The Biggest Engagement Ring Trends for 2021
Cuffing season is in full swing.
Despite the massive changes in the dating landscape over the last several months, cuffing season shows no signs of slowing down. That means your social media feeds will soon be packed with happy couples and close-ups of the ring (if they’re not already). Whether or not you’re single, happily coupled, or reject the notion of marriage altogether, it’s hard to deny at least some appreciation for a gorgeous piece of jewelry—we’re only human!
While the classic solitaire diamond will forever be a mainstay of modern engagements, the ebb and flow of ring trends is worth considering before plunking down a significant amount of cash. Will you like this ring in 10 years? How about 20? Sure, you can reset a stone as many times as you see fit, but is the de facto brilliant-cut diamond really the best representation of your personal style? Do you even want a diamond? The questions abound, which is why we turned to two of our favorite jewelers, Jess Hannah Révész of J.Hannah Jewelry and co-founder of Ceremony, and Wing Yau of WWAKE fine jewelry, to hear their engagement-ring-trend predictions for the year ahead, as well as learn which styles and cuts they’re receiving the most inquiries for lately.
Saying Goodbye to 2020 Trends
Both designers field dozens of requests per week for engagement and bridal jewelry, and they’ve each seen certain styles fall by the wayside over the past year. “I think people are disenchanted with the traditional round solitaire,” reveals Yau. “They’re still interested in diamonds and traditional gold, but clients are seeking something non-traditional that redefines the woman today—sometimes that means a heavier-weight band or an elaborate, asymmetrical arrangement with quirky details. A solitaire ring and halo ring is something people hardly ever ask us for.”
Révész has seen a similar trend among her clientele, stating, “We’ve been seeing less of a demand for rose gold and an increase in yellow gold, especially in the chunkier styles.”
Move Over, Brilliant Cuts
We’d be shocked to find someone who isn’t familiar with the 1948 DeBeers “A Diamond Is Forever” advertising campaign, which marked the rise of white diamonds as the new standard for engagement rings (as opposed to different-colored gemstones like rubies or emeralds, which were popular in earlier decades). These campaign images also used a white solitaire brilliant-cut diamond, a style that contains many facets to promote maximum sparkle and luminosity, making this particular cut the unofficial go-to for bridal jewelry—and prompted other brands to feature brilliants (almost exclusively) in their campaigns for years to come.
That trend has slowly evolved in the last few years, according to Yau and Révész. Says the latter, “Emerald and marquise cuts have been very popular this past year, in addition to oval, and when we do have requests for round, brilliant white diamonds, it’s typically paired with a classic bezel setting where the diamond is framed in gold or white gold. While round brilliant diamonds could definitely fall into ’norm’ land, it truly depends on the design of the ring and setting.” She cites Ceremony’s ’Yasmin’ ring, which features a “toi et moi” style with two round diamonds, as an alternative to this classic design while still paying homage to the traditional brilliant cut.
Yau—who uses mostly recycled diamonds in her designs, as does Révész—says that while her clients are still open to brilliants, they’re much more excited about fancy cuts like emerald, kites, and lozenges. “They’re extremely challenging to find recycled, but that’s at the heart of what we do—find something extra special for their clients,” she says.
Exploring Different Stones
In addition to changing up a diamond’s cut for your engagement ring, both designers have also witnessed an influx of clients looking for alternative stones over the last few years. Apart from creating a uniquely distinctive look to your jewelry, some of these options can also bring the overall cost of your ring down (without sacrificing style).
Says Révész, “Sapphires and emeralds have been popular since our inception in 2018, and we haven’t seen a slowdown in their popularity. We continuously receive customer inquiries asking for gemstones instead of diamonds in our designs.”
Yau has also seen her clients’ interest in stones apart from white diamonds grow, especially under-the-radar gems with which they might not be familiar. “Our clients are really excited about learning about stones they’re never heard of before—like garnet and zircon—and learning about colors they never knew existed in more familiar stones, like bi-colored sapphires, which range from blue, yellow, and green,” she says. “Most people think sapphires are blue and that’s it, so the element of discovery is really what drives a lot of excitement.”
If you’re not ready to abandon that white diamond forever, you can always explore dual-stone rings, like Ariana Grande’s recent pearl and white oval diamond style. Consider it the best of both worlds.
Don’t Just Set It and Forget It
An often-overlooked category of ring design, at least when it comes to customers, is setting—aka how your stone of choice sits within the band. Classically, a six-prong setting (also known as the Tiffany setting, thanks to jewelry titan Tiffany & Co.’s signature design) has been long embraced, but now that brides-to-be are growing more adventurous with their jewelry choices, designers are offering more styles with bezel settings, which feature a wide rim to hold the diamond flush or semi-flush with the band. Says Révész, ”People have been gravitating towards a classic bezel setting, as they like the idea of further highlighting the stone shape. As the stone is thickly framed in metal, the cut of the stone really dictates the look.” As long as the stone is secure, you’re at liberty to play with the setting, and most designers (including Révész and Yau) offer multiple styles with a range of different setting options.
Bands Are No Longer an Afterthought
You might assume that the only choices you have to make in regards to your engagement ring band or your wedding band is whether or not to adorn them with pavé diamonds. And while that is still a factor, fashion-forward brides won’t just stop there, instead preferring to create a more cohesive look with the two pieces. Says Yau, “Many clients are interested in their bands fitting their engagement [ring] snuggly so they click into place and become one set. There’s always an ‘aha’ moment of satisfaction when the bands click together perfectly! That said, the bands are all shapes: rectangular, wave-shaped, little crowns.” She also explains that some customers are forfeiting a wedding band altogether, opting instead to buy an engagement ring with a heavier band that can stand on its own.
It’s All About the Details
Both designers stress that there is truly no limit to what a prospective customer can do to their engagement jewelry, but it’s always those special little details that make a new design unique to that particular person. That can mean recycling personal stones, using old band settings, or exploring non-traditional elements—whatever is the best representation of you and your partner.
As Révész reveals, “Incorporating our customer’s heirloom diamonds into our designs is always such a treat. We enjoy hearing the stories behind each stone and feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the journey. On this note, we’ve definitely noticed an upswing in customization requests. Our rings are made to order and have always been customizable, but in recent months, we’ve been able to provide virtual renderings to accurately reflect the modifications made. It has really given them confidence in the process, and with this, we’ve seen them make bolder choices, which I quite like, especially if it’s paired with a more feminine band or vice versa. Having a nice balance between loud and quiet is always a winning combination.”
Yau is enthusiastic about her customers’ bolder choices as well, and is committed to finding designs that can capture all those elements in a cohesive way. “People are looking to find more fancy cuts (baguettes, trillions, kites, et cetera) at a smaller scale that make up bigger arrangements,” she says of the recent trends. “[My favorite design elements go] either one of two ways: a single outstanding diamond in a solid band of gold, like our large Pear Monolith Ring, or a mix of smaller fancy cuts, like in our new Mosaic collection.”
Whatever you and/or your partner choose for your engagement ring, just remember to explore your many options, and when in doubt, find a designer like Révész and Yau who can create custom designs and ensure that you’re getting exactly what you want.
Want more stories like this?