Popping the Question: How to Make an Engagement Ring Unique?
2020 was definitely an unconventional year, and it would seem this has inspired millions of people to plan how to make their engagement ring unique and unconventional. How do you put a completely unique spin on a centuries-old tradition? Well, we can think of more than a few ways.
We've put together a list of the top 10 best engagement ring design ideas that will help you make your engagement ring stand out. These include personal engravings, gemstones like emerald, mixed metal bands, unique cuts like pear shaped cut diamonds, and more. If you want to know how to make an engagement ring unique, the short answer is to get as far away from the simple platinum band and round cut diamond as possible.
But before we get into that, there are some basics about engagement rings we need to cover first:
Diamond or Gemstone?
Did you know when most Millenials decide on an engagement ring, they're choosing diamonds less often than other generations? As a matter of fact, the first wedding rings never had diamonds and were simply signs of "ownership" in ancient Rome. (Thank goodness engagement rings have taken on a much more romantic and empowering meaning since then).
One of the first things to consider when deciding how to make your engagement ring unique is the center stone. Do you want a diamond or a colorful gemstone?
There are plenty of pros and cons for both diamonds and gemstones.
- Diamonds are rare and beautiful, and the most classic stone to use for iconic moments in your life like engagements and weddings
- They're often clear or colorless, making them a versatile accessory
- Diamonds are strong and hard-wearing
- Because they're so rare and tightly regulated, diamonds are often very expensive
- Some people don't enjoy the laws and history of violence surrounding the diamond industry*
- Some people consider diamonds too conventional and boring
*Note: One solution to questionable blood diamonds is buying a lab-grown diamond instead. Lab-grown diamonds are 100% fair trade and safe.
- Gemstones come in a wide variety of stunning colors, making them an eye-catching addition to any engagement ring
- Using a gemstone instead of a diamond for an engagement ring breaks tradition, and celebrities like Kate Middleton and Eva Longoria have endorsed this trend
- Gemstones often cost much less than a traditional diamond
- Some gemstones, like sapphire and ruby, are incredibly durable and long-lasting
- Gemstones are often too fragile to wear 24 hours a day
The only major con is many gemstones aren't good to use in an engagement ring. Gemstones like opal, pearls, garnet, turquoise, and amber are too soft or prone to chip. These popular stones won't last long if worn on your finger every day.
Other stones, like emeralds, tanzanite, quartz, aquamarine, amethyst, and tourmaline can work well in an engagement ring—if the ring is designed in a way that protects the stone. One way to do this is to set them in something strong like platinum. You'll also need to take better care of a gemstone ring than your average, durable diamond.
Let's not forget a new competitor in the diamond industry: lab-grown diamonds. These are also often called lab-created, man-made, or cultured diamonds.
Man-made diamonds are typically priced 20-40% less than traditional diamonds from a mine. A laboratory replicates the earth's natural process of crystallizing carbon, without any strenuous manual labor and the accompanying ethical concerns. They shine just as brightly for a fraction of the hassle, so maybe that's why 70% of millennials are considering lab-grown diamonds instead.
The Shape of the Diamond or Gemstone
Here are the most popular shapes for diamonds and gemstones, some of which are often used in engagement rings:
- Round cut
- Oval cut
- Cushion cut
- Princess cut
- Marquise (or Navette) cut
- Emerald cut
- Radiant cut
- Asscher cut
- Pear (or teardrop) cut
- Heart cut
- Trillion cut
If you're looking for a way to make your engagement ring stand out for the crowd, opt for one of the less predictable cuts on this list.
Trillion cuts, for example, have a triangular shape with either rounded or pointed edges. They're cut shallow in a way that makes them appear larger than they are. This style originates in the Netherlands and shines bright enough without drawing too much attention.
Or, try something more art deco like an Asscher cut or Baguette cut diamond. These styles are favorites among lovers of vintage and fashion-forward design.
Keep in mind, some of these cuts are significantly more labor-intensive and will add to the total cost of your ring. If you're having a hard time choosing between a few favorite cuts, remember to consider how much extra it will cost to cut a more obscure or complex shape.
Assuming you want a diamond centerpiece for your engagement ring, we need to talk carats. Most people assume carats refer to the diamond's size or sparkle, but really it only indicates the diamond's weight. Don't assume a bigger carat diamond is always better.
The cut of a diamond is actually what impacts the shine and sparkle the most. That's why most experts recommend saving on carat weight and splurging on the cost of the diamond's cut. A heavy diamond with a bad cut will often look smaller and cheaper than a less expensive diamond with an excellent cut.
Back in 1907, professionals at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures decided one diamond carat would equal 200mg or .2 grams of a diamond. Before that, precious metals and stones were weighed out using the seeds of the carob tree—which is where the word carat comes from. But diamonds can also be measure in "points," where 1 carat is 100 points.
The carat weight of your diamond will have the largest impact on the total price of your engagement ring by a landslide. So, when making your decision, consider a few things that impact the perceived size of your diamond:
- ring size
- finger length and width
- cut shape
- width of the metal band
A larger ring size and wider metal band will make any diamond look smaller. Alternatively, some fancy cuts will make any diamond appear larger than they would if cut in a basic oval shape. These are all important factors to consider before deciding on how many carats to pay for.
How to Make Your Engagement Ring Unique: 10 Best Design Ideas
Now that you're familiar with some of the different parts of an engagement ring, we're taking a look at the ways most people choose to put all these moving parts together and create a touching and unique engagement ring.
Here are 10 very popular ways to make an old tradition fresher than ever:
1. Non Traditional Rings With Personal Details
The best way to make sure your engagement ring is unlike any other is to request alterations that make a traditional ring one of a kind.
There are many ways to alter a traditional ring, like requesting a more obscure cut for the main stone or engraving a personal message of love on the metal band. Taking this extra step ensures your engagement ring will be completely unique and customized for your loved one.
2. Wedding Band Style Engagement Rings
For some couples, less is more.
Many weddings had to be postponed during 2020, and as a result, many couples opted for giving each other wedding bands as engagement rings. Besides feeling a little more official than a traditional engagement ring, for some this is a convenient two-in-one gift.
Many European cultures actually don't have engagement rings, and instead, fiancés gift each other wedding bands right away. Respecting this cultural heritage could be something to consider when designing a unique engagement ring.
One of the more popular engagement ring styles is using a large emerald for the center stone. Emeralds have a rich history as a profound symbol of love across the centuries.
Romans believed emeralds were sacred stones representing the Goddess Venus-Aphrodite. This Goddess encompassed love, beauty, fertility, and prosperity. Since the days of the Roman Empire, emeralds have come to represent Irish heritage.
4. Yellow Gold
Setting your engagement ring in yellow gold is a fast way to set your ring apart. Instead of classic platinum or white gold, yellow gold is more likely to match other casual jewelry. Yellow gold also tends to complement certain skin tones better than other metals.
5. Classic Styles With Modern Flare
Classic engagement ring designs like solitaire or a 3-stone ring are fine. But add a unique stone or mixed metal band for a modern twist that sets makes your ring truly unique.
Fashion-forward designs with traditional elements are sure to turn heads. By embracing traditional styles but adding your own flare, you get to bring your own personal touch to tried and true designs.
6. Petite Accent Stones
Petite stone rings create a tasteful simplicity that most people don't get to see often. Instead of a huge middle stone surrounded by halos of smaller diamonds, these petite side stones are delicate and understated. These rings are often a new take on the classic 3-stone ring, with all three stones being very small and asymmetrically off to the sides.
7. Pear Shaped Stones
Goodbye classic ovals, circles, and squares! Pear-shaped stones make wonderful centerpieces for unique engagement rings. If you have an Instagram account, you've probably seen a few celebrities with enormous pear-shaped diamond engagement rings.
Also called teardrop shape, pear-shaped rings often represent the strong will, independence, and unique style of the person wearing them. It's most commonly worn with the tip of the stone pointing toward the fingernails.
8. The Double Halo
Exactly as the name implies, engagement rings with a "double halo" feature two rows of smaller stones surrounding the center stone. This draws even more attention to the centerpiece and adds quite a lot of sparkle.
Once you decide you want a double halo, there are a variety of arrangements to choose from:
- top double halo ring
- floating double halo
- double halo with pave ring setting
- hidden side halo
- vintage double halo
- octagon or another unique shaped halo
If an extra layer of flare is what you want, look into getting a double halo design.
9. East-West Setting
Most engagement rings have a North-South setting. Getting an East-West setting—or in other words, laying your center stone on its side to cover more width of the ring finger—immediately makes your engagement ring extra rare.
This style works best with interesting-shaped stones like oval, rectangle, or pear-shaped. Laying the stone on its side also tends to make the stone look larger without spending more money. An East-West setting is a fast way to add a modern twist to any traditional ring style.
10. Mixed Metals
Besides picking an eye-catching gemstone color or differently cut center diamond, try changing the engagement band. A mixed metal band combines different colors of gold or platinum for an enticing effect.
We suggest sticking to the same type of metal if you do choose to mix metals. For example: rose gold and white gold, or yellow gold and white gold. You can design a band that intertwines both colors like plant vines, or create a wedding band with the opposite color as part of a mixed metal set.
Say "I Do" to Quality Jewelry
Diamond or gemstone, yellow or rose gold, we're positive these design ideas will help you figure out the engagement ring of your dreams. When in doubt, it doesn't hurt to fall back on older, more traditional designs and spice them up with a modern or personalized twist.
If you're still curious as to how to make an engagement ring unique, take a look at some more of our blog posts. We specialize in quality jewelry from engagement rings to mood rings.