A Beginners Guide to Engagement Ring Style

A Beginners Guide to Engagement Ring Style

You’ve started looking for the ring. An overwhelming amount of choice confronts you, and that’s without even delving into all the subtleties of design. How are you supposed to sift through them all to find something your partner will love?

The world of engagement ring styles can be daunting. However, armed with the following guide, you’ll be able to navigate it with ease and come out the other side with the perfect ring.

Breaking down the Ring

An engagement ring may seem to consist simply of a band and a stone, but in reality there’s a lot more to it. How all the different features are combined influence the final style of an engagement ring, so understanding the basics will help you down the line.

Head: the piece of the band that holds the centre stone in place.

Prongs: A part of the head, these are the small metal claws that hold any gemstones in place. There’s generally four to six of them.

Band: Sometimes called a shank, this can vary in width all the way around. The precious metal chosen for the band is one of the big decisions involved in picking out an engagement ring.

Shoulder: The top two sides of the band, on either side of the head.

Setting: The entire ring, excluding any gems.

Side stones: Side stones are any gems that border the centre stone.


Engagement ring styles can generally be grouped together into four broad categories. Within each of these there are many more variations to cover, but understanding the main setting designs, and discussing a few examples, will create a strong base with which to work.

These styles are the ones that are most commonly associated with engagement rings. However, this does not mean that they are boring, or plain.

This is the ultimate classic engagement ring, focusing on a single centre stone, set on a band.When looking at these, try to invest in a quality diamond as it will draw all the attention. The head is also important, as you want to show the stone off to its best without drawing attention away. After the gem itself, the prongs are often the biggest design point.The band is often simple, but can also be more elaborate if you want a different take on the classic. For example, a recent version of the solitaire that has become increasingly popular is the twist engagement ring. Here, the shoulders curve up to the centre stone and can be set with smaller diamonds, similar to a pave ring.

Small diamonds set directly next to each other in the shoulders of a band are what set a pave engagement ring apart. Whether it’s a single row or multiple, very little of the metal is seen, allowing the diamonds to sparkle unhindered.

Very similar to a Pave, a channel setting includes a row of diamonds set into the band. Flush to the metal, with the channel holding them in place, this design provides the extra sparkle without any additional worry. The diamonds won’t catch on surfaces, or become loose when knocked.

As the name suggests, this setting includes one centre diamond, accompanied by two, generally smaller, side stones. All three stones aren’t required to be the same, so you can personalise the ring by choosing semi-precious stones to border the diamond.This ring has a sentimental side to it as well, as the three gems are meant to represent the past, present, and future of your relationship.

With the halo engagement ring style, the centre stone is surrounded by a single, or double, row of gemstones, giving it a slight vintage feel. The extra sparkle can make the centre diamond appear larger, or you can bring a bit of colour to the ring with semi-precious gems.

Whether antique, or created with a specific era in mind, vintage rings tell a story of another time. This style of ring is strong in character, and they are sure to stand out. Choosing one is often based on a time period that your partner relates to, rather than specific features. A few examples follow.

Art Deco
There’s no specific design that’s associated with an Art Deco engagement ring. Instead, the settings are based around strong geometric patterns, containing striking symbols and colours. Highly stylised designs relate back to the late 1920s and 1930s, when this period held sway.

Art Nouveau
Harking from 1890 to 1900, this style of ring is the second most recognisable vintage ring after Art Deco. This period was a celebration of creative arts, so expect to find swirls, influences from nature, and pastel colours in the setting.


As the name suggests, this style of ring seeks to change and experiment with the form of the ring, often bringing in artistic touches. It can be difficult to find a wedding ring to match with some of these designs, so look for sets when possible.

A well-crafted tension ring setting is a marvel in skill and precision, where the diamond appears to be floating. Two pieces of metal use tension to hold the diamond in place between them, created with care by a jeweller. With so little used to hold the diamond in place and extra light hitting its surfaces, the stone looks even more brilliant. It is a truly unique style.Remember though, due to the delicate work involved these rings can be difficult to adjust so make sure you know the size of your partner’s ring finger.

No centre stone
With this style, the focus shifts to the band itself. Often resulting in a wider ring with more intricate detail put into the metal work, the rings can be formed to represent twining vines, a simple metal cross-over, or everything else in between. Though there is no centre gem, this doesn’t mean that the band can’t be set with stones.

Bezel setting
Rather than a prong setting for the head, a bezel setting secures the stones with a wrap-around metal rim. As well as being a contemporary look, it provides a level of security, ensuring that the diamond can’t be knocked loose.

Custom Design

If none of the styles you come across seem right, creating your own design might be for you. The end ring will be unique, and you can choose whether you want to use elements of other styles in its design. It also means you can create a set, where the wedding band fits with it perfectly. Just remember, the jeweller will need to check that they can securely set any gems involved.

In the end, what matter most about the ring you choose is that your partner loves it. Make sure you talk to your local jewellers for help and advice, and use this guide to navigate through the different engagement ring styles.

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