The style of your engagement ring – the one piece of your jewelry you have to wear for the rest of your life – is important. And it helps if it is crafted to be uniquely yours. There are thousands of those out there with unlimited choices with regards to their stone shape, the cut, and the metal of the band.
And like wedding fashion trends, engagement ring trends continue to evolve, and the previous decades have seen great variations in shape, cut, and metal. Your mom’s engagement ring, for instance, is likely different from what you or your girlfriend have. But while clothing trends practically change every month, with engagement rings it is more like once a decade or so.
And while past decades have seen slower changes, the present equipment, crafting techniques, the general availability of materials, and people’s desire for unique styles have given more impetus to new variations of engagement rings. With that in mind, here is a round-up of popular engagement ring trends spanning over a century ago.
Start of the 20th century
The beginning of the 20th century saw an upsurge in the Edwardian style of jewelry. And due to the industrial revolution, the middle class expanded, which meant that more people could afford quality jewelry. The main inspiration at the time was King Edward and his wife.
Elegance and grace were the key looks at the time in the engagement rings. And we say the Edwardian style as the platinum and unique diamond ring inspired by his family were characterized by fine detailed and intricate filigree work, with top-end craftsmanship.
This period marked the onset of the Jazz era, and popular culture became a big deal for most people. The jewelry in the next 20 years spanning from 1920 to 1940 was characterized by Art Deco, which was inherently the polar opposite of the Edwardian era. The U.S led the way with the Art Deco engagement rings that consisted of unique diamond rings combined with colored gems.
Unlike the previous era, this period saw a change in craftsmanship. And instead of the large center stone, several smaller pieces of gems were introduced to create designs and add impact. Thus, the engagement rings during this time we’re all about making a statement look by being unique.
The 1940s through to 1960s
The period after The Second World War saw an explosion of varieties. And while the war impacted the distribution of precious gems to the mass market, gold bands and other custom jewelry became popular. And in the 1950s, soon after the war settled and peace was restored, people looked back to the old classics, which meant that the single diamond solitaire rings crafted with gold bands became the popular choice.
And while people were stuck to the 1920s traditionalism, this period saw an upsurge in three stone diamond rings with gold bands too. The goal of the engagement rings during this time was all about simplicity, meaning that old bold designs and intricate filigree work disappeared. Besides, extravagant engagement ring diamonds that were streamlined in white metal were considered too glamorous and ultra-modern.
The 1960s to the 1980s
This period was characterized by a maximalist fashion. This meant that all jewelry across the board, including wedding rings, was about making an over-the-top statement. The 1960s decade coincided with the explosion of the celebrity culture. And Hollywood actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor and the famous Jackie Kennedy inspired the jewelry industry with their iconic status. Simply by what they wore, their engagement rings were more so scrutinized and became a trend henceforth.
And while diamonds are forever exquisite, the 1980s princes cut sapphires became quite popular, thanks to Princess Diana. Moreover, the elaborate and fancy cut three-stone diamond rings with classic white and gold metal became the new standard. They were further perfected and popularized by prominent figures such as Richard Burton.
Nonetheless, one of the most famous engagement rings of all time coincided with this decade, and that was the beautiful sapphire and unique diamond ring that was given to Princess Diana. Its floral precious stone design set the trend for the engagement rings thereafter. And it was Princess Diana’s ring that his son, Prince William, later gave to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, two decades later.
The 1990s engagement rings
This decade was characterized by simplicity. It became a minimalistic reaction to the excesses of the previous decade. And that was true for the ’90s engagement rings too. The large center stone design was restored, hence, the solitaire setting once aging became popular, and the marquise-shaped stones with yellow god bands came by and quickly dropped off, ushering in the resurgence of white-colored platinum and gold engagement rings.
The engagement rings in this period were characterized by the halo design – with a center pave diamond with other smaller gemstones that encircle the center stone. That said, the platinum bands and the solitaire diamonds have characterized the turn of the century. And the years after Prince William and Kate got engaged, the colored gemstone engagement rings became popular once more, especially the rose gold variant.
The recent past engagement rings
The latest royal engagement to grip the world was between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Harry gave Markle a three-stone diamond ring, which sparked a comeback of this beautiful setting. The three-stone engagement ring is thought to symbolize the past, the present, and the future, and it is a representation of enduring love.
What the future holds for engagement rings
Looking at the past, you cannot rule out the resurgence of any traditional setting-type engagement rings. And while new styles and creativity will determine what the future holds for the engagement rings, you can safely predict more nontraditional styles to come to the fore in the coming years.
However, the three-stone rings and the gold-colored ones especially don’t look like they are going away any time soon. And not only that but all colored gemstones such as the brilliant princess cut diamond engagement rings and the delicate vintage-inspired styles of the post-royal engagements are here to stay.
The bottom line
The modern engagement ring dates back to the ancient Egyptians and the Romans. Ancient Egyptians were found buried with metal wire around the third fingers of their left hands. Over the centuries, the shape, cut, and material of engagement rings have changed from one generation to the other.