Ring Setting

There are typically two types of metal used for rings, gold and platinum.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so choose according to your desire and need.


The purity of gold is measured in karats, not carats which is a measurement of weight for diamonds.  A pure gold ring is a 24 karat ring.  Anything less than 24 karats is a mixture of gold and an alloy.  The table below shows a decrease is karats means a decrease in purity as well.

Karats Ratio % Gold
24 Karats pure gold 100%
18 Karats 18 parts gold, 6 parts alloy 75%
14 Karats 14 parts gold, 10 parts alloy 58.33%
10 Karats 10 parts gold, 14 parts alloy 41.66%

Remember when picking a ring that purity does not equal durability.  Gold is very pliable and can chip easily.  A ring that is not pure gold will be more resistant to damage.  A 24 karat gold ring may seem like a great idea, unless your future spouse does a great deal of hands on work.  Find a balance that suits you.  Gold comes in two flavors, white and yellow, and shines up nicely.


Platinum gives the ultimate answer to durability.  This metal is much stronger than gold and is more rare.  These features usually come with a heavy price tag as well.  Many people go for this kind of ring because of its popularity and rarity. It’s only disadvantages are that it is difficult to repair if something does go wrong, and it tends to dull over time.  It is also difficult to polish.

White Gold

Another alternative is white gold.  White gold is usually are mixture of gold with a white metal such as nickel.  Although nickel is not exclusively used to create white gold, it is the most prevalent. Typically, nickel will comprise 10% of the mixture with copper being thrown in to increase the flexibility of the band. White gold is a good alternative when one wants to have the look of platinum but only has the budget for gold.

Any of these choices are superb metals but the choice is as individual as the diamond you select to sit upon the ring.

The First Steps

Congratulations on starting a journey that many have traveled before you.  Searching for an engagement ring can be tedious but rewarding process.  By the end of your searching and shopping one hopes to have a ring that will symbolically express love and commitment to another.

A popular way guys tend to go about the hunt for a diamond ring is by searching, shrouded in secrecy.  I believe the whole idea is to shock the lady with a bright shiny stone in order to lure her during the brief second of ensuing insanity.  But, whatever the reason, please keep in mind a few things before you get to the counter or web page of a jeweler.

Ring Size

What is her ring size?  If you are not going the surprise route or if you fiancé was like mine and has already slipped you the “by the way my ring size is this” conversation, then this is a non-issue, but if you would like to keep everything a secret and your fiancé is not as forward, then you might have to do some spy work.  There are three ways of gaining the information you need.

The first, and most bold way, is to borrow a ring she does not wear to often.  Of course, the problem with this approach is that if she realizes that the ring is missing, your secrecy is lost.

A better way to go about getting her ring size is to take a small tapered candle and slide one of her rings over it while she is out.  Make sure that the ring leaves an imprint in the wax.  Next, measure the circumference of the candle at the imprint with a piece of string.  Extend the string and measure it with a ruler that has a millimeter scale.  The chart below will give you the ring size.

The third way is simply to ask a relative, friend, or roommate you can trust.

Ring Size Measurement (millimeters)
3 44.1
3.5 45.4
4 46.7
4.5 48
5 49.2
5.5 50.5
6 51.8
6.5 53.1
7 54.3
7.5 55.6
8 56.9
8.5 58.2
9 59.4
9.5 60.7
10 62
10.5 63.3
11 64.5
11.5 65.8
12 67.1
12.5 68.3
13 69.6

Jewelry Taste

Next, consider her tastes.  What type of jewelry does she normally wear?  What color is the jewelry? Does she tend to like jewelry that is oversized or barely noticeable?  Is it usually traditional or more edgy and modern?  Notice what she likes for a few days and what she likes to wear.  You will get a sense of the type of jewelry you are looking for.  Also, notice what she says about other people’s jewelry and rings.

Diamond Size

Last, how should the diamond look on her finger?  Will the diamond dwarf her finger or will her finger make the diamond seem like a spec?  These questions go right along with the question of her taste.  How large a stone are you willing to pay for and how much are you willing to pay.  After being informed about the other characteristics of a diamond, make that decision and stick with it.  The more money you save, the bigger diamond you will want to get, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Selecting a Diamond

When selecting a diamond for an engagement ring there are several criteria to consider.  These benchmarks are commonly refered to as the four C’s.  Below each are defined.  For more detailed information on each topic, click on the term.

Term Definition
Color The diamond’s color usually refers to the absence or presence of a yellow tint.  A color grade of “D” means that a diamond is colorless and a color grade of “Z” is the darkest yellow.  Diamond color progressively gets more yellow from D to Z.
Carat Weight A carat is not the physical dimensional size of the diamond but rather its weight, or more precisely its mass. 1 carat = 200 milligrams = 100 points
Cut The diamonds cut refers to the dimensions and proportions to which the diamond is cut.  Cut is critical in order to obtain maximum diamond brilliance.  Sometimes cut is often confused with or associated with style and shape.
Clarity The clarity of a diamond is the absence or presence of flaws, scratches, or mineral deposits inside the stone.  Click the clarity term to see the grading chart.


These criteria have been used for years to help customers understand the uniqueness of diamond and how that uniqueness equates to price.  Any jewelry retailer worth visiting will be able to relay details about a specific piece in their shop by using the terms listed above.

After you have determined the criteria of the diamond you want, be sure to look at the diamond’s certification to ensure those qualities.