By: Shannon McCarthy
Engagement rings are more trend-proof than other types of jewelry, but that doesn’t mean styles stay static. Choices in these sentimental stunners have lately expanded to include dazzling color, tributes to the past and even a bit of social conscience. Read on for the latest and loveliest in betrothal baubles.
The halo is heavenly and there’s more than one reason why. First off, this style skews a little vintage, which has been a popular engagement ring trend for a few years now. Plus, Natalie Portman sports a double-halo ring, so there’s some celeb buzz for the shape. The unbroken circle also symbolizes the unity of the happy couple, and, on a more practical level, those framing stones make the center solitaire appear larger, which is never a bad thing. (That main stone need not be a diamond – Kate Middleton’s engagement ring is a modified halo with a big blue sapphire taking center stage.) You’ll usually find this setting paired with relatively slender bands typically embedded with pavé stones or rich milgrain work. The most of-the-moment variation uses colored stones as the halo while the center stone shines clear.
Colored Stones and Metals
There’s no question that the past decade’s favorite engagement ring pick was forged from white gold or platinum and set with a white diamond. Every good trend must come to an end, and we’re now seeing more ring choices glowing with color. The priciest are colored diamonds in yellow, pink, blue, chocolate and even edgy black. The next tier offers other precious and durable stones like rubies, emeralds, tanzanites and sapphires of all hues. Much more affordable, but just as eye-catchingly colorful, are the semi-precious picks in citrine, blue topaz, garnet and peridot. Don’t forget the metal – yellow gold is making a serious comeback (with a special subset of yellow diamonds set in yellow gold bands), and rose gold is truly the tint du jour. For those that can’t decide, have it all with a two-tone engagement ring in white and yellow.
Antique and Vintage Style
Everything old is new again, as the appetite for engagement rings that reflect the past shows no signs of diminishing. Think: the ornate detailing of Victorian and Edwardian jewelry, Art Nouveau’s free-form curves or the glamorous architectural lines of Art Deco design. Engagement rings echoing these eras are heavy on embellishment, with intricate metalwork creating mesmerizing bands and settings, and milgrain and filigree accents adding a sense of substance. There’s also frequent use of pavéd and micropavéd stones, which increases the dazzle factor, even on rings in which the center stone is of a more affordable, smaller-carat weight. Floral and nature-inspired designs offer curvilinear charm and leaf motifs, while the more geometrically clean choice of a three-stone ring both harkens back to the Victorian era and symbolizes a couple’s past, present and future.
Twisted Bands and Intricate Settings
A dazzling solitaire stone is usually the focus of an engagement ring, and while we know that this center rock is going to continue being the star, there’s something truly exciting going on with the newest bands and settings. Twirled, twisted and trellised, these intricate ring designs mesmerize us with movement and playful asymmetry. Of course, carved metal is part of the show, and sometimes pavé-set stones sparkle and play across all those curves. Braids and basket-weaves offer a sculptural look, and high-profile settings reveal more metalwork and highlight the solitaire. Split shanks look modern, as do bypass rings, especially if they use a tension setting to hold the main stone. Two-tone rings sometimes swirl one arm of color over another in a contrasting hue for the best of both whirls.
Conflict-Free Diamonds and Recycled Gold
This is one engagement ring trend that isn’t about looks – it’s what’s inside that counts. For those trying to avoid the “blood diamond” trade (stones that are sold to fund insurgencies or warlords), a gem market has opened up, backed by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which ensures your diamond is conflict-free. To take it in the “green” direction, select rings forged from recycled gold, platinum or silver. These are perfect for the couple dreaming of an eco-wedding and can sometimes be purchased with matching wedding bands. Estate rings are another possibility when both a yearning to be ecologically responsible and a true vintage look is desired, as they’re authentically reused, as opposed to the “mint vintage” reproductions on the market.