“Trending”: it’s a word we all use far too often. From what’s trending on Twitter – that is to say, being tweeted about in high volumes – to what’s trending in Penneys, it can often feel as if the very idea of personal taste is obsolete. We’re expected to like what we like for only a short time, and then to move on to the next “trend”.
In fact, in terms of jewellery, trends are merely a jumping-off point – and, when it comes to investment pieces, the concept of what’s trending becomes less and less significant. Right now, for example, huggie earrings are “trending”. That’s thanks, in no small part, to high-end piercing specialist and jewellery designer Maria Tash, whose “curated ear” has been seen everywhere from Twitter to LA red carpets, Pinterest to the silver screen.
But there are certain pieces of jewellery that are chosen not with a view to tapping into trends but, rather, with the hope that they will be worn forever. Pearls are one such example; the rarity and value of the simple pearl necklace means that it is not a piece of jewellery that is likely to be bought on a whim. It’s a forever purchase.
The engagement ring is another such example. At the time of purchase, it’s selected in the hope that it will be worn, and loved, forever. In sickness and in health, in fashion and out of fashion.
There are certain world events that have, without a doubt, influenced the design of the engagement ring: the marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William was one. Sapphire engagement rings became “big news”, insofar as people began asking for them – but the influence of the Royals was not enough to throw that year’s engagement trajectory entirely off course.
“The Middleton effect” was a real thing, says Elaine Byrne, store manager of Fields the Jeweller’s Grafton St store. But still, she says, the most popular ring style is “your brilliant, round-cut diamond,” she says, for the simple reason that “it’s the one that gives the most sparkle!”
Elaine would always advise customers against paying too much heed to trends or current styles; “it’s really more important that the wearer feels excited and wowed every time she looks at the ring on her finger.” The most important factor for most engagement ring purchases – right now, says Elaine, “it’s about 50/50 between men coming in alone, and couples coming in together” – is often more practical than you’d think: budget.
That’s something Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom didn’t seem to worry too much about; the couple got engaged on Valentine’s Day. Bloom presented Perry with a jaw-dropping $5 million ring: a vivid pink diamond surrounded by brilliant-cut diamonds. It may fit Perry’s quirky style, but Irish couples might take their nod more from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, whose minimalist single-stone engagement ring was papped in New York last week.
“Classics are always good,” says Elaine. “A solitaire or a three-stone ring will always be a popular choice. The halo is still a very popular choice and it gives that something extra, too.”
The Engagement Ring Cheat Sheet
Trilogy: three stones, often with a larger stone at the centre, on a single band. For extra bling, go for a diamond shoulder setting, which will have tiny sparkling diamonds set into the band. The most important thing to look for? The total carat weight; this will tell you exactly how much diamond you’re getting for your buck.
Halo: a single diamond, or cluster of smaller diamonds, surrounded by a “halo” of tiny diamonds. At least one, if not two, of your friends, is rocking a halo engagement ring right now; it’s been the most popular engagement ring style in Ireland for almost 10 years. These can be as bling as you like; go for a double or triple halo, diamond shoulders or even a diamond split shoulder ring, with two diamond-encrusted bands forming the ring.
Solitaire: a simple, stunning, elegant classic, the solitaire is often where you’ll find the most expensive rings because this one is all about the diamond. The design is straightforward: a single diamond set on a yellow, white gold or platinum band. Again, the solitaire can be found with diamond shoulders – and you can get the illusion of a large solitaire diamond with a cluster of smaller diamonds forming one sparkling focal point.