Unconventional engagement rings are increasingly popular, both for brides-to-be and those upgrading from the designs that sparked their initial “yes.” Modern settings are one way to make a ring more distinctive — think East-West, off-kilter, and bezel mountings. However, another route to uniqueness is a rare-cut diamond engagement ring, a request more frequently asked of fine jewelry designers.
There are countless ways to go about engagement ring shopping — a famous retailer, through a family jeweler, or a custom creation made by a bespoke designer. When it comes to rare-cut diamonds, specific brands and designers specialize in the unexpected. Eva Zuckerman, creative director and co-founder of Eva Fehren, tells TZR, “We have always had pretty consistent demand for unusual cuts, and since this is our specialty. I think people know to come to us for non-traditional shapes and cuts.”
Zuckerman’s signature and most sought-after designs are hexagon shapes, and portrait-cut stones, which she says are often suited to those with a strong sense of personal style and want a ring that reflects who they are. Over the last few months, she says, “We have seen an upswing in popularity for hexagons — I think it’s going to continue!”
The Brooklyn-based label Mociun — founded and designed by Caitlin Mociun — is another go-to for ring shoppers coveting the unexpected. Natasha Walfall, a custom coordinator for the brand says, “Caitlin draws a lot of inspiration from architectural designs, which lends to the unique shapes and angles in so many Mociun pieces. Naturally, our clients tend to be drawn to asymmetry and unique shapes and cuts.”
Walfall says the biggest trend in engagement pieces is that there’s no real trend. “It’s all so specific to the individual and their taste,” she explains. While the brand encounters a range of design inspirations that run the diamond spectrum, she notes, “We have noticed an uptick of interest in marquise cuts and elongated diamonds.” Marney Zaslav, a sales director and buyer for the label, adds, “A lot of clients are interested in setting these [elongated] stones in an East-West orientation.”
Thelma West, a London-based bespoke fine jewelry designer, tells TZR, “We have seen an increase in client requests for more unique diamond cuts for engagement rings — it’s been refreshing.” West says shield, hexagon, and kite-cut diamonds are on the rise, predicting all three becoming more heavily considered by unconventional brides. “I find that clients are drawn to a diamond they feel reflects a part of who they are or their relationship,” she says. Adding, “We are able to offer more unique-cut diamonds and also classic-cut diamonds set in non-traditional materials to women who are not afraid to go against ‘tradition’ and are open to creating their own interpretation of what it is to be a modern bride.”
Rare cuts and modern design doesn’t always equate to new, however. Antique diamonds are another in-demand choice and a specialty of New York-based jewelry designer Ashley Zhang. “We have gotten many more requests for these stones,” she tells TZR. While popular shapes like rounds and cushions are considered classic, the designer says antique versions are rare. “Since there has been a rise in popularity for these cuts, they are selling out very quickly. It’s also getting harder and harder to find them as collectors and clients snap them up. Fewer people want to sell theirs, so the market is emptying.”
Zhang says customers of all ages are requesting antique diamonds, from young couples getting engaged to clients upgrading for an anniversary. “The customer who requests antique diamonds is looking for something unique; they know no two antique diamonds are alike,” she says. Another trend Zhang sees rising among antique lovers is stones with lower color grades in the M, N, O, and P range. “These diamonds have a touch of warmth and don’t look like perfect, new, modern diamonds that you can purchase anywhere,” she explains. “This rarity and authenticity gives them a better connection to the diamond and ring we are creating for them to love.”
From modern and minimalist to Old-World inspired, keep reading to discover a breakdown of nine rare-cut diamond trends jewelry experts say will continue to rise if not, soon rule the engagement market.
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Portrait-Cut Diamonds
For Zuckerman, portrait-cut diamonds — which are flat and transparent, almost like a piece of glass — are the most-requested rare cut (and one she wears personally in a hexagon shape). “I think portrait cuts are extremely unique because they are understated and elegant,” the designer tells TZR.
The unassuming cut comes in a range of shapes and is extremely wearable as an engagement ring, sitting low on the finger. “Portrait cuts feel a little rebellious to me because they’re [not] about being extremely faceted and attention-grabbing — they’re modern and subdued,” Zuckerman says. “I’m drawn to really low profile, minimalist, geometric settings with a little bit of attitude,” highlighting her label’s new Compass setting, which features prongs on the North, South, East, and West rather than the corners of the stones. “I love this slight twist on a classic, which allows the ring to feel really personal and unique to the wearer but still classic enough to treasure for generations.”
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Shield-Cut Diamonds
West says shield-cut diamonds are trending and predicts a rise in popularity among engagement ring shoppers. “The elongated shield cut exudes a clean, uncluttered statement while looking larger than its carat weight,” she says. “They’re best set in a relatively simple gold band, solitaire style, allowing the diamond to do what it does best: stand out and sparkle.”
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Antique & Antique-Style Cushion-Cut Diamonds
Cushion-cut diamonds have been widely popular, but of late, Zhang says antique and antique-style cushions (these are modern diamonds that are often recycled and cut in an antique style) are among her frequent requests. “These stones have that antique look, and they hold color grades very well, often looking one to two shades whiter,” she says.
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Hexagon Diamonds
West, Zuckerman, and Laura Homan, a fine jewelry specialist at Mociun, have all seen an upswing in requests for hexagon-shaped diamonds, which all three predict will continue to gain popularity.
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Kite Diamonds
West says kite-shaped diamonds are another rare cut on the rise — a perfect choice for those craving a geometric design.
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Old Mine & Old European-Cut Diamonds
“Our most requested cut is the Old European cut diamond,” says Zhang. “This is the first round brilliant cut diamond (cushion cuts were more widely used prior). These diamonds were the first made in the late 1800s when the steam-powered bruting machine was invented and allowed more precise cutting.”
She adds, “Each of these diamonds is unique as there was no standardization at this time [as the] GIA wasn’t founded until 1931. Each diamond cutting workshop had its own style, so Old European cuts made in different geographical locations looked very different from each other. I love these diamonds for yellow gold settings since the diamonds have a romance and tend to face up whiter.”
In addition to the Old European cut, Walfall says Old-Mine cuts have maintained popularity among Mociun shoppers. “With these more classic stones, Mociun settings, such as bezel and modified bezel, often give a modern touch,” she says.
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Asscher-Cut Diamonds
Asscher diamonds — which are a step-cut also known as square emeralds — have become more prevalent over the last several years, though they’re still considered a rare-cut diamond. West says, “[They] have a super-cool interior, with no hiding place for inclusions. I like to position them slightly offset, preferably with mixed materials like gold and ceramic, as a great nod to tradition with an edge.”
Zhang points out that because Asscher-cut diamonds show inclusions more easily, they often appear smaller for their carat weight. “A true Asscher carries more of its weight in the top and bottom (crown and pavilion) of the diamond and has a smaller surface spread on the finger,” she explains. “Our Edith setting has become extremely popular for lovers of this stone as it looks great with a smaller diamond.”
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Rose-Cut Diamonds
According to Zhang, Rose-cut diamonds, which feature a dome shape, flat bottom, and faceting on the surface, are rising in trend. “One of the reasons I love this cut is you can be a lot less picky about color,” the designer shares. “Since this diamond works like a sparkly window where you can see your finger through, a little color in the diamond is less noticeable. This cut was popular before the invention of electricity because it sparkles best in low light. Ladies loved to see these diamonds sparkle at night by the light of a candle.”
Rare-Cut Diamond Rings: Elongated Stones
For those who favor tradition but want something a little more modern, Zaslav says elongated stones like cushion cuts, pears, ovals, and pill-shaped diamonds are popular among current shoppers, particularly in an East-West setting. “The marquise cut is also having a moment,” she says. “This cut offers a non-traditional look, while still being very timeless.”
Walfall says these elongated shapes work well in many settings but highlights a modified bezel as a popular choice. “[They] allow room to play with interesting ways to frame these special diamonds,” she says.
West has also witnessed an uptick in elongated stones in experimental settings like off-kilter mountings. “Beautifully cut elongated pears and elongated ovals will always make a mark on brides-to-be open to rare silhouettes,” the designer says. “My Rebel Ring, in black or rose gold, puts the longer pear cut diamond on a pedestal, showing off its curve in a unique and bold way.”