How To Choose The Perfect Engagement Ring

You’ve finally found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with - and you’ve decided it’s time to pop the question. Now, the only thing left to do is find the perfect ring.

Whether you already have an idea of what you want in an engagement ring or not, here is our handy guide with everything you need to know about these stunning and meaningful pieces of jewelry.

Diamond solitiaire engagement ring
Diamond engagement ring in white box

What’s the meaning behind an Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings symbolize a mutual promise of marriage. Their tradition can be traced back to Ancient Egypt when their circular shape represented ideas of wholeness, infinity, and eternity.

While there are a plethora of engagement ring styles, the most popular and traditional choice features a diamond as the centerpiece, with or without other precious stones complementing it.

What’s the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding band?

Engagement rings are given at a proposal or when a couple decides to get married, while wedding bands are the rings a couple exchanges at the wedding ceremony. While both rings are worn as symbols of love and commitment, the engagement ring symbolizes the desire for an eternal union between two people, while the wedding bands represent the official bond of marriage.

Diamond engagement ring and diamond wedding bands

Engagement Ring Styles

Diamond solitaire ring


Arguably the most classic style of engagement ring, solitaires feature a single diamond or gemstone in the center of the band. This timeless design beautifully highlights the stone, while remaining discreet and elegant. Solitaires also have a beautiful meaning, as the single diamond or gem represents the uniqueness of your love.


This setting features a halo of smaller diamonds that surrounds the main one, resulting in a dazzling visual impact. The halo of diamonds showcases the center stone’s brightness, giving the impression of a bigger diamond. The overall look is both glamorous and romantic, making this one of the most popular ring styles.

Diamond Halo ring
Three stone diamond ring


This style, like the name suggests, features three stones, either diamonds or other gems. The central stone is supported by a stone on each side, both of which are either of the same size or smaller than the main one. This classic setting is a symbolic representation of the past, present, and future, with each stone embodying one of these moments of your relationship.

Eternity band

This beautiful style comprises a band adorned with a continuous line of diamonds or gemstones, which tend to be identically cut. Given the number of stones, eternity bands boast a dazzling shimmer. But their beauty lies also in the meaning behind the design, as the row of gems symbolizes never-ending love.

Diamond eternity band
Diamond split shank ring


This ring’s shank is cleaved into two parts before joining at the top. This design gives the illusion of a bigger ring and increases the sparkling effect. Because the shank is split, it allows a small peek of the finger between the divided parts, making this style unique and mesmerizing.

Choosing the perfect diamond

A diamond ring symbolizes an eternal union, that is why diamonds are most often used for engagement rings.

So, if you choose to stick to the classics and go for a diamond ring, the one thing you have to keep in mind when choosing the right diamond for your fiancée-to-be is the so-called “Four C’s” - which stands for clarity, color, cut, and carat.

There is a lot to learn about each one of these characteristics, but here’s a brief summary.

Loose diamond
Loose stone in tweezers


This refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. Natural diamonds are formed when carbon is placed in conditions of tremendous heat and pressure, which can result in a variety of internal characteristics called 'inclusions' and external characteristics called 'blemishes.'


Chemically pure and structurally perfect diamonds have no color. So, the closer the diamond looks to a drop of pure water, the better. Color distinctions can often be so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye, so most diamonds could seem like they are simply equally colorless to you. However, where a diamond lies in the color grading scale makes a big difference in its quality and value.

Colored stones
Loose diamonds laying in a circle different cuts


A diamond cut reveals its light (which is what influences the light reflection!). Although the cut may also refer to the shape of a diamond, this category actually grades how well the facts of a diamond. In other words, how well-crafted it is in terms of proportions, symmetry, and polish. The better the cut, the more sparkling the diamond.


The carat measures how much a diamond weighs. A metric "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams. So, if a jeweler refers to a diamond as a 1-carat stone, that’s how much the diamond weighs. While carats influence the size of the stone - the higher the carat, the bigger the diamond - it also impacts how comfortable a ring is to wear.

Loose stone different carat sizes
Three stone diamond engagement ring

When should I start looking into buying an engagement ring?

Buying an engagement ring can be a daunting process. There is a lot of information you will be presented with, and much of it is vital to making a smart decision.

The process from initial research to purchase typically lasts the same amount of time as buying a new car, so our advice is that you start looking for rings right away.

Ready to make a choice?

All this information might seem a little overwhelming, but that’s why our experts are ready to help you through a stress-free experience.

Shreve & Co. is the oldest retail jeweler in the state of California. We only work with the highest-quality materials and renowned designers like Harry Kotlar, Hearts on Fire, Mikimoto, Panerai, IWC, and more.

If you’re in the Bay Area, visit us on Post Street in San Francisco or in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. At Shreve & Co. you will find the perfect engagement ring.

Diamond in mounting