With so many different types of engagement rings to choose from, when it’s your time to pop the big question, you may find yourself overwhelmed by a sea of sparkling bands. In this helpful guide, we’ll take you on a whistle-stop tour of the popular engagement rings on offer in 2023, covering both classic and unique engagement ring styles. By the end of this article, you’ll know your solitaire from your halo and will be able to fine-tune your choices to find the ultimate ring to go down on one knee with.
Today, the marriage proposal is commonly a profoundly romantic moment between a couple, set in a beautiful or meaningful location and now often captured by a photographer to commemorate this milestone in the relationship.
We all know that in the past, marriage was something of a practical affair, and therefore the engagement lacked the rose petals and joyful tears of today’s proposals. Historically, marriage was a union formed by the in-laws to strengthen family alliances or to further an individual’s economic, social or political status.
Interestingly, the evolution of different types of engagement rings coincides with the marriage union being sprinkled with a little more love. First, these rings were used (at least in part) as a sign of ownership. Thought to be the first civilisation to use rings in this way, the ancient Romans fashioned engagement rings out of ivory, flint, bone and iron from as far back as the second century BCE.
Pope Nicolas I plays an important role in the history of the engagement ring. In 850 CE, he declared that these rings symbolise a man’s intent to marry a woman. Then, in the Middle Ages, a ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by the Archduke Maximillian of Austria is thought to be one of the first set with a diamond. Around this time, we start seeing romance and love playing a much-needed part in the institution of marriage.
By the Victorian era, diamond mines had been discovered, and these sparkling gems rose in popularity among the wealthiest in society. Queen Victoria was famed for her love of diamonds, so the demand for diamond engagement rings grew. Following a slump in popularity during the 20th century due to the Great Depression, an ingenious marketing campaign by diamond miners DeBeers introduced the slogan “diamonds are forever”. Once more, diamond engagement rings soared in popularity. But is the traditional diamond ring right for your partner?
When looking at engagement rings for your partner, you need to view the jewellery through their eyes. This is an item they will hopefully wear on their finger for the rest of their life – so they need to love it as much as they love you.
To find a ring that your partner will adore wearing day after day, ask yourself the following questions:
You know your partner like the back of your hand, but how about engagement ring styles? By learning more about the classic and unique engagement ring styles available in 2023, you can start to spot the designs that will look the part on your loved one’s finger.
1. Solitaire – easily the most iconic of the engagement ring styles, this effortlessly elegant design features a single gemstone set on a simple band. A solitaire engagement ring is a wise choice for the partner who prefers traditional jewellery, and you can choose the size, cut and type of the gem to reflect their personality.
2. Halo – remaining a popular choice in 2023, the halo style features a larger central gem (often a diamond) surrounded by a “halo” of smaller stones. This setting allows the smaller gems to reflect light into the larger ones, producing a wonderfully opulent effect. While the aesthetic is simple, it still packs a punch, and if you’re on a budget, this design makes the main gemstone look larger and more impactful.
3. Cluster – also known as an illusion ring, the cluster style includes a collection of smaller gems set together to create the appearance of a larger stone. An excellent setting for creating plenty of sparkle on a budget, you can opt for a traditional circular style or choose a contemporary shape or asymmetrical arrangement for the partner who likes a unique look.
4. Pavé – from the French word for paved, this style of ring sees the band itself covered in tiny gemstones (such as diamonds), creating a gorgeous, eye-catching, feminine look. This adds glamour to a ring if your budget dictates a smaller central stone, and it allows you the option to personalise the pavé on the band – for example, using your partner’s birthstone.
5. Shank and Split Shank – the shank of a ring refers to the shoulders of the band, which rise to meet the stone. The split shank style remains popular, where the band splits in two before attaching to the stone. Wider splits can create a more traditional, antique feel while a narrow split can accentuate the size of the stone.
6. Swirl – a style that celebrates fluidity, the swirl design sees the central stone held in place at the top and the bottom rather than at the sides. The shanks, therefore, give the appearance that the gem is sitting in the centre of a swirl, creating a piece full of movement. Unique but elegant, this design makes a statement while still feeling romantic.
7. Channel – this design features a central stone flanked by smaller stones set within a “channel” on the band on either side. The style looks very classic, but your gemstone choice and cut can create a more unique engagement ring style for the partner who likes to keep their jewellery modern.
8. Cathedral – inspired by the architecture of a cathedral, this style sees two sweeping archway-style projections that rise from the shanks and taper as they meet the central stone. This design can be kept simple, or you can add pavé to the band to add a contemporary edge.
9. Bezel – this style, known for its secure gem setting, sees the stone held in place by a metal border rather than claws or prongs. This engagement ring style can look very modern and is an excellent way to keep an expensive stone safe, secure and scratch-free.
10. Double Diamond / Stone – a popular, contemporary look for 2023, the double diamond is one of the types of engagement ring that has been popular on the celebrity and influencer scene, leading to rising sales. The two stones represent you and your partner in eternal union, and the design can be augmented with a halo of smaller diamonds around the circumference.
11. Trilogy – also known as the triple diamond or stone engagement ring style, a trilogy engagement ring features three gemstones. Two smaller ones often flank one larger central stone, but you can curate a more contemporary look by choosing a ring where all three stones are the same size. You can also make the ring more unique by selecting different types or colours of gems for the central or flanking stones.
12. Flush Set – a modern aesthetic that works well when proposing to a man, the flush set style sees small stones embedded within the band for a subtle but special look. This is a practical choice for someone whose job or hobby is likely to damage or knock out the stones of a traditionally set ring.
13. Tension Set – a fabulously unique type of engagement ring for a partner who likes edgy jewellery and who will be happy to show off their new ring to all. In this dynamically designed style of ring, the stone is held in place by tension between the two shanks and not by any type of claw, prong or channel. This produces a very cool optical effect that works well in an engagement ring for either sex.
14. Baroque – not a style for the partner who likes their jewellery minimalistic, a baroque engagement ring is a celebration of detail, embellishment and intricacy. Consider this ornate style if your partner is a fan of all things vintage, or opt for a ring with just a touch of baroque detailing to add interest to a smaller stone.
15. Bombe – another unique engagement ring style for the partner who’ll want their engagement ring to stand out from the crowd, the art deco bombe design is a celebration of curves. Flush or French-set gems can be set into the metal segments to add character and sparkle. A bold choice for either sex, bombe engagement rings can look particularly striking with coloured stones.
Once you’ve settled on your preferred engagement ring styles, you can personalise this precious piece of jewellery by considering the type of metal and gemstones you want the ring to feature.
When choosing the metal, you need to consider both the appearance of the metal and its durability. Yellow gold was a popular choice for engagement rings historically, but despite the romantic soft hues of its colouration, this is a less popular choice in 2023. Yellow gold also lacks durability, being easily scratched and bent out of shape, making it a poor choice if your partner is very active or works a physical job.
White and rose gold offer a more popular modern colour pallet and are more durable than yellow gold, thanks to the metals they are blended with. White gold provides a clean, modern look while rose gold is an excellent option for a romantic feeling engagement ring. These colours of gold work well alongside both diamonds and coloured gems and won’t damage or be damaged by other rings worn by your partner made of the same material.
Platinum is an incredibly tough and durable metal, ideal for a partner who might put their engagement ring through its paces. Its modern appearance is another plus point, and it won’t tarnish or corrode over time.
Different types of engagement ring can be made to feel more specific to your partner by personalising one or more of the stones. The classic diamond ring makes for a stunning engagement ring, and you can choose a cut that speaks to your partner’s personal taste. Diamonds are hard-wearing, produce an exquisite depth of clarity and sparkle, and we also hold them in very high esteem, meaning a diamond ring feels extra special and luxurious.
If you’d like a ring to be more bespoke for your partner, why not include their birthstone (or yours) in a double, triple or cluster design? You could use a gemstone that represents their favourite colour, or if they are close to their mother, why not use the same gemstone as her engagement ring?
In 2023, popular types of engagement ring coloured gemstones include aquamarines, coloured diamonds, emeralds, morganites and sapphires. If you choose a coloured stone, make sure the metal in your band allows the colour to “sing”. Before you add a splash of colour to an engagement ring, make absolutely sure that this will be to your partner’s taste.
An engagement ring is one of the most important purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. Recognising the meaning and sentiment behind an engagement ring, we always strive to use the original jeweller to take care of any damage to your engagement ring or to source a replacement. With a dedicated claims handler should you need to report an issue, we make the whole process as stress-free as possible for you.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can protect your engagement ring.