Congratulations, you’ve made a big decision. You’ve decided you are going to ask your girlfriend to marry you. But, those big decisions aren’t over yet – you’ve now got to choose an engagement ring, and you can’t mess it up.

If, like most men, you’ve not worn much jewellery yourself you’ll be forgiven for stumbling along wondering where to start. Even if you have got a love for precious metals and diamonds the variety of choices and styles can be daunting. There’s also the added worry of making sure you choose a ring that your soon to be fiancé will love.

"Over the years the advice for purchasing engagement rings has become more complicated than it needs to be, so we’ve stripped away the fluff and come up with a list of the top things you need to consider before making one of the most important purchases of your life."  

What’s her style? Whether you spend £500 or £5000 if you don’t get a ring that matches your girlfriend’s style, make sure you keep the receipt. Before you start looking at our engagement ring collections have a look at her current jewellery. What sort of jewellery does she already wear? If she’s understated with her current jewellery, then she won’t be comfortable with a huge diamond encrusted ring. Maybe she’s even hinted in the past as to what sort of ring she wants. If so, head down those lines. If you’re really stuck though ask a close friend, that you can trust to keep a secret, for some advice. 

"We offer a diverse range of ethical engagement and wedding rings to suit any style of bride-to-be... here are a few suggestions to get you thinking!"

Styles of Engagement Rings

Must the ring be a diamond solitaire? The simple answer is “no”. While there are traditional approaches to what an engagement ring should be, the choice really is yours. Of course there are ‘off-the-shelf’ options but you might want to design a bespoke. If so, consider her favourite jewels and metals. Does she like diamonds or coloured gemstones, platinum or yellow gold? Maybe she would love an antique style. Whatever the style, there will be something somewhere that will be perfect.

Does it matter where the ring comes from? Your girlfriend is worth the world to you but buying something that truly shows your love for her doesn’t need to cost the earth. Beautiful ethical jewellery has been mined with the upmost care to the environment, the miners and their families.

"An ethical engagement ring shows you also care for the future of the planet you’ll be building a life together on." 

What on earth are the 4 Cs of diamonds? Diamonds are complicated things and are judged on Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat. These 4 Cs are universal agreements to determine the quality of the stone and cover.

Cut: Once mined, a diamond is cut so it reflects the light perfectly and creates as much sparkle as possible. This process is complicated and whether the end shape is round, emerald, pear, marquise, princess, oval or heart, the sides (or facets) made during the cutting will determine the diamond’s sparkle or ‘fire’. Mistakes can happen in this process and so the sparkle can diminish.

Diamond and Gemstone Cuts

Colour: Diamonds can take on different colours in their formation making some truly beautiful options for your engagement ring. Completely colourless diamonds are rated as ‘D’ with the scale moving up to ‘Z’. In between each scale diamonds will show different colours. Diamonds with very strong and distinct colours are very rare and are called ‘fancies’.

Clarity: Taking billions of years to form, diamonds can pick up slight imperfections. This helps make each one unique. While too may imperfections can affect a diamonds fire, so long as you aim for a grade no lower than SI1 (Slightly Included 1) you will be ok. The best and most expensive diamonds are rated IF (Internally Flawless) worst is I3 (Imperfect 3)

Carat: The weight and size of a diamond is measured by carat. A carat is equal to 0.2gm, or 200mgm. A carat is divided into 100 smaller units called points. For example, three-quarters of a carat is 75 points. The average size of most engagement-ring diamonds is somewhere between 0.3ct and 1ct. Do not confuse carats with karats, the unit of purity for gold.

Diamond Carat Sizes

Featured engagement ring: Athena Ethical Diamond 18ct Fairtrade Gold


But we go even further and add a 5th C: Certificate of Origin, to make sure you get the most ethical ring possible. 

"We feel that the most important thing is to know where a diamond has come from and how it was mined."

We mainly use traceable Canadian conflict-free sourced diamonds, as Canada has very good standards for mining diamonds, and it is one of few countries that have a certificate of origin for their stones, the Canada Mark.

All Arabel Lebrusan diamonds of 0.3ct and above have a certificate of origin, and a laboratory certificate, like the GIA certificate (please visit the GIA website for more information. they have great resources!).  If you wish to read more about our beautiful ethical jewellery please see our guide to Sustainability & Mining & Fairtrade.

Will it fit? You’ve chosen the ring, you’re 100% certain it’s going to be a winner, but what if it doesn’t fit? There’s a really simple way of working out what size ring you need to buy. Take one of her current rings and use that as a guide. Of course try not to use a ring she’ll miss for a few hours. This isn’t an exact science of course, as each of her fingers may be slightly different in size, but it’s a good start. Another thing to remember is that making a ring smaller is easier than making a ring larger so if you’re unsure err on the side of caution and ‘go large’.

Get her to choose it herself: If you’re really stuck (or she’s really fussy) you could remove yourself from the decision making process and borrow a sample ring for the proposal, but then let her choose the actual ring herself. We can provide you with a sample engagement ring for this type of situation, so you can save money for the one she chooses. This option is more popular than you think, and organising an engagement ring shopping day once you’re engaged can itself become a romantic event for both of you.

Using these few tips to get you started, we have hopefully cut through the jargon and offered some clarity on how to choose the engagement ring that is right for your fiancé. Of course if you have any questions you can give us a call, and naturally we wish you the best of luck.

Engagement Photo Shoot Jewellery by Arabel Lebrusan

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Love, Arabel