Experts Show How to Bring Your Diamond Style into the 21st Century

Consider this your inspiration!

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Diamonds are famous for being the hardest substance on earth, ranking a ten out of ten on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This rating tells us diamonds resist scratching better than any other mineral or gem. So, it makes sense that natural diamond jewelry pieces are the ultimate choice to wear daily. 

Why then are some people stuck in the 20th century tradition of “saving” their diamonds for evening, “special” occasions or, worse, the safe deposit box? Depending on which generation you belong to, you may have heard your mother, grandmother or aunties say you shouldn’t wear diamonds during the day except for your engagement ring—and maybe a pair of diamond stud earrings. This tradition may have been reinforced in your favorite magazine, an etiquette book, on television or in a movie. With so much information being fed to us from various—oftentimes trusted—and familiar sources, pinning down the origin of this tradition can be challenging.  Not to worry, Only Natural Diamonds is unpacking it all, complete with advice and tips from two very different jewelry experts to help you break this old and tired tradition or learn something new.

Of course, there are people who love wearing diamond jewelry all day every day, sometimes mixing antique, vintage and contemporary diamond jewelry.  If you are one of those people, do keep reading because the experts interviewed have advice for you too. They are each subject matter experts in different areas of the jewelry industry and have an intimate knowledge of how people style their diamond pieces.  

It all starts with how diamonds are cut, which plays a big part in their wearability. When it comes to diamond cutting, without getting overly technical, the facets should act as mirrors maximizing the internal and external white light reflected to the eye as brightness. This helps the diamond to sparkle and show scintillation (the pattern of bright and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond). You don’t want windows, which will minimize these important qualities.  Now, it’s worth noting that antique cut diamonds such as the old mine cut and old European cut were both invented before electricity was available and looked best in the evening since their chunky facets give off fire (spectral colors) in candlelight. The round brilliant cut was invented by Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919 and helped to maximize the light return in diamonds from electric lights, which were invented in the 1880s by Thomas Edison. Because round brilliant cut diamonds interacted beautifully with the then modern electric lighting, the diamond should have been promoted to “daytime” status, but it wasn’t.

Even though it is the 21st century, some people didn’t get the memo and will wear, at most, a diamond engagement ring with a pair of diamond studs, while saving their other diamond pieces for dress-up, special occasions, and evenings.  If you are ready to break tradition and explore wearing more diamonds during the day, Frank Everett, Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s Luxury Division, offers this advice, “Find a diamond piece with a casual flair, to be worn every day. A wide diamond band ring with a low profile rather than a solitaire or cocktail ring, or a loose link necklace with some diamonds rather than a structured collar that may feel too formal. Elsa Peretti’s Diamonds By The Yard®was designed for exactly this purpose and Bulgari made fantastic curb link necklaces and bracelets in the ‘70s and ‘80s with pave diamond links that are perfect for a cool, casual look.” 

When chic and/or powerful women of NYC want to change or enhance their style or reinvent their image, they turn to Nancy Ross, Associate Adjunct Professor at Fashion Institute of Technology, a jewelry connoisseur and stylist who also coaches clients on presence training. During a Zoom interview, Only Natural Diamonds asked Ross how she advises clients to wear diamond jewelry pieces. She informed me that when she takes on a client, part of the styling process is asking about their lifestyle, goals and environment, and she works with pieces already in their jewelry collection.  Nancy once advised a client who was an athlete and wanted to be able to wear her diamond engagement ring on the course, to acquire a gypsy style diamond ring (as Frank mentioned above, the gypsy style is a wide band with gems set in a low profile), so the diamonds were not sitting up high, and she didn’t have to remove her ring while competing. Ross also directs all her clients to position diamond jewelry on the body “to have a certain harmony, a certain tension, that’s very measured to make sure that it works with your style personality, your stature and your proportions.” 

Azlee gypsy set ring

One of the wonderful things about modern diamond jewelry are the materials being used. Luckily for all of us, we have more choices of diamond jewelry pieces than ever before.  Diamonds are set in jewelry made from more than precious metals such as gold and platinum and are set in surprising materials such as wood, acrylic and bone, as well as more well-known materials like sterling silver, stainless steel and even titanium. Nancy says she has a favorite pair of diamond earrings that are set in rubber that she wears with sweats, jeans or even a little black dress.

When it comes to diamond jewelry trends, Ross predicts the diamond anklet will make a strong appearance along with the “cropped pants we gravitate towards when the weather warms up,” while Everett has noticed, “Layering is a big trend. We’re seeing multiple necklaces, bracelets and rings which look fabulous. I am always impressed by people who can wear many pieces at one time and still look effortless and easy.” 

Speaking of multiples, nothing looks better right now than multiple diamond brooches, which have been getting a refresh ever since Rihanna clipped three vintage diamond brooches to that cherry red Loewe jumpsuit worn during the now iconic 2023 Super Bowl halftime performance. People everywhere were raiding their nana’s jewelry boxes, vintage shops, safe deposit boxes and auction houses, resurrecting the versatile piece. Dialing it back a decade, single and multiple diamond brooches started appearing on the red carpet sitting pretty in men’s tuxedos and showing no signs of slowing down if the 2023 red carpets (and champagne carpet at the 2023 Academy Awards), are any indications. If you want to jump on this trend, which is soon to be a classic again, modernize it and make it your own by wearing multiple diamond brooches on a denim jacket, a single diamond brooch on a velvet ribbon around your neck or attaching it carefully (with hair pins anchoring it) atop your chignon or nestled in a cluster of curls.  

Getty Images
Harwell Godfrey

Seasoned diamond jewelry collectors who have been wearing diamond jewelry daily but need fresh inspiration, can consider fancy colored diamond jewelry, which both Everett and Ross suggested for this article.  Frank shares, “For those lucky enough to already have the basics, I’d suggest investing in a colored diamond. While prices of pinks and blues are high, other colors are more affordable. A grayish-blue or a deep brownish-yellow can be much more accessible and still offer the sparkle, mystique and rarity of a colored diamond.”

Brent Neale

If you’re worried that wearing fancy colored diamonds may appear over the top, don’t be.  Most people still believe diamonds are colorless (unless you’re in the gem and jewelry business) and aren’t familiar with their colorful side.

Like where we’re going with color, “Don’t be afraid to mix diamond jewelry with colored gemstones,” Ross tells us. It doesn’t have to be all diamonds or nothing. In fact, diamonds lend light to whatever they happen to be next to, including our skin. Mixing is a nice way to wear diamonds during the day in a more subtle fashion. You can choose pieces that already mix colored gems and diamonds, or you can layer your diamond pieces next to the colored gem pieces for a beautiful display of color and light.

As for diamonds for “special” occasions, do keep this advice in mind from Everett: “I’d start with a great diamond earring, thinking beyond the basic stud. A drop earring, a dramatic ear-climber or a vintage cluster will work perfectly. These earrings should be something special, worn only occasionally, that makes you feel glamorous and dressed up. Sometimes a little black dress and a fabulous diamond earring are all you need!”

Melissa Kaye

Ross reminds us, “Beautiful things should be worn, and they should be enjoyed.” In her opinion, diamonds are so special, “they need to adorn you every day, but there is a methodology to how they should be worn.”

Now that you’ve got some compelling ideas to get you started wearing more than just a diamond engagement ring every day, have some fun. Only Natural Diamonds will be awaiting the sparkly new you.