It's no secret diamonds are the most popular choice when it comes to engagement rings. Or, more specifically, a solitaire-diamond claw set in a white-gold or platinum band, give or take a few variations. There’s good reason for this; diamonds are the hardest stone and therefore durable enough for everyday wear, while the setting is classic and often immune to trends. But the classic ring does have its drawbacks; expense is an obvious one, as is a lack of individuality. Modern, non-traditional engagement rings can reflect personality and taste better than a traditional one-type-suits-all approach, and they’re becoming more and more popular. Here are a few suggestions for those who want something outside the box – the choice is really only limited by your own imagination.
Signet rings are one of the most enduring styles of jewellery; they’ve maintained their allure and popularity since ancient times. Their particular shape, with a wider flat surface, traditionally held an intaglio (carved relief into stone) or an engraved family crest. The appeal of this different style worn on your pinkie means you can personalise it with yours and your partner’s initials, and have various gemstones set into them.
Traditionally, the most sought-after diamonds are those with the highest clarity and the fewest inclusions or irregularities. The most popular and therefore priciest clarity grade is “internally flawless”, meaning there are no visible flaws in or on the surface of the stone. Steadily gaining in popularity are the so-called “salt-and-pepper” diamonds. These particular stones embrace the natural inclusions within them and, in fact, make them a feature of them. Naturally formed, each stone is unique looking and has its own pattern of inclusions. These diamonds also have the added benefit of being much less expensive than their high-clarity counterparts. Tick.
Vintage and antique
While it's true that some people prefer a brand-new or bespoke engagement ring, there is also something to be said for the sense of history and unique patina of vintage or antique rings. It's similar to some people preferring new and modern architecture, and others loving the character and charm of an old house. Personal tastes aside, unless the antique or vintage piece is from a particularly coveted estate (for example, the collection of a well-known person or celebrity) – which would mean paying a premium due to the provenance – there is definitely more value for money in second-hand jewellery compared with the newly produced.
The variety is endless, so it’s worth narrowing down your search to certain design periods that speak to your aesthetic (for example, Art Deco or Art Nouveau) and certain stones you like best to make the choice a little less overwhelming. Diamond-cutting techniques and jewellery manufacturing have also advanced, so it may be useful to educate yourself on the characteristics of so-called “old mine cut” diamonds (shaped into a high crown) versus the modern, brilliant cuts (a diamond or gemstone cut with various facets so that it really sparkles) we see these days. As always, ensure you buy from a reputable antique dealer and do your homework.
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