For several years, the focus was on the vintage-style glamour of Edwardian and Victorian era rings – typically a statement diamond surrounded by a halo of small gems. Over the last few years though, we’ve seen a surge in demand for coloured gemstones.
Part of this can undoubtedly be traced back to 2010, when Prince William presented Kate Middleton with the twelve carat blue sapphire ring that had previously belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. But even before this, blue sapphire had already been growing in popularity, as it represented the best value of the ‘Big Four’ engagement ring stones – diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire. The engagement of William and Kate merely pushed this trend onto the next level.
Sapphire still represents good value, but prices have risen in the last couple of years to reflect increased demand. This may partly explain why consumers are looking at other options aside from the classic shades of peacock or royal blue.
Fancy colours such as yellow and bright pink have both been fashionable, and in the last few months there has been significant demand for Padparadscha, a unique pinkish-orange shade that mainly originates in Sri Lanka. The name derives from the Singhalese word for lotus blossom, whose colour bears a close resemblance to the gemstone. It’s likely that demand for Padparadscha is linked to the current popularity of rose gold, as the two work extremely well together.
Aside from sapphire, we have also seen a recent trend towards emerald engagement rings. Emerald hasn’t always been a popular choice, as it’s softer and more easily damaged than either diamond or sapphire. It also generally contains blemishes or inclusions visible to the naked eye, even in good-quality stones (for this reason the Gemological Institute of America defines it as a ‘Type 3’ gemstone, while diamond is ‘Type 1’ and sapphire is ‘Type 2’).
But despite the possible drawbacks, both Halle Berry and Zoe Saldana made the bold choice to go with emerald for their engagement ring and in recent months it seems that plenty of women have chosen to follow suit.
This post is by David Rhode, of ethical jeweller Ingle & Rhode