The Beginner’s Guide to Engagement Ring Styles

The Beginner’s Guide to Engagement Ring Styles Cover Photo
13 min read9 June 2024

Buying an engagement ring is one of the first luxury purchases that you will make as a couple. It will also be something that you or your partner will wear for a lifetime. So how do you find an engagement ring style that will last a lifetime? This article will walk you through how to find that classic but unique engagement ring that is meaningful for you, your partner and your relationship.

Summary:

  • An engagement ring style can be broken up into three main categories: composition, gemstone selection and setting height (low or high set engagement rings).

  • There are also accents to engagement rings such as halos, hidden halos, diamonds or gemstones on the band, and bezels. These can be tasteful if done correctly.

  • There is an increasing movement for couples to choose on an engagement ring style or design together.

  • While the classic white diamond is still the most popular stone, there is an uptick in couples choosing more interesting colours and gemstones such as coloured diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.

  • Whatever engagement ring style you choose, it is important to get the structural composition right.

  • You shouldn’t be expected to know any of the technical terms when working with a jeweller (i.e., setting, cut, the 4Cs etc). It is the job of a jeweller to understand your taste and lifestyle so that you can come to a design together.

  • At Four Words, we do custom bespoke jewellery with the top 2% of diamonds and gemstones in the world which means you can get exactly what you want. We will also guide you on what you shouldn’t do and designs you should avoid.

The Classic Solitaire Engagement Ring Style

When thinking about an engagement ring, the easiest image to conjure is a diamond solitaire engagement ring. This engagement ring style has been trending for decades but by no means does that mean it has become stale.

The diamond or gemstone shape has always been evolving. Twenty years ago, Princess cut diamonds were popular. Ten years ago, the Round Brilliant was popular. Now it is the Oval cut, trending towards the Cushion cut.

Below is an exquisite 1 carat Princess Cut with bezels at the corners in a tapered yellow gold band.

Princess cut diamond solitaire in 14K yellow gold
Princess cut diamond solitaire in 14K yellow gold

The Round Brilliant is still a popular choice for many couples looking for something simple and classic. But that doesn't mean it cannot be styled. This exquisite bridal set oozes class and sophistication without being gaudy.

Diamond bridal set featuring a 1.5 carat round cut diamond engagement ring in yellow gold and an infinity band.
Diamond bridal set featuring a 1.5 carat round cut diamond engagement ring in yellow gold and an infinity band.

One of the most popular engagement rings that we do at Four Words is the 2.5 carat oval solitaire engagement ring with a hidden halo in a yellow gold band.

2.5 carat oval solitaire moissanite engagement ring featuring a halo and diamond bridge
2.5 carat oval solitaire moissanite engagement ring featuring a halo and diamond bridge

But it’s not just the change in stone shape. Different gemstones, accenting features such as hidden halo, diamonds on the band and bezels have come in and out of vogue.

For example, this beautiful bridal set comes with an oval blue spinel solitaire engagement ring and an angled halo constructed out of round and pear-shaped diamonds.

Custom bridal set featuring a blue spinel

Recently we have also seen an uptick in coloured gemstones such as coloured diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. We believe this is quite a big shift in the engagement ring culture as it represents quite a big shift away from the stronghold that diamonds had over the last 100 years on being the engagement ring stone. And the results are stunning.

Oval sapphire engagement ring with halo in yellow gold band
Oval sapphire engagement ring with halo in yellow gold band

Toi et Moi and Two Stone Engagement Rings

Toi et moi, which is French for you and me can be an incredible engagement ring style if you get it right. The toi et moi is much more adventurous than a solitaire engagement ring, and what we have found is that couples that indulge in a bit of asymmetry tend to get the most compliments.

And asymmetry can be found in colour, shape or size.

For example, the engagement ring below features a cognac coloured Asscher cut moissanite and champagne coloured round moissanite in a rose gold band.

Toi et moi cognac coloured Asscher cut moissanite and champagne coloured round moissanite in a rose gold band.
Toi et moi Asscher cut cognac moissanite and round cut champagne moissanite in a rose gold band

Toi et moi engagement rings can also come with the flourishes just like a solitaire engagement ring — bezels, diamonds on the band and halos. But what we have found is that these need to be considered very carefully.

In fact, at Four Words we have not done a toi et moi with diamonds along the band or with a hidden halo. But we have played with bezels. For example, the ring below features a round cut ruby in full halo and a round cut pink sapphire in half bezel in rose gold for a stunning look.

Toi et moi round cut ruby in full bezel and round cut pink sapphire in half bezel engagement ring in a yellow gold band.
Toi et moi round cut ruby in full bezel and round cut pink sapphire in half bezel engagement ring in a yellow gold band.

An accent should never take centre stage. It should always be something that adds to the ring — a bit like salt in cooking.

Toi et moi featuring emerald cut red moissanite and pear cut blue sapphire
Toi et moi featuring emerald cut red moissanite and pear cut blue sapphire

Three Stone Engagement Rings

The three stone engagement ring represents a couple’s past, present and future together. It can also represent friendship, love and fidelity

A three stone engagement ring provides your finger with a lot more diamond or gemstone coverage. And while symmetry in a toi et moi is more likely to be frowned on, it works really well in a three stone engagement ring. In fact, there are three different ways you can style a three stone engagement ring:

Symmetrical three stone engagement ring

This is where the second stone may be different but the diamond on gemstone on each side is the same. They are also aligned.

3 stone engagement ring with Asscher cut sapphire with hexagonal cut diamonds
3 stone engagement ring with Asscher cut sapphire with hexagonal cut diamonds

Consistent

In a consistent three stone engagement ring, each stone is the same colour and shape. This design is most likely to give your finger the most diamond or gemstone coverage.

3 stone emerald diamond engagement ring in a platinum ring
3 stone emerald diamond engagement ring in a platinum band

Asymmetrical

This is our favourite three stone engagement ring composition. It is where there is one stone takes centre stage and the two remaining stones are treated as accenting stones.

Radiant cut diamond with two accenting pear diamonds in a yellow gold band
Radiant cut diamond with two accenting pear diamonds in a yellow gold band

This approach allows you a lot of creative freedom and you can create something spectacular all while keeping in line with the idea of something classic but unique.

Multi-stone Engagement Rings

Multi-stone engagement rings have four or more diamonds or gemstones. These types of engagement rings are a lot more adventurous and can be harder to get right. Multi-stone engagement rings also don’t fall into the “classic but unique” bucket, and what you do create will definitely be unique.

For example, the ring below features a 5 stone engagement ring with an elongated hexagonal cut emerald with accenting round and portrait diamonds in a yellow gold band. This is definitely going to get you compliments!

5 stone engagement ring featuring an elongated hexagonal cut emerald with accenting round and portrait diamonds in a yellow gold band
5 stone engagement ring featuring an elongated hexagonal cut emerald with accenting round and portrait diamonds in a yellow gold band

The couples that we have worked with to create a multi-stone engagement ring typically are keen to explore the boundaries of what is possible with an engagement ring. For example, we typically see couples different gemstones, shapes and colours. The ring below is no exception. With a throwback to the art deco era, this ring screams Bridgerton vibes without coming across as loud.

Pear cut cluster in art deco style engagement ring
Pear cut cluster in art deco style engagement ring

Diamonds and Gemstones To Consider for Your Engagement Ring

Diamonds

Diamonds are the go to stone for an engagement ring. Diamonds are graded on the 4Cs - colour, clarity, cut and carat. At Four Words we have written about this a lot with multiple guides. But when you buy from Four Words, you don’t need to worry about the jargon. We will pick out the best diamond that the eye can see without overpaying for things that you can’t see.

At Four Words we have perfected our process and crafted more than 1000 custom bespoke diamond engagement rings so you will be in safe hands when you buy from us.

All our diamonds are cut for maximum shine and sparkle. At other jewellers you need to make a conscious decision to buy the best looking diamond -- something which is actually harder than it seems.

Cut Comparison Four Words

We also only choose diamonds that do not have visible inclusions. Why pay more for something that you won't be able to see?

Clarity Comparison Four Words

All our diamonds are also colourless to the naked eye. This means an F grade or higher.

Colour Comparison Four Words

We also love custom cut diamonds such as this beautiful heart cut diamond in full bezel in a yellow gold band.

Heart cut lab grown diamond engagement ring in full bezel in a yellow gold band.
Heart cut lab grown diamond engagement ring in full bezel in a yellow gold band.

Moissanites

Moissanites are similar to diamonds but are not diamonds. They are also not diamond imitation. They are their own class of gemstones. They are extremely durable (only 2nd to diamonds), are typically 50% more affordable than diamonds and most people can’t tell the difference. And of those that can, they can only do so because moissanites are actually more sparkly than diamonds.

Moissanites are also our second most popular gemstone after diamonds. They offer all of the luxe of a diamond without the price tag.

1 carat pear moissanite with different coloured gemstones making up a halo in a 14K yellow gold band
1 carat pear moissanite with different coloured gemstones making up a halo in a 14K yellow gold band

Sapphire Engagement Ring

While typically known to be blue, sapphires come in lots of different colours and belong to the same family of gemstones as rubies. They are very strong, and sit on 9/10 of the Mohs scale (diamonds are 10 and moissanites are 9.5) making sapphire rings great for everyday wear, even at large carat equivalent sizes. The sapphire engagement ring below is no exception. This teal oval sapphire engagement ring features10 accenting pear and round diamonds in a yellow gold band.

Teal oval sapphire in 10 accenting pear and round diamonds in a yellow gold band
Teal oval sapphire in 10 accenting pear and round diamonds in a yellow gold band

In New Zealand, the price of a sapphire varies a lot so much so we wrote an article about it which found that most retailers charge a premium because there aren’t too many jewellers in New Zealand that work with them.

Furthermore, many sapphire merchants use diamond cutters to cut their sapphires. But sapphires shouldn’t be cut like diamonds because they have different structural properties.

At Four Words, we work with the top sapphire suppliers in the world to get you exactly the colour that you are looking for. We also ensure that all the sapphires that we buy are cut specifically to the Four Words standard.

Round pink sapphire engagement ring in yellow gold with pink diamond pave
Round pink sapphire engagement ring in yellow gold with pink diamond pave

Emeralds

The emerald gemstone is also part of the beryl family and is known for its rich green colours. They also score around 9/10 on the Mohs scale and they are durable for an engagement ring.

And when it comes to design, we have noticed a new trend emerge with emeralds. Most couples are choosing emeralds with half or full bezel over prongs. This was the complete opposite a couple of years ago.

Oval emerald in full bezel with diamond halo with a split shank with diamonds running along the band
Oval emerald in full bezel with diamond halo with a split shank with diamonds running along the band

Finding a good jeweller in New Zealand for an emerald engagement ring can be tough. At Four Words, we are one of the only jewellers that have the supply chain to find you the exact emerald that you are looking for. We can also custom cut an emerald so you can even get the exact shape that you are after.

One of the first emerald that we designed was an asymmetric pear cut emerald engagement ring with an accenting round diamond in a yellow gold band. It also happens to be one of our most popular designs.

Asymmetric pear cut emerald engagement ring with an accenting round diamond in a yellow gold band
Asymmetric pear cut emerald engagement ring with an accenting round diamond in a yellow gold band

Rubies

Rubies are also part of the beryl group (the same as sapphires and emeralds). As such, they are just as durable as sapphires making them suitable for everyday wear.

And just like multi-stone engagement rings, a lot of thought and planning needs to go into purchasing a ruby engagement ring.

“We typically encourage our client’s to at least get an idea of if your partner is keen on a ruby before choosing it as a centre stone” says Isabella — head of design. “In saying that, rubies can be used as accenting stones in ways that even the traditionalist would be pleasantly surprised by.”

Kite cut ruby engagement ring with six accenting round diamonds in a yellow gold band with a flush fit wedding ring.
Kite cut ruby engagement ring with six accenting round diamonds in a yellow gold band with a flush fit wedding ring.

So if you are planning on proposing with a ruby engagement ring, we highly recommend you plan the engagement ring design with your partner. And at Four Words we offer a full custom bespoke design process so you and your partner can get exactly what you want.

Other gemstones

At Four Words we also deal with a wide range of other gemstones such as aquamarines, spinels and alexandrites. They make for absolutely beautiful engagement rings.

1.5 carat equivalent oval aquamarine with two accenting lab grown diamonds with a 14K yellow gold ring.
1.5 carat equivalent oval aquamarine with two accenting lab grown diamonds with a 14K yellow gold ring.

Engagement Ring Style Accents and Features

Not only can you customise the composition and gemstone of an engagement ring, you can also do so with little accents or features. These include things like halos, hidden halos, diamonds or gemstones on the band, and bezels.

Halos

A halo is a set of diamonds or gemstones that surround the centre stone. Halo’s come in three main types:

The traditional halo

The simple halo is a set of diamonds or gemstones that surround the centre stone at the same height. They add a lot more sparkle to the engagement ring in general and is a great feature to add if you are getting a smaller centre stone. It is the definition of classic but unique.

1 carat round cut ruby with diamond halo in a yellow gold band.
1 carat round cut ruby with diamond halo in a yellow gold band.

The asymmetric halo

Maximalist in its nature, the asymmetric halo suits those that are bold, adventurous and want something to leave themselves and their friends in awe. Just like the traditional halo, it sits at the same height as the centre stone but the diamonds or gemstones can all be different shapes or sizes.

Round cut ruby in full bezel with asymmetric diamond halo using emerald cut diamonds in a milgrain band with channel set diamonds.
Round cut ruby in full bezel with asymmetric diamond halo using emerald cut diamonds in a milgrain band with channel set diamonds.

The hidden halo

The hidden halo is a very popular feature especially with an oval solitaire. The halo sits below the centre stone and can only be seen from the side on. We love the hidden halo because it is a little bit like a secret and IYKYK. It also gives you a chance to use gemstones that are meaningful to you without compromising on the centre stone (we typically see couples opt for a diamond centre stone and the hidden halo in their birthstones).

2 carat champagne diamond with hidden emerald halo in a yellow gold band
2 carat champagne diamond with hidden emerald halo in a yellow gold band

Bezels vs prongs

Both bezels and prongs hold a diamond or gemstone in its place. Prongs are popular with cuts that have curvature to them (i.e., ovals, pears and round cuts) whereas bezels are more popular with cuts that have straight lines (i.e., emeralds, Princess and Asscher).

Prongs

Typical engagement rings have their centre stones held together by prongs. These are exactly what the name suggests — essentially clips that ensure that the diamond or gemstone doesn’t fall out.

Round cut diamond with hidden halo and channel set diamonds on a yellow gold band
Round cut diamond with hidden halo and channel set diamonds on a yellow gold band

Bezels

A bezel setting in an engagement ring is when a thin piece of metal (typically the same material as your band) wraps around the diamond or gemstone. Its sleek finish gives any engagement ring a more modern look. They are great for people with an active lifestyle, and is a throwback to the art deco era.

Rose Gold Octagonal Emerald Twisted Band Engagement Ring

How to choose your engagement ring style

Choosing the perfect style for your engagement ring is a personal and meaningful process that should reflect the unique bond you share with your partner. We believe that it shouldn’t be dictated by tradition or heritage — rather guided by it.

Classic styles like solitaire or halo are timeless and focus on enhancing the central stone, making them suitable for someone with an elegant and straightforward taste. For a partner with a more vibrant, outgoing personality, consider more intricate designs with multiple stones or unique settings.

Working with Four Words

Whether you are looking for a bespoke engagement ring or want to know what is possible, we would love to hear from you. Our custom bespoke engagement ring process will ensure that you can get exactly what you want. Even better, we will work within your budget.

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