Love is in the air. Seriously, nearly half of all marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. So, if you are thinking about popping the question, now’s the time to find the perfect ring.
What’s the perfect ring? Obviously, that’s different for everyone, but overwhelmingly most couples purchase a natural diamond. Of the two million people who get engaged in this country every year, more than 80 percent of them do it with a natural diamond ring.
“They love that a diamond comes from the earth and that it’s one of a kind and precious,” said Arielle Ratner, a New York jeweler who specializes in custom engagement rings.
When talking about engagement rings, I avoid the word “trends” because it’s a jewel that people plan to wear for years to come (even a lifetime), yet there’s a distinctive evolution in ring styles. Today, more women want streamlined designs, often low-set diamonds, and wide bands with a diamond, all of which work seamlessly with today’s lifestyle.
It’s part of a perceptible shift in fashion, lifestyle, and attitude, which subtly permeates our choices. “With fashion, architecture, and jewelry, there’s a collective consciousness,” explained Laura Freedman, owner of Broken English, which has stores in New York’s SoHo and Santa Monica. That shift in style is exemplified in Phoebe Philo’s aesthetic, she says, referring to one of the most influential fashion designers of the moment, who is known for her luxurious, unfussy, modern minimalist aesthetic.
“People want rings that are pared down, less fussy, and they want to accentuate the diamond,” she said. “It isn’t about the price, it’s about the overall style.”
To help you find the ring of your dreams, we asked three jewelry experts what today’s stylish couples are buying.
Meet Victoria Lampley, founder of jewelry platform, The Stax, who advises clients on jewelry purchases.
She said that buying an engagement ring has become a collaborative effort. Not long ago, it was mostly men who purchased the diamond ring, “now more couples are selecting and shopping together.”
What’s the biggest change in ring styles?
I’m surprised by how bold engagement rings are getting in terms of scale and style. Some women want big gold cigar bands with a diamond center. Some want more sculptural styles, almost like old Suzanne Belperron’s look. Others want a substantial wedding band with a diamond in it. It can’t be delicate or fussy.
What do design-oriented women want?
There’s a reason so many art collectors want a Taffin ring because it stands out for his use of color and scale. I worked with James [de Givenchy of Taffin] on a black ceramic ring with a yellow diamond. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of color and shapes. Some couples are looking at fancy-colored diamonds, like a warm chocolate brown or pink, to set themselves apart.
My job as an advisor is to steer my clients towards designers that they haven’t thought of that are aligned with their aesthetic and will make them something that they feel is new and personal.
What are your top resources for bridal jewelry?
Octavia Elizabeth has made some beautiful hand-forged gold settings for my clients. I like Alice Ciccolini’s colorful enamel rings, which are like wearing a painting on your finger. I like her reference to history, culture, colors, and patterns. Dina Kamal creates amazing, engineered rings, like her Transformer ring, which is like wearing a Zaha Hadid building on your finger. Beck Jewel’s sculptural ripple rings, and Jenna Katz’s artistic satin finish gold that patinas over time are beautiful. “Jenna’s pieces are handmade, with such attention to detail, and a beautiful brushed gold finish that only gets better with time,” she said.
Arielle Ratner, New York, who specializes in bespoke rings and vintage diamonds.
What do your clients want?
“They want something more fashionable, a little more artistic, and different, such as an old mine or old European cut diamond, set in a snake ring, perched on a band, or set on a tilt.
What sets your rings apart?
I use mainly old diamonds, some come from antique brooches, crowns, or rings. People like the warmth of an antique diamond. I make my own 18-karat gold alloy, which is very peachy yellow.
What’s different today?
In the post-pandemic world, more people are forgoing the big wedding, and they are spending more money on the ring. On average my clients spend between $25,000 to $30,000, and many upwards of $50,000. People don’t want to wear their engagement ring with a wedding band. They want the diamond to sing and don’t want the wedding band to detract from that.
Laura Freedman, Broken English in New York’s SoHo, and Santa Monica
There used to be trends, like when Hailey Bieber got engaged with an oval-shaped diamond and suddenly it was all about the oval. Today, people are more adventurous, and we get requests for all different cuts and configurations.
The diamond is the spectacle, be it a one-, two, or three-stone ring. There’s a nod to the old Georgian culotte set rings, in both old styles and Fred Leighton’s new version.
Off-center [Akimbo] diamond rings are popular; Shay does a beautiful two-stone off-center ring. Erstwhile does a beautiful three-stone ring.
How do your clients customize their rings?
We have clients at all stages of their lives. Some want to redesign their rings, and some have an old diamond they want set. If someone loves Anita Ko’s style, we will connect them with Anita to design the ring. We also have pieces made for clients, which are done through different local craftsmen.
What do men want?
Men tend to want rustic diamonds, more often set in a band; they want something comfortable, easy, and simple. Some have diamonds on the inside of the ring that nobody can see.
What’s new in wedding bands?
Women don’t wear them together anymore. Eternity bands are still popular, and some brides want a thicker band with a smaller diamond stone that they layer with other rings. They still have the diamond engagement ring, but wear it separately.