The engagement ring is the first ring an engaged couple will buy.
It is usually a dress ring of some value, worn by the girl on the third finger of her left hand.
The man does not have an engagement ring but can wear a signet ring on the same finger to mark the engagement if he chooses. He may alternatively wear his wedding band on the third finger of his right hand until marriage ceremony, and then swap it over.
Incidentally the engagement ring should never be worn at the marriage ceremony, it is said to be very bad luck and bad form to do so.
There is no hard and fast rule about the engagement ring.
Unless the man has a family ring he wishes to hand on to future bride, it is a good idea to go to a reputable jeweller to discus the sort of ring that might be appropriate and within the budget the couple can afford.
Traditionally of course the man pays for the ring but these days it is often a joint enterprise.
There are three main options open when choosing the engagement ring:
To buy an antique ring.
To buy a modern ring.
To have a ring specially made.
With the second option it may be possible to buy a matching wedding band. With the third option it is quite usual to have the rings made as a matching set.
The stone chosen may be of any type, even pearls are acceptable. Diamonds however are the favourite choice and part of a tradition very much of this century.
When choosing a diamond, expert advice is necessary, but always remember the four Cs:- carat - the weight of the stone, cut - the shape into which it has been carved to enhance its brilliance, clarity - is its purity and the absence of any flaws, and colour is self-explanatory.
If the rings are to be specially made, couples may with the help of the jeweller, submit as a sketch, their ideas. They may even ask to have an older ring of sentimental value or their own stones used in the design.
It may come as a surprise too, but it isn’t always more expensive to have a ring made.
The wedding ring of course will also have to be chosen if it is not to be part of a set.
It is supposed to represent eternity and for this reason should be an unbroken band of a plain design. These days again, traditions are changing and a continuous design all round is now acceptable.
Gold of the best quality affordable is the usual metal chosen, though some couples are now turning to platinum.
If gold is chosen, it is worth making sure it is of the same carat or purity as the engagement ring. If it is not, the less pure or harder gold will wear away the other when they are worn together.
A final thought....
Engagement and wedding rings can be very expensive pieces of jewellery. It is sensible to insure them as soon as they have been bought.
Your insurance broker will advise or the jeweller may be able to sell you a suitable policy when you buy them.