The Engagement Ring Encyclopedia by

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we know a lot of you are either celebrating with your love or possibly gearing up for an engagement. Pretty exciting! There’s so much to think about when you’re going to get engaged and plan a wedding. But before you get to start thinking about venues and caterers and live bands vs. DJ’s, you have a ring to pick out…

Everything you need to know about choosing an engagement ring!

James Allen Rose Gold Thin French-Cut Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring (Oval Center)

You certainly wouldn’t jump into any other big purchase like a car or a house without doing all your research. Before you and your significant other take the plunge on purchasing an engagement ring, it’s important to educate yourself. To make ring shopping as easy and stress-free as it should be, we partnered with our favorite engagement ring company, James Allen, to bring you a comprehensive ring shopping cheat sheet. James Allen is the place to pick out your dream ring. They have an inspiration gallery of gorgeous rings to browse through, or you can choose from countless conflict-free diamonds and engagement rings to design your own ring. And since you’re buying online, prices are 30 to 50 percent below typical retail.'s comprehensive ring shopping cheat sheet!

James Allen Rose Gold Falling Edge Pave Diamond Engagement Ring

Check out all of the details and terminology you should know below. And enjoy some gorgeous engagement ring eye candy while you’re at it, since we snapped some photos while trying on our dream rings from James Allen

Everything you need to know about engagement ring shopping by

James Allen 14k White Gold Vintage Round Diamond and Marquise Sapphire Engagement Ring

Glossary of Engagement Ring Terms

Keep this alphabetical list handy for easy access to all your diamond-related definitions. Think of it as your engagement ring cheat sheet!

  • Bezel: This setting style, primarily known for its simplicity and durability, encases the surrounding outer edge of the diamond in a fine frame of metal. When using white gold or platinum it can often give the diamond a larger appearance. The bezel setting is a versatile one because it can accommodate every diamond shape.
  • Carat weight: One of The Four C’s. The size of a diamond is proportional to its carat weight. Since larger rough gems of high quality are more rare than smaller rough gems of high quality, a single two-carat diamond will be more expensive than two one-carat diamonds of the same quality. A diamond will increase in carat weight much faster than it increases in actual “face-up” diameter.
  • Channel set: Side diamonds are carefully embedded without prongs into the channel groove of this sturdy setting.
  • Clarity: One of The Four C’s. A diamond with good clarity will not have any imperfections, AKA “inclusions,” that will affect its overall beauty and durability.
  • Color: One of The Four C’s. When you hear someone referring to a diamond’s color, they are referring to the traces of color that are sometimes still found in a colorless When shopping for a colorless diamond, it is considered preferable to choose a stone with the least amount of color possible. Diamond color is graded on a scale from D-Z and is divided into five broad categories (colorless D-F; near colorless G-J; faint K; very light; and light).
  • Conflict-free: Conflict-free diamonds are gems that were not obtained in association with human rights abuses, child labor, violence, or environmental degradation. All of James Allen’s diamonds are conflict-free.
  • Cut: One of The Four C’s. The cut of a diamond refers to both its shape and how effectively it returns light that strikes its surface. A well-cut diamond will appear sparkly and brilliant. The standard diamond shapes include round cut, princess cut, emerald cut, asscher cut, oval cut, radiant cut, pear shaped, heart shaped, marquise cut, and cushion cut.
  • Diamond certificate: A diamond certificate verifies each diamond’s specifications, including its color grade, carat weight, clarity grade and cut grade. You should never buy a diamond without a diamond certificate.
  • Fancy color: Fancy color diamonds are actually colored. As a general rule of thumb, a fancy color diamond becomes more valuable as the color intensity increases. The classifications for fancy color diamonds are as follows: faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid/fancy, deep/fancy dark. Fancy color diamonds include fancy yellow (aka canary diamonds), fancy pink, fancy green, fancy blue, fancy orange, and fancy brown.
  • Halo: A setting in which many tiny diamonds surround the center stone, giving extra sparkle to these stunning rings. Halo settings also make the center stone appear larger.
  • Metals: The metal you choose depends on your budget, personal style, and preference. Standard engagement ring metals include yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum.
  • Pave: A setting in which small diamonds lace the band, giving the appearance of a luminous, solid diamond surface.
  • Platinum: Platinum is a rare and valuable metal that is only found in limited quantities in a few, select regions of the world. This is why platinum is more expensive than the other precious metals. Platinum’s rich, even color and sheen makes it a popular choice for engagement ring settings. Platinum is strong and can withstand a lot of stress, more so than other precious metals. It is also a naturally white metal that naturally retains its brilliant white luster.
  • Prongs: Prongs are the most traditional setting Prongs allow for maximum exposure of the diamond and minimize the presence of metal. In turn, more light is able to pass through the diamond, which only adds to its brilliance.
  • Rose gold: Rose gold is a gold and copper alloy commonly used for specialized jewelry and coveted for its warm, reddish color. The higher the amount of copper in gold, the more pronounced the red color. Pure gold is a deep yellow color and pure copper is reddish.
  • Setting: The manner in which the diamonds are set into the band. Common settings include solitaire, pave, channel set, side-stone, three-stone, tension, and  halo.
  • Side stone: A setting in which side diamonds bring out the brilliance of the center diamond, creating a true ‘statement piece’.
  • Solitaire: A classic, timeless setting, made up of a single stone and a plain setting, simple and elegant in appearance.
  • Tension: The diamond is held in place by the physical force of this bold setting.
  • The Four C’s: The four main factors that determine a diamond’s overall beauty, quality, and also its value: carat weight, clarity, color, and cut.
  • Three stone: A setting in which, two side diamonds accentuate the size and brilliance of the center stone.
  • White gold: White gold has the overall look of platinum, but is notably less expensive. However, white gold, which is mixed with alloys to give it its white appearance, loses its white shade and begins to yellow over time; white gold jewelry needs to be re-plated during its lifetime in order to maintain its white color. 14K gold contains 58.5% gold, while 18K white gold is made up of 75% gold and 25% other metals (nickel, zinc, etc).
  • Yellow gold: Yellow gold is the most common of the golds, partly because gold is yellow in its naturally occurring state. The advantages of gold are that is does not corrode, tarnish or rust, so it can be counted on to provide lasting beauty. And even though it is strong, gold is more “flexible” than the other precious metals.

James Allen 14k Yellow Gold Pave Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

James Allen 14k Yellow Gold Pave Halo Diamond Engagement Ring (Oval Center)

James Allen 14k Yellow Gold Pave Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

James Allen 14k Yellow Gold Pave Halo Diamond Engagement Ring (Oval Center)

There you have it! Study up on these terms, and you’ll go into the ring shopping process feeling confident and excited. After all, ring shopping should be fun. What’s not to love about browsing through thousands of dream rings on James Allen’s website?!

James Allen 14k White Gold Thin French-Cut Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring

James Allen 14k White Gold Thin French-Cut Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring

Will you be shopping for an engagement ring soon?

You can also send this post to your significant other if your ring is going to be a surprise.

XO Team LC

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Photos: Jessi Burrone Photography for