Understanding Diamond Engagement Ring Terminology

When shopping for an engagement ring you’ll hear words like cut, clarity, carat weight, color, the 4Cs, fire, brilliance, prong set, pave, and many others.  Having a basic understanding of not only diamond terminology, but engagement ring terminology as well will benefit you greatly as you begin your search.

Here are some diamond and engagement ring terms you should familiarize yourself with before you begin your engagement ring search.

Diamond Terminology

Blemish – a clarity characteristic confined to the surface of a polished diamond

Brilliant cut – a cutting style in which triangular and kite shaped facets spread out from the diamond’s center toward the girdle

Brilliance – the brightness that stems from the center of the diamond.  Brilliance occurs when light enters through the table, reaches the pavilion facets, and is reflected back through the table.

4Cs Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat weight

Carat (ct) – standard term used for the weight of a diamond

Clarity – absence of internal inclusions and external blemishes

Color – absence of color in a diamond

Cut – the proportions and finish of a polished diamond

Clarity characteristics – internal or external feature of a diamond that helps determine the quality and establish its identity

Crown – the upper portion of the diamond above the girdle

Culet – a facet sometimes added to the bottom of the pavilion to protect the tip

Eye clean – a term used to describe a diamond with no blemishes or inclusions that can be seen with the unaided eye

Face-up (aka table up) – a position where the diamond’s crown and table are pointed towards the viewer

Face-down (aka table down) – a position where the diamond’s pavilion is pointed towards the viewer

Facet – a smooth flat plane on the surface of a diamond.  Facets allow light to enter a diamond and reflect off its surface at different angles creating color and light.

Fancy cut– any diamond shape other than a round

Fire – the flashes of colors in a polished diamond

Fluorescence – the emission of visible light by a diamond when it is exposed to ultraviolet radiation

Girdle – the outer edge or outline of the diamond’s shape

Inclusion – a clarity characteristic totally enclosed in a polished diamond or extending into it from the surface

Pavilion – the lower portion of a diamond below the girdle

Plot (aka diamond certificate) – a map of a diamond’s inclusions, blemishes, and facet arrangements

Point (pt) – a unit of measurement used to describe the weight of a diamond

Proportions – the angles and relative measurements of a polished diamond and the relationship between them

Scintillation – the flashes of light and dark areas you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves

Shape – the face-up outline of a diamond

Shape appeal (aka “eye-pleasing”) – a diamonds overall appearance in relation to others of the same size, shape, and cutting style

Scintillation – the flashes of light and dark areas you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves.

Engagement Ring Terminology

Setting Styles

A Prong setting (aka claw setting) is the most common type of setting for solitaire diamond rings.   The diamond is placed in a metal head or basket and it is secured using 3-8 prongs.  The shapes of prongs vary in style and may even contain small accent diamonds.

Advantages – allows more diamond to show than any other style, is secure, easy to clean, and is quick to set.

Disadvantages – does not provide a smooth surface and the prongs can catch on clothing or hair and the girdle area of the diamond is left exposed.

A Channel setting is very popular for not only engagement rings, but wedding bands as well.  The diamonds are placed in a row and are “suspended” between two continuous pieces of metal on the top and bottom with no metal between each stone.   It provides a smooth surface across the ring and protects the girdle of the diamonds; which makes it a great setting choice for someone that is very active or uses their hands a great deal.  The diamonds used for a wedding band are usually all the same size, but may differ in size for engagement rings graduating from larger to smaller down the shank.

Advantages – protects the girdle area of the diamonds and provides for a smooth surface.

Disadvantages – more time consuming and costly to set than a prong setting because all stones must be evenly spaced and secure.

A Pave setting (aka bead setting) contains small round brilliant cut diamonds that are set level with the surface of the ring.  Tiny holes are made in the setting and once the diamond is placed into the hole the surrounding metal is raised to form tiny beads or prongs that will hold the diamond in place.  Pave adds brilliance to the ring and creates the illusion of a larger center stone.  Pave settings are commonly designed using white gold or platinum to minimize the appearance of metal.  Pave settings are quite durable, but aren’t for everyone.  Pave settings also require a little more cleaning and care than prong, channel, and bezel settings.

Advantages – provides great protection for the girdle and pavilion, accentuates the center stone and can make it appear larger than a prong setting, and it allows for an uninterrupted design.

Disadvantages – it doesn’t provide for a smooth surface like a channel setting or channel setting.

Metal Choices

Platinum is rare, pure and known for its durability.  Platinum is 95% pure and will not fade or tarnish keeping its rich white color for a lifetime.  With everyday wear platinum will develop a patina overtime.  Platinum is extremely strong and will hold precious stones firmly and securely in place.  Platinum will scratch, but unlike other metals no metal is lost it is just displaced.  Platinum is hypoallergenic and is a great choice for someone with sensitive skin.

Palladium is part of the platinum family and has a grayish white tone.  It is 10% stronger than platinum and consists of 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium which makes it more scratch resistant than platinum.   Palladium is also a hypoallergenic metal.

White Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with palladium, zinc or nickel.  The alloys in white gold make it stronger than yellow gold.  To mask the slightly yellowish tone in white gold it is rhodium plated giving it a bright white finish.

Yellow Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper and silver.  Its color looks great with all skin tones and gemstones.

Rose Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper.  Rose Gold has a soft tone that compliments the skin’s natural coloring.  Rose Gold comes in a variety of shades from reddish to a soft pink.  Rose Gold is not recommended for individuals with metal allergies because of its copper alloy.

Shop all Since 1910 diamonds and engagement rings to find the perfect one for you

Different Metal Options For Engagement Rings

Today, there are many choices of metals for an engagement ring.  Over the years, engagement ring settings have become just as important as the diamond itself.  Gone are the days of the traditional yellow gold four prong solitaire style rings.  These days, settings are more elaborate and stylish.

Platinum is rare, pure and known for its durability.  Platinum is 95% pure and will not fade or tarnish keeping its rich white color for a lifetime.  With everyday wear platinum will develop a patina overtime.  Platinum is extremely strong and will hold precious stones firmly and securely in place.  Platinum will scratch, but unlike other metals no metal is lost it is just displaced.  Platinum is hypoallergenic and is a great choice for someone with sensitive skin.

Palladium is part of the platinum family and has a grayish white tone.  It is 10% stronger than platinum and consists of 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium which makes it more scratch resistant than platinum.   Palladium is also a hypoallergenic metal.

White Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with palladium, zinc or nickel.  The alloys in white gold make it stronger than yellow gold.  To mask the slightly yellowish tone in white gold it is rhodium plated giving it a bright white finish.

Yellow Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper and silver.  Its color looks great with all skin tones and gemstones.

Rose Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper.  Rose Gold has a soft tone that compliments the skin’s natural coloring.  Rose Gold comes in a variety of shades from reddish to a soft pink.  Rose Gold is not recommended for individuals with metal allergies because of its copper alloy.

Two-tone is a combination of two different color metals.  The most common two-tone rings are either platinum or white gold with either yellow gold or rose gold.

Symbols for Platinum, Palladium, and Gold:

Platinum – 950pt or plat

Palladium – Pd

10kt Gold – 10kt or 417

14kt Gold – 14kt or 585

18kt Gold – 18kt or 750

To learn more about precious metal options, click here

Diana Common Prong Diamond Setting

This beautiful Diana engagement ring #D N153 features 18 round brilliant cut diamonds that are set using common prongs to maximize diamond brilliance.

Diana Common Prong Diamond SettingThis setting is available in platinum, palladium, 18kt white gold or 18kt yellow gold and can accommodate a round brilliant or fancy shape center stone from .40ct to 6.20ct.

What alloys are in yellow and white gold?

Gold can be alloyed with silver, copper, zinc, and nickel. Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with copper or zinc, rose gold is a mixture of pure gold and copper which creates the “reddish” color, and white gold is pure gold with a mixture of a white metal such as silver, nickel, or palladium. White gold rings are also often coated with Rhodium to make them look whiter.

Note – If you are shopping for someone that has a metal allergy you’ll want to stay with a Platinum setting.

Use our sorting filters to narrow down the options and find the perfect piece of jewelry or engagement ring setting.

How to shop for an engagement ring

In a previous post we gave some tips on things to know before you begin to look for engagements rings. Now that you’ve thought about budget, diamond shape, and a setting, we’ve broken down the buying process into 3 steps for you:

  1. We always recommend starting with the diamond first. Our diamond education section will provide you with all the information you need about the 4 c’s and various diamond shapes to get you started. Each diamond shape is unique in its own way and offers something a little different in terms of look.
  2. After you choose your diamond, the setting is next. The setting, regardless of metal type or style, should always enhance the stone. The diamond should “stand out” and be the focal point of the ring.
  3. Lastly, metal type – A majority of settings you’ll look at are available in 18kt white gold, yellow gold, and platinum. If you like the look of white metal, platinum would be the way to go. Platinum should also be your choice if your significant other has metal allergies.

Now that you’re prepared, shop for the perfect engagement ring using our Create Your Own Engagement Ring three-step process!

What do I need to know before I begin shopping for an engagement ring?

#1 is always to establish a budget

Know how much you can spend.  Then you need to ask yourself:

What diamond shape does she like?

Some research has shown that diamond shape and personality are connected.  Here’s a brief example:

Round – home and family centered, dependable, easy to get along with, and security conscious

Oval – individualistic, creative, well-organized, dependable, and willing to take chances

Heart – sentimental, creative, feminine, sensitive, trusting, dramatic, and a dreamer

Rectangle/Square – organized, conservative, efficient, honest, and open

Pear – conforming, considerate, adaptable, and home & community centered

Marquise – extroverted, experimental, exciting, innovative, and career centered

What type of setting does she like – solitaire, traditional, modern, or antique?

Does she prefer a setting with diamonds or without? If with, what type?

Think about her lifestyle – is she athletic, what type of work does she do? This will help you decide on a setting (if she didn’t already give you pictures or tell you!) and we can recommend how the diamond should be set – prong or bezel.

What type of metal?

What color will match her other pieces – white gold, yellow gold, or platinum? Important to know – does she have a metal allergy? If yes, or you’re unsure and this is a surprise, platinum should be your choice.

Learn at least the basics about the 4 c’s – you can maximize your budget by looking at different combinations.

Once you’ve thought about the above you’re ready to start looking. I always recommend starting with the diamond first. Once you pick the shape, color, and weight you’ll be able to pick the perfect setting that will show off the stone you chose beautifully.

Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong type of engagement ring. Choose what you like and what will make you both happy.

Shop now using our Create Your Own Engagement Ring three-step process

Verragio Rings

Check out the latest Verragio engagement ring collection.  They are absolutely stunning!  All Verragio engagement rings are available in Platinum, White Gold & Yellow Gold

Verragio Engagement Rings

View the entire Verragio Engagement Ring collection.

Here are photos of a few of our favorite Verragio Engagement rings:

Verragio Engagement RIng

Verragio Engagement Ring

Verragio Engagement Ring