How to Choose an Engagement Ring

Shopping for an engagement ring can be a difficult, stressful experience – especially if you decide to go in on a surprise and not on a trip to Tiffany & Co. with your significant other.

Here are a few useful tips to narrow down the options, followed by examples of both classic and unconventional types of engagement rings that might bring you some inspiration.

First of all, ask yourself the following questions:

Does your girlfriend wear statement jewelry on a regular basis?

If you girlfriend is the type who wears minimalistic jewelry – or no jewelry at all – it makes no sense to look for huge gems and elaborate designs, because she will probably feel uncomfortable wearing them: you can cross those off the list.

Is she more of a white gold or yellow gold type?

Notice if she chooses silver or white gold or yellow gold. The color of the metal is incredibly important, because this is a ring that she’ll be wearing for the rest of her life, and it has to match with her style and meet her tastes.

Are her fingers small, regular, or large?

The size of the ring depends a lot on the size of the hands: a tiny gem will look even smaller on a wider finger, while a huge rock will look vulgar on tiny fingers.

Does she like colorful gems?

Diamonds are not the only options when it comes to engagement rings. In fact, millennials seem to be less inclined to buy diamonds – possibly because they’re too concerned with saving to buy property or because the diamond industry doesn’t approach personalized consumption in the same way in which millennials have been exposed. Many women have a favorite gem, which could be their birthstone or a particular gem of which they like the color. Notice what your girlfriend likes wearing and ask questions about her favorite pieces of jewelry to get a clue of what she might like.




Suited for: a woman of classic taste

We owe folkloristic introduction of the diamond ring as a promise of eternal love to Maximillian of Asburg, who gave one to Mary of Bourgogne in 1447 as a promise for their wedding. However, diamonds didn’t really become the common choice to seal an engagement until the first decades of the past centuries, when a gigantic marketing plan based on the false scarcity of the gem convinced the American people that “diamonds are forever,” as well as “a girl’s best friend.” You can read more about the history of the diamond industry in this article.

You are probably familiar with the 4 C’s that matter when shopping for a diamond: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat are the characteristics that you should examine in order to determine whether a rock is worth the splurge. Of these four, the cut is probably the most important one, because it impacts light refraction: a good cut can make a lower carat diamond look brighter, or vice versa, it can turn a perfect gem into a poor jewel. When you visit your jeweler, make sure to ask them to illustrate these characteristics and point them out using an ideal-scope. This tool is able to show the light, highlighting the cut of the diamond. Nowadays, most diamonds are cut to emphasize carat weight rather than brilliance, and this impacts the overall quality of the gem you’re buying. A trusted jeweler will use an ideal-scope to let you inspect the cut pattern and make sure it’s a gem worthy of your money and for your love.

DO NOT fixate on the size of the diamond: if you are looking for a big rock but you can’t afford the carats required for it, you’ll end up buying a poorly cut diamond that will have little to no brilliance. Instead, look for the best cut you can afford, and you’ll be sure to deliver a gem that’s as blinding as your love for the lucky recipient.

Naturally, for the reasons I just illustrated, I strongly recommend shopping for a diamond ring locally and avoiding the Internet.


Suited for: educated and classy women with an appreciation for art.

These are my personal favorites, and something I always suggest to anyone who’s looking for something truly unique with which to promise eternal love. On the internet there is a wide variety of antique jewelry, and I find amazing that we can now own and promise love in the United States with a ring that belonged to some French dame two centuries ago.

As I pointed out earlier, diamonds didn’t become common gems in engagement rings until they started to appear at the fingers of Hollywood stars in the 20th century; before then, any gem was suitable – even semi-precious stones like garnets and peridots- and more attention was paid to the metalwork of the jewelry. For this reason, you can find quite old diamond rings dating all the way back to 1930s, but you’ll have a hard time finding antique solitaires.

If you’re willing, you can find outstanding pieces of excellent craftsmanship and rich in history and tradition; a cameo is a type of ring that has been in fashion since the Renaissance, and it makes a perfect gift for a refined woman who appreciates art and history; they consist of a shell on which lies a carved relief – usually the head of a woman. The technique dates back to Ancient Greece, but this type of ring became popular during the Renaissance, when the Medici women commissioned them to their favorite jewelers and sent them as gifts throughout Europe.

Art-deco rings can be incredibly beautiful and intricate: their style takes inspiration from nature, so it’s not uncommon to spot art-deco rings with intricate foliage engraved on the band, or with corals and other natural gems and materials mounted on them.

You can also find an abundance of Victorian rings online; these complemented the Victorians’ love for symbolism, and they often hide secret messages or mysterious meanings. Due to their popularity, you can find them in a variety of metals and gems, from the more precious (solid gold, rubies, etc) to more modest like rose gold, freshwater pearls, and semi-precious gems.



Suited for: free-spirited and artistic souls

I find this type of ring to be perfect for the artistic type of girl who doesn’t care for a shiny diamond to weigh down her hand. This type of ring was popular during the Victorian era, when feelings were hardly ever expressed in words and people sought symbols to speak their minds and hearts. Acrostic rings featured gems of which the initials formed words such as “love”(lapis lazuli-opal-vermarine-emerald) or “dearest” (diamond-emerald-amethyst-ruby-emerald-sapphire-topaz). If you’re lucky and your girl has a short name, you can even create your own, personalized acrostic ring. For instance: LISA (lapis lazuli-iolite-sapphire-amethyst).


Suited for: a woman with classic taste who wants something other than a diamond

It’s impossible to talk about gimmal rings without mentioning the most famous of them: Jean Cocteau created the Cartier Trinity for Cartier, a ring that has been worn by celebrities from the present and the past, in the Twenties. However, the gimmal ring was not Cocteau’s invention. Gimmal rings – in which two or more bands are intertwined – were common engagements rings during the Roman era (the word “gimmal” comes from the latin gemellus, which means “twin”). Each partner wore one band, and the two were reunited on the day of the wedding, where occasionally a third band was added to symbolize a third person protecting the couple (a god? a friend? who knows…)

The sinuous shape of the ring makes for a classy engagement ring with a beautiful symbolism for the union of souls.


Suited for: Irish descendants

This incredible ring, which is made of two hands holding a crowned heart, features three symbols: the hands symbolize friendship, the crown signifies loyalty, and the heart means love. For this reason, friends and brothers also use this highly symbolic ring to exchange vows of loyalty. The meaning is different according to how someone wears it: fiancés must wear it on the left hand, with the heart pointing to the wrist – otherwise it means friendship. Wife and Husband have to wear it on the right hand, with the heart pointed to the wrist – otherwise it means widowhood.


Suited for: a woman with a strong personality

Cocktail rings -characterized by huge and colorful gems- were popular during the Prohibition. Rich ladies would often gesticulate while drinking alcoholic beverages at a party to make their transgression more apparent and draw the attention to their glasses. Kate Middleton’s engagement ring – previously worn by Lady Diana Spencer – is a sort of mini-cocktail ring.

It’s the perfect ring for a powerful, strong, and confident woman

Whatever your choice will be, remember that buying an engagement ring is an act of love towards the woman of your life – and that she and only she should be the center of your thoughts when shopping for the perfect ring. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what magazines and websites tell you to buy – it should all come down to the tastes of the person you love.

Perhaps this article has given you an idea of less mainstream options you have to choose a symbol of your love and devotion. Even if not all of them can be classified as a “conventional” choice, you don’t necessarily have to buy into the 21st century conventions if these don’t meet your tastes and/or means.

Most of you will end up choosing a solitaire, because that’s the most obvious choice and many women “expect” it. However, this doesn’t mean that it cannot be a personal and intimate choice; remember that she will be wearing the ring for the rest of her life; she will be growing old wearing it.

Make it personal, and make it authentic. Make it a symbol of the experiences you shared, and a promise of many more that you’ll be living together.

Terrible Men’s Wedding Style Mistakes

By now, you’ve glanced through or at least bookmarked our guides to dressing for a wedding. Because – seriously – it is about to be wedding season once more, and every year we see the same mistakes. Mistakes that are not just ‘mistakes’ in a pedantic sense, but mistakes that are to be avoided no matter the nature of the wedding or the occasion. Mistakes that you, whether bride or groom or guest, will probably look back on in horror. Life goes on, of course, but these are wedding style mistakes you really should avoid if you’re over the age of 13.


1. Wearing a vest with no jacket

I have never understood why men insist on doing this. It is, in my mind, the most egregious of all the mistakes on this list, and it accomplishes exactly nothing outside of making the wearer look like a buffoon. Even seeing pictures of this disaster fills me with visceral revulsion. What’s worse is that I read constant affirmations on the internet – “Embrace personal style!”, or “I do this all the time and it looks great!” – and it is absolutely mind-boggling. Just this morning, I read a recommendation that a wedding guest wear a vest, no jacket, a tie with the shirt un-tucked and the top button un-buttoned, and a fedora. I felt like I was dying.

Please, please don’t do this. It won’t make you look “sharp but casual.” It won’t channel “relaxed elegance.” It is not “casual formalwear.” It will look as though you forgot to put on the rest of your clothing, or like you’re a creepy misogynistic pick up artist. There are other, historical reasons for the rise of the waistcoat – a King’s whimsy, the ability to flatter a larger physique, even the existence of pocket watches – but those are stories for another time. If you are wearing a vest, you are wearing a jacket. Period.

2. Wearing a tie with no jacket

In the same vein, there’s no reason to wear a tie if you’re not wearing a jacket. Worse still is wearing a tie with no jacket and leaving your shirt untucked. This is an excellent way to look as though you’re off to high school prom, with no clue how to dress yourself. You’ll appear slovenly and juvenile, neither of which is a good thing to be at a wedding.

Of course, depending on the type of wedding, you may find yourself removing your jacket once the hands of the clock pass a certain hour and the music has gotten louder. While you’ll certainly look better with a jacket on, we understand the impetus. As you will (unless it’s black tie).

3. Wearing a visible crewneck underneath your unbuttoned shirt

Are you noticing a theme here? These are the kind of ‘touches’ you’d expect from an adolescent, not a grown man. It’s fine to wear an undershirt, but keep it hidden. If you don’t, you risk looking like you just came from the gym and didn’t change, and guests will be wondering if you’re also sporting some hidden Cheeto stains.

4. Never buttoning the top button of your shirt when wearing a tie

Again, this will only serve to make you look juvenile. Buy a shirt that fits you properly, and keep it buttoned. You’re not a teenager rebelling against a school dress code, and you’re probably not the lead singer of a punk band (if you are, you should still keep your shirt buttoned at a wedding). As @Butler once told me (while he was wearing a 3-piece bespoke suit and a cape inside an Irish Pub in Florence), “What’s the point of wearing a shirt and tie otherwise?”

5. Wearing a matching tie and pocket square

We understand that many men don’t have much call to wear tie or pocket square these days, and that the temptation to buy an all-in-one kit can be attractive both for its convenience and because you actually get the opportunity to dress up. However, wearing a matching tie-and-square set looks tacky, and should be avoided. Instead, learn how to choose a pocket square on your own, and if the wedding dress code is anything other than “casual,” just wear a white linen square and enjoy the occasion.

6. Renting an ill-fitting suit or tuxedo 

Look, we get it. Why should you have to buy a suit just because someone wants you to come to their wedding? Not everyone has the money, or wants to spend it. You can just rent one, and it’s basically the same thing. Right?


First of all, the chances that your rented suit will actually fit you are miniscule. The places that offer these rentals don’t have a clue what they’re doing, and they don’t care to learn. You are going to look terrible – I guarantee it. Besides, most suit rental packages start around a hundred bucks. If you know what you’re doing, that’s anywhere from half to a quarter of what you’d spend to get a thrifty but well-fitting suit that you can keep, thereby avoiding paying for a crappy rental the next six times you go to a wedding. Besides, a staple suit in charcoal or navy has plenty of utility outside the one wedding you’ve been invited to this year – it will be appropriate for just about any event and any occasion, so once again, you’re getting your money’s worth. You’ll look better, and you’ll be happier in the long run.

7. Bathing in cologne

I’m all for fragrances, but there’s almost no easier way to be “That Guy” than to show up for an event smelling as though you just smashed several bottles of “Man Scent” on the floor and then rolled around in the destruction. Consider your fellow guests: the people sitting next to you during the ceremony (if there’s a ceremony) will be miserable, and they will also be wondering who was rude enough to inflict themselves on the entire wedding party. If it’s an outdoor wedding in the summer heat, you might find that you’ve had a few drinks “accidentally” spilled on you by the end of the day.

Instead, a delicate application is all that’s required. And please – wear something deserving of wearing. You are absolutely forbidden to wear any kind of body spray that comes in an aerosol can.

8. Dressing like blogger bait

Here’s the thing – the thing that an unfortunate number of wedding guests struggle to recognize. You are not the star of the show, even if you read Styleforum. Unless you’re one of the people getting married, your job is not to stand out as much as possible. Your job is to celebrate the love shared between the people who have invited you and the love they have for you, and to accordingly make the proceedings as smooth and elegant as possible out of respect for the event and the company present.

A wedding is not an occasion to wear the loudest colors you can find, leopard-print suits, or cover yourself in absurd accessories (unless, of course, that is the kind of wedding you’re attending). Don’t wear a hat at the dinner table. Don’t wear your favorite basketball jersey. Don’t wear pink plaid trousers and crimson shoes. Wearing extravagant pieces or colors that detract from the attention due to the couple being married is rude and boorish, and I’m certain you’re neither.

9. Constantly bothering the couple about the dress code

Did you read number 8? Did you see the part about the wedding not being about you? How many other things do you think the couple have to consider aside from your questions about whether you can wear your favorite Converse sneakers with your tuxedo, and will they really mind?

If you are genuinely confused by the dress code, it is entirely appropriate to ask for clarification.  It is not appropriate to badger the couple about what you want to wear.  I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman: you may not throw a fit about wardrobe choices, and it is better still to show up to a wedding overdressed than underdressed. Respect the occasion. Respect that you’ve been invited. Don’t make the organizers regret it.

10. Acting like an ass

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, style is about more than the clothing on your body. If you’re going to a wedding, be a gracious guest. The event is not about you. That means that you should, to the best of your ability, follow the dress code; that you should not arrive at the wedding for groomsman and refuse to wear the boutonnière because you don’t like it or think you know better; that you should be friendly and outgoing; that you should congratulate the happy couple on their marriage; that you should not throw a fit; that you should not get too drunk; and that you need to understand that, if it’s the wedding of a friend, there are some stories you don’t share in public.

To recap: a wedding is one of the few times when we really, really recommend dialing back your inner wild child out of respect for the event and the couple. If you are going to a wedding, wear a jacket, shirt, tie, trousers, and respectable shoes. It is better to arrive overdressed than underdressed. Don’t behave or smell like a pig, and you’ll make it out just fine. You might even remember to have a good time along the way.

What Should a Man Wear to a Wedding: Everything You Need to Know

With April upon us already, it’s time to start thinking about wedding season. Come June, many of us will be traveling around, watching people get married. If you’re sitting on a collection of wedding invitations, we hope you’ve given some consideration to what you’ll be wearing, because there’s no worse feeling than realizing two days before a wedding that you don’t have anything appropriate. Lucky for you, Styleforum can help, whether you’re going to a casual wedding or a black tie wedding – and we just might be able to help you figure out what on earth “Black Tie Casual” means.

For now, we’d like to share some of the more useful wedding instructionals and resources we’ve published in the past. It’s entirely possible that you’ll find the answer to your questions below.


What is Formalwear?

The Wedding Question Thread (ask your question here if it doesn’t appear below)

On The Wedding Suit

what a man should wear to a wedding what should a man wear to a wedding how to dress for a wedding men's wedding style styleforum


The Basics of Wedding Attire for Men

What to Wear to Almost Any Wedding

Where can I buy an affordable suit for my wedding?

Where to Buy a Last-Minute Suit for a Wedding



Does the Groom Need to Stick Out from the Groomsmen?

Where should the points on my shirt collar lie in relation to my jacket lapels?

What shade of grey should my wedding suit be?

Can I wear a velvet jacket with flannel trousers to a wedding?

How can I include my Scottish Bride’s Family Tartan in my Wedding Suit?

Can I Wear a Black Suit to an Evening Wedding?

Should my groomsmen wear black suits?

On Tuxedos

How do I have a black tie optional wedding?

Do pleated shirts work with three piece tuxedos?

Should I wear a Tuxedo if my Groomsmen are wearing navy business suits?

What does a “formal” wedding dress code mean?

What shirt should I wear with a single button peak lapel dinner jacket?

Is a Burgundy Tuxedo wedding-appropriate?

Can I wear a waistcoat made of a different cloth than my tuxedo?

Will it look totally stupid to wear a proper tuxedo for a summer daytime ceremony?

On Ties and Accessories

What tie is appropriate to wear as a wedding guest?

Why the Four-in-hand is always better than the windsor knot

What tie would work best with a medium-blue suit for a wedding?

What is the optimal width for a wedding tie?

Should I Wear a Watch to a Wedding?


Featured image: P Johnson Tailors