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By now we're all very aware that nothing, not even a global pandemic, can stop love. And it certainly hasn't put a stop to engagement season! The latest engagement ring trends are still on display, and designers, and couples, are getting more creative than ever when it comes to ring shopping.
"I believe the moment calls for spectacular and precious things," says designer Anna Sheffield. "Wedding ceremonies may change or be on hold for now, but the desire to celebrate love and union is going strong."
So what does the latest crop of rings have to offer? We’re diving deep into the top engagement ring trends for 2021. Whether you already have the ring of your dreams picked out (dropping hints counts), or you and your partner are just starting to talk about what that bling might look like—you’ll want to be armed with all the latest engagement ring trends before you safely visit your favorite jeweler, or virtually discuss the ideal ring with a designer.
Wedding ceremonies may change or be on hold for now, but the desire to celebrate love and union is going strong.
We rounded up some of our favorite jewelry designers to talk all things engagement rings—from the latest trends, to how the pandemic has changed the way couples are shopping for rings. Here, the engagement ring trends you need to know for 2021.
Unique Rings With Personal Details
In a year full of such uncertainty, couples are taking control of what few details they can as it relates to marriage—and one of those is focusing on personal touches when it comes to engagement rings. "A huge difference we’ve seen is that clients have much more time and space to explore what they want, so they are coming to us with much more personal, thoughtful and insightful directions and ideas," Azlee's CEO and designer, Baylee Zwart, says.
"Right now I am seeing a huge surge in clients wanting alternative engagement rings, mainly in the form of a unique cut or an unusual custom designed setting," jewelry Angie Marei tells us.
People are continually searching for ways to do things differently. We’ve seen all the rings flashed on every social media channel.
Tacori's COO and Design Director Nadine Tacorian, agrees, and says that customers are eager to celebrate love by making the ring their own. "Rings with secret details—hidden messages of love only you and your partner know about," Tacorian adds.
"People are continually searching for ways to do things differently. We’ve seen all the rings flashed on every social media channel. People are looking to add another layer to the traditional wedding band, putting some extra love and meaning behind it," says Madeline Fraser, founder and CEO of Gemist.
Band Style Rings
Given the ever-changing landscape of weddings, jewelry designers are seeing clients turning to band style engagement rings for a two-in-one situation. "I am seeing an increase in brides that are opting for a band-style engagement rings in lieu of a single stone engagement ring," says Grace Lee. Lee counts her Marquise and Pear diamond band, and 5mm crown Bezel eternity band as the most popular.
KatKim designer Katherine Kim is also seeing this trend on the rise "Since a lot of weddings are being postponed we have been seeing a rise in rings that can serve as both an engagement ring and wedding band from our Crescendo Flare Collection," Kim says.
"Traditionally in many European countries they do not give engagement rings but rather wedding bands/eternity bands as engagement/wedding bands rings," says designer Emily Rudman, founder of Emilie Heathe. She adds that the current crop of pandemic safety measures have helped keep this trend going. "It's also easier to clean/sanitize and can endure the constant washing and hand sanitizing we are doing these days."
Classic Styles With a Modern Twist
The nature of virtual ring shopping has given rise to a return to classic styles for engagement rings. “Because less clients are coming in person to our showroom to try on different settings, more and more are playing it safe with classic styles, like a solitaire or 3-stone ring," says Nicole Wegman founder of Ring Concierge.
Stylist Micaela Erlanger, whose Forevermark X Micaela Erlanger collection is a n office favorite, is also seeing classics making a come back. “Going into the new year we are seeing couples gravitate towards classic cuts like round, oval and cushion set in delicate platinum settings that really allow the diamond to pop,” Erlanger shares.
Famed-jewelry (and the absolute best Instagram to follow for ring inspo) Stephanie Gottlieb agrees. "Overall I think our brides are embracing "fashion-forward" bridal designs with traditional elements (which is really my MO when it comes to Bridal jewelry; classic with a modern twist)," Gottlieb says.
Anna Sheffield is also seeing this timeless trend making an impact for 2021. "I think there is something to be said for really timeless rings, and choosing a super special stone," says Sheffield.
"A more traditional ring with a pretty silhouette and exquisite detail speak to today's bride and this trend will continue into 2021," Cathy Waterman tells us. We definitely agree there's something to sticking to a tried-and-true style in the midst of dealing with the unexpected.
Heirloom-Inspired Old European Cuts
It's no surprise that engagement ring shoppers are considering family traditions and legacy as they search for the right sparkler and opting for rings that feel like an heirloom. In a year where families were largely kept apart, longing for loved ones is making couples nostalgic and they're thinking about future generations as they begin their own families. “Engagement ring trends we anticipate in 2021 are heirloom inspired designs – connecting modern love stories to vintage details, creating new family traditions and legacies," Tacorian adds.
The responsibility and the symbolic value carried by an engagement ring might be heavier than ever.
Olivia Landau, founder and CEO of The Clear Cut, agrees that the trend has longevity. "Old European cuts are one of my favorites because their unique faceting pattern makes them one of a kind and timeless!"
"A lot of weddings are becoming smaller or being postponed due to the pandemic so, in a sense, the responsibility and the symbolic value carried by an engagement ring might be heavier than ever," says designer Moritz Glik.
Virtual Shopping Makes Things Easier, and Faster
We're living in a virtual world and that applies to more than just Zoom meetings. Jewelry designers got creative this year, taking a business that relies on literally getting your hands all over something, and making it virtual. The results opened up a whole new way of shopping and a whole new clientele for many designers. "We are finding that couples are acting more spontaneously and wishing to expedite the proposal and engagement process. With so much uncertainty, it's nice to take control and keep the process simple," Ashley Zhang says.
"Since the pandemic and other events in 2020, I feel consumers in general are encouraging purchases from smaller independent business’ where they can get to know the designer behind a brand," says Marei whose business has seen an increase in online inquiries and sales over the last year.
Thanks to her large social footprint, Gottlieb was prepared for the switch. "Our bridal business has been virtual for quite some time, since our audience is coming to us from Instagram, and includes shoppers from all over the country, and the world. So luckily we were prepared for this "remote" shopping experience. For us, videos have been the most helpful element to provide our clients a full visual of their purchasing options."
Petite Side Stones
Three stone rings were already on the rise thanks to Meghan Markle and her beautiful diamonds. Now, the look is getting a bit scaled back, with smaller side stones becoming more popular. "I have been seeing more and more couples opting for petite side stones which I absolutely love because they are a modern and more delicate take on the classic three stone ring," Landau adds.
North South East West
Get ready to see things sideways, North South East West prongs and East West cuts are going to be everywhere next year. "NSEW prongs, also known as compass prongs, are a cool and vintage spin on traditional prongs and I am so excited to see them in style!" Landau says
An East/West Emerald Cut adds a different spin to a classic says Fraser. "It’s a great way to take a traditional emerald cut engagement ring and add a unique twist."
Emeralds are back and here to stay according to Fraser. "Our most popular alternative to a diamond engagement ring is an emerald gemstone ring. It’s a classic and timeless stone that offers a pop of color and an elegant look without the same price tag," she adds.
Alternative Gemstones and Metals
Another way couples are making this special piece of jewelry unique is by opting for gemstones as alternatives to diamonds and choosing metals that feel unexpected.
"Colorful gemstones in both classic round and oval shapes as well as modern geometric shapes are appealing to many people right now for their alternative aesthetic," says Valerie Madison. "It's nice to have something that now one else is wearing."
"We’ve already had private commissions for bespoke adaptations of [our most popular] designs featuring alternative gemstones such as shield-cut diamonds, sapphires, tourmaline and other colored precious stones," Marei says. "Our clientele loves edgy jewelry that is modern, artful, and timeless. Another trend we are seeing and predict will be even bigger in 2021 is 18-karat black gold engagement rings."
Anita Ko says that the yellow gold we're seeing popularized across all divisions of jewelry is quickly making its way to the bridal sector. "Women are choosing to set their engagement rings—one their most prized possessions—in Yellow Gold over the once classic and popular Platinum or White Gold," Ko says. Yellow gold, she states, is "a color that will complement their everyday jewelry style and personal collections."
Nicole Wegman of Ring Concierge agrees. "[Couples] are still adding their own modern twist [to classic rings] by selecting yellow gold, rather than the classic platinum, or adding a hidden halo under the diamond for extra sparkle,” Wegman shares.
Rudman attributes this metal's rise in popularity to its price going up during the pandemic. "I don't see it going down a lot in 2021 and its perceived value being high and more classic—I think yellow gold and white will continue to be popular with a lower emphasis on rose gold," Rudman adds.