It’s estimated that nearly 40% of engagements in the US happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.
Thinking about popping the question? Hailey Bieber said ‘Yes’ to an oval-shaped diamond set on a gold band.
Julez Bryant Director of Brand Development, Wade Clar, and Gemological Science International (GSI) President and Co-Founder Debbie Azar, reveal the latest trends in rings, including the rise of women buying their own!
Times Have Changed
Tradition has long dictated that a man is supposed to choose an engagement ring for his girlfriend before getting down on one knee and popping the question. These days, however, the element of surprise isn’t as appealing to women who know what they want.
Regardless of how much you trust his decision-making skills, Wade encourages all women to talk to their partners openly about what they like and to get involved.
“Couples are enjoying the engagement ring process,” he said. “They’re excited to work directly with designers and push the boundaries of societal norms. As an ultimate symbol of love, work with your partner to curate a ring that will be treasured and tell the amazing story.”
Wade also revealed that some women aren’t opposed to purchasing their own bling.
According to a recent study by De Beers, women are increasingly buying engagement rings for themselves, and spend more on them than their partners do.
“We, at GSI, are still seeing a majority of diamonds coming through our laboratory going towards diamond engagement and bridal rings, but we’re also noticing that millennials are purchasing more than just those pieces,” said Debbie.
And millennials now make up about 41% of all diamond purchases, according to a report by De Beers. “Because of increased social mobility, women are becoming self-purchasers buying their own engagement rings and statement pieces like necklaces or earrings and men are now buying earrings and rings for themselves.”
Taste the Rainbow
“Colored gemstones are having a moment,” revealed Wade.
“Pick a stone that speaks to you. Pinks, reds, and blues are sophisticated, and couples are entertaining the idea of sapphire, ruby, morganite, and spinel, among others.”
Heidi Klum, Eva Longoria, and Katy Perry all have engagement rings without traditional clear diamonds. Heidi Klum’s now-husband, guitarist Tom Kaulitz, asked the supermodel to be his wife with a green gemstone surrounded by a halo and accented by two cushion-cut diamonds.
Arguably one of the most famous colorful engagement rings of all time is the one on Kate Middleton’s finger.
William gave the Duchess of Cambridge the same 12-carat sapphire his mother Princess Diana wore when she married Prince Charles.
“Women across the world are spreading their wings when it comes to the type of stone they’re wearing as a sign of commitment,” shared Wade.
“Fancy light brown diamonds and salt-and-pepper diamonds are also trending,” he added.
A Cut Above the Rest
Diamonds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The cut of the diamond affects the way light is reflected off of it, determining the look and sparkle. While round brilliant cut diamonds are the most common, rose cuts are in demand, according to Wade. The cut gets its name for its resemblance to a rosebud.
“Storied, old mine cut diamonds (dates back to the Victorian era, similar to a cushion cut) are also well-liked. Last year I had a client request an octahedral diamond wedding ring in rose gold paired with a Russian rough diamond as the wedding band. This was a designer’s dream,” said designer Julez Bryant.
Metal is a Personal Choice
Platinum is the most popular metal choice for engagement rings due to its hardness and naturally white sheen that will never fade or change. But according to the experts, the metal should complement the stone.
While Jennifer Lopez’s rock from fiancé Alex Rodriguez is a 15-carat emerald-cut, colorless diamond, fancy light brown diamonds and salt-and-pepper diamonds are trending, according to Wade.
“With a 1-carat salt-and-pepper fancy shape (any shape that’s not round) diamond, go for rose gold,” said Wade. “Yellow gold works perfectly with a variety of materials depending on your style. I recently sold a 1.20-carat light fancy yellow-brown oval diamond set in 14k yellow gold; the yellow gold made the diamond pop. If you are a girl who wants a clean white (1.5-carat or less) diamond, opt for white gold or platinum.”
Salt & Pepper Ring by T Kahres Jewelry, $2,870.
Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds
“I’m a naturalist, I love rocks that come from the earth,” Wade said. “It makes me feel alive and like I’m personally discovering the earth’s ability to create special moments, like a surfer catching a wave. I’m getting men requesting diamonds with character and they are excited about celebrating the imperfections of the earth.”
While wholesale diamond dealers are confident in the demand for natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are gaining popularity. Natural diamonds are made of pure carbon below the earth’s surface. They are the hardest natural mineral on earth.
Lab-grown diamonds are the result of an industrial process as opposed to a geological process, but they are made of the same composition. They are real diamonds, they are not Cubic Zirconia.
The benefits of lab-grown diamonds range from affordability to transparency in the supply chain.
Previously published in The Daily Mail
Debbie Azar is an experienced executive with extensive knowledge of the jewelry and gem lab industries. Her entrepreneurial skills and clarity of vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide.
She began her industry career by starting her own successful costume jewelry business. She then expanded her knowledge of the industry with sales, marketing and business development roles at several companies. In 2005, she joined Mark Gershburg to establish GSI. Ms. Azar is an active member of myriad industry organizations and charities; she currently serves as a Board Member of Jewelers for Children. She is also a Forbes Business Council member.
Her strengths include working directly with retail chains and stores to help build their business and brands. She is widely known in the industry for her commitment to meeting customer needs.