How to choose the perfect engagement ring

When you marry the perfect proposal with the perfect engagement ring, you’ve a happy couple indeed

Tiffany & Co.

Each round, brilliant diamond that is mounted in the Tiffany Setting is cut to maximize brilliance and polished to perfection.


Receiving the perfect engagement ring is unalloyed joy but choosing it can seem daunting.

If that’s the quest facing you, the best way to start is to take inspiration from your loved one, their character and style, as well as your shared experiences and memories, suggests Melvyn Kirtley, chief gemmologist at Tiffany & Co.

“Think of words you would use to describe them and their style, and look for an engagement ring with similar characteristics,” he says.

The Tiffany website allows you browse by shape, setting, colour or metals, to familiarise yourself with styles and play around with design combinations.

Tiffany offers one of the widest assortments of engagement ring styles to accommodate every couple’s taste

Get to know the 4Cs. These are Carat – which refers to a diamond’s weight - Colour, Clarity and Cut. A diamond is not valued purely on the basis of size but on its rarity and its unique combination of all 4Cs.

Tiffany goes beyond the 4Cs to grade a diamond for ‘presence’ too. “This is a unique fifth element that impacts a diamond’s brilliance and scintillation,” says Kirtley. “Colour must be in the top six grades. Stones with inferior clarity characteristics are unacceptable.”

A Tiffany diamond is cut to maximise brilliance and beauty. “Two diamonds may have the same carat weight, clarity and colour, but one may not be as beautiful as the other because of its cut. It is the combination of all these qualities coming together as one that defines the ‘presence’ of a Tiffany diamond.”

Given that only 0.04 per cent of the world’s gem-grade diamonds make it into a Tiffany creation, by virtue of being a Tiffany diamond alone it is among the rarest in the world.

Consider the way in which the diamond is mounted too. Look for quality of finish and design details. Tiffany invented the modern engagement ring. The now renowned “Tiffany setting”, refers to a diamond’s being held in place on a ring by six elegantly raised claws.

“A beautiful and simple design that transcends time is very difficult to achieve but when you get it, it really works,” he says. “The Tiffany Setting is the perfect example. More than 130 years ago Tiffany’s founder, Charles Louis Tiffany had the idea of lifting a round brilliant diamond above a ring band, and it is still the most coveted engagement ring design in the world.”

Fine jewellery like this cannot be made by machines. Every ring is unique, like a work of art

The mounting is critical to the overall beauty of the stone, how it will look when worn and its overall durability. “At Tiffany we pride ourselves on the superior quality and craftsmanship of all our mountings. A stone of the finest quality combined with superb mounting makes for a ring that will remain perpetually beautiful.”

Tiffany caters for those looking for something a little different than the classic diamond engagement ring too.

“In choosing a ring style, couples should think long term. The diamond will last a lifetime and the style of its setting should reflect the taste and personality of the wearer. A number of our customers are attracted to non-traditional engagement rings such as coloured gemstones or band rings. Tiffany offers one of the widest assortments of engagement ring styles to accommodate every couple’s taste,” he says.

Whatever Tiffany engagement ring you choose, you can rest assured that it will have been set in New York, just as it was more than 130 years ago, and it will have been handcrafted, hand cut and hand polished as a matter of principle. “Fine jewellery like this cannot be made by machines. Every ring is unique, like a work of art,” he says.

It also comes through a rigorous quality process that extends right back to the diamond mine.

“From the moment a Tiffany diamond is sourced, to the time it is set in our rings, the diamond remains in our hands, until it is placed on yours,” he says.

“Before a diamond may enter our assortment, the Tiffany Gemmological Laboratory in New York assigns the 4Cs to each one, to be sure it meets the exacting Tiffany standards. And all Tiffany diamonds come from resources practising responsible global mining standards, human rights protections and a string chain of custody controls. Sustainability is an important issue for Tiffany and we feel we owe our customers nothing less than complete integrity.”

Each Tiffany diamond engagement ring comes with a warranty and, uniquely among jewellers, a certificate that guarantees the stone’s grade for life. Of course for it to be the perfect ring, it should fit perfectly. Don’t worry if it doesn’t, it won’t take the lustre off a grand gesture: Tiffany offers a free resizing service for all of its engagement rings. 

So, once you have selected the perfect engagement ring, how to achieve the perfect proposal? Here, too, diamond authority Kirtley knows what works. “Proposals are something that happen regularly at our Tiffany stores around the country,” he says. This no doubt includes the Tiffany & Co. store at Dublin’s Brown Thomas.

“One of the most popular ideas is where the man buys the ring but does not take it home with him. Then he returns with the unsuspecting girlfriend and, as a surprise, there is a suddenly a ring.”

Start your search at Tiffany.ie/engagement