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29.07.22

How to Build a Dainty Engagement Ring That Lasts

By Stephanie Dore

While the headlines would have us believe that bigger is always better, there’s something truly stunning about a dainty diamond engagement ring. Not to mention it’s way more logical for daily life. After all, who needs a sparkly status symbol when they have adventure and experience? For those of us who’d rather spend our hard earned paychecks on living instead of on, well, rocks, it just makes more sense to go for a dainty engagement ring. But we get it, there’s a difference between choosing a petite engagement ring and a total snooze-fest. So here’s how to build a dainty engagement ring that will last you a lifetime of love and happiness… complete with actual style.

What is a Dainty Engagement Ring?

Let’s first define what we’re talking about here, because obviously everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a “dainty” sized ring. So we’re all on the same page, let’s say dainty means an under 1 carat diamond. And while some might scoff, the national average in the US is only about 1-1.5 carats these days. And in other parts of the world, it’s smaller! All that said, dainty by design can mean a lot of things, not just a simple diamond solitaire. 

Marquise three stone engagement ring
No one said a three stone can’t be dainty!
Thin bands are in, and that’s not changing anytime soon. But these delicate bands bend easily, so you’ll need some extra TLC.

The Skinny

No matter what overall style you like, it’s undeniable that super skinny engagement rings are totally a thing right now. Everyone loves a whisper-thin band that makes your diamond appear to float off your finger. But when it comes to real wearability, there’s a limit to what’s too thin for a ring. After all, you want your ring to last, right? A lot of engagement ring shanks (the band part that goes around your finger) average about 2mm wide. Skinny would be anything between 1.5-1.8mm wide and we don’t recommend going below 1.5mm. If, given the style and relative security of any stones, it’s appropriate to go skinnier, 1.35mm wide should be the be all, end all of skinny engagement rings.

Surround Sound

One super popular look for a dainty center stone is a diamond halo engagement ring. Why? Well, because a halo can actually make your ring look bigger than it is by upping the overall finger coverage. And don’t worry, halos aren’t actually going out of style. This is a look that you can totally make your own with different setting types, diamond shapes, and side stone sizes. You can even do a faux-halo ring by not using a true center stone and instead doing a circular cluster look. This will also give you a low profile engagement ring, which is great if you’re very active or wear gloves a lot. 

frank darling oval halo diamond engagement ring
A halo may be the most diamond forward look out there, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dainty!
A sleek bezel is a dainty and super secure solitaire style!

What a Cluster

Speaking of clustered stones, we love a dainty cluster engagement ring which is, again, very on trend right now. Clusters are a great way to get a unique look, using different stone types, colors, and arrangements. Choosing a few small stones to build into a cluster look instead of one big statement stone can give you more finger coverage for your money, too. A little three-stone cluster ring is super sweet, a sapphire cluster with ombre color effect is delish, or an Art Deco-inspired geometric cluster can give your engagement ring some edge. What’s the best part of this style? Endless ways to customize. While many cluster rings have prong settings, if you want something more secure you can totes do lil bezel settings on that cluster and you’ll be safe and snag free!

High as a Kite

For those of us who love a ring stack look (the more the merrier!), dainty rings are just the thing. By piling a few smaller rings together you can get more finger coverage and more fun — think of all the ways you can mix and match! Two or three dainty diamond solitaires in different shapes would be seriously stunning. Or mix in some pave diamond bands, perhaps a pointed or curved band that wraps around a small center stone. Just make sure that if you have stones next to one another their girdle edges are protected with metal instead of sticking out so they don’t rub against each other and risk damage to your stones. Remember, diamonds are hard!

kite set asscher bezel engagement ring
Setting your center stone in a bezel is the best way to keep that rock secured!
aquamarine and pear diamond toi et moi engagement ring
There’s no doubt the toi et moi is a big look, but you can achieve the two-stone style with more petite stones to get the best of both worlds!

Double, Double

What’s better than one tiny diamond? Two, of course! Or two of any gemstones, really. A dainty toi et moi style engagement ring, with two smaller stones nestled together is on trend but also totally timeless. The two-stone engagement ring look can also be achieved with a cool gap in between the stones, like a wrap around your finger. It creates some visual tension and a bit of edge instead of a super classic centered style. You can also get a similar look with a graduated diamond band that has an open gap in the middle. Dainty but still dazzling.

To the Left, To the Right

Want to stretch your budget and make your diamond look bigger? Go for an east-west style engagement ring. Traditionally, elongated diamond shapes like emerald cuts, ovals, and marquises are set vertically, parallel with your finger. This is thought to make your finger appear more elongated and be super flattering. But turning that diamond 90 degrees so that it is set across your finger can give you the optical illusion of a larger diamond, even when your diamond is dainty! Plus, it’s just plain cool. 

A bezel setting is not a new style, but it certainly making a huge comeback!

The Downsides of Dainty

Dainty jewelry can often come with delicacy, especially when it comes to diamond security. The smaller the metal holding stones in place, the more chance you have for losing stones. This is especially true for delicate micro-pave diamond settings, which consist of itsy-bitsy bits of metal just ever-so-slightly pushed over the diamond girdles to hold those stones in place. When it comes to wear, this obviously isn’t ideal because we wear our engagement rings all day, every day, and use our hands pretty hard. If you’re super active, work with your hands, or are putting on gloves a lot (which might catch on those tiny prongs), going with a simpler, diamond-free setting might be more practical. And in any case, no matter what setting style you choose, we should all be removing our rings when working out, washing dishes, gardening, etc. And have your ring checked for stone security every 6-12 months too. 

Pear diamond solitaire dainty engagement ring
If durability is top of mind for you, consider going with a slightly thicker band!

Get Down With Your Dainty Self

Explore our collection for rings you can customize to suit nearly any diamond size and shape or design your own with our dream ring quiz and get a free sketch!
You can always get our free try at home kit to compare setting features at home from the comfort of your couch. But if you need a little extra input, we’re here to help. Just email us with what you’re looking for at hello@frankdarling.com and we’ll get you sorted.

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