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Engagement Ring Guide: How To Choose

Updated: May 2

bespoke engagement rings

Choosing an engagement ring is a significant milestone in any relationship. It's a symbol of commitment, love, and the beginning of a beautiful journey together. However, with so many options available, finding the perfect ring can feel overwhelming. Fear not! In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to select the ideal engagement ring that reflects your love story and fits your partner's style.


The first piece of advice revolves around timing: it's advisable to book an appointment the earliest possible to allow your jeweler to brainstorm with you, sketch some designs, and source gemstones ahead of time. Crafting the perfect ring entails a series of steps, from conceptualizing the design to the manufacturing process and subsequent shipping, excluding any amendments. Plan accordingly, leaving ample time between your purchase and proposal. The general guideline suggests a minimum of three months.

STEP 1 - Understanding Your Partner's Style

radiant diamond engagement ring

Before you start browsing through endless ring options, take some time to understand your partner's style preferences. Pay attention to the jewellery they currently wear. Do they usually wear yellow, rose, or white metals? Do they prefer classic and timeless pieces, or are they drawn to modern and unique designs?

Consider their lifestyle, occupation, personality, and clothing style as well. Are they traditional or more adventurous? Moreover, their social media likes and saved posts can certainly give you some hints, as can their comments on friends' or relatives' engagement rings. These insights will help narrow down your choices and ensure you select a ring that resonates with your partner's taste.

If your partner hasn't explicitly told you their preferences, you can:

  • browse their jewellery collection

  • ask their closest friends or family members for advice

  • ask them! - if you have already talked about your future plans together

  • be ready to listen to their hints or comments and watch out for their social media likes, too

  • consider their everyday style and personality

  • go ring shopping together

  • trust your intuition

  • bring some pictures depicting them and their hands and we will be happy to advise!

STEP 2 - Decide on the Price Range

solitaire diamond engagement ring

Setting a budget is an essential step in the ring-buying process. Engagement rings come in various price ranges, so it's crucial to determine how much you're willing to spend. Remember that an engagement ring is an investment in your future together and not an investment per se, but it's essential to find a balance between quality and affordability.

Consider factors such as the ring's metal, gemstone, design, and craftsmanship when establishing your budget, and remember that although the engagement ring's price might seem high, its lifetime cost-per-use will be relatively low as it will be worn daily and for a long time - even passed down to the next generation.

We do not support the idea of spending three months' salary on an engagement ring as we believe that a sentimental purchase should not have a standard predetermined price tag, nor be dictated by marketing manipulations, so invest the amount you want based on your own financial circumstances and preferences. After all, your partner will never question your spending and you can always upgrade the diamond or engagement ring with us or complement it with eternity bands to celebrate future milestones together.

Here are some options to reduce your spending on the engagement ring:

  • select diamond alternatives or gemstones as listed in step 4

  • use or rework a family heirloom or antique ring

  • opt for carat weights just below or in-between the most popular ones (for example between 0.40 and 0.50ct, or 0.90 and 1ct etc.)

  • prefer smaller brands or your local jeweler over the most famous ones

STEP 3 - Choosing the Metal for the Setting

gold engagement ring and eternity band

The metal of the engagement ring sets the tone for its overall appearance and durability. Common options include platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.

Platinum is prized for its strength and purity, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a durable and hypoallergenic option, however, it tends to scratch more easily than gold making it look duller over time, and a platinum ring would usually be more expensive due to its higher density and rarity.

When it comes to gold, we always recommend opting for a minimum of 18 carat as it will guarantee optimal durability and strength. Although softer and mixed with other alloys, white gold offers a similar look to platinum at a lower price point but as it is rhodium-plated, more maintenance will be needed over time to keep its colour. For this reason, we offer complimentary annual care and life-time guarantee for every engagement ring or bespoke jewel, including rhodium plating, polishing, and stone securing.

Yellow and rose gold exude warmth, romance, uniqueness, and timeless elegance and they are perfect to pair with coloured stones. They don't change colour over time and do not require as much maintenance as their white counterpart.

If your partner does not usually wear jewellery, consider your their skin tone and personal colour preference when selecting the metal - colour analysis/theory could be handy in determining the best complementing metal for your partner's hand: think of yellow or rose gold for the warm tones (spring and autumn types), and white gold or platinum for the cold ones (winter and summer types).

STEP 4 - Selecting the Gemstone(s)

diamond shapes

While diamonds are the traditional choice for engagement rings, there's a wide range of gemstones to choose from to suit every style and budget, so this is where the biggest portion of your spending will usually go towards.


Diamonds are renowned for their brilliance and durability, so if you opt for them, think about the shape they'd like first and consider the "Four Cs" – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight – to ensure you're getting the best quality stone within your budget and requirements. When selecting the shape, we find it useful to advise our customers based on their partner's anatomy - we usually suggest elongated shapes in coherent and harmonic carat weights for small hands.

Here is our personal ranking in terms of importance when selecting the diamond: shape (the geometric appearance and outline of the stone - see image above for reference), cut, carat, colour, and clarity. As we are naturally attracted by all things sparkly, we believe that the first thing being noticed other than its size, is how well the diamond reflects and refracts the light. So, when selecting your diamond, do not compromise on how well it's been cut as this will affect the overall look of the ring and most probably hide the stone "imperfections". We are not saying that the other specs aren't important; just that the colour, and especially the clarity become of greater importance the bigger the stone is as they will be more visible to the naked eye. Also, remember that the price of the diamond is usually determined by a combination of all specs and its rarity in the market - the larger the stone, the more difficult it is to find the highest colour, clarity and cut, hence the higher price. It is definitely possible for you to opt for a smaller diamond with high-quality specs, or a larger diamond with lower clarity and colour both perfectly within your budget - in the end it all comes down to your budget and preferences.


The diamond cut refers to how well gem cutters have cut the stone and how effectively a diamond's facets or angles interact with light, creating its sparkle. The evaluation of a diamond's cut considers factors such as precise symmetry, proportion, dimension, and polish so if the diamond is too deep or too shallow the light won't be reflected on its whole top surface and the effect won't be flattering. Fire, scintillation, and brilliance are what you are looking for in an excellent cut - think of the sun rays reflecting on the sea waves, a rainbow effect, and white flashing lights combined. Keep in mind that only round diamonds are graded for cut, so for all other shapes, and step-cut shapes (emerald, asscher, baguette) in particular, follow the expert jeweller's recommendations and your personal liking.

diamond cut quality

The carat measures the overall weight of the diamond, defined as 0.2 grams, which impacts its visual size. Different diamond shapes will hold their carat weight differently, so some elongated fancy shapes such as oval, pear, or marquise diamonds can appear to be larger than round diamonds of comparable carat weight because they have longer dimensions. Diamonds of larger carat weights are generally more expensive due to their rarer nature and higher demand - this is because it is uncommon in nature to find large raw diamonds with specs suitable for jewellery, and a lot of the crystal goes to waste in the cutting phase, especially when it comes to the round brilliant cut.

Depending on your budget, you can play with the carat weight of the diamond and possibly opt for a slightly shallower stone showing a larger girdle (the diamond diameter on its wider part), but remember that the reflection of the light won't be as optimal so it's best to opt for an elongated shape instead or play with the setting of the ring and opt for an "enlarging" style such as a halo. When selecting the carat weight, we always advise putting your partner first - it is not uncommon for us to be told by customers that their partners don't wear jewellery or that they are discreet, preferring a modest ring over a flashy stone.

Moreover, if you aren't willing to pay the premium for selecting a stone with a whole number carat weight, opt for weights within the 0.1ct range below. For example, a 0.92 or a 0.96ct will be visually almost the same as a 1ct stone but their price tag will differ largely, again due to the rarity of precisely cutting a stone that will yield the exact weight of a carat. Last but not least, when opting for diamonds larger than 1 carat or fancy coloured diamonds for investment, we strongly advise you to request a certification issued by a reputable body such as the GIA, the IGI, or EGL to name a few, including the Four C's and additional information about the gemstone purchased, guaranteeing the specs of your diamond (although grading diamonds is not an exact science) and providing a unique serial number on its girdle.

diamond carat weight and size

Diamond colour refers to the natural hue or absence thereof observed within the stone, stemming from natural trace elements, like nitrogen, present during its formation beneath the Earth's surface billions of years ago. The grading of color adheres to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scale, which gauges the presence of yellow or grey undertones within a diamond. At Hafeez, we exclusively source diamonds falling within the "colorless" and "near-colorless" spectrum, ranging from D to J colours. The nearer a diamond approaches "colorless," akin to pure water, the scarcer and more precious it becomes.

Though subtle to the unaided eye, colour grades significantly influence the diamond's worth. Just think of when you are selecting a white object; individually, it may appear white, but when compared to other white objects, nuances in shades emerge. When comparing diamond colours, we advise you to look at different diamonds on a white piece of paper and placing them bottom-up as the colour will be more easily discernible to the eye.

H-to-Z grades tend to exhibit yellowish tones making them a suitable choice if you have a restricted budget and you want to opt for yellow gold, as the metal colour will eventually reflect on the stone - just remember that they don't however qualify as yellow diamonds. Colour G presents excellent value as it maintains a remarkably white appearance without reaching the colorless range price. D-to-F grades are considered truly colorless, making them exceedingly challenging to differentiate from one another, while G-J look more greyish/cloudy when compared to the colourless and more "transparent" grades.

diamond color grading


Clarity is ascertained by the discernibility of natural microscopic inclusions, blemishes, and flaws within a diamond, which are residuals of chemical elements during formation. They are categorised as crystals, clouds, feathers, twinning wisps, pinpoints, and graining but we will leave their characteristics for another post. Diamonds boasting minimal to no inclusions are deemed exceptionally rare and hold significant value. Diamonds evolve from carbon subjected to intense heat and pressure deep within the Earth's crust so "imperfections", or inclusions, are inevitable and we believe they make each stone special as they are individual marks that differ from one another.

The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale encompasses six categories and eleven grades, spanning from Flawless to Included. If you are selecting a round or brilliant cut diamond, you will notice that imperfections remain imperceptible until reaching the Slightly Included (SI1) range. It's only then, at magnifications exceeding 10x, that minuscule inclusions become visible to the naked eye. Interestingly, a Very Slightly Included (VS2) and an Internally Flawless (IF) diamond may appear identical in person, diverging only under magnification. Therefore, as long as your diamond appears pristine and lustrous to the naked eye or the inclusion is hidden by a prong of the setting, it can meet the desired standard. Notably, flaws are more noticeable the bigger the stone, and particularly in step-cut diamonds like emeralds, asschers, and baguettes due to the nature of their cut.

clarity diamond grading


coloured gemstones

For colored gemstones, focus on finding a vibrant and well-cut stone that complements your partner's style - if you want to enhance the colour, definitely consider opting for step-cut gemstones (emerald, asscher, octagon cuts), but nothing prevents you from choosing a brilliant cut.

As the engagement ring is an adornment being worn daily and for life, we advise you to opt for stronger stones ranking at a minimum of 7 1/2 on the Mohs scale. From the softer Tourmaline, Emerald, Aquamarine, to the stronger Topaz, Spinel, Alexandrite, Sapphire, and Ruby, there is plenty of choice.

Don't forget that most of these stones come in different shades and intensities, so the sky is the limit and we will be happy to source a selection of gemstones for you to view on your appointment. You could even add in the mix your partner's birthstone, yours, or both, or again consider colour theory as a guideline to make your choice. If you want to read more about some of the stones we source, consult our Metal & Stones Guide and our Care Guide.

hafeez metal and gemstone colour theory

STEP 5 - Choosing The Setting and Design

pear diamond microset engagement ring

When discussing ring styles, the setting encompasses the entire design excluding the center stone - the prongs, gallery, band, and any embellishments. While the aesthetics of settings are crucial, their structural integrity is equally vital, as they secure the centerpiece and should ensure comfort for everyday wear.

From opulent halo designs to timeless solitaire silhouettes and fully customized creations, ring settings offer a vast array of choices. Seeking guidance from a professional can be immensely beneficial in selecting the most suitable piece.

Choosing the setting often proves to be one of the most challenging decisions in this process, so investing time to contemplate your and your partner's preferences is crucial — whether it leans towards modern or classic, nature-inspired or abstract, or a unique design.

Additionally, considering your partner's typical clothing, lifestyle, and accessory choices can inform the style of setting you ultimately opt for. For example, sharp prongs like talon claws or shapes with edges such as a pear, marquise, radiant, or princess might not be suitable for someone working with kids or pets as they might be more dangerous as compared to rounder or softer shapes. Or again, we would advise opting for a bezel/rubover set for anyone working with fabrics or working in the medical sector as the prongs might get caught in clothes or pierce the gloves. Side or melee stones require more maintenance when it comes to cleaning as they collect more dust and dirt over time, so they might not be suitable for someone working as a professional chef or an artist.

As for basic aspects, we advise opting for a "court" or "flat court" shape when it comes to the profile of the band - being rounded on the inside, these types of profiles ensure a higher comfort for the wearer. If choosing a microset, pave, or channel set, opt for a half or 3/4 eternity as the stones at the bottom might fall if the ring gets knocked on surfaces frequently. Leave some room between the collet (the part that holds the stone) and the shank (the metal part that goes around your finger) to facilitate the choice of a future wedding ring sitting flush with the engagement ring. Always opt for a minimum width of 2mm as anything below that will be too delicate and might bend more easily over time. For softer stones we recommend a bezel/rubover setting or a halo setting, ensuring that it is more protected, while for larger round diamond stones we recommend opting for a six prong setting for extra security.

hafeez classic engagement ring settings

At Hafeez, we understand that every love story is unique, which is why we offer bespoke options to tailor the aesthetics of your engagement ring to your story. You can opt for a classic setting that you like, even starting from an inherited ring to remodel, or leave it to us to guide you. You can choose to have the collet slightly raised to accommodate a simple wedding band or model the latter to sit flush with the engagement ring when the time comes.

We will listen to your requests to translate them into your unique design, and our expert artisans will work closely with us to bring your vision to life, incorporating meaningful details and symbols that celebrate your relationship, including secret stones and complimentary engraving. If requesting this service, make sure the wording is not too long as it might be damaged with future resizing. Also, to alleviate the stress of decision-making and if you're unsure about your partner's preferences or are on a tight timeline, we are pleased to offer sketch gifting, gem gifting, and e-gift cards, allowing them to participate in the design process before or after the proposal. If these options don't work for you or you are running out of time and you'd rather propose with a ring in a box, we are happy to provide you with a "placeholder" or "loaner" ring that you can return once your bespoke design is ready. If your partner has openly spoken about wanting to design the ring with you, we encourage you both to attend the appointment, ensuring that the engagement ring is a true reflection of your love and commitment - a moment to be cherished forever. For more information on the steps and services included, please check our bespoke page HERE.


We understand that determining your partner’s ring size without asking can pose a challenge, yet it's entirely feasible. Below, we outline several straightforward tips and strategies to assist you in this endeavor:

  • Borrow a ring from your partner’s jewellery collection and visit a jeweler to have it sized accurately, or alternatively trace the inside circumference of the ring onto a piece of paper.

  • Ask trusted friends or family members to discreetly ascertain their ring size

  • It's advisable to opt for a slightly larger size to ensure the ring can be comfortably worn upon proposing

  • If secrecy isn't a concern, purchase a ring sizer online or use our online printable tools

  • Try one of your partner's rings on your own pinky finger or any other digit and note where it rests, providing a helpful indication of their true size

Additionally, do not worry if you get the size wrong: we offer complimentary resizing for the first time, and you are more than welcome to consult our ring sizing page HERE where you can find additional useful tips to help you.

Choosing the perfect engagement ring is a significant decision, but it doesn't have to be daunting. By understanding your partner's style, setting a budget, selecting the right metal and gemstone, and incorporating elements of customization, you can create a ring that symbolizes your love and commitment in a meaningful way. Remember, the most important aspect of the ring is the love and devotion it represents, so choose with your heart and celebrate the beginning of your journey together. Get in touch to book your complimentary virtual consultation with us and join our world of endless possibilities.