For centuries engagement rings have symbolised the magical bond and journey that loved ones are to start on together. Although designs and materials have changed, the engagement ring celebrates the commitment, hopes and dreams of the couple.
Although some scholars credit the Ancient Egyptians with starting the custom, the modern engagement ring is believed to have its roots in Ancient Roman traditions with the ring forming part of the bride price symbolising ownership of the bride. The bride-to-be would be given two rings, a gold ring for public and an iron ring for home whilst attending to her duties. Over the centuries the popular tradition spread across the Roman empire and the world and became common practice for prospective spouses.
The first well documented instance of diamonds being used in engagement rings occurs in the Middle Ages that later came to influence the wealthy in society to start the practice of gifting a diamond engagement ring to their beloved. With the discovery of vast diamond mines in the Victorian period suddenly the opportunity to purchase a diamond engagement ring became more accessible to a wider range of society. Interestingly, diamond engagement rings were at the time seen as the realm of nobility and the aristocracy with simpler rings still remaining popular.
The modern practice of the diamond engagement ring can be traced back to a highly successful marketing campaign led by De Beers in the mid-20th century. Following declining diamond sales after World War II the ‘Diamonds are forever’ campaign convinced the public that indeed, diamonds are the main stone for engagement rings. Their beautiful shapes, tones and rarity have come to symbolise the ultimate gift: eternal love.
How to choose your perfect ring
Choosing such an important piece of jewellery as an engagement ring can be overwhelming. The vast abundance of metals, settings and, not to mention, the size and cut of diamond offer a wealth of different options that can make it difficult to choose the ring for you. Increasingly we have noticed that couples take the choice together, allowing each partner to help shape their special ring and impart their own distinct style and personality. We work closely with each client to understand their lifestyle, personality and tastes to exquisitely craft their very own bespoke engagement ring to be forever treasured.
Engagement ring settings can be cast in a variety of metals, each with their own distinct qualities. By far the most popular, white gold is prized for its versatility both in matching most diamond colours and wardrobes. White gold represents a clean, sophisticated look and is known for its durability and modern style. Increasingly rose gold is becoming the choice of couples who seek something different. The warm pinkish hue creates a soft, effeminate style that work particularly well with white or brown diamonds. Historically, yellow gold has been the metal of choice for engagement rings. As styles change the metal has been surpassed in popularity by white gold, rose gold and platinum. Yellow gold contrasts beautifully with white diamonds and compliments vintage style engagement rings exceptionally well. Platinum offers a truly unique choice and is often considered when examining white gold. The cool, neutral colour is known for its durability and weight. Whilst white gold loses a layer with every polish and clean, platinum’s density means that it maintains its weight after each clean. The rarity of platinum raises its value slightly, however the beautiful colour beautifully pairs with all diamonds in particular wonderful pink, blue and white tones.
A myriad of different settings are available offering the ultimate range of choice and styles. Often clients will commission their setting based on previous items in their collection or draw inspiration from our own exciting styles. The setting houses and enhances the diamond allowing its natural splendor and brilliance to shine. There remain a variety of styles such as the classic solitaire, single stone ring which sets the diamond elegantly within either 4, 5 or 6 claws. Pavé settings, with beautiful diamonds paving the body of the ring, add extra sparkle complementing the centre stone offering a contrast in texture to the metal. Halo settings gracefully encircle the centre stone with a clean narrow band of pavé set diamonds, making the gem appear bigger. When considering pavé or halo settings the colour of the diamonds used can add texture and colour creating unique styles and one of a kind pieces.
Choosing your diamond
The centerpiece of any engagement ring, the diamond is the most important part of the ring. The cut (shape), size (carat), clarity and colour are the four important components that one must examine when selecting the precious stones. The round cut is the most popular shape for a classic, timeless style. The heart, pear, princess and oval cuts are progressively becoming more popular as clients seek to maximise value and opt for a unique style. Certain cuts, the princess cut for example, offer greater value due to the larger girdle and smaller pavilion meaning that the majority of the size is concentrated above the setting.