How to Make an Engagement Ring Look Bigger

Beyonce's engagement ring

Photo by Clive Brunskill

Wondering how to make an engagement ring look bigger? If you're all about the bling and desire a ring that could rival Beyoncé's, you'll be happy to know there are quite a few ways to maximize the appearance of your rock.

Regardless of budget, you can make your diamond look bigger than it is—without the cost associated with going up in carat size. From strategically choosing cuts, shapes, and settings to opting for thin bands and fewer prongs, we've gathered up the best tricks of the trade. Experts Greg Kwiat and Michelle Adorjan share tips to make an engagement ring look larger than life.

Meet the Expert

Get the Best Cut You Can

A cut determines how well the diamond will reflect light based on the way its angles and facets were cut. A diamond's cut is graded by the Gemological Institute of America as excellent, very good, good, and fair. The better the cut, the more light the diamond will reflect, and the larger it will look. "Make sure that your diamond is very well cut," Kwiat says. "A well-cut diamond with proper angles and facets will not only be beautiful and brilliant but look larger. The carat weight will be in its proper place where it adds to the visual dimension of the stone."

So how can you tell if a diamond is cut well? For round diamonds, Kwiat recommends only considering stones that have an "excellent" cut grade as issued by the GIA. For all other shapes, there isn't a cut grade, so you should seek the guidance of a trained gemologist. Ultimately, you should also trust yourself: A well-cut diamond is brilliant and full of sparkle—something you can certainly judge.

Round Diamonds Give the Illusion of a Larger Stone

Which diamond shape looks biggest? "In terms of shape, round diamonds look larger for their carat weight than many other cuts," Kwiat says. "The circular cut is not as deep, so much of the weight is reflected in its size appearance."

Elongated Diamond Cuts Make Your Stone Look Larger

The oval shape also tends to appear larger since they're elongated and take up a lot of real estate on your ring finger. Similarly, the oblong shape of a marquise shape or an emerald shape also makes for a larger looking stone. All three of these cuts look bigger than their actual carat weight.

Avoid Cushion Cut Diamonds

Just as some shapes will appear larger, others will appear smaller. Cushion cut diamonds are deep set, so a lot of their carat weight is below the surface where it can't be seen. Relative to carat size, this is one of the most expensive diamond cuts you could choose.

Choose Slender Prongs

One clever way of maximizing the appearance of your center stone is to minimize the appearance of something else: "Look for a setting that has more discreet prongs," Adorjan says. "You'll see more of the diamond's surface area, rather than having the stone be covered by the prongs."

Opt for Fewer Prongs

In addition to choosing slim prongs, you should also look for rings that have fewer prongs. Round cut diamonds, for example, are typically set with four, five, or six prongs. If you're looking to maximize your diamond's size, opt for fewer prongs that will distract the eye from the bling.

Choose a Bright White Metal Band

"The pure white metal of a platinum setting will act as a mirror to reflect the diamond's colorlessness for maximum brilliance and shine. This creates the optical illusion of a bigger stone," Adorjan says. "It's the same reason that interior designers add a wall of mirrors into a small room—to make it look larger."

Be Open to Colored Stones

Colored gems pop and appear larger than a traditional diamond. Opt for pale hues of pink, yellow, green, or blue that will trick the eye and appear bigger.

Be Flexible With Color and Clarity

Every diamond is rated for clarity and color. If size is truly what you want, you can maximize your ring budget by choosing a larger carat stone with a lower clarity or color. The diamond will still be dazzling.

Choose a Thin, Delicate Band

A tiny, delicate band will make the stone (or stones) appear hefty in comparison. In addition to choosing a small band, look for one that tapers in as it nears the center. This type of band is called a pinched shank and will really emphasize the center stone.

Look for a Halo or Cluster Settings

Our advice: Choose your setting strategically. Halo settings, for example, feature a center stone surrounded by a halo of smaller pavé stones. Using a halo setting, you can increase your ring's carat size without increasing the price tag as much as you would to get a single diamond of the same total carat weight.

Cluster settings, which feature a mixture of stones (usually of equal or nearly equal size) grouped together, can also give you a larger overall carat weight at a less expensive price.

Or Choose a Three-Stone Setting With Smaller Side Stones

If you're looking at three-stone settings, keep the side stones on the smaller side so they won't compete for attention with the main stone.

Keep Your Engagement Ring and Wedding Band on Different Hands

If your engagement ring is on the smaller side, it might get overshadowed by the addition of a wedding band. In this case, you can wear your wedding band on your left hand as you normally would, but move the engagement ring over to the ring finger on your right hand. It's not traditional, but it's unique, makes a statement, and ensures your engagement ring will stand out and shine bright.

Get Your Ring Cleaned Regularly

Keeping your diamond polished and debris-free will maximize the stone's sparkle. The shinier and more eye-catching the diamond, the more magnificent it will appear. On the other hand, if it's dirty, it will look dull and small. As a general rule, you should have your ring professionally cleaned by a jeweler every six months. In the meantime, you can clean your ring at home whenever it could use a sprucing up.

For at-home cleanings, combine a few drops of dishwashing soap with warm water and let your ring soak for 20 to 40 minutes. Then, brush the ring gently with a soft toothbrush and rinse it off. Let it air dry or use a soft cloth (avoid paper towels that could potentially scratch the ring). Doing so will remove everyday debris like lotion and makeup.

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