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
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
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
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
"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, Emmiinc@aol.com.
|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)
|Band crafted in 18k gold and platinum features leaf and berry motif. Suggested
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
|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.
|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
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
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, www.christopherdesigns.com.
|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
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 email@example.com.
|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
|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)
|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
|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)
|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
|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
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
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, www.etienne.com.
|Ultra-modern bridal sets feature unusual shapes.|
William Schraft Designs, Millburn, NJ; (201) 376-8575.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.