Ringing Choice

“Couples have been spending more on their rings, which will last a lifetime, and less on the dress and event, which might only be seen on Zoom.”

The bridal category reflects demand from Millennial couples for choice as they seek rings unique to their personal style. In an October trends report, The Knot, online wedding planning hub, touted a range of designs trending, including fashion-forward two-stone rings, vintage-inspired designs, and colorful gems.

Couples this year are paying more attention to their rings, says Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development for Original Design Inc. (ODI). “In the past few months, we’ve been filling a lot more orders for larger diamond centers and total weights, higher quality bridals and bands, and more platinum. Couples have been spending more on their rings, which will last a lifetime, and less on the dress and event, which might only be seen on Zoom.”

The mega trend in bridal is personalization, Fletcher underscores. “We’ve done so many custom bridals lately where the couple is adding their initials or last name into the design, as part of the filigree design, or even in diamonds on the sides. One couple had religious symbols worked into the gallery under the halo.”

In the Details
Couples are personalizing their rings in a variety of ways. The Knot reports vintage inspired designs popular, particularly looks with Victorian or Art Deco flair, featuring intricate details like milgrain, filigree and unique halos.

“With 2020 being such a big ball of the unknown, it seems as though the angle of 2020 has awakened the gentle, somber side of us,” reflects Darshna Rana, senior marketing manager of A.Jaffe, New York. “We’re seeing a spike in delicate designs with understated details.”

Namie concurs, describing romantic, organic designs among the favorites at Ostbye. Although white gold remains the favorite in these nature-inspired styles, couples often choose rose gold for its vintage appeal.

The hidden halo, Rana also touts, is especially popular with brides this year. “These unique designs feature a center that is the star of the show, however a halo set below it adds a touch class and sophistication to a classic design.”

Two & Three Stone
Two and three stone engagement rings offer traditional settings with a modern edge, touts The Knot, noting that it’s easy to put a custom twist on these settings by mixing up the combination of stone shapes and colors. A two-stone engagement ring, also called Toi et Moi rings (French for you and me), with two gems sitting close to each other, symbolizes two souls becoming one. While a three-stone engagement ring, aka trilogy setting historically represents friendship, love and fidelity, or, a couple’s past, present and future.

“These styles reflect longevity, tradition and meaning which we are all looking for in our very different world today,” describes Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for Ostbye, Minneapolis, Minnesota. “We need something to ground us and tradition gives us that sense of security. Three stone rings tell a story; your own story, be it Past Present, Future; You, Me, Us; Mind, Body, Spirit.”

Fancy Shapes
Brides are also customizing rings with fancy-shaped diamonds, reports Rana, who has seen an increase in sales of oval-cut diamond centers at A.Jaffe. “It’s not an easy cut to manufacture. Brides are loving the coverage you get with even the smaller carats.”

Fletcher notes that while rounds and ovals have been ODI’s best performers, its special order department has been overwhelmed with requests to change the center to a pear, with the majority of orders set in platinum. “With the rising price of gold, the retail price gap between 14K and platinum is decreasing,” she says, “giving consumers more options in their price range.”

In fact, Rana reports a huge spike in sales at A.Jaffe for diamond eternity bands set with fancy shapes, bridal and self-purchase.

Gem Alternatives
Couples are also customizing rings with a variety of gemstones. “Color is a great way to express your personality,” Namie cheers, citing birthstones a meaningful way for couples to personalize a design. “Many couples are choosing to set a gemstone instead of a diamond in their engagement rings. The Knot hails “Something Blue” most popular with brides, from blue sapphire to aquamarine.

Underscoring the diversity of material brides are considering, Dana Cali of Mastoloni Pearls, New York reports sales of pearl engagement rings are rising. “Now that buying an engagement ring is most often something the couple does together, we’re seeing more couples exploring pearl as an alternative to diamond, whether it be for value or just to make it more personalized.”

Moreover, lab-grown diamonds continue to capture the attention of Millennial couples as a choice to mined diamonds. Karen Crowe, marketing/merchandising for Quality Gold reports that lab-grown diamonds continue to trend in bridal designs for the Fairfield, Ohio-based jewelry manufacturer. She cited halo styles with pavé sides and matching pavé bands most popular in bridal sets.  Crowe notes that all its bridal is customizable.

“People are purchasing completed finished bridal styles made with lab-grown diamonds. And, retailers are also purchasing a considerable number of loose lab grown diamonds to use in their own custom designs,” reports Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold. Demand is high. Retailers would not be purchasing lab-grown stones for jewelry featuring these diamonds if consumers were not asking for it.”

Statement Bands
The Knot also predicts that standalone wedding bands will be hot in 2021, citing their cool unisex vibe, typically more affordable than bridal sets, and in our COVID times easier to sanitize. Among the standouts — bolder bands, diamond encrusted bands, and sparkly eternity rings.

Fletcher and Namie also report that inserts and ring enhancers are popular wedding bands. Fletcher sees styles like chevrons, contours and tiaras trending, but not so much the stacking trend. “Maybe people would rather invest in one important piece right now,” she says, “with the economy being so unpredictable.”

Namie notes that ring enhancers can elevate a solitaire or personalize any sing style without having to reset the diamond. “They are very popular and flying off the shelves. For the couple using the solitaire to keep it simple for the engagement, enhancers provide the opportunity to create a unique ring.”

Couples have exciting choices before them today, not only for brides but grooms as well. Some great examples of the diversity that exists, particularly in bands with unique finishes and patterns, are in the latest collections by Benchmark. Ammara Stone fuses gold and contemporary metals like Black Titanium and Tantalum; Sculpted features gold, platinum, and palladium combinations; and Forge celebrates contemporary metals from blackened Titanium to white Cobalt.