Engagement rings likely grew out of the Roman tradition of using rings to show ownership or confirm a contract; it wasn't until the 9th century that rings were actually used to signify an engagement. These early engagement rings were often simple gold, and the first time that diamonds were used was when Archduke Maximilian of Austria was betrothed to Mary of Burgundy. Over time, gems became common embellishments of most engagement rings, with diamonds becoming the most popular choice of stone for the latter half of the last century.
Types of Engagement Rings
When you are looking for an engagement ring, there are a few terms you should know and styles you should familiarize yourself with so you don't get lost in all the jargon or get dizzy with all the options.
Popular Ring Styles
Solitaire: A solitaire is a single gemstone set a top a plain band. It's a classic engagement ring choice that really shows off the stone.
Three Stone: A three-stone engagement ring features one big stone sandwiched by two matching smaller stones. It is an elegant choice.
Halo: A halo has one big stone, surrounded by a 'halo' of tiny stones. This ring will really sparkle in the right light.
Band: A plain band is made of metal with no stones. Sometimes, the metal has etchings in it or is made of two entwined metals.
Know Your Cuts
Round: A round-cut gem is circular.
Cushion: A cushion cut is a square with rounded edges.
Princess: A princess cut is square.
Marquise: A marquise cut is an elongated oval with the two edges brought to a point.
Know Your Stones
Even though diamonds are classic and by far the most popular choice for an engagement ring, they are far from the only option. Here is a breakdown of the most commonly used stones for engagement rings:
Diamond: A clear white stone that is both timeless and elegant, this stone is popular as a solitaire.
Ruby: This is a deep red stone that is popular for fine details, but it can also be used as the main stone.
Emerald: A rich green stone, the emerald is often used as a centerpiece in a three-stone setting.
Pearl: The pearl is an old-fashioned favorite that is making a comeback.
Sapphire: This is a dark blue stone that is most popular in a cushion or round cut.
Know Your Metals
Gold: Gold can come in lots of shades, like rose gold and yellow gold.
Silver: Silver is an elegant choice that shows off a diamond particularly well.
Platinum: Platinum is silver in color but much harder and more valuable.