While beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, there are some guidelines for choosing the best ring for your hand shape and size.
Take hand and finger size into account.
In general, if you have long, slender, bony fingers, or large and/or muscular hands, a thicker band with a more prominent stone is more flattering to your hand. If you have large hands and long fingers, you are one of the few who looks good in a larger pronged setting, where the diamond setting sits higher, off the band.
Women with wide or short fingers should shop for a medium-sized ring with a large stone. Stay away from pronged settings and steer toward bands and settings that lay flat against the finger. If you have small hands with thin fingers, delicate settings will complement your hands best. Women with short thick fingers should stick to small stones.
Dick Luna, owner of de Luna Jewelry in Davis for 40 years, says he looks at hand size and shape when giving advice on diamond types and band width.
“A long finger can take almost any kind of band, but the wider bands look better,” he says. “For a smaller finger, I start off showing smaller, narrower rings.”
He suggests a marquise shape for a longer finger, and an emerald shape for someone who wants something more understated. The round diamond will work for almost any hand shape, he adds.
Ask a jeweler if they can make something just for you.
Jewelers can employ optical illusion to make just about any ring shape or style work for a woman’s hand, says Pamela Rice-Stower, owner of Mon Bijou Jewelers in El Dorado Hills.
For dramatically long fingers, Rice-Stower suggests accent stones on either side of the center diamond.
Large knuckles on a woman are a tricky issue, she says. The solution is to find the widest ring the hand shape can take, and then square the shank in the back, so the ring doesn’t tip back and forth on the finger.
Short fingers can take a wider band, if it’s tapered in the back and narrowed at the front.
Match metal color with skin tone.
Engagement rings and wedding bands typically come in two different metal colors: yellow, which means yellow gold, or white, which includes white gold or platinum. Platinum and white gold are essentially the same color; platinum is more durable, but more expensive.
Choosing metal color is based on preference and style, but many jewelers agree that lighter skin tones look better with yellow gold. Most jewelers interviewed say brides-to-be these days overwhelmingly choose white gold over yellow gold.
Rice-Stower says she asks women what color jewelry they typically wear to help them decide the color of metal for an engagement ring. In general, she disagrees with most jewelers, and says that olive skin looks better with yellow gold, while more fair skins looks best with white gold.
Thanks to some big national ads and marketing campaigns, rose gold is gaining popularity as a color for ring bands now.
“Rolex came out with rose gold on a watch, and Simon G. Jewelry is doing national ads for jewelry with a combination of rose and white gold,” Rice-Stower notes. “Rose gold was big in our grandma’s day, and now it’s back, because everything is cyclical. Rose gold is very romantic, because it’s a soft color on a woman’s skin.”
A two-tone ring—either white and yellow gold, or rose and yellow gold—makes a ring style more flexible as times change, Rice-Stower says. Another way to update or adapt rings is to buy removable bands for about $300 to $500 that can instantly change the color of a ring, she says.
Diamonds reign as the most popular engagement ring stones.
While some women may consider a colored gemstone, diamonds still reign as the most common choice for engagement rings. One reason is, “It’s the hardest stone known to man,” says Max Rogers, owner of Max’s Gallery Fine Jewelry & Design in Elk Grove.
Nick Guzzetta, owner of Guzzetta & Co. Fine Jewelers in Sacramento, says another factor in diamonds’ popularity is that they’re white and colorless, so they can go with anything. Still, he is starting to see a trend toward yellow, blue and pink diamonds.
Your marriage may outlast your ring style.
Just because you’re marrying the man of your dreams doesn’t mean you have to stay married to an outdated ring that you don’t find attractive anymore. Many times, couples can afford a bigger diamond with more flash later in life.
“We tend to get used to the ring we have, but as we grow older, we start to want something more substantial,” Rice-Stower says. “So women can add stones later on. I’ve seen couples that add a stone for each child, or couples who are getting married a second time and want to incorporate the old ring into a different setting for a new family.”
Go with your gut.
No amount of analysis can sway a woman once she sees what she wants. Rice-Stower says most of her customers look for 15 or 20 minutes before they find the ring they want. Jewelers agree that women—and men—should go with their gut when choosing, because that will be the ring that will make them most happy.
“If the woman likes the ring, she likes the ring,” says Todd Mayo, store manager of Rogers Jewelry in Sacramento. “It depends what catches her eye. And 85 percent of the time, a woman goes back to the first ring she picked out.”
Guys, for secret proposals, you’re safe with a solitaire.
Keeping the proposal a secret is romantic, but if a guy is shopping by himself and doesn’t know what shape his fiancée wants, Mayo suggests getting a solitaire diamond on a simple band, and bringing her back to put in a setting of her choice.
“If you’re not sure, a white gold band and round solitaire is the best bet,” Mayo says.
One-carat round diamonds are still the most common choice for engagement rings, because it’s a simple, elegant shape, and they hold their brilliance and shine best.