It’s a big moment for diamond engagement rings. Not only are there more design choices than ever before, but now couples want to be part of the design process. Sure, many women like the surprise of an engagement ring, but if she’s planning to wear that ring for the rest of her life, you can be sure she wants to have a say it what it looks like—and how it makes her feel.
It’s that demand for something more personal and individualized that prompted these three jewelry designers to enter the engagement ring business. Meet the jewelers who want to make you the ring of your dreams.
Designer Alison Chemla is known for her colorful and playful Alison Lou jewelry collection. What many don’t know about Chelma is that she’s also been creating bespoke diamond engagement rings for her famous friends, including Emily Ratajkowski and Jennifer Lawrence, in addition to redesigning her friend’s wedding jewelry. The growing demand for unique wedding rings prompted Chemla to launch “I Do by Lou,” a bridal collection with eight styles.
Why launch an engagement ring collection now?
Alison Chemla: So many friends wanted their engagement rings redesigned. My friends were tired of their classic three-stone rings, or they said they kept their ring in the safe and didn’t wear it so they wanted something they could wear every day. Some wanted heavier gypsy set diamond rings, so it didn’t feel so precious, and could be stacked with other jewelry, and others wanted a more simple style on a thinner band that emphasized the diamond. I wanted to create a collection of rings that are modern and comfortable for every day; the kinds of pieces I want to wear.
What’s the Alison Lou style engagement ring?
AC: We offer eight ring settings, which serve as a baseline for the designs because the process starting from scratch can be overwhelming. The client chooses a setting and stone, and everything can be modified. Since enamel is a big part of my jewelry collection, it’s also our bridal jewelry twist: we have round and emerald-cut diamonds available with different enamel color accents. My favorite ring styles are the Samantha, a classic solitaire on a thinner band with really elegant and very fine pave diamonds, and the Gina, a solitaire diamond floating in a bolder gold setting.
How has the process of buying engagement rings changed?
AC: It’s becoming more of a couple’s thing—or at least the women give clear instructions of what they want, and the guys comes in to make the purchase. I’m very involved in every engagement ring order because it is such a forever piece for my clients, and I want them to fall in love with it.
Thelma West is a Nigerian-born, London-based bespoke jeweler working with exceptional diamonds set in striking, modern designs. A skilled gemologist and diamond trader, West founded three interrelated businesses: the IGR London gemological lab, Yeraua diamond wholesaler and her eponymous design house. She’s also committed to supporting women and minorities in business, and employs an all-female team of ten. Plus everything is handmade using ethically sourced diamonds and Fairmined gold by jewelers in London.
What’s the biggest change in what brides want in engagement rings?
Thelma West: Brides are less afraid to take risks. That does not only mean the choice of designer they commission, but also the style of the rings they opt for. Discussions tend to be more open-minded than in the past. No diamond cut, metal or setting is off limits!
What’s most important for brides today?
TW: The ability to express themselves in a piece of jewelry they’ll be wearing for many years. Having a ring that speaks to them. From choosing the right size stone to having a say at every stage.
What are your most popular styles?
TW: Rings that show off more unique cut diamonds are quite popular. Classic cut diamonds set in non-traditional styles and diverse materials (like shiny ceramic over gold) are getting a lot of love too.
Lebanese-born jeweler Gaelle Khouri who lives between London and Dubai is known for bold and modern jewelry designs. Her move into engagement rings began when she designed her own ring (she was married during the COVID-19 lockdown), which features asymmetrical geometrical lines of baguettes with offset diamonds. Like a modern work of art, the ring stands out as a personal sculpture on the finger. She’s bringing that personal attention to each new commission.
What inspired you to create engagement rings?
GK: The concept of a solitaire diamond ring doesn’t excite me so when I became engaged, I designed my own ring and, in the process, I realized that so much can be done around the engagement ring. It doesn’t have to just revolve around a sparkling diamond, it should be about the design and the person.
What’s your take on the engagement ring?
GK: I moved away from the symmetry that is typical in engagement rings; it was as though the symmetry was a symbol of marriage, and I thought: why not create a ring that is asymmetrical and reflects the complexity of relationships? The starting point of the ring is the overall design and the shape of the ring; the stone comes after the concept. I want the ring to reflect a woman’s personality; it’s an extension of who she is.
What do people want today?
GK: People want a personal relationship with the designer, they want to communicate with the designer, contribute to the creative process and they want rings that are bespoke and personal.
Most of my clients want some personal detail—either engraving or a family stone that might be used in the design—but perhaps not the central stone. They want alternative stone cuts and some mix diamonds with emeralds or other stones. Yellow gold is popular because it is warmer and more emotional than white gold.
Are you redesigning engagement rings?
GK: Yes, many clients in their 30s and 40s are coming to me with classic diamond rings and I’m remaking them in more modern and personal styles.