Skip to main content Skip to navigation Skip to site search

Engagement Ring Style Guide

Think of an engagement ring as “wearable art” to make choosing a style for your fiancée-to-be a more thoughtful, and even easier, process.

While many men start with the diamond as the base for their thinking about an engagement ring, exploring the style of ring she’ll adore will take you closer to the perfect choice. You need to consider “the art of the ring.”

While an engagement ring is a symbol of your love for your fiancée-to-be, don’t forget that it is also a wearable piece of art. Consider what type of art would be the perfect complement to her daily wardrobe.

First you need to understand her style. Is she classic? Modern? Vintage inspired? Fashion forward? Once you’ve gotten that part down, your choices within that style are plentiful. Let’s consider some of your options.


Classic is, well, classic. It’s perfectly tailored. It’s not a hair out of place. It’s a Botticelli, or the Mona Lisa. The most classic of classic engagement ring styles is a round diamond solitaire in a simple gold band. The number of prongs holding the diamond in place can vary, but an example is the uber-classic, four-prong mounting.

White-metal engagement rings (in white gold and platinum) are popular choices — their color tends to flatter the diamond more. Think of this as “new classic.”

Another classic is the three-stone diamond engagement ring, where three matching diamonds are set horizontally in a row with the bigger stone placed in the center. This is meant to symbolize your past, present and future together. If symbolism is your thing, this style of ring might be ideal.


Modern art in general breaks free of the constraints of the previous era. So sometimes modern engagement ring designers don’t create rings that look like engagement rings.

But if we move out of the extreme, modern engagement ring design principles often celebrate minimalism and the innovative use of materials. An artist may try to bring out romanticism in a stark design. Metal bands may feature clean lines that are industrial in feel, and made of modern material such as platinum. Stones may not be white diamonds, they may be colored diamonds or, in some cases, not diamonds at all.


Ah, vintage! Rich and intricate, sometimes over the top, sometimes surprisingly simple. To be a true antique, a vintage ring must be at least 100 years old, but you can purchase a vintage look that features better diamonds and stronger metals. Pick an era, any era — Art Deco, Victorian and Etruscan are just a few — and designers have staked out the period.

Vintage designs are statement makers in their own right, so it’s important to know that your fiancée-to-be is definitely into a particular style. Characteristics of vintage rings are milgrain detailing (strings of tiny metal beading around the edges), a diamond halo around the center stone, floral engraving and pavé diamond settings. That said, styles within vintage vary.

Art Deco style, which was considered modern in the 1920s and 1930s, is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. Think ornate, yet balanced. Engagement rings from this era often feature rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

You can get completely lost in the varieties of Victorian styles, so be prepared. But something will just hit you and you’ll go “wow!” Victorian is not all about diamonds, because at the beginning of the age, large diamonds were rare. So you may find ones that feature clusters of small diamonds or colored stones. A popular style featured a large pearl surrounded by smaller diamonds.

Etruscan engagement rings are truly ancient, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll acquire an actual one. Designers use granulation — tiny beads of gold that add texture to a surface — and filigree, or intricate metalwork, to recreate this ancient and romantic style. Etruscan bands can be thick, but the delicate metalwork elevates them. The stones are usually inset into the band, are often small, and may be colored or clear.

Celebrity-inspired and fashion-forward

Celebrity-inspired and fashion-forward rings are often cut from the same cloth. Think of the bold, couture statements of wearable art you see on Hollywood's finest at an Academy Awards or MTV Music Awards. Sure, celebs can go for classic rings, but oftentimes they’re looking for the unusual, the over-the-top, or statement makers. That makes them fashion-forward.

Making a statement can come in many forms — from gem color to gem type, size to setting. One of the most interesting fashion-forward trends is the choice of colored diamonds. A black diamond highlighted with a circle of smaller white ones is stunning and chic. Rose gold settings are making a comeback, and their vintage look can become something very different when paired with a modern colored diamond.

Your choice of an engagement ring style is very personal. But thinking of it as art your fiancée-to-be will wear daily may help you get closer to the right decision. And when it doubt, include her in the hunt for the perfect style.

Ready to shop? Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry have a great selection of diamond rings.

Was this article helpful?

Share the wisdom

Email this Article

* Required Fields

More on this topic