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Ever feel like it’s wedding season 365 days a year? Whether you’re getting hitched, joining a friend’s bridal party, or attending someone’s big day, chances are you’ve got nuptials on the horizon. Welcome to Save the Date, our recurring series for brides, grooms, and even guests-to-be, where we research everything about tying the knot so you don’t have to.
If you think finding true love is difficult, try looking for an engagement ring. Whether it’s the hassle of visiting brick-and-mortar shops, the overwhelming number of options on the market, or the legitimate fear of getting ripped off, most couples find the process wildly stressful and confusing. Thankfully, a handful of direct-to-consumer brands have cropped up to streamline the experience for today’s digital shopper—emphasizing value, sustainability, convenience, and customization. Instead of trekking between big-box chains (impersonal!), high-end boutiques (pricey… there’s a wedding to pay for, after all!), and diamond dealers (pushy!), all you have to do is go online—where these industry disruptors offer a little more, ahem, clarity around this major financial and emotional investment.
Ready to put a ring on it? Keep reading for eight trustworthy, transparent, and totally stunning engagement ring brands we’ve vetted—so you can design your dream rock without ever leaving the couch.
Mociun: Best for brides-to-be with a serious aesthetic
Mociun has made a name for itself with non-traditional engagement rings, featuring atypical cuts and unexpected colors. Its jewelry captures a playfully elegant vibe that’s rare in this arena—whether you purchase from Mociun’s permanent collection or customize a new piece. For the latter, you can partner with founder Caitlin Mociun on a one-of-a-kind stunner or get matched with one of her fine jewelry specialists (Caitlin still approves every design, even if you don’t work with her directly). The team’s ethical approach is a plus; they use only the most striking, sustainably sourced diamonds and gemstones, as well as 100% responsibly sourced, eco-friendly or recycled gold whenever possible.
The It Factor: While many brands prefer not to work with diamonds they haven’t sourced, Mociun is open to using clients’ personal stones, with the caveat that they’re given discretion when deciding how to use them. They also reimagine sentimental pieces, like engagement rings, antique treasures, and family keepsakes, into modern heirlooms.
Price: Engagement rings from the permanent collection range from $2,000-$20,000. For a custom ring, a $1,000 deposit is required to cover up to two rounds of sourcing and design.
Couple: Best if you only go to five-star-rated places on Yelp
When co-founder Jeff Brenner was ready to pop the question, he quickly discovered that the process of buying a ring was outrageously antiquated—which is how Couple came to be. While the brand offers a curated edit of classic settings to choose from, you can also create a custom design with its Diamond Concierge, which offers personalized customer service via text, video chat, and phone call (even an IRL meeting if you’re based in Toronto!). Even better, Couple only uses 100% ethically made, lab-grown diamonds, which must meet its incredibly high standards.
The It Factor: Couple’s Diamond Concierge offers the highest caliber of service (no small thing when you’re splurging on a ring). Whatever your preferred mode of communication—text, Zoom, email, online chat, old-fashioned phone call—the brand’s specialists will make themselves available to you until you’re happy with the finished design.
Price: Ready-made rings start at $3,799. Custom ring consultations, as well as all follow-up design consults and 3D renderings, are complimentary.
Frank Darling: Best if you need to try before you buy
If you don’t find something you love from Frank Darling’s collection of modern, sculptural rings, devise your own through its bespoke program, starting with a simple quiz. There’s no limit to the number of feedback rounds you’re allowed—this New York-based brand offers as many custom sketches and prototypes as you need, followed by a convenient try-at-home kit. When you’ve settled on The One, choose from their selection of over 20,000 natural and lab-grown diamonds, certified conflict-free through the Kimberley Process. Frank Darling also prides itself on sustainable practices; every small diamond in their settings and wedding bands is recycled, while every ring is handmade out of 100% recycled 18-karat gold.
The It Factor: Frank Darling’s placeholder rings solve the conundrum for those who dream of a surprise proposal, yet also want their partners to be involved in choosing the ring. Proposers purchase a sterling silver and cubic zirconia replica from Frank Darling’s collection for $150—which, if all goes well, is redeemed as a credit toward any engagement ring over $4,000, including custom designs.
Price: Ready-made and custom settings start at $850, while center stones start at $400. Custom ring consultations, as well as all follow-up design consults, sketches, and prototypes, are complimentary.
Gemist: Best for those who love a Silicon Valley approach
CEO and founder Madeline Fraser has a background in tech startups that solve problems. Now she’s leveraged her skills to streamline the ring shopping experience and disrupt a once-stagnant industry. Gemist carries 12 permanent designs with the option to customize stones and metal, but its On the Hunt program offers a more tailored experience. Customers collaborate directly with Gemist stylists to create a totally bespoke piece—including cut, setting, metal, stone, color, style, band, and size.
The It Factor: Thanks to Fraser’s tech savvy, Gemist has a sleek, easy-to-use app, which lets you experiment with different designs no matter where you are.
Price: Engagement rings from the permanent collection start at $1,050. For a 100% custom ring, the first 30-minute consultation is complimentary; if you move forward, you’ll pay a $150 design fee (which includes three follow-ups and three renderings) that’s applied to the final project.
The Clear Cut: Best for diamond newbs who need a crash course on the 4Cs (that’s carat, cut, clarity, and color FYI)
This brand was founded by husband-and-wife team Olivia Landau and Kyle Simon, who met while studying at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)—otherwise known as the world’s most prestigious professional gemology school. A fourth-generation expert, Landau leverages her relationships with wholesalers and cutters to deliver premium quality at a fair price, sourcing 100% natural, untreated, GIA-certified diamonds. The bespoke process is seamless, assigning you a private portal to review diamonds handpicked for you and provide feedback. Email or call the brand’s in-house gemologists to kick-start your design, which is hand-crafted in New York and overseen by Landau at every step.
The It Factor: The Clear Cut got its start as Landau’s educational blog for friends and family, and she continues to pass on her fountain of knowledge to customers. The site’s Classroom section is packed with useful information—from jewelry insurance tips to etiquette advice.
Price: Custom ring consultations, as well as all follow-up design consults, are complimentary.
Aether: Best for climate change warriors
Lab-grown diamonds are increasingly popular as a conflict-free, eco-friendly alternative to mined counterparts, but according to Aether, the fossil fuels used to create them have a less-than-ideal environmental impact. This revolutionary brand takes it a step further by making the world’s first carbon-negative and certified vegan diamonds—isolating carbon from harmful air pollution and using it to grow diamonds made from air. Set in responsibly sourced metal, the brand’s collection of gender-inclusive designs (which come in inclusive sizing too!) is boldly beautiful. If you go the bespoke route, Aether’s got you covered—providing sketches and castings to ensure the final product is flawless.
The It Factor: Because Aether diamonds are made from excess carbon pollution that would otherwise contribute to global warming, buying one essentially offsets your own carbon footprint and helps to reverse climate change. The brand’s one-of-a-kind technology doesn’t sacrifice quality either; their jewels are certified by the International Gemological Institute.
Price: Bands and engagement rings from the permanent collection start at $3,189 and $7,898, respectively. Custom consultations, as well as all follow-up design consults, are included in the final price of the ring.
Brilliant Earth: Best if you like to keep your options open
Boasting the largest engagement ring collection of all the brands mentioned in this story, Brilliant Earth is an established name in the bridal jewelry space. Since day one, the brand has been committed to sourcing gems with ethical and environmentally responsible origins, which Brillian Earth calls Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds™. The company doesn’t limit itself to the Kimberley Process; it works with suppliers who can track and segregate diamonds by origin and source from mine operators who follow internationally recognized labor, trade, and environmental standards. Set up a virtual meeting or visit one of nine U.S. showrooms to partner with its world-class team on a bespoke piece, which they’ll design with computerized models, allowing you to review multi-angled renderings of your knockout before it’s cast. Or simply add a personal touch to one of their evergreen settings, toggling between pear, marquise, or Asscher cuts and selecting carat size.
The It Factor: Sustainability and philanthropy are built into every part of Brilliant Earth’s business. Their responsibly sourced ring boxes are made with wood from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests and settings are crafted primarily from recycled precious metals. Meanwhile, they donate 5% of net profits to make an impact on mining communities and improve human rights and environmental practices in the industry.
Price: Custom rings start at $2,000. The initial design consultations, as well as all follow-up consults, are complimentary.
Noémie: Best if you’re saving every penny for an epic wedding
An engagement ring is a serious investment, but this competitively priced brand is here to help ease the strain on your bank account as much as humanly possible. Thanks to retail markups, sales commissions, overstocked inventories, and other costs, traditional fine jewelry is marked up an astonishing 500% to 1000%. By keeping designing, sourcing, and manufacturing in-house, Noémie cuts out the middleman and passes all the savings along to you. They’re also committed to quality materials and craftsmanship—using reclaimed 18-karat gold, conflict-free or lab-grown stones, and certified VS clarity and F-G color diamonds to ensure zero clarity or color imperfections visible to the naked eye. Choose from four timeless engagement ring styles, or fill out a survey to request a custom design with no consultant fees or strings attached.
The It Factor: The brand’s Diamond Price Match Guarantee helps you sleep a little easier at night. If you find a comparable quality diamond—including cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and fluorescence—for less somewhere else, you can request a price match.
Price: Engagement rings from the permanent collection start at $3,780. Custom ring consultations are complimentary.
Now that you’ve snagged the rock, time to tackle the next daunting task: your wedding registry, which we’ll cover in our next Save the Date!