Most people looking for an engagement ring find one in a shop or online retailer.  Our clients tend to want something more original, something which they can tailor to the character of the recipient.  ‘Bespoke’ is the difference between a piece that is nice and one that is perfect.


What are the traditional elements of an engagement ring? If you picture one in your mind’s eye you probably think of a single diamond set prominently on a slender band of gold, perhaps it tapers in slightly towards the gemstone. This has been a fairly stable vision for well over a century.  Much has been made of the De Beers Diamond Company and the marketing effort they made in the middle of the 20th century to create the idea of the diamond engagement ring and to coin the phrase ‘A Diamond is Forever’. The design we all see is actually a Tiffany & Co design from 1886.  They called it the ‘Tiffany Setting’.

Perhaps we are more free now than ever before to express ourselves as we choose and it is increasingly possible to re-think these conventions.  So what are they and how might we go our own way? 


A solitaire (singular gem): This is the key characteristic of an engagement ring which defines all the others. In our view it is something to do with the simple singularity of purpose, of saying to somebody, you are the one.  This, that we share is it.  It is singular, it is unitary and One.  Somehow a single gem on a band fulfils that sentiment.  Ultimately that is the underlying desire of us all, whether we know it or not, to unify, to be content, to come home.


A traditional engagement ring with a 3.50cts old cut Diamond.

A band, delicate in relation to the centre stone and possibly tapering: The tapering draws the eye towards the stone creating emphasis.  Gemstone mounting in general aims to present the gems as the focus of attention and not distract with the metalwork.


Minimal design, classic in feel so as not to date:  An engagement ring is intended to be worn for the rest of one’s life.  Any design flourishes and frills run the risk of becoming dated with time. For this reason, simplicity is favoured.  Plenty of engagement rings from the 1920’s – 40’s set in simple platinum settings have aged remarkably well being as fresh and elegant today as they were when they were made. Perhaps many from the 1970’s and 1980’s have not!


A Trilogy (three gems) or 5-stone ring: As an elaboration on the single gem idea, 5-stone or 3-stone rings most often taper in size towards the outer stones to keep the focus on the centre.  When it comes to a trilogy the important thing is to reflect on the proportion between the centre and the sides. Some trilogies will have the sides up to 2/3rds of the size of the centre, though it is rare to have all 3 or 5 stones the same size.  However slight, it tends to be that the centre is larger to hold the focus.

A traditional Diamond Trilogy with a Victorian feel. Notice the yellow gold extends under the settings and the diamonds themselves are held in platinum. How they should be done!


Cluster Ring:  Princess Diana famously wore a sapphire and diamond cluster ring as her engagement ring.  Once again the centre is the key stone and the diamonds around it are there simply in support.  They help to celebrate and enhance the qualities of the centre stone to frame it and lift it up.  Since the arrival of microscopes and high-precision pneumatic setting tools, we are able to produce very fine diamond-set sections in jewellery.  This can be done so the surround and central diamond look almost like one gem.  As the diamonds in a cluster surround become larger they tend to stand alone and be seen as individual stones.  When they are smaller they make a ringlet of white reflection. 


A modern classic. A micro cluster around a central round brilliant diamond. The difference here is that this one is entirely in Rose Gold.

An organic feel:  The Art Nouveau period in the early 20th century produced a wealth of superb jewellery inspired by the natural world. Rene Lalique is considered a master of the period. Often these natural forms look very free-flowing but have a careful eye on proportion – this helps to keep them from becoming unbalanced. Retaining a single gem as the focus can allow the rest of the ring to be asymmetric and still have the feel of an engagement ring.

To defy convention then, choose one or two of the above and invert them!  For instance, an eternity ring (a continuous row of gems, usually diamonds, around a ring) as an engagement ring gives a different feel – perhaps more understated and with the sense of a journey or the unity of many things rather than a single ‘proposal’.   Or, choose a central diamond and frame it as a cluster or trilogy with coloured gemstones – now, blue Sapphires or red Rubies would be traditional gems, but you could also try bright green Tsavorite garnets, Teal sapphires or zingy orange Mandarin Garnets.  We have plenty of suggestions to make from amongst the gems that Patrick has just brought back from Sri Lanka.


A central Marquise Diamond between a pair of pear shapes. You won’t see many like this, but it still says ‘engagement ring’.

Whatever your approach, start by considering what an engagement ring means to you to give and the rest will fall into place.  As ever, we can guide you in the process whether you have no idea what you would like or already know.