It’s a fact: The round diamond solitaire and plain wedding band are here to stay. They’re the classic symbol of marriage in America, and if you love all things traditional, the choice is clear. If you’ve got another kind of style, you might have to do a bit more looking. We asked four area jewelers to help take the guesswork out of finding the perfect pieces, whether you prefer modern, dramatic, vintage or something completely different.
What’s hot now?
For several years, platinum and white gold were the most requested metals, but Amanda DeRuyter, sales manager at Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds in West Bend says yellow gold is making a comeback, as is the two-tone look. “There are no more rules about matching metals (only wearing yellow or white gold),” she says.
“Engagement rings with diamond halos around the center stone continue to dominate the design choices,” explains Heather Schryer of Barnes Jewelers in Oconomowoc. “But another up-and-coming trend has been the cushion-shaped diamond pulling ahead of the princess cut, taking second place as the most desired diamond cut.” (The center ring above features a cushion-cut diamond.)
While sapphires frequently appear on engagement and wedding rings, Amy Shallow, owner of A Trio Jewelry in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, says there’s a reason those in the jewelry industry steer clients toward diamonds: “DeBeer’s tagged diamonds as ‘forever,’ because they are. When you compare them to every other gemstone in the world, nothing is harder. You can pass diamonds down through generations,” she says.
Look to Diamond Nexus at Mayfair Mall for another popular diamond alternative. Whether you want to go green or save green, Diamond Nexus’ Jennifer London says their high-quality lab-created simulants are the way to go. “Our stones are all D in color, ideally cut and internally flawless. They are optically and physically the same as mined diamonds,” she says. “The only difference is the chemistry. But as I like to say to customers, ‘It is not about the chemistry of the stone, but the chemistry between two people that truly matters.’”
When it comes to the band itself, London says split and twisted designs are the most frequently requested. “There is a good mix of those loving more vintage looks and those loving a more contemporary design,” she says.
For grooms, DeRuyter says the “performance” metals are taking top rank, including cobalt chrome, tungsten, titanium, black zirconium and stainless steel. “The nice things about these rings are that they are very durable, come in all sorts of neat designs and finishes, and are at an excellent price point,” she explains. Schryer says inlays have become popular in men’s rings, too, especially those made from carbon fiber, black ceramic (shown above) or mokume gane, a mixed-metal laminate.
“Be careful with tungsten,” cautions Shallow, a fifth-generation jeweler. “It can’t be scratched, but it can shatter. If it breaks, you have to get a new ring; you can’t repair or resize it.”
And if you and your spouse-to-be can’t agree on a style, DeRuyter says you’re in luck: “The days of matching his-and-hers rings are long gone!”
“In other jewelry trends, color is hot! Gemstones, enamel and geodes are all selling like crazy!” says DeRuyter, who helps Mary Husar Martin and Mike Husar run their shop, which designs most of its jewelry and has been around for more than 60 years. “Stacking rings, bangles, even necklaces are popular—the more the merrier!” she adds.
“Everyone has a unique taste, and we can accommodate that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Shallow. She’s thrilled to be involved in such a meaningful part of a couple’s relationship. “You’re going to wear that ring every single day,” she says. “You can look at it and be reminded of that commitment, that promise you made. I get to be a part of that.” Here’s what our experts suggested for you:
If you’re modern…
Many modern brides show off their style with a tension setting (at right), says Schryer, one of just six people who work at Barnes Jewelers, a family business. “Gelin Abaci is a designer with a truly innovative style. They’re best known for their tension collection in which the center stone is held in by pressure from the sides of the ring, creating a truly awe-inspiring floating fashion.”
Our experts say wide, chunky bands are also a go-to for women, and so are asymmetrical details. DeRuyter steers guys toward cobalt chrome or black rings, or those with satin finish.
If you’re sophisticated…
For sophisticated ladies, Shallow recommends pieces with an air of history plus contemporary elements. Design facets to look for: sleek curves, graceful settings and traditionally inspired rings, such as channel-set wedding bands and rings from the Hearts on Fire line (sold at Barnes Jewelers) or Diamond Nexus’ Kostyra style (above).
Men who like this look tend to select a sleek band, too. It tends not to have embellishments, but is on the wider side. If you’re looking to give your groom a wedding gift, “refined cuff links have always carried the air of sophistication,” says Schryer.
If you’re dramatic…
This is where the bling comes in! Women who love to be in the spotlight gravitate toward “stacking rings and necklaces, bigger gemstone statement pieces and lots of layered pearl necklaces,” says DeRuyter. Multiple metals fit in well here, too. In collaborations with her clients, Shallow has used her state-of-the-art 3-D CAD/CAM software to make rings with interchangeable bands, so one day they could be wearing rose gold, and platinum the next. Another idea: The Chelsa style from Diamond Nexus is called “the ultimate diva ring” and boasts more than 230 accents (shown above).
For men: Mixed metals work for guys, too, plus “here we see a lean toward a dark finish,” says Schryer. “Either a black ceramic, black titanium or black tungsten ring is both bold and beautiful.”
If you’re practical…
Simple is the way to go here, ladies. “The clear choice is a traditional diamond solitaire engagement ring, and glamorous, yet understated diamond wedding band,” says Schryer. “It makes the statement without being ostentatious.” Shallow recommends choosing a piece without prongs, like a bezel setting, where the metal wraps all the way around the diamond. Things won’t get stuck in your ring’s nooks and crannies and you’re less likely to snag it.
Practical men’s rings are durable, sans gemstones and free of inlays or carving. In addition to a wedding ring, Schryer suggests gifting him a watch. “With great designer lines with many choices, our pick is Movado,” she says. Their Museum collection has “no bells and whistles, just a sleek minimalist design.”
If you’re vintage…
Split bands, pavé‚ settings and milgrain edging are ideal for vintage-loving brides, says London. She suggests an engagement ring with heirloom detailing, such as Elise from the Diamond Nexus collection (above). If you actually want vintage, Barnes Jewelers is known for its antique and estate jewelry, says Schryer: “We have pieces from the Victorian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and even Edwardian design eras.”
DeRuyter suggests yellow gold and inlaid patterns for grooms. Pocket watches lend a nice vintage touch, too.
If you’re artsy…
“One trend that continues to dominate is the mixing of metal and diamond colors,” says Schryer. Think rose gold with a pink diamond or yellow gold with canary diamonds. Mixed metals themselves can look really artsy, too, even if you stick to white gems. If you’re looking for a unique cut, Shallow urges you to consider a pear-shaped stone.
Artsy guys, did you know you can find rings made from rubber? Yes! And DeRuyter says it’s surging in popularity. Enamel is, too. These additional materials offer an organic look.
Don’t forget your VIPs
For brides and grooms, saying thanks to attendants and parents on their wedding day has become a tradition. If you’d like to follow it, our jewelers have plenty of ideas.
Women with a practical style would look lovely in stud earrings sporting diamonds, pearls or lab-created gems. If you’d rather aim toward the artsy, both A Trio Jewelry and Barnes Jewelers offer intricately woven pieces, like necklaces and bracelets, that can coordinate with wedding colors. Husar’s carries a variety of vibrant necklaces and rings adorned with the highest quality gemstones that appeal to many styles; Diamond Nexus’ simulants would fit the bill, too. Want something vintage? Look no further than a cameo brooch for their hair, bouquet or bodice, or a charm bracelet filled with meaningful baubles.
Commission a local designer to make cuff links, belt buckles or money clips for your groomsmen, ushers and dads—any of these jewelers would be happy to help. These gifts can complement any personality, whether it’s evident in the metal, embellishments or even the font of the monogram, should you choose to include one. Edgier belt bracelets have a manly, artistic or modern appearance.
No matter what style your dream jewelry is, the perfect piece awaits you right here in Southeastern Wisconsin, whether it’s already in the case, or in the mind’s eye of a designer.
What type of wedding jewelry do you have in mind?
Special thanks to Corinne Barnes and Sarah Anderson of Barnes Jewelers who also helped with this article.