To those whose whirlwind romance looks likely to become permanent, we’ve put together everything they’ll need to know about that all-important token of everlasting love – the engagement ring.
If we didn’t know this already, 2021 definitely proved a certain point – that nothing can get in the way of love, not even a pandemic that knows no end. People may reschedule their weddings to 2022, even 2023, but proposals and engagements are still very much happening.
And with every proposal, there’s the ultimate prop: the ring to symbolise eternal love and commitment. It doesn’t have to be a diamond, but it sure needs to be something you know your partner will cherish. Whether you’re dropping hints to your partner about the ring of your dreams, or even shopping together for it, we’ve gathered all the advice from our favourite bridal jewellers to narrow down the top engagement-ring trends that we believe are here to stay.
Read on to discover all the engagement ring trends.
Trend 1: Keeping it Classic
The diamond engagement ring will forever remain a classic, even if it isn’t technically traditional – diamonds only became synonymous with bridal jewellery when copywriter Frances Gerety coined the phrase “A Diamond is Forever” for a 1947 De Beers campaign. Nonetheless, white diamonds remain a popular choice and numerous jewellery brands purport to offer the best of them.
For example, Graff, the king of diamonds, takes its diamond selection process extremely seriously, having spent generations perfecting the journey of a stone from mine to boutique, ensuring on the way that the cut, the setting and the craftsmanship behind each jewel are flawless. Diamonds are graded by the 4Cs, a universal standard set by the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) that refers to a diamond’s cut, colour, clarity and carat weight. At Graff, the diamonds are cut and polished to be perfect balanced with symmetrical mirror-like facets to display the optimum scintillation; you’ll also find that in terms of colour, Graff only uses diamonds ranging between D and G – the rarest and most sought-after grades.
At Hearts on Fire, cut is the most important of the 4Cs. A round, brilliant-cut diamond is arguably the most sparkling and radiant, as it displays the highest number of facets within to reflect light, and this is also the cut that Hearts on Fire exclusively specialises in.
Trend 2: Going for Fancy Shapes
Today, however, there’s definitely a rise in popularity for fancy shapes. Clients who go to Angie Marei in New York, aren’t looking for round brilliant-cut diamonds.. The Dominican-Egyptian designer takes inspiration from Ancient Egyptian decorative arts, architecture and the anti-traditional elegance of the Art Deco era to bring each piece a unique story. Her Ayla Bridal Collection for example, is inspired by the majestic open curves and fluidity of Arabic calligraphy and decorative arts, with a serpentine design that’s a spiritual symbol of rebirth, transformation, eternity and immortality.
“Most of my clients are requesting unique cuts over the traditional round brilliant cuts,” Marei tells us. “For example, our Ayla Engagement Ring featuring a marquise-cut diamond is in high demand now. They love the ultra-feminine look of the marquise shape. We’re also getting a lot of requests for pear and oval-cut diamonds.”
Similarly, De Beers has noticed the trend for fancy cuts, and has extended its offering of fancy-cut and fancy-colour solitaire diamond rings this year, offering its clients full control of their individual expressions. Marquise-cut, a modification of the round brilliant that maximises carat weight and gives the illusion of longer and slimmer fingers, dates back to the 1700s. According to legend, Louise XV of France requested a diamond cut to resemble the perfectly-shaped mouth of his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour.
Heart-shaped diamonds are also making a comeback among hopeless romantics. Their popularity dates back to the 16th century, when Mary Queen of Scots gave Queen Elizabeth a heart-shaped diamond ring as a gift of friendship.
Trend 3: Design-Forward
London-based designer Liv Luttrell, who excels in creating bespoke engagement rings for her clients, says she’s “found a real interest in dramatic design-led pieces.
“I’ve been exploring geometric shapes paired with detailed settings and simple curving architectural-inspired lines,” says Luttrell. “The challenge I relish is to take a bold brief and bring it to life, where the final design has the right balance of quality, uniqueness and timeless elegance that will be wearable for a lifetime.”
Intricate design is on the mind of Harry Winston’s designers, too. Inspired by the intricate details and elements of a bespoke wedding gown, the house has applied the same mindset and artistry to its new Bridal Couture collection of rings. Each ring highlights the various diamond cuts with signature elements that recall the wedding-day ensemble – such as the corset lacing of a couture gown, married with a pear-shaped diamond centre stone, or an emerald-cut diamond contrasting with the delicate open-weave fabric of Chantilly lace. For a more avant-garde take on an engagement ring, there’s also an exquisite ring designed with two marquise-shaped diamonds of approximately the same carat weight, resting asymmetrically side-by-side on a diamond and platinum band.
Trend 4: Attention to the Ring Band
Jewellery designer Rachel Boston has noticed a trend for more unusual band styles. “At the moment, we’re seeing a lot of interest in more unusual band styles, with people leaning towards wider statement bands,” she says.
“A chunky band is a perfect way to turn something that would otherwise be a much more classic-looking engagement ring into a piece with a really unique character,” says Boston. “Split bands are a popular choice as well, and much easier to wear and pair with a wedding band than you’d think. We’re also seeing a draw towards intricate, Art-Deco inspired halos.”
For popular British fine-jewellery brand Annoushka, which introduced its first bridal collection this year, it’s all about the ring jacket. Called Love & Commitment, the collection ranges from simple solitaires and delicate three-stone designs to more extravagant fine stone rings. What’s super interesting is the diamond ring jacket that clients can pair with an engagement ring. Available in yellow or white gold, the interchangeable ring jacket slides snugly around the solitaire ring for extra oomph and pizzaz. The ring jacket functions perfectly as a wedding band, or could even be added as a milestone gift in years to come.
Trend 5: Making a Statement with Colour
Every couple is different, and every proposal is unique. There’s definitely a growing number of people looking for something different – and coloured stones have never been more popular. According to London-based jeweller Michelle Oh, “We’re seeing a huge and growing demand for coloured stones to be used in engagement rings these days. Gone are the days when someone just wants a round brilliant-cut white diamond solitaire for an engagement ring.”
People today are looking for uniqueness. “More and more people try to be different and steer away from silhouettes and shapes that feel too commonplace,” says Oh. “I think this is all part of the zeitgeist of wanting to express individuality and uniqueness.”
Colour is an extremely personal way to display this sense of individuality, she adds. “Even those who still want some diamonds on their ring will opt for less traditional-looking diamonds, such as champagne or grey diamonds, or maybe an unusual cut or shape, to get that different look in their diamond ring.”