Put a ring on it

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A look at the trends in engagement and bridal jewellery for 2015

by Liza Marley

Beyoncé ONLY sang it, but JAY Z really did put a ring on it – a five million dollar ring. An 18-carat flawless octagon cut diamond in a platinum setting that shows off the perfect stone exceptionally well. While current trends may shift towards the lavish, you probably won’t see too many customers shelling out the big bucks for 18-carat diamond rings.

The average customer may not be looking to spend seven figures on an engagement ring, many are willing to make an investment. Dane Stevens, president of Cavalier Jewellers in Vancouver, B.C., notes that the average engagement ring purchased in his store is between $5,000 and $20,000. “It’s more about the reason why he’s buying a ring, not the ring itself,” he says.

So what are people buying? “People know what they want,” explains Stevens. “One carat is still the main thing, but we go down to three quarters of a carat to meet a price point.”

The secret is in the cut

And what about the cut? According to Stevens, “Cushion has been really popular.” A soft square, almost a cross between a round and a princess cut, is what buyers are going for these days. The owner of Cavalier says it’s surprising because round cuts tend to look bigger. The halo also continues to soar in popularity, though Stevens sees a lot of people go for a solitaire and then add the halo down the road.

Francis Guindon, public relations manager for Maison Birks, concurs. He says that the one-carat diamond is still the big engagement seller at Birks, with the average amount spent being around $12,000. “The round diamond is the most popular but there’s also a strong demand for cushion types, like our ‘Birks Amorique’ cut. We are also experiencing an increased demand for our classic solitaire setting, as well as the pavé.”

Guindon also notes that, “The traditional engagement rings are by far the norm, though we are seeing an increased interest in coloured diamonds – especially yellow.” Stevens adds that although the majority of his clients go for diamond rings as well, he’s noticing a demand for a variety in gem choices. Clients are drawn towards unheated blue sapphires featuring brighter and softer blues as well as rubies.

Not set in stone?

Setting styles are also undergoing a shift in variation. Though the solitaire continues to be very popular, Stuller, Inc.’s director of bridal, Taylor Burgess, notes a change in demand. “We have seen a resurgence of engagement rings featuring baguettes, which look very fresh and new. Currently, we are exploring new twists on halo-style engagement rings. Our new solitaire collection is fun as it features twists on classic designs, either through prongs or gallery details.”

When it comes to metals, white gold and platinum ruled for quite a long time, but Stevens is seeing a strong return to yellow gold. “We’ve sold more yellow gold settings in the past year and a half than the total of the last three years before that.” Burgess is finding the same thing. “Though 14k white gold and platinum remain our strongest categories, we are exploring options with 14k yellow gold and two-tone styles as they gain more popularity.”

Band leader

While engagement rings will always be the show-stealer, the bands are just as important – whether they’re bought together as a set, paired or custom-designed.

When it comes to the choice in metals, “White (white gold and platinum) is still prominent, with yellow a close second and rose gold gaining popularity,” says Burgess. “And we’re seeing a lot of both black and white diamonds being used. Custom engraving is strong. Other accents we’re seeing are a lot of rope and milgrain. Hammer and other rough finishes are popular as well,” she explains.

“People are going for the more traditional styles,” says Stevens. “Right now, the classics are cool.” And while he says that most couples choose bands that reflect their own styles instead of matching bands, “most people still go with a band that matches the existing engagement ring.” Stevens sees a lot of interest in both stackable bands with diamonds or sapphires, if that’s the stone that’s been featured in the engagement ring.
According to Guindon, “Classic, simple bands and channel diamond bands” are the biggest hits. “White gold is the most popular, with platinum in second place. Matching bands are less popular. Each person seems to have their own preference.”

And for the big finale, there is the additional opportunity to assist the happy couple with the purchase of something special in addition to the rings for the wedding day. “Classic solitaire earrings are still in strong demand, followed by pendants,” explains Guindon. “Pearls always make great wedding jewellery. They come at a great price point and go with any ensemble,” says Burgess. “Personalized options like monogrammed jewellery or birthstone jewellery is also a great choice.”

Engagement jewellery, especially with all of the selection and custom work, has been embraced as more than just symbolic; it’s become aspirational – a piece of jewellery that will be worn constantly. Most people have very specific ideas about what they want. While price point plays a strong role in the equation, most people are looking for jewellery that they’ll always enjoy wearing. A trend towards the simple and the classic is safe. Simple wedding day jewellery is also a trend – but for a very different reason. While it’s for the big day, Stevens says many don’t want to make a major investment in pieces that will just be worn for one day, and then only occasionally beyond that date. Besides, most brides want to be the feature attraction. Appropriate accessories don’t take the spotlight from the bride, they simply complement her radiance. CJ

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