I have always been a fan of all things shiny ever since I was little. I would spend hours dressed in my mom’s wedding dress going through her jewellery box picking out stuff to wear the more stones the better. For Christmas and birthdays I would ask for necklaces and rings and I had the biggest stash of clip on earrings ever! So when I got engaged and it came to looking at engagement rings I was in my element, or so I thought. There were just so many places to go to and so many rings to choose from #firstworldproblems.
The history of Engagement rings
I love history, although I’m sure my A Level history teacher had a different view. The first record of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477. We have a lot to thank Archduke Maximilian of Austria for. He gave Mary of Burgundy a ring with flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an M, very romantic. Then, in 1886 Tiffany & Co. introduced the Tiffany setting. The way they set the diamond was to show the stone in its full glory. In the 1920’s the concept of men’s engagement rings was introduced but didn’t prove to be very popular, however they are becoming increasingly popular now.
In the United States, the popularity of diamond engagement rings started to decline after World War I and so in 1938, De Beers started a marketing campaign. One of the campaigns purposes was to education the purchasing public on the 4 Cs, cut, carats, colour, and clarity. Then in 1947 the slogan “a diamond is forever” was introduced. The De Beers campaign persuaded the public that you have to have an engagement ring and that a diamond ring is the only acceptable ring. De Beers marketing also introduced the idea of how much should be spent. In the 1930s they suggested the equivalent of one month’s salary and later increased this to two month’s salary. By 2012, the average cost of an engagement ring in the UK ranged from £1200 to £2000 and in the states the average was $4,000.
Yellow gold was always the tradition when it can to wedding jewellery but now white gold is very popular, although you need to be careful that this will change over time as the plating wears off. Platinum, although more expensive, is also becoming a very popular choice in metal. Rings made of titanium and tungsten are also finding their way on to the market as well as other none traditional materials including ceramic and wood. I recently saw a ring advertised that had meteorite set into the band. How cool?!
What are the best engagement rings?
There are lots of articles in magazines, in newspapers and online about what are the best engagement rings and to be honest if I were reading those articles to help me choose a ring it would frighten me out of buying one! They talk about the money spent, the fact that this will become a permanent fixture in your lives. At the end of the day, the right engagement ring, is the right ring for you. The stone you choose, the money you spend, the metal you go for; it’s all about you and what’s right for you and if you don’t know there are two things you can do…
How to buy the right engagement ring?
The first option is don’t. Don’t buy one and propose without. I know that in the movies proposals all happen with the most amazing ring and the most amazing setting and notice how the ring always fits perfectly and they have just had a manicure? Yes, that’s not real life. It is perfectly OK to shop for a ring together and for some couples, it’s exciting and becomes part of the engagement story. Remember when Trey and Charlotte stopped in front of Tiffany & Co. in New York? So that wasn’t the proposal but it was the story she was going to tell her grandchildren.
The second option is to ask for help. Who knows them best? A sister or best friend? Ask them for help, take them shopping with you. Look to the jewellery she already owns, my Mum has a love of sapphires and a lot of the jewellery my Dad bought for her was sapphire. She may also own jewellery that is her birthstone and you may want to go down that route. When my good friend Charlotte’s now husband asked her to marry him he had taken our friend Kay shopping for the ring. They spent the day scouring jewellery stores until they found what he felt was the perfect ring. And if the sales are on, even better!
If you don’t want her friends and family to know and want it to be a surprise why not drop me a line.
Vintage engagement rings
Sticking with the history theme, vintage engagement rings are very popular. I have two vintage rings myself (not engagement rings, I’m no Darren Day). One was given to me when my Nan passed away and the other I bought myself when I attended a wedding in America. The bride’s mother has a friend who owns a jewellery store and he did me an amazing deal.
For many people, being able to give a family heirloom to the person they love is very meaningful, the most famous of which is Princess Diana’s stunning sapphire engagement ring that was given to Kate Middleton. There are major stores around the country who sell vintage engagement rings but I absolutely love walking round antique shops looking at the rings and thinking about the history that goes with them. If you don’t fancy the walk around all the little shops, Goldsmiths do have a vintage range. I’m not sure how old the ‘vintage range’ is but they have some lovely Art Deco style engagement rings.
Sapphire engagement rings
Over the years we have moved away from the De Beers idea that a diamond is the only way to go although the diamond still remains the most popular choice. Sapphires come in all shapes and sizes and attached to a variety of different metals. When we think of sapphires we think about the traditional blue of Princess Di, but sapphires aren’t always blue. I totally fell in love with a peach sapphire ring but unfortunately I didn’t have $14000 to spend, oh well, maybe next time. They don’t all cost more than a small car, I just appear to have expensive taste!
Square engagement rings
There are many different shapes of stone, whatever stone you choose. Square, or princess cut and the more rectangular emerald cut are really popular in a move away from the traditional round cut. They can look very elegant and a bit more modern, plus they don’t have to break the bank. They come in many different settings and each one has a different look and feel. F.Hinds Jewellers have a beautiful range of rings and some are more affordable than you think.
Pear shaped engagement rings
Pear shaped (as in shaped like a pear on purpose, not it’s all gone wrong) or Marquise diamonds are less popular than the princess and emerald cuts but are also a very modern take on the traditional diamond. However a word of caution, they can be difficult to fit with a wedding band. In the store and on a ring finger alone they can look amazing but can create an issue when shopping for bands if they don’t come as part of a set. Although I have found this amazing jeweller who is based in Sheffield who will create a wedding band around your diamond making sure that it fits perfectly. Beaverbrooks have a great range of engagement rings in different shapes and different stones and Ernest Jones have a great range of bridal sets so no panicking over finding a ring to fit around the diamond.
Male engagement rings
In the 1920’s engagement rings for men just didn’t take off but it has become increasingly popular in more recent times but this is personal choice. Some men don’t like to wear jewellery at all so talk about it before splashing out. H Samuel carry a stunning range of engagement rings for men.
Having said all that, at the end of the day the best engagement rings will simply be the one that you choose because you chose it. It can be stressful, it can be a lot of money but it can also be part of your love story.
Why not drop me a line and let me know what you chose?