When you’ve found that special someone and you’re ready to pop the big question, you want everything about that moment to be perfect. You’ll select a beautiful romantic setting, perhaps have a meaningful song playing in the background, and will have rehearsed your proposal over and over until you’re sure there’s no way your significant other can say anything but, “Yes!” And when that happens, you’ll pull the engagement ring from your pocket and slip it on his or her finger….and this is where you really want to shine.
Luckily, engagement rings are no longer made of braided reeds as they were in ancient Egypt, when the custom of presenting a bride with a circular ring represented a marriage for eternity. And thank goodness engagement rings have moved past the Romans’ stance that the ring was sort of a security indicating partial ownership to ensure the future marriage; if the groom broke off the engagement, the bride could sue for damages.
Engagement rings are still the outward symbol of a couple’s mutual love and a commitment to marry. Paparazzi scour the left hands of celebrities to determine the status of an ongoing relationship, and close-up shots of engagement rings on Instagram with an #ISaidYes hashtag are how friends and families learn of a recent betrothal these days. With this much attention paid to the ring itself, you want to be sure it’s stunning, breathtaking, and one-of-a-kind. Here are some ideas to create a custom engagement ring that will garner all the right hashtags!
Are Diamonds Still a Girl’s Best Friend?
The use of diamonds in engagement rings began in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy the first such ring. Since then diamonds have been the standard in engagement rings, even through the economically-strapped 1930s. Throughout the decades, the styles of diamond rings have evolved, with different cuts and band designs taking precedence based on the engagement rings of celebrities and royalty (like Audrey Hepburn or Princess Diana).
Even today, diamonds are still a staple in engagement rings. That doesn’t mean, however, that your diamond ring has to look like everyone else’s. Ashley Douglas, a master jeweler who creates custom diamond engagement rings in Brisbane, Australia, offers more than 100 uniquely customized diamond engagement rings on her website, in addition to hundreds more in more traditional styles. Her blog notes that in 2017, “bespoke,” or made-to-order, diamond cuts such as pear-shaped or ovals for engagement rings were a hot trend. Douglas’ customers also requested custom rings foregoing the traditional center diamond, sporting a throwback art-deco design, and sleek and modern geometric diamond cuts.
Gemstones Are Making a Comeback
Even though diamonds have virtually dominated engagement rings since the 1400s, they’ve often been accompanied by other gemstones. Jackie Kennedy’s emerald-and-diamond ring and Kate Middleton’s blue sapphire stunner are among the ten most famous engagement rings in history.
Philanthropist, attorney, and lifelong gemstone aficionado Howard Fensterman believes that “gemstones replaced diamonds way before people became aware of it.” Fensterman recommends creating a custom engagement ring from amethyst, sapphire, morganite, or topaz gemstones based on the individual qualities of the stones. Purple amethysts, he says, are durable and can give a ring a “quirky look” when paired with silver or rose-gold, while blue sapphires “give off an almost otherworldly aura” against the sparkle of silver.
Douglas cites gemstones as another trend that dominated her custom work recently. “A very modern trend,” says Douglas, “is to have sapphires or emeralds instead of diamonds in the settings.” She also saw nature-themed engagement rings, where settings “evoke the beauty of nature with leaves, vines or buds woven into the band” using colorful gemstones.
To design the perfect ring for your bride, take cues from her favorite colors, hobbies, and style, and always consider your budget — no one wants to still be paying for an engagement ring on his or her tenth wedding anniversary. Douglas recommends visiting a custom jeweler’s studio to design a ring that will not only be unique but will fit with the bride’s wedding band. With you and your jeweler working together, you’re sure to create something that is as special and one-of-a-kind as your bride-to-be.