When it comes to buying an engagement ring, it seems like you need to bring a dictionary with you just to understand everything the jeweler says. What do the 4Cs stand for? What’s an engagement ring setting? Wait, diamonds come in colors?
If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Know your lingo with our guide to engagement ring terminology and you’ll be on your way to buying the ring of your partner’s dreams
Photo by Lisa Mark Photography
It’s important to know some basic jargon terms so you can better understand what your jeweler is saying and ensure you end up with the style of ring you and your partner desire. Just like with shopping for any major purchase, the more knowledgeable you are, the better you can protect yourself and your investment.
4Cs: Acronym standing for cut, color, clarity and carat. These are the top four characteristics to look for when purchasing a diamond.
Accent diamonds: Diamonds that surround or enhance the main diamond. Typically smaller in size than the main diamond.
Crown: Top half of a diamond.
Halo: Ring of diamonds or stones surrounding a center diamond or stone. Ring is typically made of pavé stones.
Pavilion: Lower half of a diamond.
Scintillations: Sparkles in a diamond that are seen as the diamond moves under a light.
Table: Flat surface that is the uppermost part of a diamond. The table percentage is calculated by dividing the width of the table by the width of the diamond. This number is included in the cut aspect of the 4Cs.
Photo by Lisa Mark Photography
It’s pretty obvious that different cuts equal different shapes of diamonds (and it’s no surprise there’s a major difference between, say, a heart cut and a pear cut)—but what’s less obvious is the fact that different cuts mean different levels of sparkle. Keep that in mind as you shop.
Asscher cut: Square shaped diamond with a high crown, step facets, and a small table.
Cushion cut: Square cut diamond with rounded edges.
Emerald cut: Rectangular shaped with small, rounded edges and a large, open table.
European cut: Antique diamond cut created before the precision created by modern technology was available.
Heart cut: Diamond in the shape of a heart typically found in solitaire settings.
Photo by Andrea Jay Photography
Marquise cut: Long and narrow diamond-shaped similarly to a football. It’s best set with prongs on each end to protect the points from chipping.
Oval cut: A unique take on a round diamond. Oval-shaped stones come in a variety of widths ranging from slim to wide.
Pear cut: Combination of a round and a marquise shape diamond available in a variety of narrow to wide sizes.
Princess cut: Popular fancy diamond cut with a lower price per carat due to the minimal waste produced when cutting from a rough diamond.
Radiant cut: Square or rectangular diamond with minimal curved edges similar to an emerald shape.
Round cut: Circular-shaped diamond. It’s the most common shape for engagement rings.
Trillion cut: Triangular shaped diamond, often used as side stones to frame a square diamond.
engagement ring metals
Different engagement ring metals are ideal for different people. If your partner only wears a certain type of metal in her everyday jewelry (i.e. yellow gold), they will probably want their engagement ring to be the same. Certain metals are also softer than others and can dent more easily (making them less desirable for someone who works with his or her hands)—and different metals will look better on different skin-tones.
14k gold: Made of 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals or alloys.
18k gold: Made of 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals.
24k gold: Pure gold. The softest gold, as gold gets softer the purer it is.
Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals mixed together.
Gold plated: Thin, almost microscopic layer of pure gold used to coat another type of metal.
Platinum: Precious metal with a silvery white color and shine.
Rose gold: An alloy of gold tinted with copper to create a rosy tone. The deeper the pink color, the more copper there is in the alloy.
White gold: Yellow gold mixed with a white alloy.
Yellow gold: The color of pure gold, yellow gold gets darker or changes color the more alloys are mixed with it.
Psst…still not sure which metal is speaking your love language? Learn more about the differences in engagement ring metals.
Photo by Tenth and Grace
engagement ring styles
This is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding “the one”. From vintage-inspired halos to streamlined solitaires, there are a ton of different engagement ring styles out there offering up an array of unique aesthetics—be sure you have a clear idea of your partner’s preferred overall style before you start shopping.
Art deco: Rings created during (or inspired by) the art deco era from 1920 to 1935, known for bold line and geometric shapes.
Baguette: Meaning “long rod” in French, the baguette cut features long, clean lines, and is typically used in side stones.
Band: Ring that tends to accompany an engagement ring. Can be made of a precious metal, alloys, and/or include stones.
Bezel: Metal that completely surrounds the diamond or featured gemstone. A half bezel is the term used when half of the stone is framed by metal. Bezel ring settings are stronger and more protective than prong settings.
Colored diamond: Diamonds come in a variety of natural and dyed colors. Common diamond color options include yellow, pink, blue, chocolate and black.
Colored gemstone: Engagement rings featuring a colored gemstone stone ranging in a variety of colors.
Eco-friendly diamond: Diamonds sourced ethically under fair labor standards with eco-friendly practices.
Halo: Ring featuring a center stone that’s surrounded by a circle of stones. Engagement rings can have more than one halo, referred to as a double halo if two circles of gemstones encircle one center stone.
Hand-crafted: Ring that’s been made by hand instead of the casing process of filling a mold. It’s shaped by hand by the jeweler.
Pavé: Setting of stones where they’re placed close together so as to avoid seeing metal in between the stones.
Side Stones: Ring featuring a main stone and surrounded by smaller stones. Can also be referred to as a three-stone ring or a halo.
Solitaire: Ring with a single, solitary stone.
Tension set: Gemstone is held in place by metal on either side, thus creating tension.
Three-Stone: Ring featuring three stones, typically three diamonds or a diamond centered between two other stones.
Unique: Creatively designed ring, typically not modeled after a traditional ring style, or a classic ring with a modern twist.
Unique shank: Engagement ring with an individualized lower part that goes around the finger, also known as a shank.
Vintage/Antique: These are classic-style engagement rings typically created during or prior to the early 1900s. An antique engagement ring is defined as being over fifty years old.
Vintage-inspired: Modern day rings modeled after vintage rings. Also referred to as a reproduction.
Photo by Andie Freeman Photography
Overwhelmed by all the choices? We’ve got you covered. Learn which type of engagement ring style is best for you.
Now that you’re a seasoned pro on important engagement ring terminology (don’t worry—we won’t quiz you), you’re well on your way to finding a ring that’s sure to make your partner swoon. To help you on your quest for popping-the-question perfection, check out all of our favorite resources for soon-to-be proposers:
More resources for soon-to-be proposers: