The Ultimate Engagement Ring Guide 2024

Written by Nick Ireland, January 2024

Asking your partner to marry you is the most crucial decision of your life. But before that, you must also make one of the most important purchase decisions ever – buying an engagement ring. 

There’s a lot to digest, from how many carats to how much should you spend on it. 

If you don’t know how to answer these questions, here’s an in-depth guide to help you through the decision-making process. 

When you’re ready, professional diamond jeweller Nick Ireland helps designs stunning engagement rings.

Two diamond engagement rings laying next to each other

Understanding Diamonds: Carats, Cut, Colour, and Clarity

Does your partner want a sparkly diamond on their ring finger? It’s the classic stone of choice that many brides-to-be dream of.

But there are many other traits to look for in a diamond besides sparkle or shine. 

Diamonds are an investment, so you should know what you’re paying for. Here are the four characteristics to consider:


Carat refers to the diamond’s weight. One carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams. That’s roughly the weight of a paper clip.

As you can guess, the heavier the diamond, the more expensive it will be. 

However, more carats don’t always mean bigger. For example, oval diamonds with 2.00 carats each can have different shapes and sizes. So, how many carats should an engagement ring be in Australia? There’s no right or wrong answer. 

Instead of focusing solely on the weight, pick a diamond that speaks to you and your partner. A diamond’s carat weight should only serve as a guide.


Cut is arguably the most crucial consideration in selecting a diamond. It refers to how the stone is proportioned, faceted, and polished. It also determines brilliance or how the diamond interacts with light and returns it to your eyes.

The more brilliant it is, the more dazzling rainbow flashes you’ll get. When it comes to visual appeal, the cut takes importance over colour and clarity, regardless of the diamond’s shape.

The GIA system has five grades for diamond cuts, starting from Poor to Excellent. The cut grade has less influence over price versus other characteristics, so it never hurts to stick to diamonds graded Very Good and Excellent.

Diamond cuts


The GIA system grades diamond colours from D to Z. D diamonds have no trace of colour, making them the most expensive. Meanwhile, Z diamonds have a slight yellowish tint to them. 

The industry’s acceptable range for quality diamonds is D to J.

However, some diamond shapes are better at concealing colour than others. That allows you to choose a lower grade without seeing that yellow tinge. 

Round and brilliant diamonds are an example of this. On the other hand, elongated diamond shapes, like radiant and oval, have a higher tendency to expose colour.

Multiple diamonds together


Clarity refers to how clear and perfect a diamond looks. GIA’s clarity grading scale goes from Flawless (F) to Included (I), deducting points for natural imperfections. 

However, diamonds don’t have to be at the top of the scale to look perfect to the naked eye.

A Slightly Included (SI1) diamond can look the same as a Very Slightly Included (VSI1) diamond if you’re not using tools to examine it. Choosing a lower grade can save you thousands of dollars without sacrificing looks.

These characteristics each contribute to a diamond’s value. But the goal isn’t to purchase a diamond ring that scores the highest in these four categories or to get the most expensive one.

It’s about finding the one that looks most beautiful to you and your partner.

GIA scale

Selecting a Cut: What Shape Should Your Diamond Be?

As mentioned, cut is the most crucial consideration when choosing the perfect diamond for you and your partner. 

There are various shapes to choose from, and each one will look and sparkle differently on the finger. To select the best one, consider the bride’s style.

Do they stick to the classics, or do they prefer to rock a more modern look? Are they more minimalist, or do they love to make a statement? 

To help you choose, here are the top seven diamond cuts and their characteristics:

Round cut example

Round Cut

Round brilliant-cut diamonds are the most popular among brides for a reason. 

They’re the flashiest with 58 different facets, able to maximise a diamond’s light performance. 

They can hold your attention as solitaires but also look beautiful in a two or three-stone arrangement.

This shape of diamond is a timeless but versatile choice. 

However, the ring may look similar to many others at shops. If you want a more unique look, there are many more cuts to explore.

Oval cut example

Oval Cut

The oval cut is like the round cut but with a more elongated silhouette. 

It can sport the same number of facets, allowing it to be as sparkly as its round cousin. 

Plus, it gives the effect of longer and more elegant fingers. It’s a less typical choice that can make the wearer stand out.

However, the oval cut isn’t as good at concealing inclusions and flaws as the round cut. 

Going for a salt and pepper diamond can solve this problem.

Princess cut example

Princess Cut

The princess cut deserves its name because this diamond shape will have the bride feeling like royalty on their big day. 

It’s well-loved for its square shape, exuding a strong and regal look. 

Unlike the round cut, the princess cut isn’t standardised, allowing for more variation in light performance.

Despite its brilliance, the princess cut generally costs less than the round cut. 

However, pick a protective setting because it tends to chip at the corners.

Cushion cut example

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut resembles a pillow, featuring a square shape with rounded corners. 

It boasts 58 impressive facets, giving it a dazzling radiance. This shape was a favourite in the 19th century, and it is slowly regaining popularity.

The cushion cut has an old-world charm, pairing perfectly with a vintage setting. 

It’s ideal for brides who want to show off the elegance of a bygone era. 

The only drawback to this shape is that it has less sparkle than the round cut.

Emerald cut example

Emerald Cut

For brides who dream of an Art Deco engagement ring, the emerald cut is the way to go. 

It’s an elongated rectangle with tapered corners and long, rectangular facets. 

While it doesn’t have the brilliance of a round or princess cut, it commands attention in its own way. 

It’s ideal for those who want an understated yet impressive diamond.

The emerald cut is like a hall of mirrors, thanks to its long lines and mesmerising clarity. 

The popular choice is to set them vertically to give the fingers a more slender look.

Pear cut example

Pear Cut

For those seeking a touch of elegance and a unique twist in their engagement ring, the pear cut is the perfect choice.

It’s a combination of the round and marquise cut, featuring a rounded end and a pointed tip, resembling a luscious teardrop.

The pear cut offers a distinct sparkle, not as fiery as the round cut but with its own charismatic flair. 

This diamond cut is a splendid option for those who desire a subtle yet striking statement piece.

A popular choice is to wear the pointed end towards the fingertip, creating an elongating effect for a glamorous and slender look.

Marquise cut example

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut is like a football but in the most elegant way possible. 

It’s easy to distinguish from other cuts because of its unique shape. 

Its narrow silhouette and pointy ends tend to flatter the fingers. In addition, it steals attention with its dazzling sparkle.

But like the princess cut, its delicate pointed ends are prone to breaking. 

Also, a low-quality marquise cut can give the diamond an unwanted bowtie effect in the centre.

Securing Your Diamond: Choosing a Setting Style

Choosing the correct diamond cut is the priority when purchasing an engagement ring, but selecting the right setting style is next in line. 

It can completely change a ring’s look, whether you’re going for something traditional, modern, or funky.

There are various setting styles to choose from. But let’s make things less complicated by grouping them into two main categories: claw and rub-over. 

As the name suggests, claw settings hold the diamond in place with little prongs. Meanwhile, rub-overs encase the diamond within a wall.

All diamond settings are a variation of these two. Here’s a closer look at the different types:

Claw set example

Claw Setting

The claw setting is the most popular option for diamond engagement rings because its simplicity allows the stone to take centre stage. 

It has round wire prongs that hold the diamond in place. Four to six claws are usually enough to set a round diamond, but the number can vary for other cuts.

For smaller side stones, there’s something called a microclaw setting. 

Claws protrude from the edges of the band to secure each diamond. The prongs are hardly visible, allowing the stones to shine.

Grain set example

Grain Setting

For grain settings, each diamond sits inside a drilled hole, allowing it to be flush against the metal. 

The jeweller will push tiny metal beads from the ring setting over the stones to secure them. 

You’ll see this setting in vintage engagement rings with many accent stones.

The pave setting is a variation of the grain setting. It’s when tiny diamonds cover the band, leaving hardly any room for metal. 

Again, there are little grains that hold the stones in place.

Halo set example

Halo Setting

If you want to glam up an engagement ring, the halo setting is the way to go. 

This style has been a favourite among brides since Kate Middleton debuted her halo-setting engagement ring in 2010.

It consists of a large centre stone with smaller stones surrounding it. 

The accents are usually pave diamonds. What’s great about this setting is that it tricks the eyes, making the centre diamond look larger than it is.

Channel set example

Channel Setting

Rings with a channel setting feature a series of accent diamonds. 

The stones are beside each other inside a channel carved out of the band. 

You don’t have to worry about the diamonds sliding around because there are grooves on the walls to hold them still. 

Also, the jeweller will lightly hammer down the walls of the channel for extra security.

Bezel set example

Bezel Setting

The rub-over or bezel setting has a thin wall of metal that surrounds the diamond. 

It’s probably the most protective setting, as it hides the edges of the diamond. 

You don’t have to worry as much about knocking your precious ring against objects. 

However, that also means your diamond can shine less.

Building the Foundation: Which Metal Should You Choose?

Choosing the best engagement ring involves making several decisions. 

One of them is which metal to use. It can be a daunting task with all the various kinds to choose from. 

But you can use your lifestyle and budget to guide your decision. 

From platinum to gold, here’s what you need to know about each metal.

Read our full engagement ring metals guide.

Yellow gold example

Yellow Gold

Gold is the most popular choice of metal for engagement rings for many reasons. 

It’s the least reactive among metals, keeping its original colour and lustre even when exposed to water, oxygen, and acids. 

It’s also malleable and ductile, allowing jewellers to be as creative as they want. 

But the main reason brides love this metal is for the luxury it exudes. 

However, that doesn’t mean the higher the karat, the better the ring is. 

A 24-karat ring is much too soft for daily wear. It doesn’t take much to scratch or bend it. 

It’s also easy for the diamonds to fall out and be lost forever. Although it’s the least pure, 10k is the most durable.

Rose gold example

Rose Gold

Rose gold, a blend of pure gold and copper, offers a romantic and durable choice for engagement rings. 

Its warm rosy hue, versatile compatibility with various gemstones, and lasting charm make it a popular pick. 

 It also possesses durability and resilience, making it a practical choice for daily wear,

White gold example

White Gold

White gold, a blend of pure gold and white metals, offers a timeless and elegant choice for engagement rings. 

Its compatibility with a wide range of gemstones, and classic appeal make it a favoured selection.

Platinum example


If you want an engagement ring that will last until you and your partner are old and grey, platinum is the way to go. 

This rare metal is so sturdy that people used it for war supplies back in the day. 

It can withstand the wear and tear of daily use, retain its colour and sheen, and hold diamonds in place for a lifetime. 

While it can get scratched up, that’s nothing a jeweller can’t fix.

Platinum is significantly more expensive than gold because of its rarity and durability. 

However, it can lead to savings in the long run because you won’t have to spend money on repairs or replacements.

Money Talk: How Much To Spend on an Engagement Ring

Anyone planning to propose will ask this question: what’s the right amount to spend on an engagement ring? And the answer is there’s no standard price you must hit.

On average, the amount couples spend on their engagement ring with us varies between $10,000 – $15,000. 

There’s also a “salary rule” that states you should invest two to three times the amount of your salary into the engagement ring.

But your proposal isn’t less meaningful if you go below these figures. 

Remember that carats don’t reflect how much love you have for your partner. You should be able to spend the amount you’re comfortable with without feeling ashamed or inadequate. 

At the Diamond Jewellery Studio, our engagement rings come in various prices to suit different budgets.