13 Ways to Make an Engagement Ring Look Bigger

Ways to Make an Engagement Ring Look Bigger

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 13 ways to make your engagement ring look bigger.

1. Prioritize an Excellent Cut

The cut of a diamond is what determines the quality of its brilliance and fire. It’s graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and most other labs that evaluate diamonds, as fair, good, very good, or excellent. 

An excellent cut means the diamond will reflect the most light and improve its light performance. The way its facets are cut into the diamond are optimal for light to come into the diamond and exit at the proper angles.

In addition, its symmetry and polish are likely excellent.

You’ll pay a premium for an excellent cut grade compared to very good, often between 15 – 25 percent, but it’s worth it. I chose an excellent cut for my now-wife’s engagement ring diamond, and it exhibits the shine you want in a piece of jewelry.

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)

Prong Setting from Whiteflash

Prongs are the most popular setting to hold a diamond. There are settings that include three, 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.

Specifically, claw prongs typically cover less of the diamond compared to flat tabs because they narrow as they reach its point.

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. As a general rule, you’ll pay a 10 to 20 percent premium for every step up the clarity and color scale. 

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, I found 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
1.20 Carat Round Diamond, H Color - James Allen

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.

I recommend starting your search at SI1 clarity and J color grades if your diamond is close to one-carat. Work you way up the scale until you find one where the inclusions are invisible to the naked eye and it doesn’t show hints of yellow.

5. Try Fancy Shapes

0.51 carat oval natural diamond - With Clarity

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.

Fancy shapes are also generally less expensive per carat compared to round cuts because many use more of the rough stone. Plus, there’s less demand, which keeps costs down.

6. 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.

In fact, that’s the style of setting I chose for my wife’s engagement ring. My budget was pretty tight, so I knew I couldn’t afford a high carat weight. So to maximize its appearance, I chose a solitaire knife edge band.

7. Opt for a Halo Setting

Squarish halo diamond engagement ring - With Clarity

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.

To demonstrate this principle, I compiled research on how carat weight impacts price, beginning at one-carat and working up to four, at intervals of 0.5 carats. Here are the results.

Diamond Price vs Carat Weight

As you can see,  the price of a two-carat diamond is more than three times that price of a single carat.

So 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.

8.Consider a Cluster Setting

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. 

Here’s an example with nine diamonds.

Engagement Ring with Cluster Setting

There are eight forming a circle around one that’s slightly larger than the others.

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.

9. 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.

10. Add Pavé

Adding pavé to the setting of your engagement 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 pavé or no pavé. There are many variations along the shank of a ring. For example, a micro pavé setting uses small gems fitted closely together. A French pavé (also called “fish tail”) uses a V-shaped cutout below each gem to hold it in place.

Each type of pavé is an effective way to give your ring more sparkle and maximize its appearance.

Similar to a halo setting, you’ll increase the total carat weight of the piece without the price equivalent of adding that weight to the center stone.

11. Explore Alternative Gemstones

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.

12. 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 physical and chemical structures as natural diamonds. 

To the naked eye, they appear identical, and even trained gemologists need special equipment to distinguish them.

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
2.00 Lab Created Diamond - Clean Origin

A natural diamond with those same scores from Blue Nile costs $21,870.

13. Keep the Engagement Ring Clean

How to Make an Engagement Ring Look Bigger Infographic

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 it’s recommended to let it soak in warm water with dishwashing soap, 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.

Picture of Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Jacob has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Clean Origin, Diamond Nexus and industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

He enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at jacob.clarke@teachjewelry.com.

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Jacob Clarke

Jacob Clarke from Teach Jewelry

About Me

Greetings, my name is Jacob and I am the founder of Teach Jewelry. My aim is to guide you in making informed decisions when it comes to diamond and engagement ring selection. I provide comprehensive yet accessible advice and tips to ensure clarity, eliminating any concerns of overpaying for your diamond, engagement ring, or other jewelry. Whether your interest lies in selecting a top quality diamond, choosing its ring setting, or exploring other jewelry pieces, rest assured, you will attain the knowledge needed to select the right piece with confidence.

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