How to Choose an Engagement Ring: The Ultimate Guide

Follow our handy guide to choosing an engagement ring that your partner will never want to take off

If you’re planning to propose and feeling a little baffled by all the different engagement rings out there (would she like a vintage engagement ring or is she more of a classic ring kind of girl?), we’re here to help.


With a little assistance from some of the biggest names in engagement rings, we’ve put together a handy guide on how to choose an engagement ring your partner loves as much as you love her.

Jenny Packham Goldsmiths exclusive collection

How do I know what style of ring she likes?

When you’re buying an engagement ring think carefully about the woman who will be wearing the ring; consider her tastes in art and fashion, her favourite colour and the type of of jewellery she likes to wear.

If she’s a quirky girl she might like unusual engagement ring, or perhaps an engagement ring to match her star sign?

If you think her friends and family can be trusted to keep a secret, why not hit them up for information on what they think she will like?

You could even take a peek at her Pinterest page to see if she has been saving any rings (the most pinned engagement ring is sure to have cropped up on her boards).

Rifle through her jewellery collection for more inspiration and clues to the types of rings she likes.

This is also a great way to make sure you choose a ring that complements her existing pieces – you’d hate to buy a big glittering ring that clashed with the signet ring she got for her 18th birthday and wears religiously.

“Just remember to keep the receiver in mind when buying the engagement ring,” advises Craig Bolton, executive director of Goldsmiths. “They need to fall in love with the ring as much as you.”

Shaun Leane engagement ring

How do I know what size ring to buy?

A popular way to find out her ring size is to discreetly lift one from her current collection and take it along with you when you go to the jewelers.

If you have an eagle eyed girlfriend who would immediately notice one of her rings was missing, Goldsmiths has a handy printable ring sizer on its website that you can use to estimate the size of the sparkler you’ll buy, based on the rings she already owns.

It’s not the end of the world if the ring doesn’t fit, as many jewellers, including Goldsmiths, provide a ring size adjustment service if it doesn’t fit the bride-to-be.

Daisy London placeholder ring

What if I can’t decide on an engagement ring?

It’s a nerve-wracking thing to hand over so much money if you’re not certain your partner will love the ring, but a proposal seems incomplete without a ring, so why not buy a temporary or placeholder ring until you splash out on the real deal?

Placeholder rings will keep your partner’s finger warm while she waits to find the ring that is “the one”, and choosing an engagement ring together is a beautifully romantic task that you’ll both always remember – it’s worth keeping in mind that three quarters of women recently surveyed would like to help their partner pick out their engagement ring.

Daisy London offers a gorgeous range of affordable rings that will look beautiful until you select the ring that she’ll wear for the rest of her life.

Pink Carat engagement ring

What if she doesn’t like diamonds?

Over 80% of engagement rings contain a diamond in one shape or another, but believe it or not, diamonds aren’t every girl’s best friend – they may be too glitzy for some people, or they may just not like them.

If this is the case for your future fiancé, there are plenty of brands out there that offer coloured engagement rings.

Gemporia does a gorgeous selection, though do consider the colour of clothes your partner wears before investing a boldly coloured ring, though.

“Not many people choose coloured stones so your ring will be more unique if you do,” says Carat’s founder and CEO Scott Thompson.

“Princess Diana received a gorgeous sapphire ring that was then passed down to Kate Middleton, so you’d be in good company choosing a coloured stone.”

“For the budget-conscious, Carat offers a vast selection of engagement rings that are virtually indifferentiable to those in the fine jewellery category due to our high-quality materials and meticulous stone-cutting techniques.”

Theo Fennell engagement ring

What should I look for in a ring?

Ring experts 77 Diamonds put together a handy explanation of the Seven Cs so you know what to look for in a ring – check our guide to the Seven Cs.

If the Seven C’s are a bit much for you, there’s the simplified four Cs that you need to consider when choosing an engagement ring.

It’s also important to make sure your ring is ethically sourced, and keep in mind that it needs to sit alongside a wedding band, so remember to consider what it will look like next to a more simple ring – do you want them to fit snugly together, or are you happy for the engagement ring to take centre stage?

The different types of diamond cuts

How do I know which diamond cut to choose?

From the vintage inspired emerald cut, to the classic cushion cut, there are so many to choose from that it can leave you feeling a little lost – especially if your other half hasn’t been dropping subtle hints about her dream ring.

Luckily for you, our Editor-at-Large Peta Hunt posted a handy guide to diamond shapes on our Instagram, and it quickly became one of our top posts, so we decided to post it here too, for those of you who don’t spend their spare time scrolling through Instagram.

The Round Brilliant is traditionally the most popular diamond cut out there, accounting for over three quarters of all diamond sales, but that’s not to say you have to go for it.

“My advice is to keep an open mind on shape until you have looked at every style in the store that is within your budget,” advises Andrew Coxon, president of the De Beers Institute of Diamonds.

“I have often seen someone choose a shape which they had never even thought to try,” he continues.

If you’re totally baffled about which cut to buy, take your fiancé along to choose her own (after presenting her with a place holder ring first, of course.)

“The shape of the hand and length of the fingers is unique, so at De Beers you are invited to try on everything to help you find the one you never want to take off. That is the one for you!” explains Coxon.

Claire Pettibone engagement ring

How do I know how much to spend?

We’ve all heard the old sayings that an engagement ring should cost a month’s salary (or three if you’re an American!) but this is a pretty outdated concept.

The average price for an engagement ring in 2016 is £1013, and where you come from depends how much you spend, but in the end, it’s totally up to you to decide your budget. “My personal advice is to do your best, as you want her to wear it for the rest of her life,” says Coxon.

Mappin & Webb engagement ring

What if I want to buy something totally individual?

If you want to buy an engagement ring that’s as unique as she is, why not utilise Mappin & Webb’s bespoke By Appointment bridal service?

It gives you the chance to create a truly one-of-a-kind engagement ring, designed to reflect your love story.

Under the guidance of one of the in-house experts, you can choose from seven engagement ring mounts (also called a setting), followed by choosing the metal, preferred stones, and diamond cut and carats.


What next?

With the ring sorted, all that’s left to do now is plan your proposal! Check out our edit of the best ways to propose, or, if you’re planning a festive proposal over the Christmas period, we’ve rounded up some Christmas proposal ideas too – you’re welcome!