An engagement ring is a truly unique and deeply personal piece of traditional or simulated diamond jewelry. While the light shimmering in carefully-cut facets within the stone may look incredibly lively, the ring itself represents a moment frozen in time: a breathless question, a joyful answer, and that first wonderful kiss as a betrothed couple. Naturally, a bride-to-be wants to keep those feelings close to her heart, which means keeping her engagement ring on her finger each day – but even if she’s very careful, there are considerations she’ll need to keep in mind.
While engagement rings are generally designed to be worn daily with no issues to the ring or the wearer, active lifestyles pose specific challenges. Whether it’s a concern that the ring may be damaged or the wearer’s activities could cause the ring to “catch” on something, selecting engagement rings that are appropriately designed for active lifestyles is the best course of action. From the way a ring is shaped and its height, to the cut and setting of the stones, each facet of an active engagement ring design – much like the facets in a stone – adds to the ring’s overall beauty and durability.
In this article, we’ll explore the five essential features to look for when shopping for the perfect engagement ring to suit your active partner’s lifestyle. You can also reference Our Guide to the Most Affordable Engagement Rings if pricing is a factor.
Choosing An Engagement Ring For Active Wear + Lifestyle: Overall Height
The Challenge: While the look and feel of an engagement ring is crucial, the actual dimensions should be just as diligently measured. If the bride-to-be often works with her hands in a creative capacity (painting, sculpting, building, and so on) or a service capacity (medical fields, IT, manufacturing, etc.) she may find a high ring uncomfortable. If a ring sits too high above the finger, any movement she makes with her hands – such as sliding on a scrub jacket or reaching into a narrow mechanical opening – will cause the ring to “stub” and tilt backwards into her finger. This is potentially problematic not only to the prong setting and the cut stones it holds, but also to her skin, which may become scratched or bruised. The setting may also cause complications in her work, injuring patients or catching on fragile materials and causing damage.
The Solution: Whenever possible, flush style mounts – those with sunken cut stone surfaces that result in a smooth-feeling band – are the best engagement rings for active lifestyle wearers. In general, the lower the stone settings on an engagement ring, the less chance of it bumping up against external surfaces.
Buying An Engagement Ring For The Active Girl: Stone Containment
When considering hand movement and risks to an engagement ring, the “girdle” (exposed edge) of a cut stone might seem to be most vulnerable. In reality, most cut stones that are not flush-mounted in an engagement ring are held in place by parts of the setting, which is the part that deserves this focus. Depending on the engagement ring style a couple selects, this important job may fall to components called prongs, bezels, or channels:
- Prongs are thin metal “arms” that bend up and around a stone at certain intervals, with a notch sized to hold the girdle of a cut stone on the inside edge. Of the three styles listed here, it’s arguably the most vulnerable to damage and stone loss, as the prong edge can snag and bend on clothing threads, objects, and more. With enough force, the loss or compromise of two or more prongs risks the safety of the stone(s) they hold. If a ring becomes snagged on its setting’s prongs, the wearer should always gently move their hand backwards (towards the source of the snag), rather than trying to twist or pull it free.
Bezels are frames that surround the entire stone, usually with no breaks in continuity. Think of them as a fence surrounding the stone’s girdle and curving up around the top edge of the stone. Bezels are usually part of the overall ring and setting, though some designs may use patterns or a different precious metal for contrast. Of the three styles here, a bezel is the most secure stone containment, as the stone is completely held beneath the surface of the band.
Channels act as continuous top and bottom “caps” for cut stones along the edge of a band. They usually only appear in eternity style engagement rings that surround the entirety of the band in stones. These stones are placed edge-to-edge and locked in place within open channels that curve up around the top and bottom. The effect is a sparkling, continuous surface of flush-mounted stones that are securely held in place. While this design exposes slightly more of the stone’s surface than a bezel, it’s still very secure and trustworthy for active lifestyles.
While these three stone containment styles comprise most popular designs, this list isn’t comprehensive. Other options include a tension setting, which relies on the tension of the metal ring band to hold a cut stone on its edges, and pavé engagement ring accents, which are typically used in applications with a prong-set solitaire for band emphasis. While attractive, settings like these may not be the best option for engagement rings intended for active wear, as they leave more of the stone’s vulnerable girdle exposed to chips, dislodgement, or loss.
Shopping Engagement Rings For An Active Lifestyle: Precious Metals
Beyond the stone(s) in an engagement ring, the metal used to create it plays an important role in durability. Popular precious metals are not all equal on this front, so selecting one type over another can make a ring even more suitable for a wearer with an active lifestyle. Most modern rings will be made from one of three precious metals: gold, platinum, or palladium.
- Gold (Mohs scale hardness 2.5 to 3 out of 10) is a yellow-toned precious metal. It comes in several forms and karat purities, including 12k, 14k, 18k, 20k, and 24k. 24 karat gold is effectively 100% gold, unalloyed with other metals. From there, each karat measurement measures fineness in the overall metal alloy; how many parts of those 24 karats are gold. 12 karat gold is comprised of 50% gold, for example, while 18 karat gold is 75% gold. In engagement rings, 18k gold is used – any higher in alloy fineness would make the ring extremely malleable and prone to damage like nicks and dents.
Platinum (Mohs scale hardness 4 to 4.5 out of 10) is far more durable than gold, this fact has a lot to do with why it’s alloyed with gold to create white gold. It can be an expensive option; the volume of gold mined is roughly 25 times greater than the amount of platinum mined annually. Platinum is also not as readily available in different tones, it tends to appear as a silver tone metal only.
Palladium (Mohs scale hardness 4.75 out of 10) is the most durable of the commonly-used precious jewelry metals. It has a lighter density than platinum, which means it tends to be a more affordable option in engagement rings: not as much of the metal is required. It is naturally lustrous and shiny, offering a consistent silvery-white hue without dulling over time. While white gold alloys need surface rhodium plating in order to stay shiny, durable palladium shines all on its own.
Note: Non-yellow-toned gold jewelry is made with gold alloys, not pure gold. Rose gold, for example, is an alloy of gold and copper, while white gold is an alloy of gold and, depending on the type being created, silver or platinum.
Selecting The Best Engagement Rings For An Active Lifestyle: Cut Stones
Recognized as the most visible components of an engagement ring, the size, shape, and type of stone(s) used will affect the overall durability of the design. Taking into consideration tips for designing your own gemstone engagement ring, the stone cut should be symmetrical when possible, as this provides the least chance of chipping a stone edge or bending a prong ring. As with ring height, the more flush the stone’s outward face, the less chance the ring will end up “stubbing” if it comes into contact with something. Square brilliant cuts, for example, are better engagement ring designs for active lifestyles than stones with stepped tiers or sharp points.
Stone provenance should also be carefully weighed when picking an engagement ring. Selecting a Nexus Diamond™ alternative over a mined diamond, for example, provides strength and hardness sufficient to cut glass with an affordable price. Not only does this make the stone an ethical choice, it’s also ideal for active lifestyle wearers.
As with the engagement ring itself, the style, size, and shape of a chosen ring should always reflect the wearer. It can be helpful to wear a costume jewelry ring or cocktail ring of roughly the same dimensions during a routine or work schedule for a few weeks prior to wearing the real thing. This will highlight any potential issues and make sure your engagement ring fits like your spouse-to-be fits into your life: perfectly.
1 Taylor, Rachel. “A comprehensive guide to precious metals.” The Jewellery Editor.com, August 1, 2016, http://www.thejewelleryeditor.com/jewellery/know-how/comprehensive-guide-to-precious-metals/. Accessed December 19, 2019.
2 “The Mohs Scale of Hardness for Metals: Why It Is Important.” Jewelry Notes.com, (no publish date), https://www.jewelrynotes.com/the-mohs-scale-of-hardness-for-metals-why-it-is-important/. Accessed December 19, 2019.
3 “Karat.” Business Dictionary.com, (no publish date), http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/karat.html. Accessed December 19, 2019.
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.