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How to Find the Perfect Engagement Ring, from Band to Boulder

October 28, 2023

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If you’ve even spent a moment researching how to find the perfect engagement ring, you’ll likely have found there is no shortage of options. You can find something as unique and lovely as your soon-to-be fiancé, but it might help to have a few focal points to start narrowing things down. Written below are ideas I’ve found have been helpful for couples I’ve worked with!

I’ll talk about engagement ring materials, sustainability, styles of rings, and a secret fourth thing. 🙂 (Okay, it’s not that big of a secret, but don’t underestimate it!). I’ll also highlight several Minneapolis and Saint Paul metro-area jewelers I’ve been really impressed by. 

Sustainability and Mined vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

If you are interested in having diamonds in your engagement ring design, you may have been hearing more about the lab-grown vs. mined diamond debate. On a molecular level, both types of diamonds are identical. And of course they’re identical without a microscope too! The only difference is the serial number that is lasered onto the gem. 

Lab-grown diamonds are less expensive, take fewer resources to obtain, and are more sustainable than diamonds that come from a mine.  If you and your partner are a sustainability-minded couple, or even if you’re just looking to save some money, I recommend looking into lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown does not mean not-legit! Nor does it suggest that your proposal is, either. 🙂

Engagement Ring Materials

A diamond’s origin aside, there are countless materials that make up engagement rings. Even if you’re not set on diamonds in particular, I think part of why they are so popular is that they are SO durable, right? You want the band and gems (if you have gems!) to last, as this is a symbol of your relationship’s love and longevity! 

Gold, silver, and platinum are timeless and traditional, and for good reason: they can withstand the beating from everyday life! They also are more resistant to moisture and oxidation than most metals. Gold and silver are pretty soft, though, making them very easy to resize, but also much easier to scratch than, say, a harder metal like titanium or platinum. There are also really hard metals, like tungsten, that are extremely strong, but cannot be resized, nor can they be dropped from too great a height. The trade-off for softness is brittleness if you go too far the other direction! 

Looking for a happy medium? Alloys are metals that are mixed with secondary metals specifically to gain desirable properties the main material lacks. For example, gold can be alloyed with titanium to get the malleability and gold appearance but with the hardness that you get of titanium.

If you want to geek out a little more on metals and some of the (digestible) science, the International Gem Society has this nice 12-minute read.

If you’re looking for an engagement ring with one or more gems, I recommend thinking about durability as well. Diamonds, sapphires, moissanite, and topaz are all very hard gems. What’s great about sapphire too is that there are MANY shades — if you are interested in the appearance of a gem that’s not as durable, there is a chance there’s a type of sapphire that will come close to what you’re looking for! 

Considering your partner’s personal style

Style is perhaps the hardest to measure. I can tell you about alloys, the Mohs hardness scale, sustainability, and cost all day, but at the end of the day, you will want your partner to wear this ring and have it fit them, not just physically, but aesthetically! 

While this is not a science, one tip I definitely want to say is that, if you’ve got a general style in mind, shop at a jeweler who already does what you like, and does it well. Trying to mold a jeweler into a style they don’t normally venture into just isn’t necessary! There are so many local businesses doing this work, you do not need to fit a square peg into a round hole. Or a circular ring into a square…? You get what I mean! 🙂

Here are some photos I have taken of couples just in the last six months. Do you see this range!? They are all beautiful and custom to the couple.

Ring set by Brilliant Earth, in Minneapolis

Okay, the secret: Take your partner with you!

More and more, couples are opting to go engagement ring shopping together. It’s not weird! There are so many more styles and options out there, and why make a guessing game out of something that could at least be informed by the person who would be wearing it forever? Maybe your partner doesn’t pick out the ring itself, but you can hit up a couple stores and see what draws their eye — and design from there!

Taking your partner ring shopping may feel like it’s taking some of the fun out of it, but you can forge your own path together as a couple. There are so many elements about a proposal that can remain a surprise still (think.. The location, the time, who is there, all the events that take place before it)! But there is peace of mind knowing that when you pop the question, you’ll already have designed not only what your jewelry will look like, but your future, too. 

Engagement ring shops in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN

If you’re local to the Twin Cities, check out these designers and shops!

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It's Jess!

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