When it comes to engagement rings, fashion’s usual swift-changing tides turn almost glacial. Couples preparing to plight their troth don’t typically ask, “What’s trendy?”. Even so, several Connecticut jewelers, who design and make much of what they sell, say there are emerging trends and subtle style shifts in the glittering world of engagement rings.
Larry Lazaroff, owner of Arnold’s Jewelers in North Haven, said jewelry stores traditionally used to just sell what was in their cases. Now, he said, people can look at a lot more designs online and often come in with photos on their phones or on paper, asking that a certain style be made.
“The halo design is extremely popular these days,” said Lazaroff, whose father, Arnold, 83, started the family business 58 years ago and is still involved every day. “If you have a nice center stone, a halo will enhance it even more.” Many of today’s halo rings are designed with smaller diamonds running to the left and right of the center — down the “shoulders,” as Lazaroff puts it. “It all flows beautifully, like a waterfall.”
Antony Panebianco, owner of Glastonbury Jewelers, now in its 35th year, also says halo designs are a top choice. The vast majority of engagement rings are diamonds, and most of the surrounding halos are in diamonds as well, but he said some younger couples have begun to choose a colored gemstone, likely a sapphire or ruby, surrounded by a halo of diamonds — or a diamond surrounded by a halo of colored gemstones. These newer halo designs are a trend but account for only a tiny percentage of customers. Another variation on the halo is the double halo, he said.
Michael Hannoush, chief financial officer of Hannoush Jewelers, agrees the halo style is the predominant trend. The reason is simple: “It adds a lot more brilliance, a lot more sparkle,” he said. (And that’s the style he chose for his wife when they got engaged a few years ago.)
One of the most popular halo styles is a round center diamond surrounded by a halo of smaller cushion-cut diamonds, says Jimmy Murning, marketing manager at Hannoush Jewelers. But, he adds, the most popular engagement ring continues to be the classic Tiffany-style solitaire — a clean and simple design, no stones or detailing on the band, just a standout diamond.
Murning said the round cut diamond “is the one diamond you will always pass on as a family heirloom, and it will never go out of style.”
Lazaroff recommends that people shopping for an engagement ring invest in the best center stone they can afford; a solitaire ring can always be “pumped up” with additional stones later on.
He also noted the emergence of designs that incorporate shared prongs — that is, settings in which each prong helps anchor two adjacent stones, rather than just one stone — for a look that puts added focus on the gemstones rather than the metal setting.
At Hannoush — a family business that started in 1980 — three-stone rings also are a popular choice, including a dazzling trio of emerald-cut diamonds called the Bostonian. Quite proper.
Lazaroff and Panebianco also said the brilliant or round cut is the top choice, followed by the princess cut, which is square, and the cushion cut, which is a princess cut with rounded corners. Lazaroff said the emerald cut is making a strong comeback.
Panebianco’s son, John Paul Panebianco, said that emerald cuts, like rose gold, are “fringe in engagement rings, but always consistently fringe.” Speaking of the precious metals in engagement rings, he said he has noticed a decided rise in interest in engagement rings with bands of yellow gold, rather than platinum or white gold.
One newer look that John Paul Panebianco said is becoming the norm is the engagement ring designed with diamonds encircling the entire band, worn with a pair of matching wedding bands of diamonds, one on each side.
Celebrities and movies definitely drive interest in certain engagement ring styles, Murning said, but despite Blake Lively’s oval-cut pink diamond engagement ring and Lady Gaga’s heart-shaped diamond ring, these cuts, along with pear and marquise cuts, are chosen far less frequently. Murning said the pear shape does seem to be picking up.
Murning also said “old-fashioned is making a comeback.” Couples often gravitate toward Art Deco styles that look like estate pieces, he said, with more filigree and pave diamonds in the design and down the band. The recent film version of “The Great Gatsby,” in which Daisy Buchanan dangles her bejeweled hand over the back of a sofa helped fuel renewed interest in these styles. Customers bring in an old ring and ask if it can be remade “in the style of the Gatsby ring,” Murning said.
Antony Panebianco said customers frequently bring in an old stone, which can be traded in or recut and refurbished. While he said “the older generation” preferred classic solitaires and three-stone rings, “the kids like a little bit of a vintage look, a more antique look.” Grandma’s jewelry seems to be coming back into style, he added. “It’s a more romantic look.”
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