By Jordan Clary in Nevada
From braided reeds to black diamonds, some form of the engagement ring has been with us since pre-history.
As the hardest gemstone, diamonds remain the most popular choice for engagement rings, but coloured stones are becoming more common. But with so many choices, how does one choose the perfect ring?
Practical decisions should come first when it comes to a coloured stone. You'll want a gem that is durable and holds up to daily wear.
Next to diamonds, sapphire and ruby are the hardest gems on the Mohs scale, so these are excellent choices. Emerald, although not quite as hard, is also a popular stone. However, when my son decided to have an engagement ring with a green stone made for his fiancée, the designer told him peridot was a better choice because, according to him, it was less likely to chip than emerald.
Then, of course, there are diamonds, which come in every colour of the rainbow. Pink, blue and yellow diamonds are popular, or for something even more original, there are green and red diamonds, which are extremely rare and highly valuable.
Semi-precious stones such as rubellite, spinel and garnet also make stunning, unique settings.
While the four Cs - colour, clarity, cut and carat - are guidelines for choosing a diamond, they can help you evaluate coloured stones as well. When looking at clarity, however, remember some inclusions or flaws might actually be considered pluses in stones such as rubellite.
The practical decision is easy. But coloured stones are more individual, so the questions you'll want answered will be personal. In my part of the world, love seems to be in the air, so I asked around and came up with these tips from couples that have recently, or will soon, tie the knot:
? Colour is important. Don't think just about your favourite colours, but think about how your choice reflects you.
? What kind of personality? Outgoing or shy? A large, bold stone makes a different statement to a subtler one.
? Size. A woman with long, slender hands can wear a larger stone than someone with smaller hands.
? Family relationships could matter. If a bride is close to her mother or another family member, find out if there's a particular stone that's significant, or possibly an heirloom that might lend itself to a custom-designed engagement ring.
? What story do you want to tell? A ring with a specially chosen stone has a story behind it. And everyone loves a good story.
It's a big decision to join your life with someone else, and an engagement ring serves as a symbol to the world that you're in it for the long haul.
Read more on coloured stone engagement rings here