Diamonds are a girl’s best friend; or at least that used to be the case. Diamonds have been a milestone gem for numerous special occasions, for years.They have been known to be the crown jewel of engagement rings and have definitely earned their spot. The word ‘diamonds’ itself is derived from the Greek word ‘adamas’, translating to ‘unconquerable’. Supposedly, the first recorded use of the diamond engagement ring was when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.
Whilst engagement rings were certainly popular at that time, diamond engagement rings were reserved purely for nobility and the upper echelons of society. They continued to serve, throughout numerous centuries, as a way to declare infinite love.
During the 1930s, diamond sales were at an all time low as the economy took a dip after the Stock Market Crisis in 1929. At the time, De Beers was renowned as the world’s leading diamond company. Founded by entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes in 1888, by the turn of the century, De Beers controlled around 90 percent of the world’s rough diamond production. Cleverly teaming up with advertising agency N.W. Ayer, they launched a viral campaign in 1947, leading the slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’. The series of campaigns featured celebrities adorned in diamonds and aimed to create an emotional link between diamonds and eternal love. Within three years, diamond sales increased by 50 percent and by 1951, 8 out of 10 brides in the United States received a diamond engagement ring.
The tides have however been shifting, and in more recent years women have been turning to alternative options for their engagement rings. Bright, colourful gemstones such as sapphires and emeralds are now popular options. These gemstones carry special connotations in myth and culture symbolising something unique and personal with your engagement ring.
Celebrities and royalty alike have also been choosing colourful gemstones over the classic diamond as their engagement rings. In her collection of 14 engagement rings - that’s right, 14 - Victoria Beckham has one piece that features a huge oval sapphire mounted on a slim pave band, whilst Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana with an 8-carat sapphire and diamond ring, which was eventually passed along to Princess Kate Middleton. Our Burmese sapphire and diamond ring is incredibly similar to the late Diana's ring, but with a mixture of baguette cut and round cut diamonds circling the spectacular central stone, giving a unique touch to a classic setting. Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring featured a two carat diamond and a two carat emerald, both mounted in gold. Often many are choosing to combine unusual gemstones as the centrepiece, surrounded by glittering diamonds to accentuate the central stone.
These unconventional gemstones are also quite rare in the sense that there are a limited number of family businesses who still mine them. According to Mining Technology, the gemstone market has been growing, and is currently worth $23bn. Investors are looking towards alternative options due to the over inflated price of diamonds. Emeralds, for example, have increased by 500% in value since 2010 -- as they only occur in specific geological formations, making them extremely rare.
For those who want something opulent and regal, we recommend Cartier’s 18K Yellow Gold Sapphire & Diamond ring. This vintage piece features a central oval cut Sapphire, surrounded by round brilliant cut diamonds. Sapphire is one of the ‘big four jewels’ alongside emeralds, rubies and diamonds. It has become increasingly popular as it is an extremely durable precious stone, rated nine on the Mohs’ scale of hardness. Its name derives from the Latin word ‘saphirus’ and Greek word ‘sappheiros’ which both mean the colour blue. It is a symbol of heaven and represents the Guardian of Innocence. Sapphires also come in a wide spectrum of colours making them extremely versatile.
Iolite is another popular and well-loved blue gemstone. The darker variations of this gem are usually more valuable and they are a good inexpensive alternative to sapphire. Our Piaget 18K White Gold Iolite and Diamond Heart cocktail ring is a romantic choice that can be resized, taking love into a physical form due to its heart shape. Iolite is the most pleochroic gemstone, meaning its colour changes depending on the angle. Gemstone cutters take great care in faceting Iolite, ensuring its intense blue-violet colour shines through. Iolite gemstones are typically mined in Sri Lanka and Myanmar but larger, flawless pieces have also been discovered on Garnet Island in Canada.
Emeralds are called the “stone of successful love” so how appropriate would it be to have Tiffany & Co’s Yellow Gold Colombian Emerald Cocktail Ring as your engagement ring? This eclectic piece is reminiscent of a beautiful artefact lost at sea, with its deep seafoam-like emerald hue. Emeralds have been revered by numerous cultures for over six thousand years. The Emerald mines in Upper Egypt were rediscovered a hundred years ago and are known to be the oldest in the world; Emeralds were supposedly greatly loved by Cleopatra!
For something a little more contemporary, we would recommend David Morris; 18K White Gold Pink Sapphire & Diamond Cocktail ring. This glittering piece features an oval-cut Pink Sapphire, surrounded by round brilliant cut Diamonds mounted into an 18K white gold setting. The combination of Pink Sapphire and Diamonds draws together a slightly more modern and delicate take on gemstone engagement rings. Pink sapphire has been in high demand due to its flattering and feminine hue and has excellent light reflection, making it a sparkling choice.
Our Cartier White Gold Amethyst Lotus Ring is another contemporary feast for the eyes. Made in 18K White Gold, this ring hails from Cartier’s Lotus collection, featuring a central Amethyst with round brilliant cut Diamonds. This sleek piece is a perfect fit for the modern bride with its simplicity and elegance. Most Amethysts generally originate from Brazil- the first Brazilian Amethysts arrived in Europe in 1727. It became an exceptionally popular gem during the Victorian era. Many civilisations equated Amethyst’s meaning with ‘luxury’, which makes sense as purple is usually associated with royalty.
If there will be anything significantly special in your jewellery collection, it will certainly be your engagement ring. Let your engagement ring tell a story by choosing a gemstone which is personal to you to truly landmark your relationship and special day.