Designing a Custom Engagement Ring: What You Need to Know

Posted by on 15 April 2016

Shopping for the perfect engagement ring? Don't just put a ring on it: give her (or him!) a one-of-a-kind custom engagement ring. Whether you have the stone and just need the setting, or want an entire ring designed from scratch, this guide will get you started.

  1. Understand your style and setting options.
    Chances are you’ve already browsed jewelry stores in the past, so you’ve got a general idea of different popular styles. Your sweetie may have even helped you out with a few subtle “hints” about their preference for an art deco setting, a simple stunning solitaire, or a three stone ring. If you’re an engagement ring newbie, take time to learn about the 4 C’s (cut, carat, color, and clarity). The largest diamonds are not always the most expensive! Color and clarity matter, too. Finally, keep in mind that the cut will influence the setting, and vice versa. A cushion-cut or emerald cut diamond will be a natural complement for an art deco setting while a round or princess-cut will sparkle on its own.
  2. Keep the wedding band in mind.
    That engagement ring won’t be worn solo on her finger forever! When designing the engagement ring, think about how it will fit with a wedding band. One popular trend is selecting a wedding band that is contoured to fit around the diamonds in the engagement ring. This is an increasingly popular option for estate rings and art deco-style rings that feature larger diamond settings. Another option is to embrace a slight gap between the engagement ring diamond and the wedding band. This is a useful solution for rings that simply won’t sit flush with an engagement band. When designing a ring from scratch, keep in mind that more complex settings may require custom-made wedding bands to match.
  3. Find the right designer.
    While custom-made engagement rings generally will cost more than an already-made ring, you don’t have to be a Hollywood celebrity to afford design assistance. Many jewelry stores offer salespeople who can work as a liaison with their jewelry designer. Before committing to any designer, ask about their professional affiliations, request to see samples of their work (in person is best), and ask for customer feedback/testimonials. While it’s important to find a designer that matches your artistic vision, it’s equally important to find a designer who’s willing to offer candid input. At the end of the day, the designer knows what will (and won’t) work on a ring in real life– even if the idea looks great on paper.
  4. Integrate family heirlooms.
    One option for custom engagement rings is to re-use a diamond or other precious stone (sapphire, diamond or ruby) that’s been in your family for generations. It’s not uncommon to have a family heirloom jewel re-set for a more contemporary look and feel. If you’re at a loss for inspiration, it can be helpful to snap photos of rings you like and don’t like to share with your designer. Together, you can work on the best way to integrate a precious family heirloom into your engagement ring.


close Content

Is your love in the air – or is it set in stone?

A diamond is a forever investment. Understanding the four C’s – carat, color, clarity and cut – will ensure that you make a smart selection. While some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, they do directly impact a diamond’s overall quality and price. When selecting your perfect diamond, keep the following in mind:


A diamond’s “cut” grading measures whether a stone has maximum brilliance and sparkle– it’s what brings fire to the ice and catches your eye. Cut is different from the shape of the diamond (e.g., princess cut, emerald cut, etc.). The cut evaluation rates the diamond’s angles and brilliance, evaluating the diamond’s proportion, facet arrangement and overall workmanship quality. Diamond cut grades range from “excellent” to “poor” with the excellent rating resembling the ideal cut illustrated below.

Diamond Cuts


Virtually all diamonds for sale today include minor irregularities or imperfections, although these imperfections are rarely visible to the naked eye. The minor imperfections in a diamond are caused by the liquid volcanic rock in which a diamond is created. While diamonds are primarily pure carbon, during the crystallization process, other nearby minerals may become trapped within the cooling mass, which in turn affects the diamond’s clarity.

Clarity is measured on a scale with grades running from “flawless” (virtually no imperfections) to “included” (imperfections heavily included). “Pure” diamonds are flawless or internally flawless; these diamonds are exceedingly rare and expensive. VVS-1 and VVS-2 grade diamonds have very, very small inclusions; VS-1 and VS-2 diamond have very small inclusions; SI-1 and SI-2 diamonds have small inclusions; and I-1, I-2 and I-3 diamonds are heavily included. Diamonds are graded under a 10X magnifying glass in good lighting by an experienced grader. The final grade is determined by how easily the grader can see the inclusions and blemishes.


The “color” rating actually refers to the absence of color in a diamond. Like a drop of pure spring water, when it comes to diamonds, the less color, the better. The jewelry industry recognizes the highest quality gemstones by purity of hue. In order to demine the absence or presence of different hues, an experienced diamond grader will compare the diamond to “master stones” using artificial or natural northern daylight. Colorless diamonds are graded either D, E or F. Near colorless diamonds are graded G, H, I or J. Slightly tinted diamonds receive a K, L, M or N rating. Very light yellow diamonds are graded O, P, or Q; light yellow diamonds are graded R, S, or T; yellow diamonds receive a U, V or W grading and light fancy diamonds are graded X, Y or Z.

Diamond Color


The most well-known of the four C’s, “carat” is the unit of measurement for ta diamond’s weight. A carat is subdivided into 100 “points”; for example, a 50-point diamond is “half a carat” or “0.5 ct”. Today, many individuals also equate carat with size. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the larger (and more expensive) the stone. However, color, clarity and cut also affect a diamond’s price; two diamonds of equal carat weight may have very different prices due to these three ratings.