stamped onto the inside of the ring beside the hallmark.

Fairtrade Gold logo 2020

Ring size

If you by some miracle know her size then hooray for you! Most don’t have a clue. This means that you will need to do a bit of detective work. Have a look through her jewellery box and take it to a jewellery shop to find out the size. If the ring is usually worn on the middle finger, then a good rule of thumb is to go down one size.

Alternatively, you may ask her friends or family members to take her out shopping and suggest you have some ‘fun’ trying on rings.

If you truly have no clue then I suggest you buy the ring you like and have it altered afterwards. Most jewellers will offer this as a free service when you purchase your ring.

Congratulations… you’ve made it this far. Only a few more things to consider.

How much should you spend on the ring?

 I think it was Debeers who came up with the clever marketing strategy of ‘informing’ men they should spend one to three months’ salary on a ring.  

I think most of us would agree that the best amount to spend on a ring is what you can afford and what feels right to you and also what you think is right for your girlfriend.

Also, bear in mind that once you have ordered your ring you may have to wait up to eight weeks for delivery.

What if she doesn’t like it?

I would always recommend buying an engagement ring that you know can be returned. Not all jewellers have the same policy so check first! You don’t want to end up with the wrong ring that can’t be returned.

Where to buy?

Many people these days, are happy to buy on-line but some insist on seeing the ring first.

You may decide to go a tradional jewellery store where you will find a selection of more classic styles, or if you prefer a unique artisanal ring, then small designers, working ethically, would be the best place to start.

Good luck on your quest!