With almost half of all proposals in Ireland taking place over Christmas and New Year, the peak season for engagement ring shopping is nearly upon us.
Below are some current engagement ring trends for anyone who might be planning on popping the question over the coming months.
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Growing interest in Yellow Gold
White gold and platinum have dominated the engagement ring market for most of the last decade or so. However, in the past 18 months jewellers have noticed more couples opting for engagement rings and wedding bands in the classic 18k yellow gold.
Some attribute the shift in trends to Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, who sports a vintage-style three-stone cushion cut engagement ring in yellow gold. As well as being fit for a princess, yellow gold also requires less maintenance than white gold, as there is no need to have it re-plated.
For those fond of the vintage aesthetic, a coloured stone such as emerald or sapphire, coupled with a yellow gold band creates an eye-catching antique-inspired look.
The timeless solitaire engagement ring, which features one single diamond on the band, has never fallen out of fashion. Currently, the demand for solitaire rings is at an all time high, accounting for about 60 per cent of all engagement ring sales.
The solitaire style showcases the diamond without any distraction so the cut and setting of the stone are of utmost importance. The round brilliant cut is the most popular for solitaire engagement rings, followed by the square-shaped princess cut. Other diamond shapes that work well in a solitaire style are the unique pear cut, the vintage-style marquise cut and the oval shape.
The shoulders, or sides, of an engagement ring are a detail that is often overlooked. However, decorative shoulders with curved lines or accent diamonds can be the ideal way to make your solitaire engagement ring stand out from the crowd, without losing the beautiful simplicity that makes the design so popular.
Edgy styles bucking the trends
Jewellers are predicting a rise in edgy, modern styles for non-conformist brides who wish to buck convention. The industry has noticed a small, but growing number of enquiries about east-west settings, where the stone is set horizontally rather than vertically. Diamond shapes that lend themselves well to this particular style include the emerald, oval, marquise and radiant cut.
Non-traditional metals, such as blackened platinum are another way to push the boundaries and create a unique engagement ring. Multi-stone bands that incorporate both diamonds and coloured gemstones are eye-catching on any metal, but are particularly striking when set in a darker metal.
Ethical & sustainable diamonds
In recent months, the increase in popularity of lab-grown diamonds has been big news in the jewellery industry. Generally, diamonds that are created in a lab are 30 per cent cheaper than mined diamonds, but all are certified to the same standards. Lab-grown diamonds are also 100 per cent identical to mined diamonds in every way.
These sustainable gemstones have become hugely popular in the USA and are often referred to as ethical diamonds, as they are considered to be more environmentally friendly and socially responsible than diamonds that come from mines. The concept of lab-grown diamonds appeals to eco conscious couples, and their affordability makes them an even more attractive option.
Unique, bespoke designs
It can be difficult to find an off-the-shelf ring that ticks all of your boxes. Often there is some design element that couples wish to change, or they want to recreate the ring of their dreams from an image on Pinterest or Instagram.
Bespoke Diamonds are one of the few jewellers in Ireland that offer couples the option to design their own ring, and the service has become increasingly popular, with 80 per cent of our customers now choosing a custom made engagement ring.
While we have more than 600 rings in stock, couples like the idea of putting their own stamp on what is, after all, a very personal piece of jewellery.
Bespoke Diamonds has an in house designer, goldsmith and 3D printer, so there is no additional cost involved in creating a custom made engagement ring. All bespoke pieces are made to the bride’s exact finger size and design specifications, so the customer gets a one of a kind engagement ring for the same price as a mass-produced ring.
Men taking the lead
With regard to who ultimately chooses the engagement ring, we have found that a growing number of men are taking the lead and buying the ring without their partners. About 50 per cent of all our engagement ring sales are to men who come into the shop alone, compared to about 25 per cent a few years ago.
Bespoke Diamonds allows customers to exchange their ring if it has not been worn, so there is a security net if he gets it completely wrong! Many women give not-so-subtle hints to their partners regarding their preferences so often the men are reasonably confident that they are making the right choice.
We look at the process of choosing an engagement ring like a game of poker and play the odds. For instance, given the popularity of solitaire rings in yellow gold, a ring in this classic style would be a good contender for someone who has no idea what his partner prefers.
Keeping it in the family
Another growing trend is couples using their parents’ and grandparents’ rings. We attribute this to the fact that most people getting engaged now are of an age where their parents have better quality engagement rings than those of previous generations.
For example, couples who got engaged in the 1990s would most likely have engagement rings that are certified and in good condition, so the diamonds and metal can be reused. In contrast, engagement rings from the 1970s generally featured smaller diamonds of poorer quality.
The average person aged in their mid 20s today may have parents who own a decent diamond ring which they may inherit, so as time goes on the use of family heirlooms will increase in popularity.
With our bespoke jewellery service, it’s possible to incorporate a family heirloom into an engagement ring for the next generation by using the diamond and metal from an inherited ring to create a completely new and personalised ring.