Engagement Ring Buying Guide

At Michael Jones Jeweller we have an unrivalled collection of stunning engagement rings that evoke that special moment of two people coming together to begin the rest of their lives together.

We hand select each diamond and each ring to ensure it emanates pure elegance and sophistication. The enchanting designs in our collection manifest the high standard expected of Michael Jones Jeweller as well as celebrating one of the world's most symbolic acts of love.

Traditionally, engagement rings have centred themselves around diamonds however, in recent years, other colourful gemstones have become popular.

Whether you decide to invest in a modern or a more traditional option, choosing an engagement ring is a huge decision. We know that with all the options available to you it can be a confusing and sometimes overwhelming process.

You will already know that you should choose something that you can imagine they will love, after all, they will be wearing it for years to come.

Here are a few steps that we hope will help you on your way to finding the perfect engagement ring for your loved one:

Set Your Budget

You may have been told otherwise, but it is not necessary to spend two month’s salary on the ring.

It is far more important to be spending what you can afford and getting the best quality for your money.

At Michael Jones Jeweller we offer a range of financing options to enable you to spread the cost, our experts can help you find the right option for your needs. View our Finance page for full details.

Book an Appointment with an expert

Even though buying an engagement ring is a very personal thing, it always helps to get some advice and sometimes it is helpful to have a second opinion.

With showrooms in Northampton and Banbury, you can use our expertise to help you make an informed decision.

Why not book your appointment with one of our experts today

During your appointment, our team will be able to guide you through the design and components of an engagement ring. We will spend time outlining the importance of the 4Cs, the setting, the shape and the size.

The end result will be you, finding that perfect ring to suit your partner.

Choose the Stone

The 4Cs are the essential components of choosing a diamond and you should carefully consider these before buying. The 4Cs are vital when determining the quality of a diamond. Each factor affects the appearance of the stone, meaning that we will help you buy the best stone possible for your budget.

Here is a little guide to the 4 C’s and of the terms we use and what they mean to help you along:


Diamonds with less colour are rarer. The clearer the diamond, the higher the value.

The colour grading of white diamonds ranges from completely colourless to light tinted yellow, grey or brown. The best colour of a diamond is considered to be no colour at all, otherwise known as ‘exceptional white’. However, the differences from one colour grade to another can be so subtle that they aren’t visible to the naked eye. The chart below gives a guide to the difference in colour gradings for diamonds.

Diamond Colours

 Diamond colours are measured on an alphabetical scale from D-Z with D being pure colourless and Z being strongly tinted colour. At Michael Jones Jeweller, our certificated diamonds will always be grade H or above as diamonds graded lower than H can have a visible tint of colour to them. When choosing a diamond colour, personal taste is the key factor. If you have your heart set on an exceptional white diamond you can lower the diamond carat size to fit your budget. If the colour grade doesn’t bother you as much as having a bigger gem size, you can compromise a little on colour.


A diamond’s cut is the most significant of all of its features, determining how well it reflects the light and therefore how well it sparkles.

When a diamond is cut to the right proportions, light is refracted internally from one facet to another before being dispersed through the top of the stone. A skilful gem-cutter will choose a cut that best showcases the unique characteristics of the rough diamond, and the accuracy and quality of the cut will determine the beauty and brilliance of the final gem. If the cut is too deep, some light will escape through the opposite side of the pavilion; too shallow and light will escape through the pavilion before it can be refracted. A master gem-cutter ensures full light dispersion, maximising the inherent beauty of the stone. Cutting may reduce the size of the original stone by as much as half, but its market value may increase significantly, depending on the amount of brilliance and sparkle revealed by the gem-cutter.

Diamond Cut


Clarity refers to how free of inclusions a diamond is. The fewer inclusions that the diamond has, the higher the clarity grade.

What are inclusions?

Diamonds form deep under the earth’s crust from pure carbon. During that formation, other minerals of gases can become trapped in the crystal structure of the diamond, appearing as inclusions. These can be tiny gem crystals such as peridot and garnet, or minute gas bubbles. Almost every diamond has these small inclusions, and each one is different creating a unique fingerprint within the diamond.

How is the clarity graded?

The clarity of a diamond is graded in a laboratory using a microscope. The number of inclusions and the effect they have on the overall beauty and durability of the diamond is assessed and given a grade. The clearer a diamond is and the fewer inclusions there are, the rarer and more valuable it is. The diagram below shows the grading system and examples at that grading level.

Diamond Clarity

Flawless diamonds are incredibly rare and will charge far higher prices than those of a slightly lower clarity grade. All our certificated diamonds are graded SI (Slightly Included) or better as the inclusions at this grade cannot be seen with the naked eye and require a loupe (10x magnification) in order to be visible. This means the beauty and sparkle of your diamond is not affected.

Carat & Size

Diamond carat refers to the stone’s weight, which is a factor in its size. Larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones, so are generally more expensive.The size of the diamond you pick for the ring is also important, playing a large part in creating an appropriate sense of scale and complementing the size of the ring finger.

What is Carat size?

Carats are an international measurement of weight for gemstones, including diamonds. As carat weight increases, so does the rarity and price of the gemstone, making higher carat diamonds more sought after. Because of the differences in gemstone density, some gemstones may appear visually larger than others, while still having a similar carat size. For example, a diamond will look bigger than a ruby despite weighing the same in carats. Because of these differences, it is worth viewing diamonds in person to determine the differences between diamond carat size and diamond gem size.

Carat size vs Diamond size

Shopping for diamonds can be tricky because of all the considerations to evaluate. Mostly this will come down to personal taste; for some, the most important factor is the diamond carat size, while for others it is the size of the gem itself from a top view. Carat weight can have a substantial impact on the value of a diamond, so understanding which is more important to you is the first aspect to consider before spending money.

If you are more interested in the carat size, you can pick and choose between a variety of diamond jewellery that fits within your desired diamond carat size range. Start with a smaller carat and move up in diamond carat size from there, a quarter carat at a time. Once you know the exact size you want, you can take your budget into consideration and look at other options.

Different diamonds can look larger and smaller due to their cut style, even if they are the same carat weight. If you’d prefer to have a diamond that looks larger in spite of diamond carat size, you can look at jewellery with diamonds that have specific cuts; a marquise cut diamond will have a larger facing surface area than a round cut diamond, making it appear larger even if it has a smaller carat size.

Choosing A Diamond Size

If the gem size is more important to you than diamond carat size, the next step will be choosing the right diamond size for your tastes. Try on different sizes, starting from the smallest and work your way up until you find a size that has a comfortable weight and suits your hand size and shape.

The Price of Carat Sizes

Because diamond carat size plays a huge role in the differences of diamond prices, you may worry about finding a diamond that fits within your budget. However, because of how much diamond carat size causes leaps in price, even small drops in carat size can make a big difference to cost. A 0.40-carat diamond doesn’t look much smaller than a 0.50-carat diamond, but will likely be more affordable. Even a different diamond cut can have a significant effect on the price of the diamond, for example round brilliant cut diamonds have a higher cost per carat than princess cut diamonds. If you have a general idea of the diamond carat weight or gem size you’d prefer, you can work down the scale by carats until you find something you’re happy with and fits your budget.


There are several popular shapes to choose from, depending on the setting that you prefer.

Diamond faceting styles

Diamonds are usually cut using one of the two faceting styles - Brilliant cut and Step cut.

Brilliant Cut

A brilliant cut is a complex cut that features many triangular and diamond shape facets to create the maximum amount of sparkle. There are many variations of the brilliant cut style that all depend on the shape and size of the original stone in its rough form. The brilliant cut can be adapted depending on what the gem-cutter intends to do with the stone.

Step Cut

A step cut is made by creating long horizontal facets like a set of steps. Step cuts are made to show off the colour or clarity of a diamond rather than increasing its brilliance, so it won’t present the same twinkling effect you see in brilliant cut stones but rather it will display bold flashes of light and colour.

Diamond Shapes

The shape of a diamond is its outline, as viewed from above, and it’s the shape that often determines the overall style and impact of the finished piece of jewellery. There are several shapes and cut combinations that appear together so often they have been given their own names.


Round shape diamonds are considered a popular and classic choice. Round diamonds are usually paired with a brilliant cut as this is the ideal combination of shape and cut that maximizes the brilliance and sparkle of the stone for maximum effect.


Oval is one of the most common shapes for gemstones. An oval shape gemstone retains a larger amount of the carat weight of the gem than other shapes when cut. Oval shapes often come in a brilliant cut to enhance their features. While diamonds aren't usually shaped to an oval, there are plenty of beautiful oval options if you prefer this to a round diamond.


A marquise shape is an oval with pointed ends rather than rounded. It is considered a difficult shape to cut and a marquise diamond is usually more expensive because of the expertise that goes into cutting it. A marquise cut diamond is cut in such a way that makes the size of the diamond face appear bigger than its equivalent carat weight, so a marquise diamond will appear more expensive than it is.


Pear shaped diamonds feature one rounded and one pointed end, like a teardrop. Pear shaped diamonds are considered elegant and feminine, and can be particularly attractive when paired with a brilliant cut. Whilst not considered a traditional choice for an engagement ring, a pear shaped diamond ring can be a stunning alternative and has become a popular design in modern engagement rings.


A princess cut diamond is usually square and paired with a brilliant cut with pointed corners. The square shape often makes the diamond appear bigger and more pronounced, especially on a finger, which makes them popular in engagement rings.


An emerald cut diamond has a flat rectangular face with edges that are step cut. The face of the stone makes it appear larger than the stone seems and creates the look of many rectangles within the face. Because the face is mainly flat, an emerald shaped diamond doesn’t sparkle as much as a multi-faceted diamond, but it can show off the clarity and colour of the stone excellently.

Diamond Shapes

Pick The Metal

When picking the metal, it’s important to choose something that is durable as well as beautiful, as it’s likely that the ring will be worn every day.

We would advise that you see what colour precious metal is favoured by the recipient, this will help you narrow down your options.

Gold is a traditional choice that remains popular. Rings can be found in yellow, white or rose gold and in different carats (ct). Carat here, refers to the fineness of the gold, not to be confused with the carat of a stone which refers to the weight of the diamond. The higher the carat, the purer the gold and this will be reflected in the price and also the quality of diamonds that are set within.

Platinum is a very popular material for engagement rings, as it is incredibly durable and a naturally white precious metal. Unlike white gold, platinum doesn’t require replating in order to maintain it’s bright white colour, making it the ideal choice for a ring which will be worn everyday for years to come. Platinum is also a very strong metal, making it ideal for setting diamonds as it will ensure they are kept secure.

Choosing the Setting Style

The setting style of the ring is perhaps the most important design choice, here we explain what each setting will feature to help you:

The solitaire ring features one diamond set in the middle of the ring on a plain band. This is a classic style for an engagement ring, keeping the diamond the centre of attention.

The diamondshoulder setting includes one large diamond to the centre with smaller diamonds inset into the band on either side of the ring. This is the perfect style for someone who wants a minimalist look with a bit of extra sparkle.

The cluster features one large stone, with a delicate surrounding of smaller stones, sometimes referred to as a halo setting. The halo of diamonds creates the illusion of a much larger diamond and looks fantastic with diamond set shoulders for a ring that’s made to be noticed.

The three-stone setting features three diamonds set side by side across the middle of the band; these can feature a larger centre stone and two complementary side stones, or three stones of the same size. Traditionally, this design is meant to represent the past, present and future, giving it a meaningful sentiment for an engagement ring.

For your peace of mind, we have made sure that our entire collection of engagement rings are ‘wed-set’ ; this means the diamond setting tapers underneath, allowing a straight wedding band to sit perfectly with it, without the need for a specially shaped wedding ring.

Know the Ring Size

If the proposal is going to be a surprise, there’s plenty of ways to find out her ring size. Take a look at our 8 simple, easy ways to measure your partner’s ring finger without them knowing:


If like many proposals these days, the engagement was agreed upon by you both, simply asking them for the ring size is a good idea. Then, you can either buy the ring to surprise them or go shopping together.

If you really want to keep the proposal a surprise, Michael Jones Jeweller is here to resize the ring post proposal to make sure it is a perfect fit.

Obtain a Certificate especially if you are buying online

GIA, Anchor and IGI provide strict and accurate diamond grading that is demonstrable through it’s diamond certificates.

Each ring in our collection comes with its own certificate to validate the authenticity and natural origin of the diamond in your chosen ring. These certificates are issued by an independent authority, which lists the diamond’s key attributes and qualities.

If there is a certificate, you can be assured of the diamond’s quality.

Ensure You Get The Best Price

Whilst you want the best for your fiancé, the price must be a consideration – especially when there is a wedding to plan. Here at Michael Jones Jeweller, our in-house experts have curated our diamond engagement ring collection to present our very best diamond rings to ensure you are getting the highest quality diamond ring but at an affordable price.

Know The Warranty

Engagement rings are bought with the intention of being worn for a lifetime so knowing that you can get help if there is a problem is essential for peace of mind. Always make sure your engagement ring comes with a warranty protecting you from manufacturing problems.

At Michael Jones Jeweller, all our engagement rings come with a 12 month warranty so you can have that peace of mind. We also provide a free cleaning and checking service in our stores so one of our experts will be able to clean and check your ring over to make sure it is in top condition at all times.

Take Out Insurance

An engagement ring may be one of the most expensive purchases you make, so be sure to take out insurance to cover theft, loss or damage. Jewellery can be insured on your household contents insurance or under a separate insurance policy. Jewellery insurance can be very reasonably priced, so it should be something to consider as it will cover your engagement ring for loss, damage and theft. It can be beneficial to use watch and jewellery insurance specialists so you know you’re in safe hands. At Michael Jones Jeweller we recommend jewellery specialist insurers TH March - use our code AJ016T to get preferential rates.

Contact us:

Let us help you find your perfect ring today by exploring our exceptional selection of contemporary and traditional rings across all three of our showrooms and online. 

Fill out an online enquiry form, call us or visit your nearest showroom for a consultation today.