Diamonds have certainly been a bride's best friend since the first diamond engagement ring was supposedly given to Mary of Burgundy by her beloved Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477 — though engagement rings go back centuries to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. And while today's couples still follow the diamond tradition started by that engagement, some unique new trends are on the rise for 2012.
According to Douglas Kazanjian, CEO of Kazanjian Bros. in Beverly Hills, owners of the rare 5-carat red diamond on display at the L.A. Natural History Museum, “prior to the last 100 years, engagement rings came in all types of stones.” White diamonds are still the most popular, he said, though some other stones are becoming fashionable.
If you’re not sure what your something blue will be on your wedding day, consider a sapphire engagement ring. “Sapphire engagement rings have been gaining popularity for years,” Kazanjian said, “but when Kate Middleton was given Princess Diana’s sapphire ring, the trend really took off.” Kazanjian said that sapphires are a great alternative to diamonds because they’re so wearable. “You can wear sapphire blue every day,” he said, “and you won’t have to worry about it clashing with what you’re wearing.”
But sapphires aren’t the only stone to recently come into fashion. “We are seeing a great response to yellow diamonds,” said Michael Howard, group director of Tiffany & Co. in Beverly Hills. When someone is looking for something different, he said, it’s a beautiful choice. “There is a warmth to a yellow diamond,” he said. “When a woman puts it on her finger, she smiles.”
Though sapphires and yellow diamonds are getting a lot of play, diamond solitaire engagement rings are still the favorite. The Tiffany Setting, a round brilliant diamond in a six-prong setting created in 1886, is timeless, Howard said.
Setting and Style
The style, shape and setting of an engagement ring are a matter of taste, so it’s always a good idea to get the bride’s input. After all, she’ll be wearing it every day for the rest of her life. “The first thing we do is talk to a customer to narrow the bride’s taste down,” Howard said. Does she like streamlined and classic? Ornate? “When we know a bit more about her, we can point the customer in the right direction,” he said.
According to Stone, the cut of the diamond is absolutely crucial.
Round brilliants, so named because this cut is the most brilliant and reflective of all shapes, are classic. But what other cuts will we be seeing in 2012?
There has been a greater appreciation of antique cushion cuts lately, a style that was developed over 100 years ago when diamonds were cut under candlelight conditions,” Kazanjian said. “Because of the way they’re cut, the antique cushion cut has bigger facets,” he explained, “and return bigger flashes of light in soft lighting.”
“Many people are interested in the cushion cut, which hasn’t been available for a long time,” Stone said. He described the cut as “neither square nor round, but something in between, which has a beautiful silhouette and a great amount of light return.”
Vintage designs like the Tiffany Legacy, a cushion-cut center stone encrusted with bead-set diamonds that captures the opulence of the Edwardian period, will also remain popular. “The antique styles speak to the true romantic,” Howard said. The people who fall in love with this design are often captivated by a more romantic era gone by.
The princess cut isn’t as popular as it once was, Stone said, but it still speaks to some women. “Specific cuts such as the emerald cut and pear-shaped diamond are for those seeking something a bit different, and it’s definitely a matter of taste,” he said. With an emerald cut, you get broad sheets of light coming up as opposed to brilliant fire you get from a round brilliant diamond. “An emerald cut is almost like a pool in that it draws you in,” he said.
For most brides, it doesn’t matter what the latest trend is when it comes to an engagement ring. She wants something that she loves; something that speaks to her. “Just like the person you fall in love with,” Kazanjian said. “When you see it, you’ll know it.”
Jennifer Evans Gardner