Jump to navigation
an Introduction to Ring Styles
For many people, shopping for a diamond ring is likely to be a once in a lifetime experience – unless you happen to be thrice married Brit actor John Cleese, who has no doubt become an expert. Naturally, when the time comes to get down on bended knee and ask the love of your life for her hand in marriage, offering a ring that reflects the sincerity of your commitment will be something she never forgets. That's why it's important to keep in mind a few key considerations when confronted with a myriad of sparkling style choices – namely when choosing the right ring and stone settings! Our guide to the most popular ring variations and styles will give you some insight into the various settings available, and help you narrow down your choices until you find the ring that speaks to you!
Traditional and Contemporary Ring Settings
When selecting the right ring for your beloved, you naturally want to be able to choose from a selection befitting of Royalty. London's oldest jewellery house, Garrard's of London, are renowned for their Royal commissions, and as such have one of the most comprehensive selections of engagement rings in the world. But, with variety in choice comes significant difficulty. Confronted by so many different settings, styles and shapes, how can you truly know what your fiancee would prefer, unless she chooses herself?
Your choice of stone will generally account for 85-90% of the value of an engagement ring, however, the setting is what ultimately adds personal value and character. Different settings also convey unique meanings, so it helps to know just what each represents before making any final decision!
Diamond solitaire rings are one of the most versatile and popular choices for engagement rings, and for many, a lone diamond is the ultimate symbol of two people becoming “one”. Solitaire engagement rings very rarely feature additional detailing on the surface of the ring, since the focal point is the diamond itself. The quality of a solitaire set diamond should be a leading priority for couples, since there are no other accents which might detract from very minor imperfections. We highly recommend familiarising yourself with the four C's of diamond quality here, to ensure you find the best quality diamond befitting of your budget.
If you've ever been fortunate enough to have visited one of London's beautiful Gothic churches or cathedrals, you can't fail to have noticed they all share a similar characteristic: arches. These beautiful sweeping arcs create the illusion of space and light in these dark, yet exalted buildings, so it makes sense why they'd be ideal for a ring setting.
Cathedral settings are elegant and sophisticated, often enclosing three to five diamonds in a single jewellery piece. The arches create a sweeping focal point that accentuates the brilliance and fire given off by diamonds, drawing the eye inward to the largest focal stone.
The Georgian era (1714-1837) defines a particularly romantic period in British history when both nature and wildlife dominated jewellery styles. Almost all jewellery pieces inset with gemstones were crafted by hand, earning this period the nickname the “Arts and Crafts age”. Georgian ring settings often feature a focal gemstone, surrounded by smaller, equally eye-catching stones or pearls in contrasting hue. Flowers, leaves and insects were huge influences upon jewellery styles, so it's not unusual to find rings etched with leaves and other naturally inspired detailing.
With the fortunes of many bolstered by the Industrial Revolution, and the discovery of numerous diamond mines in South Africa, then a British colony, the Victorian period (1837-1901) marked a key turning point in British fashions. Now, even working classes could afford to invest in statement jewellery pieces, and the introduction of the “mine cut” (diamonds cut with an extra facet on the base) allowed for far more experimentalism with styles.
Victorian rings took inspiration from the Industrial age; minimalist with clean lines, and stones or pearls inset in rows. The vast majority of engagement rings were made from 15 carat yellow gold, until the latter half of the Century when both 9 carat and 12 carat variations were introduced. The classic Tiffany six-prong diamond solitaire introduced in 1886 is a fabulous example of a timeless style influenced by the Industrial Age.
Engagement rings produced during the Edwardian era (1901-1920) were a stark contrast to the yellow-gold styles which dominated the 19th Century. Following the invention of the oxyacetylene torch, platinum became the metal of choice for engagement rings. Jewellers became increasingly experimental with styles, producing pattern variations on lace, as well as pierced mounts, scroll-work and fancy filigree patinas. Milgrain added texture to the appearance of the metal, allowing for jeweller's to replicate older vintage styles. Rose cut diamonds were particularly vogue, characterised by a flat surface and stepped sides with 12-24 triangular facets.
Art Nouveau defines a romantic period in history between the Victorian and Edwardian eras (1890-1905). It is not dissimilar to the Georgian era, noted for its beautifully ornate styles inspired by nature. Jewellery from this period is often described as vintage, since it incorporates styles from both the early Victorian “Romantic” period, and contemporary techniques. Engagement rings generally featured a single rectangular or square cut diamond, enhanced with beautiful scroll or lattice work.
The end of World War I heralded a significant change in the dynamics of many social classes; a “new money” generation emerging who had the means for superior luxury. Geometric designs were the epitome of style during the Art Deco period (1920-1935), since many younger women sought to express themselves in a way that had never been seen before. Bolder attitudes paved the way for more daring styles; jewellery featuring strong angles, clean cuts and simple patterns to accentuate large stones. It was not unusual for engagement rings to be made of two precious metals, and for those who couldn't quite afford expensive pieces, gold plating became a viable alternative option.
With a stunning 18-carat sapphire set amid an oval bed of fourteen glittering diamonds, Kate Middleton's show-stopping sparkler is a prime example of how Victorian influences transcend modern engagement ring styles. Vintage settings encompass a broad range of styles that take inspiration from the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Retro, Contemporary and Post-Modern eras. The cut of the stone is usually intrinsic to the style of the ring, which in many cases, will have “vintage” features, such as etching, filigree work and milgrain detailing. Vintage stones tend to be simplistic - either oval, round or baguette shaped, however, their appearance can be enhanced by a variety of vintage “cuts”. Popular variants include the cushion, radiant, Asscher or round bezel cut.
Engagement rings enhanced with side stones tend to feature a solitary diamond at the heart, or several graduating in size to compliment the smaller accent stones. Diamond engagement rings will generally showcase side stones as a channel (one long continuous line), or within small bezel settings for added security. Side stones are generally of one size, and naturally draw the eye inward to the brilliance of the focal stone.
Three Stonesettings connote the union of the past, present and future, making this an ideal choice for couples who may already have been together a number of years before taking the next step. Three Stone rings are also considered indicative of milestones, hence why they are a highly sought after setting for wedding rings. Classic, elegant and timeless, three stone settings are not unique to a particular era of style. Settings range from the Art Deco symmetry of the 1920's, to a modest, contemporary mount atop an elegant band. Your choice of diamond will have a marked influence upon the overall aesthetic; three diamonds of equal size mounted side by side being quite demure compared to a ring with a large focal diamond, and two smaller accent stones.
There's no end to the multifarious styles and combinations that can be achieved with different settings, however, your partner's taste is ultimately indicative of the style of ring she'll most appreciate. Now, more than ever before is the time to be attentive and analyse the little things about her character you've previously overlooked - or taken for granted!