A solitaire ring has only one diamond (or another stone), unlike rings with a center stone surrounded by accent diamonds. Here we have outlined the most important factors you should consider when selecting a solitaire diamond ring.
Picking the Right Diamond
The most important part of selecting a solitaire ring is choosing the diamond. You should focus your attention on its color, clarity and cut.
Diamond color is graded using letters from D to Z; stones in the D-E-F range are colorless, and the lower you go down the color scale, the more you tend to see yellowish tints in the diamonds.
It is usually not worth it to pay a premium for a perfectly colorless round diamond when a stone graded H, I or J will look the same to the untrained eye.
However, if you are buying a princess cut or an emerald cut diamond, you might want to stick with stones in the G-H-I color range as yellow tints tend to be more visible in such cuts.
How clear a diamond looks depends on how visible its internal natural flaws (inclusions) are. Stones whose clarity is graded FL (Flawless) and IF (Internally Flawless) are at the top of the clarity scale.
However, you don’t need to pay a lot of money for such a perfect stone when there are diamonds in the SI range (SI = Slightly Included) that look just as clean.
Our advice is to look at stones graded SI1 (or even SI2) and find one that is eye clean, i.e., with no flaws visible to the naked eye when seen from a normal viewing distance.
The way a diamond is cut is extremely important for how it will reflect light and how much brilliance and sparkle the stone will exhibit as a result.
Round diamonds with cuts graded Fair or Poor usually look dull and lifeless compared with better cut stones. Make sure that the diamond you choose has a cut that is graded at least Good, and preferably Very Good or Excellent.
After you have selected a stone that has the minimum acceptable color and clarity, its cut will be the deciding factor for how brilliant it will look.
The bottom line: Cut is the quality characteristic you shouldn’t skimp on.
Choosing a Metal for Your Solitaire Ring
The metal a solitaire ring is made of will determine how quickly its parts will wear down. For example, platinum is one of the most durable metals you can choose; it is, however, among the most expensive.
Yellow gold is a good choice if you prefer a warmer color, but this metal is relatively soft and easier to wear out. White gold is not as hard as platinum, but it is more durable than yellow gold.
Whatever your preferences, be sure to take into account how often the ring will be worn when choosing a metal with the appropriate durability.
We already mentioned that the most cost-effective choice for your diamond is a color in the H-I-J range.
However, if the ring is made of gold, you can go even lower because the yellow color of the metal will mask the yellowish tints in the stone, making its white color stand out.
In such cases, you can choose a diamond graded K, L or M if its cut is round (for princess or emerald cuts, don’t go lower than J or K color).
Whatever you do, don’t set a diamond with visible yellowish tints in a ring made of white gold or platinum as the white metal will make the yellow in the stone stand out even more.
Choosing the Setting
The most popular way to mount a diamond in a solitaire ring is by using prongs or bezels. Prong settings leave more of the diamond visible compared with bezel settings.
However, prongs are also less safe, and that’s why they need to be checked more often for damage and repaired.
Bezel settings are safer as they hold the diamond with a band of metal, but their downside is that they tend to hide more of the stone compared with prongs.
So, when choosing a setting, make sure you understand the tradeoff between safety and diamond visibility.
Solitaire Rings vs. Rings with Side Stones
One of the questions people have in their mind when shopping for a diamond ring is whether it should have one or more stones.
For example, a popular alternative to a solitaire ring is the 3-stone diamond ring, which features one center stone and two side stones. Both designs have their pros and cons, and it is ultimately up to you to decide which choice is a better fit.
An advantage to buying a ring with several diamonds is that they are likely to turn out cheaper compared with a single diamond of the same carat weight and quality.
For example, a ring with one 1-carat diamond (1 carat = 200 mg) and two 0.5-carat stones has a total carat weight of 2 ct, and the combined price of the three diamonds will usually be less than that of a comparable 2 ct stone.
The reason for this is that bigger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones of the same quality, and this is why larger stones are disproportionally more expensive per carat.
The good thing about solitaire rings is that their simple design usually gives more leeway as to what other jewelry and accessories these rings can be combined with.
A solitaire ring is also easier to take care of than a ring with more stones, each of which has a separate setting that has to be cleaned and maintained.
Where to Buy a Diamond Ring?
For diamond rings, we highly recommend James Allen (read our review) because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before having it set in a ring.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).
Also read our Diamond Buying Guide and check out our selection of eye-clean diamonds that we've vetted for quality.