April 26, 2019

Putting a Ring on It?

Here’s what’s hot.
By Ross Boissoneau | April 6, 2019

One ring to rule them all? Not any more. National trends, backed up by local experts, point to variety — more colors, more stones, and more shapes— being the spice of engagement and wedding rings these days.
 
According to wedding-everything site The Knot, pear, oval and cushion diamonds have become more popular, due in large part to celebrity trend-setters like Priyanka Chopra, Cardi B, Karlie Kloss, Hailey Bieber, and others. It says we should expect to see lots of these out-of-the-box and out-of-the-round rings this year.
 
Nationally known jewelry designer Jade Trau concurred, telling Brides.com the same thing. “2019 will be the year of the pear stone,” she said.
 
Maybe, maybe not. Brandon Adkins, the assistant manager at Miner’s North in Traverse City, doesn’t disagree with the assessment of different shapes, just with any one in particular becoming prominent. “Halos are pretty popular. We’re starting to see a little more use of fancy shapes, like oval and pear,” he said.
 
“Ovals are really popular,” agreed James Smith, owner of James C. Smith Fine Jewelry in Traverse City. Smith said his shop designs about 75 percent of its rings, “so everything is original.”
 
Emily Nichols, one of the owners and managers at Wexford Jewelers in Cadillac, said she is seeing more shapes as well. “Anything halo is a close second” in popularity at her store, she said. The most popular? A custom rose wedding set designed in-house. “My sisters are both designers, and they have made an entire line. It’s been our best-seller the last eight years.”
 
So new shapes. But what about color? Yes, the times, they are a-changing there too. Scheherazade Jewelers online said couples are getting together to select stones that carry a special meaning for them or creating their own patterns out of stones they love. Smith agreed with that assessment, saying he is seeing more individualized choices. “I think people are thinking outside the box,” said, citing the increasing popularity of rubies, sapphires and corundum. “Rubies are red, sapphires are every other color.”
 
“People are really getting into colored stones,” agreed Nichols, “especially as side stones. Here in Cadillac, people love to put birthstones in, whether it’s theirs, their spouse or children.”
 
Embracing different colors includes the bands as well. Adkins said white gold still sets the pace, but he is seeing more yellow gold, even rose gold being used for accents.
 
Smith said he too has been seeing interest in both yellow and rose gold increasing. “It used to be about 90 percent white gold. Now it’s about 75 percent.”
 
That mirrors national trends: “Yellow gold is on the rise for 2019,” trumpeted the Knot, noting the lustrous metal works with both diamonds and colorful gemstones. Modern Gents Trading Company goes one better: “Everyone loves rose gold. While it has already been trending in fashion jewelry for some time, it’s just starting to gain ground in wedding ring settings. The soft, feminine shade adds a touch of romanticism to any stone it’s paired with.”
 
Don’t stop at different colors of gold — materials beyond gold are also on the upswing. Scheherazade Jewelers says today’s modern couple is likely to choose a non-traditional ring material, which Nichols said can include tungsten, cobalt, stainless steel, titanium, even ceramic or silicone. “Ceramic comes in a beautiful black and never loses its shine,” she said.
 
Reasons for choosing other materials range from a desire to be original to cost, even security. “We have a lot of factories in this area and people are at risk of a ring catching on something and pulling the finger right off,” said Nichols. That makes some choices risky, such as titanium, which is so hard it cannot be cut off — or resized, for that matter.
 
Other options are completely different styles. “A lot of young millennials are looking for simple, earthy, organic styles,” said Nichols. At Wexford Jewelers, that means creating a number of different styles of rings that mimic nature in terms of branches, twigs or bark (pictured above).
 
Nichols is optimistic that another trend will continue: Strong sales. She said 2018 was an outstanding year and she’s hoping for more of the same. “Our numbers are up, and last year was great. We’ve successively been getting better and better. I know it’s because we do custom designing.”
 
Not that all agree with the trends. Or even that people should buy into what’s hot. “The last thing you want your significant other to be wearing for years and years is something that was ‘trendy’ a decade ago,” said Andrew Brey of Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls in Harbor Springs.
 
He knows whereof he speaks. “When I first started in this business, I worked for one of the largest independent stores in the country, Borsheims, in Omaha, Nebraska. This was in 2006, and princess cuts were a veryhot seller. Fast forward to 2019, and I don’t see princess cuts that often anymore.”
 
So what does he recommend? “In my opinion, less is more when it comes to the mounting of a ring. A round brilliant cut is always a great choice, and never gets old.”

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