Greg Kwiat, Chief Executive Officer of Kwiat (the family-run diamond house founded in 1907), knows all of the tricks on how to make an engagement ring look bigger—and it all begins with the diamond, itself. “It’s important to understand that not all diamonds have the same ‘size appearance,’” he says. “Carat weight is an important measure, but it can sometimes be misleading. Certain diamond shapes will look visually larger because of the way that they are cut. And well-cut diamonds will show their full size appearance as opposed to poorly cut stones that may be unnecessarily deep.” For example, the Ashoka diamond looks 30% larger than an emerald-cut diamond with a similar carat weight.
Once you’ve selected your perfect diamond, there are several different techniques you can use to make your engagement ring look bigger. We’ve spoken to some of today’s best engagement ring designers for the inside scoop, whether your style is more classic or modern.
1. The Tried-and-True: Halo
“One of the most popular ways to add scale to the overall ring is by surrounding the center diamond with a halo of small, pavé-set diamonds,” Kwiat says. “It’s a classic and beautiful design, with the added benefit that the outer border gives the impression of a larger center diamond. The key to a beautiful halo design is ensuring that the halo is delicate so that it supports the center stone rather than detracts from it.
Stephanie Gottlieb, a New York City-based jewellery designer, agrees. “A halo can add substantial visual size to a center stone,” she says. “When adding a subtle pavé halo, it can become an ‘extension’ of the stone. A halo can also be done in a more obviously ‘designed’ way, where the design then becomes the focus of the ring, rather than the center stone.” Her Sunburst halo ring is a perfect example of this technique.
2. Bring on the Bezel
While halos are certainly popular, many brides are opting for more unique techniques to make their engagement rings look bigger. “There is nothing like a hunky, chunky bezel to make a diamond look larger,” says jewellery designer Briony Raymond. “The bezel is a time-tested setting that favors those who love a more substantial overall look, an aesthetic of which we are enormously in favor!” Gottlieb agrees, explaining that “the thin perimeter of metal extends the appearance of size beyond the perimeter of the stone, and when set in platinum, it almost disappears!”
3. So Long, Solitaire
While solitaire diamonds remain one of the most popular engagement ring styles, designers are crafting more engagement rings with multiple diamonds. Greg Kwiat says classic three-stone rings are a timeless choice. “In these designs, a well-chosen pair of side diamonds like trapezoids, pear shapes, half moons or trilliants will complement the center diamond and also add scale to the ring,” he says. “At Kwiat, we set the diamonds closer to the finger, where the context of the ring relative to the hand makes it appear visually larger.”
Gottlieb is also a fan of multi-stone rings. “By using elongated side stones, the width of the center stone is extended outwards, filling out the top of the finger,” she says. Her designs are known for being fashion-forward, and she recently ranked the two-stone ring her new favorite setting. “With two stones, the overall appearance is much larger and provides full finger coverage,” she says.
4. Add Some Color
More brides are opting for non-traditional engagement rings that are more playful and reflect their unique personal style. Alison Chemla, Creative Director and Designer of whimsical jewellery brand Alison Lou, is known for her fun pieces and use of enamel in her pieces. She says her clients are looking for a twist on traditional engagement rings. “Setting smaller stones with a delicate gold or even enamel bezel adds interest to the ring, which can certainly make the stone appear larger when done correctly,” she says. “Additionally, enamel is a great way to reflect personal style in your ring. We have used black, cream, navy and even pink enamel in our engagement ring settings.”
5. Set Your Diamond at an Unexpected Angle
Finally, setting a diamond at an unexpected angle can “trick the eye into perceiving the overall size of the stone as larger,” says Raymond. “It’s always fun to play with the orientations of stones! For instance, I find setting a stone that would traditionally be set one way in a less expected direction can add appeal visually. East-west settings for emerald cut diamonds and turning an Asscher cut diamond 90 degrees are just two stunning examples.