One of the most popular engagement ring trends that has taken off over the last two years is proposing with a ring that is set with a gemstone other than a diamond. This trend really took off after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother's stunning 18 carat sapphire ring surrounded by 14 diamonds. When Princess Diana chose this ring as her engagement ring in 1981, her choice of a sapphire was widely criticized by traditionalists who believed she should have chosen a more expensive diamond ring rather than a sapphire ring. Nevertheless, the Princess was in love with the ring, and actually is credited with breaking the standard mold of solitaire diamonds set in yellow gold that were popular during her era. It was only appropriate that Prince William proposed to his long-time girlfriend with a ring that carried with it so much sentimental value. When the public got a view of the ring on Kate's finger, the response was far more positive than it was when Princess Diana debuted the same ring. Since April 2011, the month of the royal wedding, sales of non-diamond engagement rings have increased.
I personally love this trend. The most popular stones requested by customers are emeralds and sapphires. Some couples choose a stone that represents the woman's birthstone, and others choose to create a ring that includes the birthstones of both partners. One couple I designed a ring for recently even included the birthstone of their child in their engagement rings. Using different stones in an engagement setting is also a conversation starter. It is different, non-traditional, and the end result is brilliant and stunning.
Some men who would like to purchase a large diamond, but are unable to afford it, have been choosing to purchase a larger sized stone other than a diamond instead of breaking the bank. Some women simply like stones other than diamonds. I have met many such women in my store. I recently had a couple in my store looking to buy an anniversary band. They had a very large budget to work with, and while the husband was had his eye on a large diamond eternity band, his wife was more interested in a sapphire or ruby anniversary ring. The husband was happy to buy his wife the diamond and sapphire ring she wanted, but was surprised she hadn't wanted the more flashy diamond. Considering a colored gemstone is about more than just saving money. It opens up whole new possibilities, colors, and styles that just aren't possible with diamonds.
Here are some of the most popular stones for engagement rings and other jewelery:
- Topaz is a stone many couples express an interest in using for an engagement ring. Topaz is a beautiful stone and can range in color from yellow to orange to blue. Blue Topaz is generally one of the most requested stones, and is also the most affordable. The more expensive Imperial Topaz is a yellow-orange color, but is significantly more expensive. The majority of blue Topaz stones are treated in a laboratory to make the color more vibrant, but such stones will be clearly marked as such, and it isn't considered a bad thing.
- Emeralds are one of my favorite stones. Emeralds are always popular, and to me they have always represented class and style. Emeralds are one of the most rare stones, and therefore are pricier than some other choices. Color is very important when choosing an emerald. It is normal for an emerald to contain inclusions, but they are usually oiled to enhance the look. Emeralds are durable stones, but don't approach the hardness of diamonds, so care must be taken when they are set or worked on. It is recommended that you bring your emerald ring back to us every several years to have it re-oiled. This will help to maintain the beauty of the stone. In my opinion, emeralds look best when they are presented in a - surprise - emerald cut. This cut was actually specially designed to show off the unique color and glamour of emerald gemstones.
- Amethysts are quickly becoming a popularly desired stone for engagement rings. Amethysts are purple in color, which is the main appeal of using an amethyst for many women. A high quality Amethyst should be deep purple in color and give off flashes of pink or rose. Amethyst stones are especially stunning in bright, natural light. The stone should be transparent, and, unlike emeralds, should be free of visible inclusions. Amethysts are a stronger and more durable stone than many others discussed. However, amethysts do tend to be more sensitive to chlorine and salt water, so care should be taken to keep them out of either. In addition, if an amethyst is exposed to bright sunlight for a long time, it may loose some of its color. In normal wear, you should be okay, but you should be careful not to leave them out in the sunlight for extended periods (much more than a couple of day, or even weeks). Amethysts look pretty in engagement rings in a variety of shapes. One of my favorites is a heart shaped amethyst set in platinum with small diamond accents. This is an excellent option for women with small hands.
- Sapphire engagement or wedding bands have long been used, but obviously increased in popularity following the aforementioned Royal Wedding. Sapphires actually come in a wide variety of colors, though blue sapphires are the most popular. The ideal sapphire is a rich blue color and has no visible inclusions. Very dark or very light sapphires are generally lower in value. One of the nice things about sapphires is that they look elegant in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular cuts for sapphires are round, oval, and emerald.
- Rubies are the most dramatic looking gemstones in my opinion. Rubies are eye catching, and look good in almost any setting. They are also durable and require few precautions as compared to some of the other stones discussed above. Rubies are shortly behind diamonds in the list of hardest stones. The most high quality rubies are generally referred to as 'pigeon's blood' in color, and usually have a hint of blue flashes. Inclusions are more acceptable and common in rubies than some of the other popular gemstones. Round cut rubies are very popular, as are oval and pear cuts.
The above list should in no way be considered comprehensive. Unlike decades past, there are no real rules for engagement rings. In fact, colored gemstones are now being used in all sorts of jewelry for both men and women.
I'm really excited about this trend, but I want to hear your thoughts and opinions. Do you like non-diamond engagement rings, or do you feel that diamonds are still the way to go? I love hearing my readers' opinions, so let me know what you think in the comments section. If you have any questions about designing a beautiful and unique ring of any type for your upcoming engagement or wedding, please call me at 312-920-0075.