Few designs can complete with the classic, simple beauty of a diamond solitaire engagement ring. According to the Gemological Institute of America, a solitaire setting refers to any piece of jewelry with a single diamond. When it comes to engagement rings, the solitaire setting is designed to showcase the diamond, traditionally a round brilliant stone set with four or six prongs, in all of its sparkling glory. It's what a lot of ladies want and envision, and therefore a safe bet if you're popping the question cold, with no idea of what she wants. The solitaire setting is also a great "blank canvas" if a diamond solitaire has been requested but you've been given some leeway in terms of the design. Because "simple" need not be boring—and there are so many subtle ways to add interest, or a little flair, to a solitaire engagement ring, without compromising its classic look.
To show you the possibilities, we consulted Oded Edelman, CEO and Co-Founder of James Allen, an online fine jewelry retailer specializing in diamonds and engagement rings. See the subtle ways to take your solitaire from simple to striking.
Choose a Cool Shape
"Take advantage of the classic silhouette and add a diamond shape that catches your eye. Think beyond round—a pear or marquise shape diamond on a thin yellow gold band will give you a completely different look than a wide platinum ring with a round brilliant diamond. Use the proportions of the ring to your advantage and select an excellent cut diamond to give you the fire power and light dispersion that make this ring really pop."
14k white gold engagement ring with bezel-set marquise solitaire, from $750.
Go for Unique Design Details
"Allowing the center stone to shine doesn’t mean the rest of the design has to be completely plain. Look for beautifully designed baskets inspired by nature, architecture, or the diamond itself, and couple these details with textured, sleek, or twisted shanks and you have a world of endless possibilities."
14k white gold rope solitaire engagement ring, from $450.
Change the Prong Orientation
"By changing the orientation of the prongs on a classic four-prong solitaire to mimic the settings on a compass, your eye is drawn to the north and south or east and west, which gives the timeless design a fresh, modern feel. "
14k white gold compass point engagement ring, from $1,570.
Incorporate Pavé Diamond Accents
"Technically a traditional solitaire design doesn't include any pavé details—the diamond stands alone within the setting. However, if you want to branch out, delicate is always the way to go if you're looking to make that center diamond stand out. Diamonds along the band add that extra touch of sparkle while not overpowering or distracting from the larger diamond."
14k white gold thin French-cut, pavé set diamond engagement ring, from $575.
Try a Colored Gemstone
"The rich, bold hues available today in the world of colored diamonds and gemstones are astounding. Select subtle shades for an understated and elegant engagement ring or saturated, deep colors that provide a true wow factor."
14k white gold four-prong cathedral arch engagement ring, from $1,160.
Opt for a Bezel Setting
"The clean sleek lines of a bezel setting require almost flawless attention to detail and allow the craftsmanship to really shine. To add a bit of softness to this design, we recommend the warm hue of rose gold. This look is feminine and modern, but with a clear touch of tradition."
14k rose gold bezel-set diamond engagement ring, from $610.
Add Side Stones
"Again, technically a solitaire does not have any other stones on it. But if you're looking for a three-stone look to maximize the center stone, try out some baguette-cut diamonds. They're classic yet give off a modern vibe, and angled in the right direction can really add emphasis to your center stone."
14k white gold tapered baguette engagement ring, $1,310.