From polish color to nail shape, manicures are hugely considered even before getting engaged. Anyone on the brink of a proposal can totally relate to keeping your nails in tip-top shape while waiting in anticipation. However, once a glittering diamond engagement ring lands on your finger, it’s all about making that natural diamond pop–both with the everyday looks that keep your sparkler magnificently in focus to bridal manicures for the big day. No matter the outfit, event, or wedding occasion (think your bridal shower, bachelorette, and honeymoon), and no matter if your taste trends bold, classic, or ultra-minimal, these are the equally scintillating shades and unique nail art that will get you there.
“When thinking about what style of manicure goes best with your ring, think about two things: shape and tone,” advises celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi of JINsoon. “I recommend colors or designs based on the stone cut and their skin tones—it comes down to the color family more than the actual color itself.” Neutral and classic colors are the most popular for pairing with diamond rings, but Choi champions those with a bolder spirit, too. “I love a bride willing to go a bit funky,” she says.
When it comes to choosing a ring-enhancing manicure, Darlene Sritapan (a licensed technician and OPI’s education and capability manager) says: “My advice is to keep it simple.” Recommending French manicures or a soft shade like Bubble Bath for wedding photos, she adds, “You want the ring to be the center of attention; too much nail art will take away from the ring. If you want to enhance the look of the diamond, extensions are a great way to elongate fingers. Go with a classic almond shape.”
Leah Yari, the co-founder of the non-toxic nail polish brand, Côte, also notes the prevalence of sheer pink or nude shades to enhance a ring’s look. “The subtlety of the gentle sheer shade allows fingers to appear a bit longer and more slender, and it blends well with skin tones to let the diamond do the talking,” she says, highlighting Côte No. 6 and No. 10 as favorites for the newly engaged. “You want the nails to complement the ring, wedding dress, flowers, and other details, not necessarily steal the spotlight,” she adds. “Layering sheers and neutrals can achieve nice depth while still maintaining that barely-there look.”
Choi says the color tone of your ring is a savvy way to determine the best manicure for optimizing natural diamond brilliance. “If you have a rose gold ring, you may want to avoid cool-tone polish shades and instead pick a warmer tone to complement the setting,” she says. Similarly, if you have a platinum ring, “a cool tone shade will look great,” she adds.
The shape of your diamond ring is another path to manicure selection. “I always like to think of continuing lines from the ring forward,” Choi says. “For example, an oval ring with a square manicure does the hand no favors. Instead, I would recommend a mid-length rounded or oval nail to elongate the fingers.” The JINsoon founder continues, “Similarly, with a round diamond ring, a short round manicure mirrors the shape of the diamond and creates symmetrical lines on the hands.”
Above all, it’s most important to choose a manicure to feel your best, though the sparkle factor is a close second. “Wear something that makes you feel good; nothing will read better than confidence,” says Elin Dannerstedt, co-founder of NCLA beauty, a vegan and cruelty-free label offering polishes, treatments, and nail kits.
Keep reading to discover the best manicures and polish colors to make your natural diamond ring shine its brightest, as endorsed by all four nail pros.
For a bolder take, Choi says, “Pastel and bright color French manicures with a sheer pink base are all the rage right now.” Pro tip: on your wedding day, choose a shade that ties in with your palette, be it an accent color or the primary hue.
Next, Choi speaks on negative space manicures, explaining that it’s “very popular now to use a cute topping on bare nails for an instant nail art look.” She goes on to say: “I’ve also seen many people doing wavy lines with opaque nudes and whites; this would be a fun way to incorporate nail art but still keep it neutral for a wedding.”
Yari suggests a crisp white nail for brides craving nail art with small rhinestones glued on. “What’s better than a diamond? More diamonds!” she says. Another option: glued-on pearl accents for a twist on classic style. Opaque colors that highlight the nail slightly—such as Côte No. 2 with a base of No. 4 or No. 9—are beautiful without drawing too far away for the rest of a ring’s design.
For more shine, Dannerstedt says, “You could add a small gemstone on every nail or go all out and go glitter on your nails. If you wear anything with a silver or white glitter base, your engagement ring will pop every time your nail and ring hits the light.”
Most brides-to-be tend to lean towards nude nails in light beige or light pink tones to avoid taking away from the dress or the ring itself. “It can be distracting,” says Dannerstedt. “A nude nail will give the illusion of longer elongated nails, enhancing the look of a diamond ring.” If you’re the nail art kind, opt for varying nude shades between nails, a single accent nail, or accents in metallic tones or with negative space.
“I’ve seen the half-moon shape as an easy go-to for nail art novices and experts alike lately,” Choi reveals. Dannerstedt recommends this manicure specifically for an antique or antique-style ring. “You can do it in many colors, and it has that vintage classic look,” she says.
When angling for more eyes on that sparkler or for a playful way to incorporate something blue, Yari says, “A little pop on the tips of the fingers is all it takes to create a ‘wow!’ reaction.”
“The trend right now is to do a thin blue French tip over a neutral or very light pink,” Yari says, suggesting a base coat of Côte No. 5 with a thin line of No. 71 applied at the tip for a periwinkle pop.
Solid blue polish is another option Sritapan has witnessed among the engaged. “I’ve seen brides wear navy blue, and it looked gorgeous,” she says. Adding, “There’s really no wrong color as long as the bride loves it but to really emphasize the ring, keep the nail art simple.”
“Sheer pink with a thin pastel French tip would go well with a classic feminine ring and round stone shape,” says Choi. Yari seconds sheer pink colors for a clean and chic look. “Short square nails with rounded edges highlight the simplicity and beauty of the stone,” she says.
While Dannerstedt advocates for “nude, nude, nude,” alongside classically cut diamonds, she suggests “bolder shades such as a deep red or dark purple” for rings with a modern or minimal design.
Above all, Sritapan says balance is key. “If the ring is minimalist, the manicure should be too,” says the OPI expert.
“This is very modern and architectural, so I recommend a clean sheer white or simple wavy negative space nail art using an off-white opaque nude in squoval (aka square with rounded corners) shape,” Choi says.
While Dannerstedt recommends a half-moon manicure for antique and antique-style rings, Choi suggests pearlescent colors with round or almond shape nails “to go with the vintage vibe of the ring.” Yari also suggests an oval nail shape in a longer length with a subtle, opaque color, like Côte No. 9 or No. 10.
“Sheer nudes or dark colors can highlight a colored stone,” Choi says. “If you want a funky look, create a negative space half-moon at the base of the nail and fill in the rest with the dark shade to highlight the colored stone.”
“White polish will showcase the brightness of the colored gem, but it’s always fun to play off of the color and incorporate that shade subtly in the look using a thin line at the base of the cuticle or at the tip of the nail edge,” says Yari.
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