How to Design the Perfect Engagement Ring: Selecting a Center Stone (Part 3 of 6)

The most important part, and first step, of designing an engagement ring is selecting your center stone. The stone you choose can help dictate the design based on its shape and size. Our in house Graduate Gemologist, Sydney Strong, helps guide and educate you during this part of the process. The most popular choice for a center stone is a diamond because of their hardness (they do not scratch) and their brilliance. While you are likely familiar with a traditional diamond there are lesser known types as well. Traditional diamonds are graded and their value is determined by the following characteristics.

  • Cut – The cut (proportions, symmetry, and polish) of a stone determines not only its overall shape but also how a diamond’s facets interact with light. Stone cuts such as round, oval, cushion, radiant, or princess will have lots of small facets making them the most brilliant or sparkly, while cuts like emerald or step have fewer and larger facets displaying fewer but more intense flashes rather than sparkle.
  • Color – In traditional diamonds the less color (or the closer it is to colorless) the higher the grade. Even the slightest yellow or brown hint can make a dramatic difference in value.
  • Clarity – Clarity references the number, size and position of inclusions and blemishes in the stone. A diamond with fewer and less noticeable inclusions will have higher clarity.
  • Carat – Carat is a measure of weight, not size. This means two diamonds can be the same weight while looking very different depending on proportions.
Gemstone grading scale
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Nontraditional diamonds tend to be unusual shapes and colors so they are not graded the same as traditional diamonds. Many nontraditional diamonds are rosecut, meaning they are flat on the bottom and faceted across the top, and rosecuts can be found in many different shapes including but not limited to round, oval, cushion and pearshape. Despite colorless flawless diamonds being marketed as “ideal”, diamonds can be found in just about any color and opacity. They can be found in multitudes of neutral greys and browns, black or “salt and pepper” (which have mostly white body color and speckles of black inclusions), yellows, reds, and rare pinks, greens, and blues. Opacity can range from transparent, allowing light to penetrate the stone, to completely opaque, allowing no light through such as a black diamond. These less traditional diamonds are a great option for anyone who wants the durability of a diamond but is looking for something more unique.

Colored gemstones are alternative options to diamonds and there are different options to consider when selecting the perfect stone. Durability is one of the most important things to think about when selecting a colored stone for an engagement ring.

Sapphire, though significantly less hard than a diamond, is the next most durable gemstone and a good option for everyday wear in an engagement ring. Sapphires (also known by their mineral family corundum) are not all blue and can be found in almost every color of the rainbow, giving you a wide range of colors to select from.

Rubies are also part of the corundum family and are an excellent choice for a center stone.

Garnet, tourmaline, and beryl are other gemstone options that may not be as durable as sapphire or diamond, but could be suitable for an engagement ring with special care and attention. Soft and/or porous gemstones, such as opal, pearl, and turquoise, are highly sensitive to heat and moisture making them less ideal for an engagement ring.

All colored gemstones will abrade with wear and may require re-polishing and re-setting after several years of regular wear. Often, the main reason behind selecting a colored gemstone as your center stone would be color. If there is a specific color you are interested in we can provide gemstone suggestions for the most durable stone in that color. Colored gemstones are available in the same cuts as diamonds, though they have varying levels of brilliance determined by the refractive index of the minerals.

Many people have little to no experience with jewelry when starting this journey, so don’t feel intimidated. The best way to get started is to contact us and set up a consultation. At the consultation we will go over these points with you to get an overall idea of the design and your budget. Next, we order in stones for you to select from, finish the design and figure the final quote, and take the deposit. Then we produce the CAD renderings for your approval, print the wax, and make the metal casting for you to come see and approve in person. Finally, we set the stones and finish the ring. The process is fluid and there are chances to make changes and adjustments along the way. Whenever you are ready to begin, the team at llyn strong fine art jewelry are here to help.

Contact us today and start designing the perfect engagement ring.

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