Linneys' Loves: Our Step-By-Step Guide To Choosing The Perfect Engagement Ring
Before the most important question of your life is asked, there’s a whole lot of others to answer.
“How much should I spend on the ring?”
“How do I choose the right stone? The right style?”
And of course…
“Should the one proposing choose the ring? Or should we choose one together?”
How to choose an engagement ring, step by step
An engagement ring is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. Not only because of the magnitude of the question that goes with it, but because an engagement ring is an item you want to be beloved forever—not a passing trend.
When a piece of jewellery has this much emotion wrapped up in it, it’s natural to feel a little nervous about the process.
Whether it’s an apprehensive proposer walking in solo or a shy but excited couple, our Linneys jewellers have seen it all. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to take you through the process step-by-step, covering:
- When you should start looking.
- Where you should start looking.
- How much you should spend.
- Choosing the right stone.
- Choosing the right band.
- Choosing an existing or bespoke design.
- Choosing the right jeweller.
1. When is the right time to start looking for a ring?
This depends on your answer to a couple of other questions:
Are you choosing the ring yourself, or making the decision together?
Tradition once dictated that the proposer must propose with the ring. But that was then. This is now.
This one is totally up to you and your partner. Does your partner love surprises? Or are they quite particular, and choosing the right ring without their input is giving you the sweats?
Some people love the idea of their future spouse presenting them with the perfect ring, others hate the idea of being left in the dark.
We think walking into a store and making the decision together is every bit as romantic as going it alone (and will ensure the ring is one they’ll love forever).
Do you have a special date in mind?
If you do have a special date in mind for your proposal or wedding, the sooner you start looking the better. There’s a lot to consider and you want to make sure you have plenty of time to get the right ring in time—especially if you’re planning to design your own.
Bespoke designs can take anywhere between 4-12 weeks. At Linneys, once your design is final it will be handcrafted in our Perth studio.
2. Where should I start looking?
Again, this depends on whether you’re going it solo or together.
- Look at the jewellery your partner already wears. Is it silver or gold? Do they love classics like diamonds and pearls or edgier, bolder stones? File this information away somewhere safe, you’ll need to come back to it later.
- Ask for help. If you’re thinking about proposing, chances are your partner has thought about it too. They’ve likely shared their likes and dislikes with a trusted friend, knowing you might come asking.
- Pinterest, magazines, and Instagram are great places to start. Create a board, take cuttings, or create a folder of saved posts filled with pieces you love.
- If you’re stuck, ask for a recommendation. If you know another couple who has been through the process recently, ask them for help. They’ve been right where you are, after all!
Once you know your likes and dislikes, start in-store.
An engagement ring isn’t the sort of purchase you want to make online. Opt for in-store where a professional can help you.
A good jeweller will be able to answer any questions you might have and give you the sort of peace of mind an online experience simply can’t. Besides, it’s the fun part! Head in-store at the earliest opportunity to see what pieces you’re drawn to and what shines a little brighter when it’s sitting on the finger of the one you chose.
3. How much should I spend on the ring?Four weeks’ salary? Three months’ salary?
You’ve likely heard these old ‘rules’ thrown around but the truth is they’re utterly meaningless. They were marketing gimmicks created to generate spend.
Here’s a few things to remember when deciding what the right budget for you is:
- Bigger isn’t necessarily better, or what the wearer wants. A lot of people prefer engagement rings of a smaller, understated nature that are more suitable for everyday wear.
- But if bigger is best for you, share this with your jeweller and ask them how to best maximise your investment.
- A good jeweller will be able to work with almost any budget. Be upfront about how much you are prepared to spend and let them work their magic. They may suggest a stone, setting or clarity you hadn’t considered before.
4. How do I choose the right stone?
When we talk about stones, we’re not just talking about the type of gem (diamond, ruby, emerald or sapphire?) but the four ‘C’s’—cut, colour, clarity, and carat.
Choosing the right gemstone
The options are endless. Here’s our breakdown of some of the most common choices.
Nothing sparkles quite like a diamond. By far the most popular choice, a diamond is also classic, timeless, and incredibly durable—the perfect gem for a lifetime of wear.
This oval cut diamond solitaire ring is the definition of timeless.
Rivalling diamonds for their hardness and durability, a sapphire makes an equally timeless choice. The blue of a sapphire is also believed to represent honesty, trust, and loyalty—a good omen for any marriage.
This design marries both diamond and sapphire together to make a ring that will be cherished forever.
A beautiful, statement stone that oozes glamour. Emeralds are thought to represent luck, love, friendship, and new beginnings. They’re not as durable as diamonds or sapphires, which is something to consider if you plan to wear your ring every day.
What could be more romantic than a ruby? Symbolic of love and passion, a ruby makes a fine choice for an engagement ring. They’re also hardier than emeralds, making them suitable for everyday wear too.
Choosing the right shape
Arguably the most important choice, the shape of a stone is easily its most distinguishable feature and says a lot about the wearer’s tastes and style.
A timeless classic that allows the stone—particularly a diamond—to shine at its most brilliant.
A square shape with pointed corners, the princess is another brilliant cut and the second most popular choice for engagement rings.
This stunning princess cut diamond tapers towards the centre, maximising its visual impact.
Essentially a round and princess hybrid, a cushion cut is square in appearance but with soft, rounded edges.
Sophisticated, elegant, and understated, the emerald is a very popular choice. Its rectangular shape is cut with linear, straight facets that create a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. It’s a style that works particularly well with coloured stones.
Another brilliant cut, a radiant stone is a rectangular shape similar to an emerald but its facets are cut in the style of a round, giving it a brighter sparkle.
A striking radiant cut solitaire is a masterpiece of design.
An elongated shape with plenty of sparkle, an oval cut gives the appearance of a larger stone even if it is the same weight as a round. A great way to get a bigger stone, especially where cost is a factor.
An elongated, oval design with pointed ends, this unique shape evokes feelings of vintage opulence. Popularised in the 1970’s, it’s perfect for lovers of old-world glamour and jewels that ooze a little more individuality.
Two side-set marquise diamonds are the perfect showcase for a glamorous centre marquise.
Otherwise known as a teardrop, a pear cut stone is rounded on one side and tapers to a pointed edge on the other. The wearer can choose where the stone points—into the heart or shining out from it.
Last but not least, the heart. The most romantic choice for obvious reasons, this shape is symbolic of beauty, femininity, love, and commitment.
A halo of brilliant round diamonds accentuates the heart in the centre of this fairy-tale piece.
What about the 4 C’s?
Now you’ve chosen your gem and its shape, it’s time to talk about the specifics of the stone in question: its cut, colour, clarity, and carat. This is especially important when choosing a diamond.
The cut determines a stone’s beauty. It’s based on seven characteristics: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight, ratio, durability, symmetry, and polish. When determining a diamond’s value, cut is considered more important than colour, clarity, or carat.
The Linneys diamond benchmark: the Finest Make.
The less colour a diamond emits, the higher its value. A truly colourless diamond will be classified a D, and as traces of yellow or brown appear the scale progresses through the alphabet to Z.
Almost all diamonds will have some manner of natural flaw, known as an ‘inclusion’. The fewer inclusions, the higher the value. A range of factors are considered including size, colour, nature, quantity, and location of any inclusions.
The one you’re probably most familiar with (and concerned about) is the carat. The carat refers to the size or ‘weight’ of the stone. A carat is equal to 0.2 grams and is divided by 100 points. Diamonds with a high carat weight are rare and you’ll pay considerably more for them than a smaller stone.
Our tip? Don’t get preoccupied with the weight. Consider all 4 C’s and talk to your jeweller about which they consider the most important for the type of gem and shape you’re choosing. Sometimes stones with a distinctive colour are favoured for their unique aesthetic, while clarity can look good on paper—but not all stones are created equal. Inclusions close to the girdle can also pose risks when being set or worn.
5. How do I choose the right band?
Now you’ve chosen the stone, it’s time to choose the band (yes, we’re still talking about the same ring).
This really comes down to personal preference—if the wearer never or rarely wears silver jewellery for instance, gold is the way to go. Where both are an option, it’s worth considering the stone. Emeralds and rubies look beautiful in gold, while silver enhances a diamond’s sparkle.
The most important thing to consider is the metal’s durability and if it will be able to cope with long-term, daily wear.
A denser metal than gold, platinum is incredibly durable, never tarnishes and shines spectacularly. It’s also hypoallergenic, which makes it the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin.
This engagement ring was specially designed to house its 4.06 carat round brilliant cut diamond.
White gold is made by combining yellow gold with zinc, nickel or silver and is typically plated in rhodium to give it its whiteness and shine. The rhodium can wear away over time, but while it may need to be re-plated once every few years it’s still a stunning, timeless, and durable choice.
A combination of pure gold and other metals like copper and zinc, yellow gold is a classic choice. Its versatility lends itself to both modern and vintage looks, depending on your style and design.
Three stone rings are known for their symbolism of a couple’s past, present and future.
Rose gold offers a romantic and nostalgic edge to any engagement piece. It’s crafted by combining pure gold with copper and is growing in popularity.
What about wedding bands?
These don’t need to match. If you prefer gold but your partner has sensitivities that require them to wear platinum, there’s nothing wrong with having your own unique designs.
If you’d still like them to be ‘pairs’, a good designer will be able to craft two unique, yet complementary designs (much like the two of you). This can be as simple as matching inscriptions on the inside of each band.
Wedding rings tend to be of a simpler design than an engagement ring, which is why we always suggest you focus on choosing the perfect engagement ring first. No matter what engagement ring you choose, any good jeweller will be able to help you choose a wedding band to sit beside it later.
6. When should I consider a bespoke design?
Maybe you’ve fallen in love with a particular design but wish it came with a ruby rather than a diamond. Or maybe there’s a jewel in your grandmother’s collection you’d love to see worn again, or you’ve been going from store to store and just haven’t found ‘the one’—the piece you know is going to be an instant ‘yes’.
If you’re nodding along to any of this, it might be time to consider a bespoke ring.
What is the difference between a bespoke and a ready-made ring?
A ready-made ring is an existing piece of a jeweller’s collection, one that you can find in store and walk out with that very day. It’s been designed by the jeweller, and the jeweller only.
A bespoke ring is designed in partnership with the jeweller and you. It’s a very personal process and tells a story like no other piece of jewellery. It is also entirely unique to you—you will never see it on the hand of another.
A bespoke ring can be made by making unique customisations to an existing design or be designed from scratch to create a one-of-a-kind piece. At Linneys, there is no difference in either quality or price between the pieces in our showroom and those that are made to order.
How is a bespoke design made?
You will make an appointment with your jeweller to discuss your design. It’s a good idea to walk into this appointment with an idea of what you would like and any sentimental pieces you would like incorporated. The jeweller will take your ring measurements and may ask you to try on some existing pieces to discover what you like best.
Your designer will now transform your conversation into a personalised, technical design drawing for your review. Stones, metals, and any other materials will also be selected and the final design—once approved by you—will be crafted.
When choosing a bespoke design, what should be considered?
It can be tempting to match a design to a dress, but remember that this ring will be worn on your wedding day and many days after that. Design for a lifetime, not for a day.
Ensure the ring reflects your personal style as well as its sentiments. It can be just as tempting to get swept away in the romance of the wedding and momentary trends, but if the piece you end up with does not reflect you and the rest of your wardrobe, it will wind up being a very beautiful keepsake for your jewellery box.
7. How do I choose the right jeweller?
The importance of choosing an experienced, quality jeweller cannot be overstated. This is a piece you will wear for a lifetime and that your family will treasure beyond that.
Opt for a jeweller with ethical, sustainable practices.
A jeweller who has a high standard for ethically sourced material will always create pieces of a higher quality than those who do not. When browsing a jeweller’s collection, always ask how and where their gems and precious metals are sourced and ask to see certification.
At Linneys we only use certified diamonds, gemstones, and Australian South Sea pearls, and all diamonds are sourced through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)—a multilateral trade regime that prevents the flow of conflict or ‘blood’ diamonds.
Opt for a jeweller who makes their own pieces.
A jeweller who is not just a jeweller but a master craftsman that makes their own pieces, rather than just selling those of others, will be able to offer you the choice to create your own bespoke design as well as access to a range of other services like re-sizing, re-plating, and cleaning.
With a fully equipped workshop in Subiaco, Linneys can help you with all the above. When you leave a treasured item with us, it will never be sent anywhere else.
So, what’s the most important thing to remember?While there’s always a right person, there’s no ‘right’ answer when it comes to your engagement.
The rings may be steeped in tradition, but yours don’t have to be. Modern rings are often chosen together, feature diamonds or don’t feature diamonds, are selected in store or made to order, match a partner’s band or don’t.
The only thing that matters is that they’re sitting on the finger of the right person—and that they both last a lifetime.
Ready to find the perfect ring? Linneys has a brilliant-cut range of engagement rings as unique as your love story. View our engagement collection online and visit us at our Perth, Subiaco or Burswood showrooms where our jewellers will help you find the one—or design your own.