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A Buyer's Guide to Eternity Rings

What is an Eternity Ring?

Eternity rings are a symbol of everlasting love, a powefrul expression of the commitment between two people. Traditionally given to mark a significant milestone in a relationship such as a special wedding anniversary or the birth of a first child, an eternity ring is a gift that will be cherished for years to come – for an eternity – so it’s important that you choose carefully.

Whether you’re seeking a classic diamond eternity ring or a colourful gemstone eternity ring, we give you all the advice and guidance you need to ensure that you buy the ring that’s just right for your loved one.

History of eternity rings

With no beginning and no end, rings have been symbolic of eternal love for centuries. Rings given as love tokens were worn on the third finger of the left hand, a tradition believed to have derived from the Romans who believe this finger contained the Vena Amoris, or the Vein of love, said to be directly connected to the heart. Although this is a romantic myth, the tradition of wearing an eternity ring on this finger has continued in most modern cultures.

The first known eternity rings date back to 2000BC and the Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians didn’t necessarily use the ring to mark a specific occasion; instead they gave a ring as a token of eternal love and life. These early examples of eternity rings were often simple bands of metal set with a stone. Others portrayed a snake swallowing its own tail – a common symbol used to represent eternity.

Modern eternity rings
Fortunately for the recipient, eternity rings no longer feature snakes swallowing their own tail; however, the symbolism of a never-ending circle very much remains. In the 18th century, eternity rings featured any lavish gemstones that were readily available at the time. In the 19th century, diamond eternity rings became fashionable and today are considered the classic eternity ring. However, gemstone eternity rings set with a combination of precious coloured stones and diamonds can be equally as meaningful and symbolic.

Eternity rings are usually worn between the engagement ring and wedding ring. There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules though, and many women prefer to showcase the beauty of their eternity ring by wearing it on its own on the right hand.

When do you give an eternity ring?

Eternity rings are usually given to commemorate a special milestone in a relationship: a special wedding anniversary, the birth of a new baby.

You may want to stick to the traditional anniversary calendar and buy an eternity ring to mark specific years in your marriage. While we won’t advocate giving your loved one a sheet of paper on your first anniversary, we’re more than happy to promise that your loved one will adore a ruby eternity ring on your 40th anniversary, a sapphire eternity ring on your 45th anniversary, an emerald eternity ring on your 55th anniversary and a diamond eternity ring on your 60th wedding anniversary. But, you don’t need to wait. Today, eternity rings are often given as a gift to mark your first year of marriage and it’s perfectly acceptable to give a coloured gemstone eternity ring outside of these traditional anniversary years.

While eternity rings are a symbol of enduring love, they are also a symbol of the continuing cycle of life. This is why they are often presented to a mother on the birth of her first child. In particular, a diamond eternity ring is often given to a new mum. After all, she really does deserve it!

And then there is the ultimate reason for giving your loved one an eternity ring: to tell her you love her and you’ll love her forever. An eternity ring is quite simply a wonderful reminder of a loving relationship and a symbol of everlasting commitment. There is no better reason for giving an eternity ring than to say “I love you”. You can’t get more romantic than that!

Diamond eternity rings

Diamond eternity rings are the traditional choice for this symbol of enduring love. Why? Quite simply, there is no gemstone as precious, rare or beautiful as the diamond, and this exquisite stone has a long association with love and romance. After all, Cupid’s arrow was said to be tipped with diamonds. Furthermore, every diamond is unique – just as your love is unique.

When you’re buying a diamond eternity ring, one of your main considerations will be the shape of the diamonds. While there is a large array of diamond shapes available, some are more typically used in eternity rings than others.

Round brilliant diamonds are commonly found in eternity rings. The most popular of diamond shapes, round brilliant stones yield the maximum return of light and create a diamond eternity ring that sparkles sensationally. A round brilliant diamond eternity ring is a classic choice and is sure to be cherished by your loved one.

Princess cut diamonds have a square shape. These are used in diamond eternity rings because they can be set closely together, forming an almost seamless band of brilliance across the finger. Princess cut diamond eternity rings have a contemporary elegance that is timeless.

Baguette diamonds are frequently used in diamond eternity rings. They are normally alternated with princess cut diamonds for an eternity ring that has extra texture. Baguette diamond eternity rings can also contain round brilliant diamonds for a ring with vintage-inspired appeal.

Gemstone eternity rings

Coloured gemstone eternity rings are a stunning alternative to diamond eternity rings. Coloured stones add a certain spice to eternity rings and tend to be less expensive than an eternity ring set only with diamonds. And they can be incredibly meaningful and personal. After all, every woman has her favourite gemstone.

Gemstone eternity rings are usually set with precious stones interspersed with diamonds. The most commonly used gemstones in eternity rings are rubies, sapphires and emeralds. These are the three most precious gemstones other than diamonds and are harder than other gems, meaning that they are suitable for everyday wear. Whether you buy a ruby eternity ring, a sapphire eternity ring or an emerald eternity ring, you can be sure that you’ve made a beautifully classic choice.

But, don’t rule out eternity rings set with other gemstones. Think about an eternity ring set with your loved one’s birthstone as a poignant choice. Or, if you’re choosing an eternity ring as a celebration of a newborn, a ring set with the baby’s birthstone is a charming option. You may want to go with a ring set with your anniversary stone if you’re celebrating a particular wedding anniversary. Or why not choose her zodiac stone? There really aren’t any rules; the gemstone eternity ring you choose is quite simply a matter of personal taste.

 

Eternity ring styles: full eternity or half eternity?

There are two main styles of eternity rings: full eternity rings and half eternity rings.

Full eternity rings
Full eternity rings are set with stones (typically diamonds) around the entire shank, or band, of the ring. A beautiful, luxurious choice, a full eternity ring glistens from every angle. Full eternity ring are usually gracefully slim and work perfectly worn between an engagement ring and wedding ring, although they are equally stunning when worn alone on the right hand. Please do note that full eternity rings cannot be resized; however, if you do get her ring size wrong (and yes, that does happen), we are happy to exchange for the correct size.
 
Half eternity rings
A half eternity ring is set with stones halfway around the band. Depending on the stone size, they usually feature five, seven or nine gemstones. The stones may be of uniform shape and size, or the half eternity ring may have a tapered design with gems of graduating sizes. A half eternity ring is normally less expensive than a full eternity ring, although this is ultimately dependent on the stone quality and carat weight. A half eternity ring can be resized.
 

Eternity rings: which metal type?

Eternity rings are primarily available in platinum and gold, the two most precious of metals. The metal you choose for your eternity ring will depend on a number of factors. Ideally, you should buy an eternity ring that matches the wearer’s existing jewellery, particularly if she is going to wear the ring between her engagement ring and wedding ring. So, if your loved one mainly wears white metal jewellery, treat her to an eternity ring made in platinum or white gold. If she prefers traditional yellow gold, a yellow gold ring is the natural choice. Carat type is also important. If her wedding jewellery is 18ct gold, buy her an 18ct gold eternity ring; a 9ct gold eternity ring is more likely to scratch an 18ct gold ring and vice versa.

Platinum eternity rings
A platinum eternity ring is the ultimate in luxury. Platinum is the rarest, most precious metal on earth. It has a natural brilliant white sheen, and its beauty and lustre makes it the perfect choice for a diamond eternity ring as it showcases a diamond’s brilliance magnificently. Platinum is very durable and dense – it is harder wearing than gold – so it is ideal for an eternity ring that will be worn every day. It also has a high purity level and is therefore hypoallergenic and kind to sensitive skin.
 
White gold eternity rings
A white gold eternity ring is a fabulous alternative to a platinum ring and is more affordable. White gold has been fashionable since the 1920s and is currently the most popular metal used in jewellery. White gold doesn’t actually exist; it is yellow gold alloyed with silver or palladium and rhodium-plated to create a white metal that beautifully complements diamonds or coloured gemstones. You have the choice of a 9ct white gold eternity ring or an 18ct white gold eternity ring. Both are equally as beautiful. The main difference is that 9ct white gold is harder than 18ct white gold but the latter is more durable and more resistant to knocks and scratches. 9ct white gold is also less expensive than 18ct white gold.
 
Yellow gold eternity rings
A yellow gold eternity ring is a traditional option. Highly prized throughout history, yellow gold provides a warm setting for diamonds. 18ct yellow gold eternity rings are ideal as they are tarnish-resistant and durable. 9ct gold eternity rings are a good option if budget is important.
 

Eternity ring settings

Setting plays an important role in the beauty of an eternity ring and is particularly significant when you’re buying a diamond eternity ring. There are three main types of eternity ring settings – claw settings, channel settings and bar settings.

Claw-set eternity rings
Claw-set eternity rings are also known as prong-set eternity rings, and use the traditional method of holding gemstones in place with a metal setting which runs up the side of the stones and overlaps slightly at the top to hold it snugly in place. More suited to round brilliant stones, a claw-set diamond eternity ring is an exceptionally beautiful piece of jewellery as it allows the maximum amount of light to enter the stone, giving the most intense sparkle.

Channel-set eternity rings
In channel settings, the metal forms a channel at the two edges of the ring in which the stones are set.Channel-set eternity rings are a modern variant and this setting is suitable for round brilliant gemstones, princess cut diamonds and baguette diamonds. This is a very secure setting that isn’t prone to snagging as stones are set flush within the ring.

Bar-set eternity rings
Stones set in a bar setting are separated using metal bars held perpendicular to the ring’s band. Used for stones of the same size, the effect is a contemporary eternity ring, and the bars are often as much part of the design as the gemstones. Bar-set diamond eternity rings let in a lot of the light, creating a sparkling piece that’s sure to be admired.