So, you want to pop the question, or perhaps drop a heavy hint about the type of engagement ring you haveyour eye on.
Well, with many jewellers offering services online,you can take advantage of a whole world of options from the comfort of your sofa. With the click of a mouse you have access to a wider range of customisation options, all whilst perusing at your leisure (more timeto spot a better deal, too).
“The possibilities are endless and not limited by location as most brands will ship internationally,” says Juliet Hutton-Squire, co-founder of Adorn Insight, a leading market intelligence agency for the jewellery industry. “However, its restrictions are getting the sizing right and not being able to see how the ring would look on your partner’s hand.”
To put customers' minds at ease, most online jewellers have a virtualconcierge service that helps pinpoint the perfect piece for the special occasion.Not sure where to start? Work out your partner’s ring size by measuringan existing ring of hers (or his) against a ring sizing guide, which most brands offer on their website. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a perfect fit, as any jeweller worth their salt will offer a resizing service.
Is it safe to buy an engagement ring online?
The answer is yes, as long as it’s from a legitimate brand and is a certified diamond. “Research is key –it’s important to ensure the authenticity of the jeweller,” says Hutton-Squire. “Stick to the brands you trust. They will provide the provenance story and globally recognised certification. If you don’t know the brand, check customer reviews or investigate based on recommendations from friends and family.”
There are a range of diamond certifications, but the following are some of the biggest globally recognised organisations: the Gemological Institute of America, International Gemological Institute and the Kimberley Process Certification System, which prevents conflict diamonds from entering the supply chain.
Do engagement rings have to be a diamond?
While themajority of engagement rings are diamond, you might want to opt for a colourful gemstone like an emerald or sapphire, which tend to be more affordable.Many of the jewellery companies below offer a bespoke online design service that lets you create the ring of your dreams.
If you firmly believe that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then there are still plenty of options to choose fromto suit all budgets. Engagement rings made from cultured – or lab grown – diamonds are less expensive, arguably more environmentally friendly and chemically identical to natural diamonds.
For those who prefer a more vintage look, you could choose to recycle an antique stone which can be re-cut to suit a more modern shape or setting.“There’s something romantic about inheriting a stone that comes with its own stories and adding yours as a new chapter,” Hutton-Squire says.
Finally, there’s the option of buying a diamond online and having a jeweller set it, which is likely to be the most cost effective way to get a higher grade diamond. Jewellers such as Blue Nile sell loose diamondsonline.
Whether you’re looking for a new stone, a lab grown diamond or a decades-old heirloom, the same grading criteria applies to determine a diamond’s value: the 4 Cs:
- Carat (ie. weight)
It's important to tick off the practical elements of online ring shopping, too. Read up on a brand’s returnand order cancellation policiesbefore you buy. Check that your delivery will be secure and fully insured. If you’re buying from an international retailer, you will also want to check any extra taxes or duties your package could incur uponarrival.
The best places to buy an engagement ring online
Vashi was launched as an online jeweller before expanding into bricks-and-mortar retail in 2017, so it's safe to say an excellent digital design service is in their DNA. As a result, they offer one of the broadest ranges of customisable engagement rings on the market, starting from £680. You can either design a ring from scratch or browse their vast library of designs for inspiration.
They have everything from the classics, such as the 4-claw solitaire engagement ring, from £680, to more creative settings, like the swirl halo engagement ring, from £1,810. If you're not sure where to start,take advantage of their concierge service which offers video consultations with an expert.
All Vashi’s diamonds are graded by an in-house gemologist (audited by the GIA) and are sourced from suppliers certified by theKimberley Process Certification System(KPCS). They also come with a lifetime warranty for peace of mind.
This is the brand to know for a small boutique experience. Dinny Hall herself is involved in creating each of her brand’s designs ‘from sketch to store’, which means every piece boasts a personal touch.
Their bestselling engagement ring styles, the ‘Lily’ solitaire ring (£6,950) and ‘Elyhara’ trilogy (£1,500), are made with GIA certified diamonds sourced from suppliers that adhere to the Kimberley Process. Both are handmade in England in rural Hertfordshire and then fabricated in Dinny Hall’s Notting Hill workshop.
The company has recently been awarded the Butterfly Mark, an ethical and environmental industry standard, for their commitment to producing jewellery in a carbon-neutral factory and utilising recycled materials.
Fenton & Co
Fenton & Co is a purveyor of gemstone rings for the Instagram age – colourful,affordable andethically sourced with an online-only, direct-to-consumer business model. If you’re looking for a unique engagement ring with a central gemstone rather than diamond, this brand is a good place to start.
Their emerald or blue sapphire trilogy rings (starting from £2,100), consisting of a colourful centre gemstone flanked by two diamonds, are bestsellers.If you're after a vintage style, look no further than their collection ofantique-inspired engagement rings (from £2,100).
Another big selling point of Fenton?The quick turnaround time – some pre-designed rings can be shipped in just 24 hours, and they offer a rush service for bespoke rings. All diamonds used are responsibly sourced from verified De Beers sightholders.
The Vintage Ring Company
Founded by an ethical jewellery designer and journalist, the Vintage Ring Co. offers affordable, original pre-owned engagement rings and demystifies online vintage ring shopping. From authentic Edwardian and Victorian antique rings to vintage-style gems from the 1980s onwards, their curated selection (and stunning photography) makes it incredibly easy to find the perfect vintage engagement ring for you or your partner.
Each ring sourced is unique in some way –whether it be the stone, setting or design –and is rigorously appraised, cleaned and polished via a Hatton Garden workshop. It comes with a certificate of authenticity and a free resizing service.
Because the rings are pre-owned, they’re very reasonably priced, too. Smaller rings –like their 1970s retro diamond ‘Angie’ ring –start from as little as £650. The show-stopping art-deco ‘Daisy’ sapphire and diamond ring dates from the 1920s (£5,470).
Few online jewellers offer a ring-shopping experience as seamless as Brooklyn-based Frank Darling. It has the digital nous, cool branding and sustainability credentials to match its sublime rings.
You can get a free sketch of your dream ring via a slick quiz function on their website, which lets you choose your stone, setting, metal and more, from a vast range of ethically sourced natural, lab grown and recycled diamonds or gemstones. All rings are made in New York from recycled gold. Diamonds are sourced from suppliers that adhere to the Kimberley Process.
International orders are shipped insured with UPS Worldwide Express within 2-3 weeks (with a 30-day free return period). They have modern settings, such as the Billie No.3 engagement ring (setting from $990, approx. £718, diamond from £280) as well asclassic designs such as the Sidney No.7 trilogy (setting from $1390, approx. £1030, diamond from £365), but their real strength is in their bespoke design service.
Lark and Berry
As one of the first fine jewellery brands to work exclusively with cultured diamonds, Lark & Berry is a one-stop shop fora lab grown engagement ring.
With pre-designed options starting at £1,925, and a full bespoke digital design service available (starting from approx. £2,500), online ring shopping is a breeze – complete with a 3D ring viewer that allows you to see the beauty from all angles.
This Antwerp-based brand’s lab grown diamonds have been given a royal seal of approval by Meghan Markle, who wore their earrings in 2019.
They offer a range of contemporary, design-led engagement rings crafted from 18k recycled gold and cultured diamonds starting from £1,360, as well as a bespoke design service. If you want to break from tradition, look at the Billie engagement ring, which features a wrap-around beaded band that meets a brilliant cut diamond in the middle (from £1,630).
Sophie Bille Brahe
Danish jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe is the poster girl for Scandi cooland her contemporary engagement rings are perfect for a bride who wants something a bit different. The showstopper from her engagement collection is the yellow gold Escargot de Diamant ring, with its circle of smaller diamonds swirling round a sparkling central stone (€19,500, approx. £16,745), but other pieces start from €6,000 (approx. £5,400).
All diamonds are VVS (Very, very small inclusions), which means they have near-perfect clarity, and are delivered with globally-recognised certification. There’s also a bespoke design service on offer, with prices starting at €10,000.
Lily Arkwright, a Manchester-based online jeweller, specialises in cultured diamonds and Moissanite. Moissanite is a sparkly, colourless lab grown gem that offers an affordable alternative to a traditional diamond ring – the ‘Grace’ Maisonette solitaire engagement ring, one of the brand’s bestsellers, starts from just £469.
They also offer a bespoke design service for rings made with Moissanite, lab diamonds or cultured coloured gemstones. Countless five-star reviews attest to this brand’s exemplary customer service and speedy delivery times.
This article is regularly updated with the latest information.