How to design a unique engagement ring

You’ve found the person of your dreams and now you’re thinking about proposing. Sure, you could go to any jewelry store and select any of hundreds of rings from their cases. But how do you select the one that speaks to both you and your partner’s relationship and style? Truly the only way to know for sure is to design a unique engagement ring. While this might sound overwhelming, it can be such a fun and stress-free experience if you find the right jeweler to work with. They should make you feel comfortable and excited about this new chapter in your life, and you’ll end up with a ring that will represent your personal love story. 

Step 1: Find your jeweler 

This could be the most important step of your process and we encourage you to take your time, do your research, and read plenty of customer reviews. Yelp is really your best friend here, as you’ll truly know about the process, the customer service, and the quality of the product you’ll be receiving, all from the customer reviews.

Check out websites of different jewelers, make phone calls, and even visit in person to find the one that seems like a good fit for you. Once you feel comfortable that you’ve found the right designer, it’s time to get started on your special design.

Step 2: The sketch

Once you start chatting with your jeweler, they may have pictures of other custom designs to show you as examples, or you may fall in love with an existing design and just want some minor adjustments. Either way, they most often will offer a sketching service so you get an idea of what your completed ring will look like. This is a really important step of the process since it’s difficult to imagine different aspects of jewelry design without a visual representation. Within this step, there are countless things to consider that will determine what your sketch looks like, which we will cover next.

Step 3: Select a center stone

3A: Center stone type

The majority of engagement rings are set with a diamond center stone, of which both natural and lab grown are available. Natural diamonds are grown below the ground and mined, whereas lab grown diamonds are grown above ground in a laboratory. Both natural and lab grown diamonds are identical in chemical makeup and physical appearance, both are “real” diamonds, and choosing one over the other really comes down to personal preference.

But diamonds are not the only center stone choice when it comes to an engagement ring. Colored stones such as ruby, sapphire, and emerald (along with dozens of other colored stone options) are available in all shapes and sizes. 

3B: Center stone size

When selecting a center stone, you should consider your partner’s personal style. Has she voiced that diamond size is important to her? There are truly endless options here. The majority of diamond center stones for engagement rings tend to stay around the 1.00ct size range, but there are no limits on how small or large your stone can be. If budget is an issue, let your jeweler know what your desired budget is for your diamond and they can assist you with suggesting the best diamond for your budget. 

3C: Center stone color and clarity

Color and clarity are some other important aspects of center stone selection. Your jeweler should have a color and clarity chart to share with you, which will show that diamonds range from colorless to rich fancy colors, as well as internally flawless, to very included (visual flaws) stones.

If your ideal stone is a “traditional diamond,” your goal would be to stay as high on the color and clarity scale as possible, while staying in your desired size range and not compromising your overall budget. Fancy diamonds (yellow, blue, pink) are also available, while they most often fetch a higher price for their rarity. 


3D: Center stone shape

The traditional style engagement ring you may see is more often than not set with a round brilliant cut diamond. Princess cut (square) diamonds are also very popular, but there are many other options available that are unique and beautiful as well - cushion, pear, marquise, oval, asscher, radiant, emerald, trillion, rose cut, etc. (see below chart for a visual).

If your partner is more traditional, perhaps round, princess, or oval would be ideal. But if she’s a bit more modern or adventurous, you may consider one of the alternative options. 

3E: Setting angle and style

If choosing a round stone, there’s really only one angle to set it in the ring, but for almost any other diamond shape, you can set it at different angles to give the ring your own twist. For example, square-style stones (princess, cushion, radiant, asscher) can be set straight, or kite set, where you rotate the stone 45 degrees.

For marquise, oval, emerald, and pear shaped stones, they can be set north-south (up and down) or east-west (horizontal). Your center stone can also be set in different styles - prong (four or six pieces of metal curl over the stone to hold it in place) and bezel (a thin strip of metal completely covers the edge of the stone) being the most common.

When determining your setting style, you may want to consider her hobbies and profession, as a prong-set stone will sit up higher off the finger and may be difficult to wear for people who use their hands all day (medical profession, for example).

Step 4: Select your metal type

Most jewelers will offer both 14kt and 18kt gold (white, yellow, and rose), and platinum. Platinum is a very strong metal and is often recommended when setting larger center stones. It does tend to feel heavier than gold when on the hand, so keep that in mind when making your decision. 

While gold is perfectly durable for daily wear, it is a softer metal, so may require polishing more often to eliminate scratches. Take a look in your loved one’s jewelry box to get an idea of the metal type and colors that she prefers. If all else fails, ask her family and friends; they are sure to have an idea of what she prefers.

Step 5: Put on your creative hat and design

This is where you can really insert parts of your love story into your ring. Do you have a favorite flower you like to give her? Does she have a favorite gemstone? When it comes to customizing your unique engagement ring, your options are endless. A few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Should there be any side stones? Diamonds or colored stones?
  2. How wide should the band be that goes around the finger?
  3. What are some special details about us that can be added?
  4. High polish finish or something different? (satin, sandblast, engraving, etc.)

Step 6: Determine finger size

When determining her finger size, there are several options. Your jeweler should have a chart that they can utilize to check the finger size of an existing ring (if you can borrow it from her jewelry box unnoticed). There are also plastic sizers that you can take home with you to try and check her finger size while she’s sleeping - if she’s a deep sleeper!

Most jewelers understand that engagement rings might need to be adjusted slightly for size after the proposal, but it is best to get as close as possible during the design phase to avoid any unnecessary work being done on the ring afterward.

Step 7: Production

After you confirm all design decisions, your jeweler will get to work hand-crafting your custom engagement ring. They will likely check in with you several times throughout the process and will touch base with any additional questions they may have. Until it’s done, sit tight and start planning the last important step…

Step 8: Propose

Pick up and inspect your gorgeous custom designed engagement ring from your jeweler. Plan the perfect proposal for your relationship, and ask one of the biggest questions you’ll ever ask in your life.