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There’s many aspects to consider in selecting the right engagement ring, but one that’s always top of mind for shoppers is size.
All else being equal, larger diamonds are more valuable, so finding a bigger one has the potential to put you over your budget.
Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost if you feel the diamonds that fit your price range aren’t big enough, or you own a diamond that’s too small.
Here are 17 ways to make an engagement ring look bigger.
1. Prioritize the Right Cut
The cut of a diamond is what determines the quality of its light performance. It’s graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as fair, good, very good, or excellent.
Excellent cut means the diamond will reflect the most light and improve its brilliance and sparkle. That’s because the way the facets are cut into the diamond are optimal for light to come into the diamond and exit at the proper angles.
Additionally, it optimizes the placement of the carats in the stone, giving a larger appearance as it glimmers.
2. Choose a Round Diamond
An excellent cut performs best on a round diamond. So to maximize the light performance, a combination of excellent cut and a round shape are your best choice.
The circular cut of a round diamond isn’t as deep as other shapes, which results in the appearance of a larger diamond. Even though you could buy the same carat weight as a shape such as Asscher or princess, if you put them next to a round diamond, the naked eye may see the round one as bigger.
3. Use Slim Prongs (and Less of Them)
Prongs are the most popular setting to hold a diamond. There are settings that include four, six, or even eight prongs, which latch onto the sides of the diamond and hold it in place like a basket.
While prongs are designed to showcase as much of the diamond as possible, especially compared to a bezel setting, you can maximize the appearance of your diamond by choosing slim and fewer prongs that won’t hide as much of its shine.
If available, opt for a four-prong setting. You can be confident your diamond is secure, and it won’t have as much of its edges covered.
4. Choose a Higher Carat with Lower Color or Clarity
Choosing a higher carat with lower color or clarity is another way to make an engagement ring look bigger without spending more than your budget allows.
As you move up the GIA scale in clarity and color, the price of the diamond increases. The same is true for higher carats.
By moving down the scale on color or clarity, you can find the sweet spot where the price drop has covered the cost of a higher carat.
For example, this diamond has the following qualities:
- Carat: 1.00
- Color: F
- Clarity: VVS1
- Cut: Very good
- Price: $6,520
By opting for a lower quality across color and clarity, we can find this engagement ring diamond, which has a similar price and a higher carat:
- Carat: 1.20
- Color: H
- Clarity: VS1
- Cut: Very good
- Price: $6,480
It’s a great example of how finding the perfect engagement ring diamond is about selecting which qualities are most important to you and emphasizing those features, while saving money on the areas that aren’t as important.
5. Try Fancy Shapes
If you don’t want a round diamond, there are fancy shapes that can also make an engagement ring look bigger. Opt for the elongated shapes, such as marquise, pear, or oval.
They have large surface areas, so compared to one with the same carats but a more compact shape, the elongated shape could look larger.
6. Avoid Asscher or Princess
Just like there are diamond shapes that make it look bigger, there are ones to avoid if you want to maximize the appearance of its size. At the top of that list would be Asscher and princess.
Princess cuts are the most popular of the fancy shapes and have a sharp square shape and four beveled sides. An Asscher cut is similar to an emerald cut except it’s square instead of a rectangle.
The reason they don’t appear as big as other shapes is because they hide much of the weight below the table of the diamond. It’s the opposite of elongated shapes, where the weight is stretched across a larger surface area.
7. Use a Thin Band
Choosing a thin band follows the same idea as fewer, slim prongs. You want to minimize the size of the surrounding pieces, so they amplify the size of the diamond.
A thin band such as a knife edge style is the perfect choice. It’s functional, affordable, and its width won’t overpower the diamond.
8. Opt for a Halo Setting
A halo setting makes your engagement ring look bigger without adding too much to its price.
This topic brings up an important piece of knowledge about buying diamonds: the price of diamonds doesn’t increase proportionately with carats.
You won’t just pay three times as much for triple the carat, all else being equal. You’ll pay much more than that.
A way to add size to your ring is with a halo setting, which features a center diamond surrounded by small accent stones. These accent stones can add to the total carat weight of your diamond in a way that won’t significantly ramp up the price.
10.Consider a Cluster Setting
A cluster setting is similar to a halo setting, but instead of the one larger diamond in the center, it’s only several smaller ones grouped together.
The above principle on price applies here as well: You’ll pay less when the total amount of carats are split between multiple diamonds versus if it’s all in a single one.
From a distance, the cluster setting can look like it’s all one diamond, so you get the appearance of a single diamond without paying the higher price.
In fact, I recommend cluster setting as engagement rings when there’s still a diamond that’s most prominent, or there are several stones of the same cut placed closely together.
It helps avoid the reputation of cluster rings appearing tacky and instead provides an elegant aesthetic.
11. Don’t Put it Next to Your Wedding Band
The next tip is to not put the engagement ring right next to your wedding band. While the wedding band is traditionally stacked on top of the engagement ring, this does mean they’ll both be competing for attention. It gives the appearance of a wider band, which detracts from diamond.
One option is to instead place your engagement ring on your right hand.
12. Choose a White Gold or Platinum Setting
You already know shine and brilliance give the appearance of a larger engagement ring diamond. Some choices of setting draw attention away from the diamond, but there are other options that can optimize its sparkle.
Explore a white gold or platinum setting. Specifically, 18k white gold is considered the best choice because it’s covered in a thin layer of rhodium. This additional layer of protection is also less expensive than platinum.
Any instance where you can save money on the rest of the ring is more you can put toward the diamond.
12. Use an Illusion Setting
An illusion setting is designed to present the illusion a diamond is bigger than its actual size. The trick is the pattern of the precious metal surrounding the diamond. It’s created to look like the facets, so the diamond appears larger.
The benefit of the illusion setting is it saves you money. The actual diamond is much smaller than it appears, so you don’t have to pay the premium for more carats.
13. Add Pave on the Setting
Adding pave to the setting of your ring is another method of enhancing the sparkle. By lining up smaller accents along the band, it gives the ring uninterrupted sparkle.
Your choice isn’t just limited to pave or no pave. There are many variations of pave along the shank of a ring. For example, a micro pave setting uses small gems fitted closely together. A French pave (also called “fish tail”) uses a V-shaped cutout below each gem to hold it in place.
Each type of pave is an effective way to give your ring more sparkle and maximize its appearance.
14. Explore Diamond Alternatives
Exploring diamond alternatives such as moissanites, sapphires, and emeralds is another tip if you haven’t already purchased the ring. Dollar for dollar, you can buy much larger gems if you choose a diamond alternative.
It doesn’t align with traditional engagement rings, but if you want the unique style, don’t limit yourself to only diamonds.
For example, James Allen has yellow sapphires between two and three carats priced between $1,000 and $3,000.
15. Consider Colored Stones
Colored stones don’t only cost less. Some colors such as pink, green, and blue can actually look bigger. The pop of these colors can fool the eye.
Most ring shoppers don’t want the primary stone to be anything but colorless, but this tip also works if the colored stones surround a colorless diamond. Consider adding them as accents on either the band or in a halo setting around the diamond.
16. Choose a Lab Created Diamond
Lab created diamonds are popular because the only difference between them and natural diamonds is their origin. They have the same structure as natural diamonds, and to the naked eye, rarely look any different.
The benefit is you can buy a larger diamond for less money.
For example, let’s compare two diamonds with similar GIA grades, but one is lab created and the other is natural. The first example is from Clean Origin, a leader in lab created diamonds:
- Shape: Round
- Carat: 2.00
- Color: G
- Clarity: VS1
- Cut: Very good
- Price: $6,223
A diamond with those same scores from Blue Nile costs $19,906.
Diamonds with the same qualities vary in price, so you may find a similar lab-created one that’s more expensive, or a natural one that’s cheaper. Overall, it holds true you’ll pay less for more diamond when it’s created in a lab.
One aspect to consider before you buy a lab cut diamond is the resale value is significantly lower than a natural one.
It’s rare to consider resale value when buying an engagement ring, but the difference is so severe it’s worth pointing out.
17. Keep the Engagement Ring Clean
The final piece of advice is to keep your engagement ring clean. Nothing will minimize its sparkle, and thus its overall appearance, like debris such as dirt, makeup and lotion.
It’s best to have it regularly cleaned by a professional jeweler once or twice per year, but you should be cautious with do-it-yourself methods.
Although some recommend to let it soak in warm water with dishwashing soap, you should avoid the harsh abrasives it’ll experience by cleaning it too hard with a toothbrush.
In no time, its sparkle will return and its improved light performance will make it look bigger.