Trends That Ring True

Hot off the presses for Spring 2016, the Knot, online engagement and wedding platform, hails top ring designs that are turning heads including floral accents, color gems, square bands, mixed metal halos, Art Deco designs, elaborate sides, meaningful details, three stone, fancy shapes, rose gold, and stacked bands.

According to the Knot’s 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study released in December, engagement ring spend is on the rise (an average of $5,978, up from $5,403 in 2013, and $5,095 in 2011). It hails men putting more energy into buying the perfect ring and creating a memorable proposal. Moreover, brides are playing a greater role in their engagement, with 67% researching what they want, and dropping hints to their husband-to-be.

The trendiest engagement ring setting remains the halo, which tripled from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015. While most brides received white diamonds (84%), 8% opted for color stones, up from 6% in 2013. Although nearly half favor a round diamond cut, close to 30% like princess and cushion, and a third said they’d prefer different shapes. Also revealing, 45% opted to customize their ring in some way. Additionally, wedding band spend is up, for women and men. Couples spend an average of $1,417 on her band (up from $1,126 in 2011) and $558 on his (up from $491 in 2011). He wants comfort; she wants diamonds!

Top Trends for 2016
Designer Phyllis Bergman with Mercury Rings, division of Interjewel Group, New York, in her top bridal picks for 2016 captured what many manufacturers report, including continued demand for halos (large and different), two stone, two tone, unique solitaires, multi-row inserts, stackable rings, and affordable platinum.

Hail the Halo
As much as retailers wish the halo would go away, it’s sells. “Most retailers want to move away from halos, but they’re selling like crazy,” reports Grant Mobley, vice president of Simply Diamonds/Jewelmark, New York.

The halo offers a great value proposition and consumers love the look, cites Jeffrey Cohen, vice-president of sales for KGS Jewels, New York. “It brings to any design all that white, bright brilliance.” He notes the cluster business (multi-stone settings) is also strong.

The challenge in wedding jewelry is there’s so much similarity, jewelers are looking for ways to differentiate. “Trends like the halo challenge manufacturers to be creative to stay fresh,” tells Kevin Reilly, vice president for Platinum Guild International USA. He cites large halos, double halos, swirling metal halos, and halos of different gem shapes and colors, with added diamonds on the shank.

Two Stone Rocks
Two stone has created an excitement in the industry that has not been seen for some time. “The fact that major manufacturers and retailers teamed up for the marketing campaign is significant,” says Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. “The advertising in the marketplace has developed the idea that in the two-stone product, one diamond symbolizes love and the other friendship should benefit everyone.” Simple and sincere, the message resonates with engaged couples.

Moreover, three stone rings are making a comeback, offering a bigger diamond look across the finger, cites Katherine Rosenberg-Pineau, vice president of creative for Leo Schachter Diamonds.

In the Details
In fact, demand is diminishing for the traditional solitaire, says Rosenberg-Pineau. “Millennial bridal customers are looking for more than just a center centric solitaire. They’re looking for a ring with design and uniqueness. It’s not just about the diamond anymore.” She says consumers want detail, whether it be in the under gallery or shank, an element of design is being carried throughout. “Cuffs and bows are details that add dimension and design to a basic shank. Filigree detail on the front of a ring gives it an overall sculpted look.

Engagement ring mounting styles that feature adornments with pave stones or textured accents continue to garner attention. Laura Rubin, vice president merchandising/product development for KP Sanghvi, New York sees resurgence in non-framed engagement rings, classic styling with gallery view details. We also see interest in engagement rings with color accents, even if hidden.” Color has infiltrated the category not only in greater use of gems for center, side and accent stones, but also in metals, notably rose with white gold.

Flight of Fancy
Demand is on the rise for fancy shaped gems. “Not just princess and cushions, but also emerald, pear and marquises,” hails Rosenberg-Pineau. “We’re infusing a few new designs with a focus on fancies in our LVE Bridal collection. We’ve seen a lot of success with princess and cushion and look to add more shapes.”

Reilly notes that celebrity buzz doesn’t hurt, as everyone is talking about Lady Gaga’s heart-shaped diamond platinum ring by Lorraine Schwartz, with special message from fiancé Taylor Kinney on the back of the diamond band spelling out I heart S (for her birth name Stefani).

Strike Up the Band

There’s a strong trend for fashion bridal, specifically the multi-row, stacked look interpreted in different ways, cites Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development for Tache USA, New York. “We’re doing very well with multi-row, micro-pave bridals, especially twisty and crossover looks with fashion flare. The creative buyer stacks rings to dress up her solitaire. Add ons with each anniversary keeps customers coming back.” She notes that insert rings are also big—an obvious choice for achieving a contemporary multi-row fashion look. Rubin reports metal mixing in stackable bands, especially tiny, delicate styles.

Couples are no longer selecting matching bands, says Colaizzi, but notes inside ring personalization is widely popular.

Pushing Platinum
Reilly advocates jewelers take advantage of this unprecedented time to buy platinum at historic low prices. At press time in late January, prices were around $818 an ounce for platinum compared to $1,095 for gold. “The jewelry industry has the chance to buy and sell platinum like never before, to offer customers a product that is more durable and in a natural white color metal.