The idea that love always prevails can seem idealistic, even cheesy at times. But when it comes to engagement ring trends since COVID-19, the whimsical notion proves truer than ever. "While many weddings have been postponed due to COVID-19, we have seen a significant increase in engagements," Mona Akhavi, the chief executive officer of the ethical fine jewelry brand, Vrai, tells TRZ. "Couples are spending more quality time together and planning their futures," she adds.
Ashley Zhang, a New York-based fine jewelry designer, witnessed a similar trend throughout the pandemic, noting engagements and marriages occurring on a whim. "There's so much uncertainty in the world right now. People don't want to wait months for an engagement ring or to get married — they want to keep it simple, fun, and spontaneous!" The designer is currently fielding quick turnaround requests and making it happen — it's also resulting in a significant turn toward vintage rings. "Vintage has become more popular. We can usually resize an antique ring within one to two business days and offer overnight shipping if a customer needs it."
LA-based bespoke engagement ring designer Maggi Simpkins says she's surprised to have been so busy during COVID-19, noticing a similar pattern toward commitment. "I think a lot of my clients have become really clear that they are certain about their person, and while they might not know what tomorrow will bring, they know who they want to be with. My clients really inspire me, I'm so impressed by all of the people I see choosing love instead of fear at this time."
Jenny Klatt, the co-founder of the New York-based fine jewelry brand, Jemma Wynne, attributes the surge in fine jewelry sales to a more practical motive — people's desire to invest. "Now more than ever, the consumer is looking at fine jewelry not just as a luxury accessory but as a tangible investment. So, it makes sense that white diamonds are the most coveted. Their timelessness is undeniable." The designer does agree, though, that romance plays a role — with the pandemic putting things into perspective for everyone, she thinks those wavering with the idea of a proposal realized there's no time like the present to celebrate and affirm their love. "We were pleasantly surprised to see how many engagement rings we were selling after the onset of COVID-19," she tells TZR. "Someone really close to the Jemma Wynne family got engaged this summer, and it was really special for us to be part of something so momentous in such a tumultuous time. You're reminded that love really can conquer all!"
While consumers are dashing toward commitment and investing in engagement rings, Zhang observes a desire to spend less among customers. She says the average carat size has stayed the same. Still, to cut costs, she's been showing customers stones with lower color and clarity grades — a compromise many of her clients are happy with to get the carat weight and size they want. "In our antique diamonds, I feel that these lower qualities can still be very beautiful and add some romance to the ring," she explains. "An antique old-mine-cut diamond set in yellow gold will look very white and sparkly in a J-M color grade; with this color choice, you can get you a large diamond (two to three carats) for $10,000 to $20,000."
Brooklyn-based designer Caitlin Mociun specializes in unique and custom creations and has also noticed an increase in engagement sales than in past years. "As a fine jewelry brand that has easily moved to being largely online-based, we have positioned ourselves well for the current situation we're in." The designer frequently customizes her pre-designed collection rings in addition to offering bespoke services, and since COVID-19, she says the custom trend is continuing. "Our clients want to make sure things are extra special these days."
Whether an engagement is in your future, or you're here for the sparkly eye-candy, keep scrolling to discover the top eight engagement ring trends to emerge throughout COVID-19, as explained by designers of Vrai, Jemma Wynne, Maggi Simpkins, Ashley Zhang, and Mociun.
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Engagement Ring Trends: Classic Design With A Twist
While many brides still want a classic feel with their engagement ring, Akhavi says many seek something a little less traditional. Simple solitaire rings with a classically-shaped diamond in an east-west-setting, and unique cuts like hexagons and shields are among the most popular.
Stephanie Wynne Lalin, the other half of Jemma Wynne, tells TZR that many of her clients request alternative stone cuts, which she and Klatt love to hunt for and use in their designs. "A shield or elongated baguette can give a ring an edgier feel and is very much in line with our luxe but casual aesthetic."
Simpkins and Zhang are noticing the simplicity trend, but with uniqueness worked into the design, whether with color, a more ornate band, or a distinctive focus on the center stone. "Our specialty is creating settings that are timeless but have unique details," Zhang says. "We're adding small diamonds in the setting, or other intricate details like engraving or hand dotted milgrain."
Engagement Ring Trends: Elongated Stones and Unique Shapes
Lalin says alternative stone cuts like shields, elongated baguettes, and trillions are especially desirable right now. "They're unexpected and a little rarer," she explains. For those seeking out a more timeless shape, Akhavi tells TZR that elongated shapes like oval and emerald-cut stones are trending and predict those, as well as unique shapes, will be a trend for engagement rings in the upcoming year. For Simpkins, her most-requested shapes are ovals and pear shapes.
Engagement Ring Trends: Antique & Vintage
For those on a tighter budget, antique diamonds and vintage rings are a wise investment, and many come in under $5,000. What's more, the character and individuality of rings from decades past are unparalleled when your goal is one-of-a-kind distinction. "We have been seeing a trend in antique diamonds for a while, but we feel with the pandemic, they are becoming more popular," Zhang tells TZR, noting antique old mine cuts and antique old European cuts as popular picks.
The designer says customers can get more for their money with antique diamonds for two reasons: they often hold their color grading better (meaning they can look whiter and brighter). They also tend to be spread larger for their carat weight (a.k.a. you can get a bigger-looking ring, for less). For the ultimate antique-modern look, art deco rings are perfection — Mociun and Simpkins both have noticed an upswing in their popularity.
Engagement Ring Trends: Colored Stones
For a bolder engagement ring look, colored stones are an increasingly popular choice. Mociun's clients often embrace color, from center stones to her popular cluster designs. Among her recent requests, she says, "We have a lot of clients looking for colored accent stones along with the white diamond center stones." Similarly, Simpkins has noticed a spike in salt and pepper diamonds (they're grey and black with a speckled look) and sapphires for engagement ring center stones.
Wynne Lalin tells TZR that yellow diamonds are making a big comeback, and not in the traditional way. "We've had a lot of brides set yellow diamonds in yellow gold, and it creates the most luxurious look — it's almost as if you can't see where the stone ends." Klatt says the label's popular open ring silhouettes continue to remain in demand and are a great way to experiment with color, like with emeralds or sapphires.
Engagement Ring Trends: Nesting Bands
Stones aren't the only area of an engagement ring to consider for a modern look. Simpkins says her clients are more frequently tending toward unique bands, like nesting styles (these mimic the shape of an engagement ring to nestle alongside it perfectly) or ring sets for a fresh look.
As consumers seek out more unique designs that better reflect their personal style, Akhavi says that non-traditional settings, such as chevron bands, are another way to embrace modernity, predicting a rise in popularity.
Engagement Ring Trends: Yellow Gold
Across the board, all jewelry brands note the significance of yellow gold engagement rings. "Yellow gold is always my most requested gold color," Simpkins tells TZR, while Lalin says Jemma Wynne has become synonymous with the metal.
While Mociun says she overwhelmingly sells yellow gold pieces, she does get the occasional request for other metals. Zhang echos this sentiment, noting: "Yellow gold is our most popular metal choice at the moment! We also see a rise in mixed metals, setting the center diamond in platinum and the band in a warm yellow gold."
Engagement Ring Trends: Custom
Since COVID-19, Akhavi says customizable engagement rings are on the rise. "We are immensely proud of the innovative customization process we have," she tells TZR. Consumers can design a made-to-order engagement ring by selecting their diamond, metal, orientation, and a band of choice — they can even engrave it — and it will arrive in less than two weeks. "They can do this on their own or through a virtual consultation with our in-house diamond specialists."
Klatt has also seen an uptick in Jemma Wynne's bespoke requests. "Our clients want something completely unique to them; knowing you are the only person in the world with that stone or design has a certain sentimentality and value to it that is unmatched."
Engagement Ring Trends: Ethically-Made
Brides are more frequently considering the social and environmental impact of their engagement ring, seeking out ethically mined or sustainably created lab-grown diamonds, recycled solid gold, and compostable or reusable packaging. "At Vrai, sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do," Akhavi says. "While brides value personalization and uniqueness, many are also socially conscious, choosing sustainable purchasing options that have a positive impact on the world."
Mociun says she hasn't seen a change in the number of requests for ethically sourced stones, but notes: "Since that's something that we always do, it might be that our clients know that about Mociun, so don't have to request it."