Tiffany & Co.'s Chief Gemologist: What To Consider When Choosing Your Engagement Ring

Engagement Rings
tiffany and co.

Photo: Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

Your engagement ring—you know, that stunning piece of hardware that'll sit on your left ring finger—can represent not only your number one love, but also your personality and style. If you gravitate towards classic and elegant, you've no doubt had your eye on Tiffany & Co.'s signature Tiffany Setting. This year marks the 130th anniversary of the historic six-prong setting that makes a round diamond look like it's floating on the finger. In honor of the anniversary, we sat down with Melvyn Kirtley, who's been Tiffany & Co.'s chief gemologist for over 30 years, to talk about the iconic engagement ring setting and what brides-to-be should keep in mind when searching for their ring.

What is it about the Tiffany Setting that's helped it stand the test of time?
When it was designed in 1886, it was a brilliant way of taking the diamond—a beautiful, round, brilliant-cut diamond—and setting it above the finger to really allow the light to get to it. Prior to that, diamonds were set much lower. It's the pureness of it and the simplicity that make it so special. The hardest things to design are the simplest things because there's no place to hide.

Simple generally is timeless. But how can brides-to-be exude a little more personality with such a classic ring?
You can stack different bands —a wedding band, an anniversary band, and make a wonderful stack with it. Some customers prefer something a little more designed in a sense. They may want to have diamonds around, or they may want to have a more elaborate setting.

What should brides-to-be note when shopping for an engagement ring?
You have to fall in love with it. You have to love the shape. You have to have an immediate magnetism toward that shape. You have to look at a lot and narrow it down to a few and settle on the one that you fall in love with. It's a process that takes time, and it's a journey. And you have to go on the journey. Over the period of the visits, you're going to find the shape that you love, the shape that works for you, that's going to work for you in your lifestyle. You're going to be wearing it every day, and it has to be one that you fall in love with, not that everyone else falls in love with.

And is that journey something you recommend a couple does together?

I think the journey has to be somewhat together. The ultimate purchase is done separately, but the journey and the narrowing down of which one it is has to be done collaboratively.

What are some of the latest trends you've seen with engagement rings?
With an engagement ring, you're not really talking about a fashion statement. You're talking about something you'll have forever. It's one of the biggest investments outside of a house or a car that you'll ever make. It has to be classic. Something that will work forever.

See More: 50 Things to Know About Your Engagement Ring

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from