Classic wedding rings capture love's eternity in their shape and form.
Classic styles continue for wedding rings
By Timothy Grey
It seems that the more things change the more they remain the same, and that’s certainly true for weddings rings. While classic styles are still popular there’s a move back to hand-made designs.
The very first wedding ring – so the story goes – was given by an ancient Egyptian on the banks of the Nile. To get his message across, the prospective groom wove together reeds he’d found by the riverside: the reed-ring’s circularity symbolised the eternity he hoped to spend with his special lady, while its open middle stood for a door into the unknown.
While the sentiment remains basically unchanged, these days a bloke’s expected to shell out a little more if he’s looking to impress. Platinum, not swamp grass, and a rock the size of the moon is what the modern bride’s after, many Australian jewellers say.
What was once the gold-standard of engagement gifts – a one-carat diamond – is apparently passé.
"Everybody wants bigger," says Simon Kushnir, whose inner city Melbourne store, Simon Prestige Jewellery, sees more than its fair share of brides-to-be. "There are more professional people getting engaged later in life, so they've saved more money and want something a bit more substantial."
Brides more discerning
This trend toward a later engagement has meant women are now, on average, getting married at around 28. And, that extra life experience has made brides more discerning than ever.
“Buyers are very, very educated,” warns Kushnir. “They do research on the internet and they come in knowing what they want.”
What these educated buyers want, however, is increasingly varied. The classic, ‘solitaire claw setting’ with its single diamond seated prominently upon a golden band, remains unflaggingly popular.
"You really get to see the diamond," explains Rob Clark, co-owner of Sunstate Group, one of the country’s longest-serving designers and manufacturers of jewellery. "It makes the diamond look bigger, especially if you cut it up the right way."
Princess cut engagement rings – which sees the diamond shaped into a square – while still popular, are waning in popularity against the standard round brilliant cut (with its regular form of 57 faces), the antique, oval-shaped cushion cut, and the Asscher cut (which, like so many products, was helpfully popularised by American wish-fulfillment sitcom, Sex and the City).
Meanwhile, although the perennial 18-carat white gold ring remains the metal of choice, more fiancés are demanding platinum. Its resurgent popularity could, perhaps, be attributed to its longevity.
"Platinum's colour doesn't change, unlike the plating on white-gold. People are choosing to spend that extra money and not worry about re-plating their jewellery," explains Robert Saffo, a partner at Jacobson's Jewellery, a Sydney-based designer.
Bespoke makes a come back
But, while trends certainly come and go, many couples are forging their own way in jewellery design.
"People are going down their own road," says Tom Szenes of Lora Di Jewellery, a hand-crafted jewellery designer in southern Sydney.
Milled edge, grain set and filigree styles have become big requests, and pavé-set or three-clustered diamonds are all popular. Coloured stones – particularly for second-time-round brides – are also in demand.
Custom-designed wedding and engagement rings have become an increasingly common choice.
"I think more and more, people are trying to find that point of difference and put some meaning back into it, rather than just facts and figures and prices," says Aaron Wilson, manager at Wilson's Jewellers in Melbourne.
Wilson says he’ll often sit down with a couple to figure out their style, jotting down designs on paper before developing a ring with his team.
"In a lot of ways, handmade rings are quicker than non-handmade rings because often, when you're using cast pieces, the buying process can take some time and it's out of your hands," Wilson explains.
"I think people these days want something individual and something unique, as well as something they've had input into."
Don’t forget the guys
Even the gents are getting in on the action, with grooms looking for their own bit of bling in their wedding band.
"Men are becoming a little more adventurous with their designs and what they'll accept,” claims Jacobson’s Saffo. “Most of the guys want to do something with their wedding bands rather than going for a plain one. It's mainly white gold and two-tone, but some guys are going for platinum with diamonds.”
But custom-designed rings are not without their problems and Nicola Cerrone from Cerrone Jewellers admits that designing a piece with a customer is "a lot more of a challenge".
Preconceived ideas may not always suit, and what may be a grand design in a consumer's head may not translate perfectly to the finger.
"The jeweller will always advise what is possible to do and what is not possible to do," Cerrone says. "The balancing, the proportions, that's up to the jeweller to explain, but the rest is really up to the customer to decide what she really wants."
But, despite the embarrassment of riches when choosing some sparkle, soon-to-be brides keep coming back to the classics.
“At the end of the day, for the wedding market, it's the diamond," says Szenes. "I think it's what a lot of people grew up with, and diamonds are basically the accepted pattern."
Diamonds, as the lady says, are a… perpetually lucrative market for the jewellery industry.
Photography Source: Milque Photography
Posted February 02, 2012