Being an independent designer who sells both wholesale and direct to consumers, I’ve noticed several trends recently when it comes to bridal jewelry and engagement rings. To begin, I have pinpointed two unique, yet similar, groups of clients I often work with on wedding jewelry. One group of clients is a younger generation: the first-time brides, in their 20s and early 30s, and recently graduated from college or professional school. The other group consists of remarriages: brides getting married for the second time (or another multiple), mature and sophisticated, and looking to start anew. Although both of these subsets of brides are experiencing different stages of life, they both have very clear ideas of what they want, and many times, what they want has NOTHING to do with tradition!
In the past decade alone, I’ve seen a handful of metals go in and out of popularity. First, it was all about white gold, but soon, many of my brides grew tired of the upkeep due to the rhodium plating wear. Then, rose gold hit the scene fast and furious. I still get a few requests for rose gold, but not nearly as much as yellow gold now. Yellow gold has made a comeback and is the big HIT! While I’m not a “trend forecaster” and can only provide insight based on my experience, what I do know is that warmer colors are desired by my brides and that gets the ball rolling! I use 18K yellow gold which is rich and luxurious in color, and it’s like BUTTER to work with. And who loves working with all that rhodium plating anyway?
For my younger brides, I often pair that 18K yellow gold with a family heirloom diamond, and BOOM, we’ve got a winning combo! Many men bring me diamonds from their families to work with, but they also want to accent that traditional precious stone with colored gems, which is a nice way to mix it up and add flair.
For my second-time-around brides, they usually want a more eccentric look, so color is their JAM! But let’s talk about those colors and gemstones specifically. Sapphire is always a favorite with its deep hues of blues and purples. Ruby is also a crowd-pleaser, considering love and hearts are associated with the color red OR maybe brides are no longer scared of being bold and fabulous! But I use colorful spinels just as often. For example, I’m currently working on a stunning, custom paraiba tourmaline and diamond ring for a couple. The rare paraiba I’m using is such a blindingly neon blue that it looks like it was plucked directly from an iceberg in the North Pole!
Since I specialize in unique, organic, and flowing designs that are more “alternative bridal” than traditional, I get to do some truly interesting builds that are truly one-of-a-kind. Fortunately for me, I’ve been working with a wave of brides who care about sourcing, shopping locally, supporting handcrafted, and rocking something completely different. The best part? It looks like this influx of socially conscious clients is here to stay!
My ripple rings ARE my signature look, so these brides are coming to me for that specific design feature. And that’s how most people find me: searching on Google for “unique, handcrafted, or custom” engagement rings. They are purposely searching for something different and norm-defying. They don’t want a classic, smooth band with a big rock at the top. The brides (and their grooms!) I work with want a diverse and complex piece of art on their finger that they will cherish forever.
Believe it or not, both categories of brides are thinking about their first anniversary, fifth anniversary, etc. before they even wear their engagement ring. That’s because a common gift for anniversaries is another band to add to the engagement ring, so brides (and designers like me!) have to plan for stacking up two or three bands in the future. Therefore, I’m experiencing how stacking is all the rage! And bonus points if we can work-in their children’s birthstones on those bands AND if the bands can be switched around, layered, and are durable for on-the-go lifestyles. PHEW! These tiny bands can sure add a lot of pressure for a designer, but I’m up for the beautiful challenge.
My stacking bands have a distinctive design and aren’t completely flush or symmetrical. A little bit of variety is the spice of life! To me, the beauty of stacking is having some metalworking to show off, accented by diamonds or gemstones. Personally, I like a row of diamonds set in a band, but then again, that looks like everyone else’s bands. Even the wedding band that I designed for myself in 2014 is like that, despite the fact that just six years later, I now really go for the wavy, textured style of bands. So as a designer, even my personal tastes ebb and flow as the trends do.
I truly enjoy working with each bride who comes to me with a vision of her perfect engagement ring and wedding band. Because every bride of any age or from any walk of life deserves the ring she’s always imagined wearing for the most important day of her life. Knowing that I was part of her wedding in some way brings me such happiness and pride. Each ring I create has a little bit of me with it – no matter the metal, stones, or design. So while I’ve noticed these current bridal trends, I look forward to contributing to many more trends to come!