The ring’s the thing

The classic engagement ring may be a solitaire round-cut diamond, but personal style and celebrity inspiration have shaken up ring trends for 2015. That means we’ll see a little color, vintage inspiration and lots of sparkle.

“The classic designs — such as a diamond solitaire — will always continue to sell, but couples are branching out and embracing her own personal style,” said Mark Keeney, Ritani’s vice president of marketing. Located in New York, Ritani is a fine jewelry company specializing in custom engagement and wedding rings.

“Even before she’s met the groom-to-be, most women know what style fits her personality,” Keeney said. So while Nicki Minaj’s $500,000 heart-shaped halo or Lady Gaga’s 15-carat heart-shaped sparkler may fuel an uptick in heart-shaped rings, “it’s a unique style. You have to have the personality to pull it off,” Keeney said.

Halo rings

Halo engagement rings, something Ritani specializes in, continue to surge in popularity. It’s a new classic and has a great vintage feel, Keeney said. With a focal point of a center stone surrounded by a seamless ring or double ring of smaller diamonds, halos maximize carat weight without spending more on a center stone. The smaller channel diamonds add sparkle and wow factor. “It’s a show-off piece,” Keeney said.

Center diamonds in all shapes — square, oval, pear, marquise — all add beauty to a halo engagement ring and each brings a slightly different effect.

Unusual cuts

Unusual cuts — anything that isn’t round may be considered a bit different — are gaining momentum.

“Fancy cuts such as marquise, oval and pear are regaining the popularity they had in the past,” Keeney said. These shapes go well in vintage-style rings, which are trending now, too.

One star who’s helped the unusual-cut style along is Angelina Jolie, whose engagement ring featured a ‘70s look with a table-cut, flat-topped oblong center stone flanked by multiple baguettes tapering down the side. George Clooney gifted now-wife Amal Alamuddin Clooney with an emerald-cut diamond with two tapered baguettes set in platinum.

Other gems

Diamonds are the overwhelming first choice in engagement rings, but for the woman who wants to stand out, gemstone engagement rings are a distinctive choice. Top gemstones are sapphires and rubies because of their hardness, about a nine on a scale where a diamond is a 10, Keeney said.

“They’re hard, durable and good for everyday wear,” he said.

Budget tips

Not as popular as halos, diamond cluster rings bring bling on a budget with a group of smaller diamonds that together equal the weight of a single diamond but are much more affordable.

Keeney’s suggestion if you’re on a budget: “Pare down on carat size.”

“So many people are fixated on, ‘Is it 1 carat? Is it 2 carats?’ But if you go below, say .9 karat for example, and increase the quality and go with a higher-grade cut, it will be just as sparkling,” Keeney said. “Cut is the biggest factor driving sparkle.”

The easiest way to explain cut, according to Ritani, is how sparkly a diamond looks. Gemologists measure cut quality from ideal to poor, so increased cut means increased sparkle.

One last piece of advice for engagement ring shoppers: Forget the old adage that you should spend two — or is it three? — months’ salary on a ring. If you spend two months’ salary, but are paying it off for five years, it’s not the wisest investment.

“Start with what’s affordable,” Keeney said. “You can always trade up.”

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