How to Buy An Engagement Ring
(Insider Tips from a Designer)

1. Keep an open mind with the 4Cs.

The “4Cs” (carat, clarity, color and cut) were developed by the Gemological Institute of America - an independent laboratory - to uniformly assess a white diamond’s characteristics.

Diamond grading is a bit like standardized testing…it doesn’t always represent the full picture. We suggest using the 4Cs as a guideline as you begin your search, but not the final decision-maker. A stone’s characteristics may come together to present differently than suggested on paper, or even through images and videos. It’s crucial to see how their presentation shifts in various lighting and from different angles.

As they say, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Old European Cut diamonds (our personal fave!), for example, were cut by hand long before modern technology sought to “perfect” diamond faceting. We find these old stones have quite a bit more character and charm than modern diamonds that are laser-cut to precision.

Stones can be perfectly imperfect, with warmth, subtle asymmetry and a natural uniqueness – which is why we see the value in choosing the stone you respond most to and not just what’s “best” on paper. With our Ready-to-Wear rings, Sophie has already done the work of stone selection for you; sorting through thousands of carats of diamonds to find the most vibrant stones. 

2. Sustainability can be sexy.

You don't have to compromise great design for sustainability. In the right hands, ethical materials can be transformed into elevated, sleek, eye-catching rings.

Recycled gold and vintage, antique or heirloom diamonds are all equally as valuable as new materials (and sometimes more so!) – without adding to the environmental and human rights issues that can be present in the jewelry industry.

You can expect exactly the same quality of materials, with an entirely clean conscience.

Knowing the background of your ring is not only responsible, it’s also a story to share with your fiancé! There’s a unique sense of history with gold and diamonds that have lived prior lives – and a promise for the future with the minimal impact they leave behind.  

Sincere and uncompromising sustainability standards are foundational at Sophie Hughes. It’s inspiring to encourage deepening client interest in sustainability as they learn more about jewelry industry practices.

3. “Ready-to-Wear” can be a win-win. 

Whether you’re looking to propose sooner than later, or aren’t completely sure of your partner's ideal style, a Ready-to-Wear ring may be the right choice for you! 

Ready-to-Wear styles are immediately available, and often exchangeable – allowing you to have it in hand for an ASAP proposal, and the flexibility to swap for something else (even a custom design!) in case it wasn’t exactly what they dreamed of. Sometimes it’s easier to see the actual ring beforehand, rather than leaving the final design to your imagination. Stress-free and instant, you can focus on fully savoring your proposal.

Sophie’s collection of Ready-to-Wear rings are no less special – thoughtfully designed and crafted one at a time with rare, vintage, and antique stones, they are truly one-of-a-kind. All of the love and care has gone into sourcing, designing and crafting the ring, and it’s just waiting for you to discover it and take it home.

Post-proposal, the ring can be tailored to your fiancé’s hand for the perfect fit. No matter what, we’ll be there to guide you through our collection, talk through all of your questions, and make suggestions your partner is sure to love!

4. Quality is forever.

An engagement ring is a reminder of your love and commitment that will be worn each and every day. Quality is an investment that will pay dividends with the joy your ring’s beauty will spark daily, and your confidence in the security of your diamond. 

No matter the size or style, an engagement ring is certainly not a minor purchase. Ask questions to know what exactly you're spending your money on – rings should not only look beautiful, but be impeccably crafted with structural integrity. (i.e. That giant rock on the daintiest micro-pavé band?...Lovely for the moment, but not the best long-term plan.)

Some questions to consider:  How are the accent diamonds secured? How does the setting sit on the hand? How would a wedding band stack with it? Were ergonomics considered to make it comfortable? Is it a sensible ratio of stone diameter to band width and setting height? Does the setting style properly protect the stone, given its individual characteristics?

Even if you feel constrained by your current budget, we suggest prioritizing a ring that is incredibly well-made with meticulous attention to every detail, to ensure it will last a lifetime. To free up funds, scale down your diamond or consider a lab-grown - for now. You can always upgrade your diamond down the road for a special anniversary and repurpose the original as a necklace. Alternatively, inquire about payment plans so you can space out payments over time.

5. Only two opinions matter.

There’s no standard you need to meet; no such thing as “too big” or “too small”. There is only what's right for you and your soon-to-be fiancé. Some people prefer the idea of a smaller, modest stone, while others dream of a larger diamond. Try not to let friend or family opinions get in the way of buying the ring that suits you and your partner’s lifestyle.

Are they particularly active? Consider a bezel (the most secure setting possible). Do you want to prioritize seeing as much of the diamond as possible? Prongs, or perhaps a modified bezel with side openings, are great options. Do they regularly wear gloves for work? A low, smooth setting is ideal. Is the  shape and scale of the ring aesthetically pleasing to their hand? 

We’re here to talk though all the options and considerations you may have!

6. Can't find the perfect ring? Make it!

The particular beauty of working with an independent designer is their design expertise coupled with their ability to work one-on-one with the client – a winning combination in crafting the exact ring you’re dreaming of. You may find a design that’s almost there - but it just needs a little tweak, like the metal color, stone size, or band shape. Or maybe your dream is a ring like nothing you’ve ever seen before! It’s all possible with custom design.

Custom design does require a bit of advance planning - you’re entering the process at the initial creative spark. It can take time to iron out each meticulous design detail collaboratively, and possibly require additional time to source the perfect stone. But, the ring will absolutely be worth the wait if you have something particular in mind and you partner with a reputable designer to bring it to life!

This may be your first time, but it’s not ours! We’ve been through the engagement ring process with hundreds of couples. Hundreds! And we certainly have some insights to share. Get in touch to kick things off.