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Sure, we love a trend-driven sparkler, but nothing says "I'm engaged" quite like a classic engagement ring. Defined by simplicity and sophistication, these rings are classics for a reason: A traditional diamond cut with a no-frills design never goes out of style.
"Trend-driven styles are great if you are committed to these elements and committed to loving them for the duration," explains jewelry designer Corina Madilian. "If you are picking something of the moment just because you are currently seeing and liking it, you may not feel the same down the line, which is perfectly fine if you are comfortable knowing you may be resetting your stone or replacing the ring entirely when you are over it."
Meet the Expert
- Corina Madilian is one-half of the husband-wife duo behind Single Stone. With over 15 years of designing jewelry for the brand and over 30 years in the industry, Madilian is an expert in creating timeless, heirloom-quality styles and restoring antique pieces.
Classic engagement rings cut straight to the point. Since you're planning on wearing that rock around your finger for the rest of your life, it only makes sense to choose something you will still love when you're celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary. "Pick from the heart," advises Madilian. "Find a ring that you love and speaks to you. Don't get too caught up in the specifics of a center stone only. I encourage my clients to pick something they love, within their budget, and not to focus too much on what they think they 'should' be buying."
Also, a classic engagement ring doesn't mean you only can buy it at a veteran jewelry brand. Modern jewelry designers, such as Anna Sheffield and Vrai, carry them. Of course, you will find a wide range of classic engagement rings at brands like Tiffany & Co. and De Beers, which are sure to stay in style for years to come. Classic engagement rings also allow you to add on over time. If you aren't looking to break the bank on an engagement ring right now, then choosing a simple design is the perfect option. Down the line, you will be able to add a halo setting or a few more diamonds to your classic ring for a bit more sparkle.
Read on for the best classic engagement rings on the market. From round-cut (the perennial favorite) to oval shaped, emerald cut, radiant cut, and princess cut, you'll gush over these rings 'til death do you part.
Best Three-Stone: Anna Sheffield Hazeline Three-Stone Engagement Ring
Similar to the heirloom-inspired solitaire, this white solitaire ring is flanked by diamond side stones and set in 14k yellow gold. The delicate proportions of the band perfectly balance out the heaviness that can sometimes be present in three-stone designs.
Most Timeless: DY Eden Solitaire Engagement Ring
David Yurman's iconic cable detailing has always been indicative of love's union of two separate entities. This diamond solitaire may seem exempt from its cable-clad counterparts, but a closer look will show a platinum band with hidden cable detailing. Sometimes the greatest beauty of all is hidden in the details.
Best Vintage: VermaEstateJewels Circa 1890s Victorian 14k Yellow Gold 1.55 Old European Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
Unquestionably classic and bold, this style allows the center stone to do all of the talking. An Old-European-cut diamond is set in 14k yellow gold. "We find that this style works great with any center stone," says Madilian. "It's a popular favorite for anyone wanting to reset a diamond they are not so fond of like a princess or radiant cut."
Vintage styles will always remain a timeless engagement ring option. Believe it or not, family heirlooms often make for the best classic engagement ring.
Best Milgrain Style: Beverly K Style R9425(A) Halo Engagement Ring
A round diamond is framed by milgrain detailing and a diamond pavé halo. The negative space between the halo and the center stone creates the illusion of a floating gem, untethered by the mount. The ring is set in a choice of platinum or 18k gold.
Most Sleek Three-Stone: Single Stone London Ring
"A classic three-stone, the emerald-cut ring is always a favorite," says Madilian. "The simple lines of the shank and prongs make this a classic option for someone preferring a timeless ring." An emerald-cut diamond center stone is flanked by two diamond baguettes on each side, set in 18k rose gold.
Best Micropavé Band: Monique Lhuillier Three-Stone Trio Micropavé Diamond Engagement Ring
No one knows bridal fashion better than Monique Lhullier, so who better to design an engagement ring? With a diamond center stone flanked by diamond side stones and a platinum band completely encrusted with micropavé diamonds, the ring is very much inspired by her distinctive couture pieces.
Best Cushion-Cut: Christopher Designs Crisscut Cushion Engagement Ring
Cushion cuts are known for their sweet shape and compounded brilliance. Here, a cushion-cut diamond is framed by a pavé halo, adding to the overall glimmer of the design. The mounting sits on a channel-set pavé band of 18k white gold.
Most Unexpected: De Beers The Promise 18 Interweaving Rose Gold Diamond Ring
Timeless sophistication, but make it modern. This contemporary design is comprised of two bands interlocking to create one unified band—there's that matrimonial symbolism again. A diamond center stone sits on the two joined bands of smooth and pavé encrusted textures, set in 18k rose gold.
Best Bling: De Beers Aura Cushion-Cut Diamond Ring
Halos are exceptional at maximizing a center stone by creating the illusion of higher carat weight, which makes them ideal for stretching a ring budget. Here, a cushion-cut diamond solitaire is framed by a micropavé halo and set on a platinum micropavé band.
Best Split-Shank: Sylvie Clarinda Vintage-Inspired Engagement Ring Setting
Vintage inspiration basically ensures a ring design will be exalted to the immortal ranks of treasured family heirlooms. This piece features an emerald-cut center stone framed by a pavè halo and set on a pavé, split-shank band.
Best Mixed Stones: Sylvie Unique Double-Halo Mixed Color Diamond Engagement Ring
Why not add a little something blue to a classic engagement ring that will undoubtedly become your family's something old one day. This round diamond center stone is framed by not one but two halos of diamonds and sapphires, set on a diamond-accented band.
For the Bold Bride: Tacori RoyalT Diamond Ring
All good things come in threes, and this gloriously intricate piece is no exception. An oval diamond is flanked by two cadillac diamonds and set on a platinum, pavé band. The side profile is not to be outdone, either, with a diamond-encrusted scrollwork gallery and rails.
Most Refined: Tiffany & Co. Tiffany® Setting Engagement Ring
In the world of bridal jewelry, iconic is synonymous with enduring style and legacy—exactly what we want out of an engagement ring. And no one does iconicity better than Tiffany & Co with their 130-year old, namesake setting. Here, a diamond solitaire sits on an 18k rose gold band.
Most Feminine: Uneek Oval Diamond Three-Stone Engagement Ring
The inspiration for this double-shank silhouette comes from the undulating curves of the female physique. The curvaceous appeal is carried over to the oval diamond center stone flanked by oval side stones, set on diamond-encrusted, 18k gold bands.
Best Princess-Cut: Bario Neal Avens Diamond Princess Ring
A classic, princess-cut diamond solitaire with a creative twist. Unlike prototypical bands that are fleshed out vertically, this 14k gold band is forged horizontally to show only a razor-thin edge at eye level with the majority of its width visible only from the profile.
Most Lustrous: Hearts on Fire Illustrious Engagement Ring
This may look like an ordinary pavé band at first glance, but closer inspection will show a design that is completely flush with diamonds on all three visible sides. Now that's a lot of sparkle! A round diamond solitaire picks up all of that extra light and refracts in a brilliance that could probably be seen from miles away.
What to Look for When Choosing a Classic Engagement Ring
While some cuts come and go, others will always remain timeless. Round-cut diamonds will never go out of style because of their versatility and their elegance. Oval cuts are classic in the same way. Emerald cuts, while bolder, still make a statement that can withstand the test of time. Trendier cuts, such as a marquise cut or an Asscher cut, may fall in and out of style over the years.
For the ultimate classic look, you can't go wrong with a solitaire setting. But a timeless engagement ring doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice a bit of sparkle. Pavé or halo settings are also a great option to highlight your center stone.
The quality of your classic engagement ring comes from a balance of the 4Cs of buying a diamond: cut, color, clarity, and carat. It's important to find a trusted jeweler to work with you to find a ring that combines all those qualities. If buying an engagement ring online, make sure your ring comes with a certificate of authentication to ensure the quality of your stone.
- Does the carat size matter? When it comes to diamonds, it's easy to think that bigger is better. However, carat size should be considered with the cut and clarity of the diamond. A bigger diamond will show imperfections if the stone is of low quality. So, when choosing your carat size, make sure to consider all of the four Cs of your diamond.
- Is the color or clarity more important to consider? When choosing your diamond, it's important to consider both color and clarity, although, depending on the shape of your diamond, one may be more relevant than the other. The bottom line is that a perfect diamond takes into account both color and clarity.
- What elements should I look out for to ensure it remains timeless? The trendier the style of your ring is, the more likely it will go out of style as time passes. Do some research and see if the style you are after is considered "trendy" or if it has ever fallen out of style in the past. Opting for a solitaire ring is sure to remain timeless while choosing a style like a cluster ring may not.
Does the carat size matter?
When it comes to diamonds, it's easy to think that bigger is better. However, carat size should be considered with the cut and clarity of the diamond. A bigger diamond will show imperfections if the stone is of low quality. So, when choosing your carat size, make sure to consider all of the four Cs of your diamond.
Is the color or clarity more important to consider?
When choosing your diamond, it's important to consider both color and clarity, although, depending on the shape of your diamond, one may be more relevant than the other. The bottom line is that a perfect diamond takes into account both color and clarity.
What elements should I look out for to ensure it remains timeless?
The trendier the style of your ring is, the more likely it will go out of style as time passes. Do some research and see if the style you are after is considered "trendy" or if it has ever fallen out of style in the past. Opting for a solitaire ring is sure to remain timeless while choosing a style like a cluster ring may not.
Why Trust Brides
Shane is a former fashion and accessories editor at Brides, InStyle, and Harper's Bazaar. She is now a brand consultant for fine jewelry and fashion.