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A Guide to Engagement Rings

Buying an engagement ring for your better half can be a daunting thought. Considering what they will love and your budget is just the start when it comes to choosing the perfect ring that your partner will treasure for a lifetime. 

In this guide, Hatton Jewellers’ expert team share their knowledge to help you find the perfect engagement ring. We’ll cover the options available to you when looking at engagement ring styles, as well as looking at sizing, budgets and how to care for your precious ring.

The History Of Engagement Rings

The prominence of engagement rings was first established back in 850 AD in Ancient Rome when Pope Nicholas stated that the ring represents a man’s intent to marry. Although at the time engagement rings weren’t the sparkling gems we see today, they quickly grew in popularity and by the middle ages were encrusted with diamonds.  

As the tradition grew so did the popularity amongst the wealthier upper class. Following the industrial revolution, there was a huge increase in jewellery production, specifically the production of engagement rings. While diamonds are still a popular choice today, more and more people are opting for coloured gemstone engagement rings for a more unique option.  

How To Choose An Engagement Ring

Thinking of popping the question but not sure which engagement ring your other half would love the most? There are a whole host of options to choose from and you really want to make sure you do it right. Whether you’re choosing rings together to ensure you get their favourite style or you’re shopping solo for a fabulous surprise, there are several tips you can use to find the ideal engagement ring for your significant other. 

For more information take a look at our blog on considerations to make when choosing an engagement ring.

The Metal 

Traditionally, engagement rings are made from yellow or white gold, silver or platinum. However, rose gold has made more of an appearance in recent years, creating a modern stylish ring perfect for those trend-setters. Some metals are more durable than others, so it’s worth considering lifestyle — alongside budget — to determine how important metal is when it comes to your engagement ring choice. 

For example a 9ct gold ring will be more durable than a 24ct. While pure gold is a soft metal, combining it with other metals makes it more durable.  

The Stone 

Although diamonds are the classic choice when it comes to choosing an engagement ring, there are a whole host of other options on the market that could make the perfect, unique ring to cater to your partner's specific style. From coloured diamonds to gemstone rings such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires you can make a colourful choice relating to your loved one’s favourite colour or even their birthstone.  

The Setting 

The setting is arguably one of the most important factors of your engagement ring as it ensures that your precious diamond is safe and secure. The setting can help to make your engagement ring truly sparkle, as it will allow the light to hit and reflect off your diamond in different ways, impacting the overall look of your ring.

The Shape

Knowing the diamond shape your partner is looking for in an engagement ring will help your search immensely. If you’re not sure which shape they would prefer, think about your partner’s general style. For example, a round cut diamond is perfect for a lady who loves simplicity and elegance, whereas an emerald cut is ideal for anyone who loves a little glamour and flamboyance. 

Take our quiz to find out which engagement ring best fits yours or your partner's personality. 

What Is An Engagement Ring Setting?

An engagement ring setting is the way that gemstones or diamonds are mounted or set into a metal band. There are several types of ring settings which each emphasise the natural beauty of the diamond. From prong settings to bead settings, each gives the engagement ring a completely different look and feel.

How To Pick An Engagement Ring Setting

Choosing a ring setting can be equally as challenging as making the perfect choice when it comes to choosing the perfect stone or shape. The type of setting you choose will affect the overall look of your engagement ring, from making the main stone look bigger to introducing more diamonds. When choosing a setting one of the most important considerations is your stone’s visibility but also its safety. 

Prong Setting

A prong setting is the most traditional and common type of engagement ring setting. The slim metal arms delicately support the diamond, with each prong tapered against the diamond's facets. This type of setting allows the diamond to sit high above the band so that light can enter and exit at all angles, giving it a brilliant sparkle. 

Pavé Setting

Originating from the French word for “paved”, the pavé setting is named as such due to it being paved with smaller diamonds that are placed directly next to each other to create the impression of the setting being made from diamonds. Although it creates a beautiful sparkle, it can slightly distract from the beauty of the main diamond — but it's all about personal preference. 

Tension Setting 

A diamond in a tension setting is held in place using opposing directions of pressure to give the illusion of a diamond floating above the band. It is a more modern setting as no prongs are used to hold the diamond in place. Although it may look unstable, it is actually considered one of the most secure engagement ring settings as jewellers can often cut tiny grooves in the diamond where the setting sits so that it can be placed firmly. 

Halo Setting

A halo setting is when one beautiful stone is surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds. This is an increasingly popular style as the halo of diamonds highlights the beauty of the centre stone without being overly distracting. The centre stone is most often surrounded by either a single or double halo crafted from white diamonds. 

Channel Setting

A channel setting has a very similar look to the pavé ring setting. It is made up of smaller diamonds that are set within two parallel walls of precious metal. The smaller diamonds appear to be on the same level as the main diamond, meaning that the prong and stone does not stick out as it does with other settings. This makes it more durable and unlikely to get caught on items of clothing, perfect for those with an active and adventurous lifestyle. 

How To Find Out Your Fiancée's Ring Size

So you know how you want to propose and the style of engagement ring you’re wanting to buy, but are you unsure of your partner's ring size? From borrowing one of their rings to asking a friend, there are several ways you can secretly find out your partner’s ring size without ruining the surprise. 

Another way to find out their ring size is to use a piece of string and compare the sizing to the chart below. Ensure that it’s not too tight but not too loose either to achieve the perfect fit. If you’re wanting to keep it a secret and your partner is a deep sleeper, this could be the perfect opportunity to take their measurement.

If you’re completely unable to find out your partner’s ring size, take a guess (you can always resize your ring if you need to - more on that later). The average ring size for a woman is a size M or a T for men, so this could be a great place to start. Alternatively, if any of your fingers are of a similar size to your partner’s ring finger, use the string technique on yourself to get a rough estimate of the size. 

What Is The Difference Between A Promise Ring & An Engagement Ring?

While engagement rings specifically insinuate a commitment to getting married and the idea that you are actively planning a wedding, promise rings can represent any special meaning or commitment that you are wanting to deliver. 

Although not an engagement ring, promise rings are still extremely symbolic. They can also be used as a public display of commitment to your partner. Consequently, the main difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring is your intent and plan to marry.

Can Engagement Rings Be Gold?

Gold is one of the most popular precious metals that is used for engagement rings due to its durability and available colour options.  There are several benefits to choosing gold as an engagement ring. Not only is it more affordable than alternatives like platinum, it also doesn’t react with many other chemicals — perfect for day-to-day wearing. 

The design choices with a gold engagement ring are often greater as it is a malleable metal, meaning it can be made into delicate jewellery designs with a lot more detail than some of the alternatives. It is, however, important to consider the purity of the gold as the more pure the metal is, the more likely it is to get damaged. Opting for a 9ct gold ring will allow for a durable ring that is perfect for everyday wear.

Alternative Engagement Ring Stones

While diamonds are the most traditional stone when it comes to an engagement ring, there are several other options on the market that can create an engagement ring just as sparkling and beautiful. From emeralds to opals, choose an engagement ring that will fit your bride or groom-to-be’s personality and style perfectly.

Emerald Engagement Rings 

If you’re wanting to steer away from diamonds but stay with a classic look, emeralds are the perfect option. They can be made into a variety of shapes in order to craft your perfect ring. The gorgeous green hues create an elegant and glamorous look. However, emerald stones may require more attention and care when being worn on a daily basis as they are not as hard or durable as diamonds. 

Opal Engagement Rings 

Opals can create the perfect vintage-inspired engagement ring. The beautiful white stone with an iridescent effect will give the illusion of a rainbow of colours in one stone. They are also relatively inexpensive in comparison to the likes of diamonds and other gemstones, though a little delicate. As a relatively soft gemstone, extra care should be taken when wearing an opal engagement ring. 

Ruby Engagement Rings

Timeless but bold, rubies can be a great alternative to diamonds. The gemstone itself represents romance and love giving a ruby engagement ring even more meaning. The bright red colour is one of the most important things to look for when choosing a ruby engagement ring — when paired with a white gold or yellow gold band it can create a great impact. They are also extremely durable, making them a great option for everyday wearing. 

Moissanite Engagement Rings 

A popular diamond alternative in recent years, moissanite closely resembles a diamond but often comes with a much lower price tag. They are clear in colour and have a spectacular sparkle making them extremely versatile. Another benefit is that they are almost as durable as diamonds, known for being the second hardest gemstone used in jewellery crafting today. 

What Hand And Finger Do You Wear Your Engagement Ring On?

Traditionally engagement rings are worn on your left hand and ring finger. This tradition dates back to ancient times when it was believed that there was a vein running all the way from your ring finger to your heart.  Although this was found to be untrue, the tradition stayed. 

However, during the Victorian era, the engagement ring most commonly worn on the right hand was later transferred during the wedding ceremony to the left hand. 

Do You Wear Your Engagement Ring On Your Wedding Day?

With your wedding fast approaching have you considered what you’re going to do with your engagement ring on the day? There are several options when it comes to deciding if you want to wear your engagement ring on your wedding day. 

Not wearing your engagement ring will mean that your finger will be bare for your wedding ring, however, an engagement ring is often too beautiful not to wear on your wedding day. You could also swap your engagement ring to your right hand until the ceremony has finished, swapping it to sit on top of your wedding band after the wedding. Finally — it’s also a popular option not to change a thing. It is very common for the engagement ring to stay on the ring finger during the ceremony. Although it is traditional for the wedding band to sit underneath the engagement ring — closer to the heart — this can easily be swapped over later in the day. 

How To Get Your Engagement Ring Resized?

Most engagement rings can be resized as long as it is made from a metal that a jeweller can work with. However, if your engagement ring is fully diamond encrusted, this will be harder to resize due to the stones being set all the way round the band so there is little to no plain metal to work with. 

Going back to the jeweller that you purchased the engagement ring from is often the best option. Alternatively, choose a reputable jeweller you can trust if it is a family heirloom. To make a ring smaller the jeweller will cut away a piece of the band then solder it back together before polishing and making it look as good as new. However, making a ring larger can be more complicated as it involves adding in an extra piece of metal before soldering, cleaning and polishing.  

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Engagement Ring Resized? 

This can depend greatly on the jeweller you choose. However, if the job is simple, it can often be resized in as little as an hour. It is always best to speak to your jeweller to get an accurate turn around time. 

Do You Need An Engagement Ring To Propose? 

Using an engagement ring to propose is tradition, however, the way people are popping the question is continuously evolving. There are numerous substitutes you can use instead of a traditional engagement ring. Whether your partner loves to travel or you’re looking to start a future together in a new home, there are several alternatives to choose from. 

Take a look at our blog to challenge tradition with substitutes for engagement rings

How Much Should An Engagement Ring Cost?

Looking to propose to your significant other but unsure how much you should spend? Although choosing something your partner will love is of primary importance, knowing what to spend and having a realistic budget is key! While three months’ salary is tradition, if you’re also looking to spend money on other factors to build a future together, such as a house, one month’s salary may be more realistic.

If three months' salary is a little out of your budget, but one month doesn’t feel like enough to purchase your perfect ring, split the difference and spend a little more. Truly, there is no set in stone amount you should spend on your engagement ring, so buy what you can afford and what your other half is sure to adore.  

Can You Buy An Engagement Ring On Finance? 

Wanting to propose but struggling to save for the ring? Buying an engagement ring on finance is a great option to affordably buy your partner’s dream diamond ring. Interest-free finance will allow you to spread the cost of your engagement ring over a period of time that best suits you without incurring additional costs. 

There are, however, some important considerations to think about when buying jewellery on finance. From staying within your budget to choosing the best repayment period, always ensure the finance option you choose is the most suitable option for you.

How To Buy An Engagement Ring Online

Buying an engagement ring is likely to be one of the biggest purchases you make, so ensure that you choose a reputable jeweller when buying an engagement ring online. There are several ways you can spot a trustworthy online jeweller from reviews to accreditation - and always ensure you thoroughly check the website you’re buying from. 

Here at Hatton Jewellers, you can find the Assay Assured logo on all of our product listings. Alternatively, use the Assay Assured retailer search or locate your chosen jewellers’ Assay Assured certificate to make sure the company is credible before completing your purchase.

How To Clean Your Engagement Ring At Home

Taking your ring to a professional cleaner is always recommended for the best results, especially with delicate antique rings. However, it is possible to maintain your engagement ring’s sparkle with home remedies too. Ensure you don’t use harsh materials when cleaning your jewellery as this could easily lead to scratching or damaging the item. 

Robert Cuomo, Managing Director at Hatton Jewellers, said: “We recommend getting jewellery cleaned at least every six months either professionally or at home to keep it looking new.

Regularly check for warning signs of vulnerability in your jewellery, such as checking for loose stones or prongs. This may prevent the need to spend more money to replace lost stones later down the line.”

How To Clean Diamonds

  • Get a small bowl of warm water and mix with any mild liquid detergent.
  • Brush your jewellery gently with a small soft brush and be careful not to scratch the metal or diamond.
  • Rinse thoroughly under water and pat dry with a soft lint free cloth.
  • Use a quick dip liquid jewellery cleaner to keep your diamond jewellery shiny.

How To Care For Your Engagement Ring

Removing your ring when doing any of the following activities will not only help to keep your ring safe, but also avoid any damage;

  • Washing your hands or taking a bath or shower - submerging your ring in water or exposing it to products like shower gel and shampoo could cause it to dull.
  • Swimming - salt water can be corrosive to your jewellery.
  • Exercising – whilst this isn’t as big of an issue with rings, they may still get scratched during a workout.
  • Gardening or outdoor activities - small rocks can be abrasive and permanently damage the appearance if marked. Damage to gemstones or diamonds can be costly to repair and can even be irreversible.


It’s also important that, when you’re not wearing your engagement ring, you store it in a clean, dust-free location such as the box the ring came in or a jewellery box with a soft lining. It’s also a good idea to store your ring at room temperature away from direct sunlight.

For more of our articles check out the Hatton Jewellers blog.