Expressions of Love

Feature:March 19989

Expressions of Love

Bridal jewelry in 1999 will range from antique-inspired and romantic to thoroughly modern and statement-makers. Here's a look at this year's crop

Timeless symbols of commitment and love, engagement and wedding rings are the most precious of jewelry for many couples.

Some of these rings recall the past, from ancient-inspired designs to the Arts Deco and Nouveau. Others look ahead, with stark, elegant lines ready to carry the wearer into the next millennium.

Here's a look at what's selling now and what industry experts feel is on the horizon.

The Setting Scene
The Tiffany setting still captures the hearts of loving couples around the world. "Four- and six-prong Tiffany settings are the dominant force in engagement ring sales," says Edward Zohrabian, president of Universal Fine Jewelry, Los Angeles, CA. This setting holds the diamond aloft in a timeless showcase unaffected by changing fads.

Two-prong and tension-set mountings are more of a fashion and designer statement than a trend. "Buying a diamond is a sizable investment, and these settings tend to make people nervous for fear of losing the diamond," says Michael O'Connor, director of corporate marketing for Frederick Goldman, New York City. Still, these rings – when done by knowledgeable designers and manufacturers, can hold a diamond securely while meeting consumers' demand for modern designs.

Another contemporary look – the partial bezel setting – is an elegant design that's growing in popularity. "The bezel in any variation is quickly gaining interest and generating sales," says A.J. Tosyali, vice president of Benchmark, Tuscaloosa, AL. Partial bezels – along with offering a fresh look – allow more light to pass through the diamond than a full bezel does, he says.

Other styles driving sales today are sparkling pavé settings, sleek channel settings and shanks with filigree or tiny stones added for interest.

Heavy Metal
Platinum remains the fastest-growing metal in bridal jewelry, with white gold riding on its coattails. "Sales of our platinum line have doubled in the past year," says Isabella Schonwetter, vice president of marketing for Leiberfarb Inc., Orange, NJ.

Despite the popularity of platinum, the majority of bridal jewelry sales are still yellow gold. And with gold's price slide the past two years, it's even more on consumers' minds.

For anyone interested in more than gold but afraid to take the platinum plunge, mixed-metal jewelry has become a popular option. "Platinum and 18k rings are particularly popular among men," says Lisa Christopolous, vice president of Barnett Robinson, New York City. Some manufacturers see this as an interim step to consumers becoming comfortable with all-platinum rings.

Cut & Color
Princess, emerald-cut and other square diamonds are making inroads among today's older, more sophisticated brides. In fact, Universal Fine Jewelry's Zohrabian predicts the princess will be the most powerful cut for 1999: "The square is having a tremendous impact on jewelry, especially with the popularity of channel and invisible settings."

Other diamond cuts to keep on display are the trillion, the oval and the ever-dependable round.

Colored diamonds are trying to "bust a move" in bridal jewelry as consumers recognize and slowly accept champagnes and fancy yellows. But this is an expensive product, limiting the market.

The use of colored gemstones may be a way to add spice without the high cost of colored diamonds. Since the 1950s, De Beers has spent millions in advertising to encourage every man in America to show his fiancée he'll love her forever by giving her a diamond. So it's no wonder diamonds are the gem of choice for most brides. However, colored gems have expressed a man's love for a woman since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. Each colored gem signifies a variety of sentiments. For example:

  • Ruby represents passion and love.
  • Sapphire symbolizes faithfulness and truth.
  • Emerald expresses loyalty and commitment.

Though colored gems have not been promoted aggressively as betrothal and wedding ring options, they've become an increasingly popular choice for many independent-thinking brides.

Such celebrated people as Princess Diana, socialite Ivana Trump and actress Kirstie Alley opted for a sapphire for their engagements. Gems are often the choice for second (or third or fourth) marriages and those who marry later in life, as well as for contemporary brides with more sophisticated taste.

"Couples looking for a unique way to express personal symbolism and style choose colored gems for their rings," says Lucinda Rogers of Gold 'n' Carats Jewelers in Irving, TX. "Usually, the bride motivates a colored stone purchase. The groom is more comfortable with a diamond because he sees it as traditional."

Requests for colored gem engagement rings and wedding bands are more prevalent at guild jewelry stores specializing in color and custom work. Better-quality sapphire, ruby and emerald – in that order – are the most favored colored gem choices for engagement rings, set in simple mountings and flanked by diamonds. Fancy-colored sapphires are popular also. "We encourage couples looking for colors like yellow, pink and purple to consider sapphire for its durability," says Diane Alfillé of Eve Alfillé Designs, a designing jeweler in Evanston, IL. "Most people are surprised to see the variety of colors it comes in."

By and large, however, it appears colored gems are more widely accepted as accents to diamond engagement rings than center stones, says Mark Loren, president of Mark Loren Designs, a manufacturing jeweler in Fort Meyers, FL. Gemstone accents in the same or complementing shapes as the center diamond are very popular, such as oval centers with trilliant- or pear-shaped sides, notes Richard Mason, president of Barnett Robinson.

Colored gems are used increasingly in wedding bands. According to Mason, channel-set bands in a single row or multiple rows of alternating colored gems and diamonds (part way and all the way around) are a big portion of his business, especially with sapphire and ruby.

The great aspect of color, say gem advocates, is that jewelers have more room for profit than with diamonds. An average retail price range for colored stone wedding rings is $2,000-$10,000, say custom jewelers.

– by Lorraine M. Suermann and Deborah Yonick



Platinum rings from Tacori sparkle with diamond pavé. The ring at left has 0.90 carat of pavé and is $3,450 suggested retail (semimount). The other ring has 1.0 carat of pavé and is $3,700 (semimount).
Tacori, Los Angeles, CA; (800) 421-9844 or (213) 488-0692, fax (213) 488-0635.

Platinum and diamond rings are from the Bianca by Emmi Inc. Collection by Universal Fine Jewelry. The top ring features 1.59 carats of bezel-set princess diamonds, channel-set round diamonds and pavé. The bottom ring has 0.17 carat of round diamonds and filigree work on the shank and sides.
Universal Fine Jewelry/Bianca by Emmi Inc., Los Angeles, CA; (800) 255-6069 or (213) 622-7234, fax (213) 622-7542,

Hand-engraved rings are crafted in platinum and 18k gold by Malakan Diamond Co. The top ring features 0.17 carat of round diamonds and is $2,107 suggested retail (semimount). The bottom ring holds 0.16 carat of round diamonds and is $2,019 suggested retail (semimount).
Malakan Diamond Co., Fresno, CA; (800) 953-9357 or (209) 431-1500, fax (209) 431-3452.

Band crafted in 18k gold and platinum features leaf and berry motif. Suggested retail, $900.
Diana Heimann Designs, New York City; (212) 221-9132, fax (212) 714-1402.

The Lattice collection from Frederick Goldman features 18k white and yellow handwoven bands. Suggested retail, $450-$480.
Frederick Goldman, New York City; (800) 223-4262, fax (212) 633-6989.

Platinum or 18k gold stackable rings offer a unique twist to traditional wedding bands. Each band features diamond accents and geometric shapes. Suggested retail, $2,000 in 18k, $3,200 in platinum (prices per set).
Chris Correia Collection, New York City; (212) 695-4711.

18k two-tone diamond ring features 0.90 carat of channel-set side diamonds. Suggested retail for the semimount, $2,450.
M&L Jewelry Mfg. Inc., Los Angeles, CA; (213) 250-7000.

Platinum and 18k rose gold wedding ring is hand-fabricated from extruded flat stock (rolling mill) and dies (wire). The ring features a hammered finish. Suggested retail, $1,095.
Samuel Jewels Inc., New York City; (800) 257-3338 or (212) 869-5688, fax (212) 768-3743.

Basket weave platinum ring is adorned with a 0.25-ct. bezel-set center diamond and 0.55 carat of other diamonds. Suggested retail, $4,400.
Neil Amrani Platinum, exclusively for Man-Am Creations Ltd., Orangeburg, NY; (800) 862-6267 or (914) 365-2846, fax (914) 365-3105.

Big Statement

The Sentimenti d'Oro collection from Chimento is inspired by such images as the sparkling sun, flowers in bloom, singular petals and luscious fruits and leaves. Available in 18k yellow or white gold, the rings may be ordered in a variety of color combinations, with or without diamonds. Suggested retail, $600-$7,000.
Chimento Corp., Miami, FL; (800) 854-0122 or (305) 372-8025, fax (305) 372-5071.

European-inspired designs feature engraving in white gold. All merchandise is in stock for overnight delivery in 14k gold. Available by special order in platinum,18k and 10k. Gold is available in yellow, white, rose and green.
Overnight Mountings, Long Island City, NY; (888) 731-1111 or (718) 472-1212, fax (718) 784-2200.

 Ring from Superior Diamond Cutters holds 2 carats of diamonds. It's from a line of platinum and 18k gold rings retailing from $3,000 to $10,000.
Superior Diamond Cutters, New York City; (800) 342-0036.

This platinum ring is channel-set with 0.64 carat of diamonds with a 0.75-ct. center stone. All diamonds are Crisscut.®
Christopher Designs, New York City; (800) 917-8590 or (212) 382-1013, fax (212) 768-8978,

Diamond solitaire engagement rings are crafted in 18k gold and feature a brilliant-cut, bezel-set diamond (left) and an emerald-cut diamond flush against the flat band. The brilliant-cut diamond is available with a diamond pavé band.
Cartier, New York City; (212) 446-3559 or (212) 446-3519.

Platinum engagement ring and matching band each hold 0.40 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $2,200 for the semimount, $2,120 for the wedding band.
Verragio Fine Jewelry Design, New York City; (212) 840-5895, fax (212) 354-4544.

Interlocking platinum bridal set features three princess-cut diamonds at the top and round diamonds traveling down the shank. Diamonds total 0.75 carat (including the center stone). Suggested retail, $1,995.
A&A Jewelers Inc., Buffalo, NY; (416) 284-1212, fax (800) 268- 6555.


Platinum and 18k gold wedding bands feature a variety of finishes.
Golden Beauty Wedding Rings Inc., New York City; (212) 391-2866 or

14k two-tone interlocking bridal set features a princess-cut center stone and eight channel-set round diamonds. Retail for semimount and band, $962.
I.B. Goodman Co., Cincinnati, OH; (800) 543-1945 or (513) 241-1206, fax (513) 721-3833.

Engagement ring from Barnett Robinson features 1 carat of rubies and a 0.25-ct. diamond in 18k gold with platinum borders. The matching wedding band holds 1.10 carats of rubies. Suggested retail, $3,000 for the engagement ring, $2,200 for the wedding band. Also available with sapphires or all diamond.
Barnett Robinson, New York City; (800) 223-0240 or (212) 682-1086, fax (212) 682-1848.

A heart shape joins the oval, pear and round Gabrielle® diamond ring collection. Available in 14k yellow and white gold.
Suberi Brothers Inc., New York City; (800) 223-0100 or (212) 979-9100, fax (212) 979-5331.

These platinum rings have a river of 18k gold running through them. The engagement ring cradles a 0.19-ct. diamond. Suggested retail, $2,763 for the engagement ring, $1,545 for the band.
Christian Bauer, Melbourne, FL; (800) 228-3724 or (407) 951-4090, fax (407) 951-4175.

14k white gold engagement rings each hold a 0.25-ct. bezel-set diamond. Suggested retail, $300-$350 (semimount).
C. Priolo, Fairfax, CA; (800) 458-3764 or (415) 459-5769, fax (415) 459-1513.

18k gold ring features bezel-set marquise rubies accented with diamonds set in platinum bezels. Suggested retail, $2,200.
Sachs/Reisman Inc., New York City; (800) 236-6421 or (212) 719-4102, fax (212) 719-4103.

This women's set from the platinum and diamond bridal collection by Rudolf Erdel Platinum is $2,975 (semimount and band). A matching men's band is available.
Rudolf Erdel Platinum, New York City; (212) 633-9333, fax (212) 242-7678.

18k yellow and white gold band is shown with a Spirit Sun® yellow sapphire cut by gem artist Bernd Munsteiner. Suggested retail, $1,080 for the semimount.
William Richey Designs, Camden, ME; (207) 236-4731.

14k gold wedding band features burnish-set scattered diamonds.
Leiberfarb Inc., Orange, NJ; (800) 631-7898 or (973) 676-9090.

From the "wrap ring" series by Susan Michel Ltd. comes this 14k two-tone band set ablaze with 0.32 carat of pavé diamonds. Suggested retail, $824. Also available in 18k yellow, white, pink or green gold with pink, blue or yellow sapphires.
Susan Michel Ltd., Flushing, NY; (718) 591-372, fax (718) 380-3835.

Platinum and 18k hand-fabricated engagement ring features a 1.25-ct. princess-cut diamond flanked by six baguette pink sapphires. Suggested retail, $2,700 for the semimount.
Zoltan David, Austin, TX; (512) 372-8888, fax (512) 257-1295.

Two-tone wedding band from Benchmark is available in 14k or 18k gold and all platinum.
Benchmark, Tuscaloosa, AL; (205) 345-0555, fax (205) 752-8322.

Contemporary bridal set features platinum bands.
Judith Conway, Windsor, CA; (707) 838-8760, fax (707) 838-8765.

All in platinum (from left) are a tulip ring featuring a 1.75-ct. blue center diamond with 0.10 carat of mixed colored diamonds ($7,085 suggested retail); an offset halo band with a 0.70-ct. cinnamon-colored, bezel-set diamond and 0.10 carat of mixed colored diamonds ($5,713); and five starlight bands holding mixed fancy colored diamonds ($1,489-$3,422, depending on diamonds).
Etienne Perret Fine Jewelry Designer, Camden, ME; (800) 426-4367 or (207) 236-9696, fax (207) 236-9698,
Ultra-modern bridal sets feature unusual shapes.
William Schraft Designs, Millburn, NJ; (201) 376-8575.


Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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