While there are certainly still classicists among us, an increasing number of men and women are turning to unconventional engagement rings.
We’ve seen a sharp rise in contemporary styles over the past few years, with more jewellery designers choosing to play with elements such as colour, stone and form. Here are some of the best we haven’t shown you yet.
Unlike other designers on this list, Melbourne’s Tessa Blazey actually does specialise in engagement rings. Reworking gothic elements into contemporary shapes, Tessa Blazey adds a signature undone-ness to each handcrafted piece. Stones are rough-cut, bands are uneven and fingerprints can be seen across the metals. Her designs are also highly sculptural; stones are often in claw settings that resemble the talons of birds of prey. It’s this balance of dark and light that makes Blazey’s work intriguing and beautiful.
Seb Brown has a reputation for his unusual approach to jewellery design. Each of his pieces is a one-off that explores texture, weight and imperfection as a personal rebellion against fast fashion. Brown’s website reveals a portfolio of past engagement designs, each made to reflect the personality of the wearer. Custom orders are welcome and available through consultation with Brown directly.
Katherine Bowman’s work is heavily influenced by her double major in Fine Art History, which she studied at Melbourne University. In each of her designs she considers how we imbue an object with meaning. Fine-art references are evident throughout her work; she uses maximalist, architectural and sculptural shapes. Unsurprisingly, then, the beauty of these rings lies in the settinging rather than in the stones.
Holly Ryan is better known for her Squiggle and Wavee pieces; two styles that play with size, line and weight. But the Brisbane-based designer is also a surprising contender for engagement-ring making. Her pieces are understated and suited to minimalists. She designs with restraint, working via a subtractive creative process to remove non-essentials from each design. The result is timeless jewellery, set apart from tradition.
Melbourne-based designer Welfe Bowyer plays with texture as much as scale. His pieces exhibit a largesse that is somehow restrained by the medium of jewellery; his rings look as though they should be bigger than they are. It’s no surprise then that Bowyer draws inspiration from those who work on a larger scale – sculptors Richard Serra and Joseph Beuys; artist Anselm Kiefer; and architects Carlo Scarpa and Gordon Matta-Clark. Clients are invited to join Welfe in choosing local materials for their designs.
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Lucy Folk. Though few people know the designer (who is based in Sydney but from Melbourne), also makes bespoke jewellery, including engagement rings. Folk’s pieces have always celebrated life’s greatest joys: food, art, travel and design, and always go against the grain. Engagement rings are new to her portfolio. For her custom work Folk team with clients to create symbolic pieces with personal meaning. The final results seamlessly balance timelessness and playfulness. You can view a selection of her bespoke works and make an enquiry here.
Teeps the Jeweller
Tim Parker’s Adelaide label is named “Teeps” after his nickname. With a background in architecture, the jeweller is influenced by geometry, furniture design, the Art Deco period, mid-century modernism and traditional Japanese art. It sounds a lot, but Teeps takes a restrained approach to design. His work is clean yet interesting; it exhibits attention to detail. He also offers more classic styles and works with clients to find the right balance.
Pieces by Ahhness – by Melbourne jeweller and artist Natalia Milosz-Piekarska – combine art and storytelling. The designer believes an engagement ring tells the singular story of a couple. For each of her commissioned pieces, Milosz-Piekarska carefully selects materials for their quality, colour, durability and compatibility to each client. Her work draws on elements of vintage jewellery, contemporised by soft lines and hand-finished surfaces that add a more gentle touch.
Karla Way plays with texture and form to craft pieces that look as though they’ve been plucked straight from the earth. Stones are set deeply in rough metals and organic shapes, with much of her asymmetrical work featuring more than one precious stone. The intention is to explore the intersection of nature and material culture. A selection of work is available to peruse on Way’s website, though there’s more to explore via her stockist, Pieces of Eight. Custom orders should be sent to Way direct.
Ben Manning is taking a decidedly different approach to jewellery craftsmanship. He’s the brains behind Utopian Creations, a South Australian fine jeweller with an ethical and sustainable focus. Manning sources largely unconventional materials for his work, sometimes including prehistoric and materials from outer-space. All are investigated to ensure they have an ethical trail, a rarity in jewellery making. Utopian Creations primarily specialises in bespoke creations, with attention to detail a priority.