From ethical sourcing to custom design, what couples are looking for in 2019
Wedding and engagement ring shopping is a far different experience for couples today than it was for their parents or grandparents. Not only is the shopping experience different, factors such as social media and artificial intelligence are coming into play.
Couples don’t just walk into the jewelry store and pick out rings. Instead, they focus on educating themselves first on the 4 C’s of diamond shopping: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. To some, size is what matters, while others are more interested in the color or cut of a stone. A good jeweler will help couples sort out their priorities. Colorado jewelers also say they are often working with same-sex couples, whose jewelry preferences aren’t always traditional.
In addition, modern couples pre-shop online, where the bride-to-be might have a Pinterest and/or Instagram account to which she posts images of wedding jewelry along other aspects of the occasion she and her intended are planning.
Companies like Engage, a new division of Hyde Park Jewelry, are using artificial intelligence and social media channels to help couples make ring choices. The bride or groom can download the Engage by Hyde Park app, input factors like budget, stone shape and quality and then look at available options and begin building a ring. Engage also has a try-on station at its Cherry Creek store, so that the couple can visit and put rings on their fingers to see how a given design’s size and shape feel before ordering. The store also has a 3D printer to make the custom design process a reality.
Ethical sourcing for stones and metals
A big priority with modern couples is to have rings made with diamonds and other stones that have been sourced in ethical ways, giving them confidence that no forced labor was used to mine or produce them. Jewelers work with certifying agencies to verify where stones are from.
Recycled metals are popular as well, whether a couple uses the gold from a parent or grandparent’s ring, or another source. Jewelers say that alternative metals such as tungsten and titanium are in demand for men’s bands.
The same goes for stones, with couples re-using diamonds and incorporating gems from other special pieces of jewelry and family heirlooms into their rings.
The price is right
With the high cost of diamonds, couples want to be sure they’re getting competitive pricing, which is why jewelers are sourcing their stones online through certified sources that provide documentation through the Gemological Institute of America so they know exactly what they’re buying.
Couples are also buying stones directly from companies such as the Denver-based Diamond Reserve, which will sell the loose stone or make a custom ring using the stone or stones a customer selects. Kaeleigh Testwuide, founder of the company, says that while tastes vary widely, two trends that are strong in 2019 are oval diamonds and yellow gold.
Practical and beautiful
Jamie Hollier of Balefire Goods says she has given a lot of thought to making rings that fit with the Colorado lifestyle, so the designs in her Kindle Commitment Jewelry line are in durable metals and materials. It’s easy to get dazzled by the beautify of a ring, but if it’s impractical, you’ll have to have it repaired, Holllier says. “Pavé and halo set stones can fall out, so we do more bezel-stet stones and Euro shanks that keep the stone from spinning on your finger,” she says, adding, “I don’t want to see the ring back in my shop for repairs.”
She also likes alternative stones such as sapphires and lab-grown diamonds and steers couples away from opals, which can dull with age.
The person popping the question often wants an element of surprise, but what do you do if he or she doesn’t love the ring? Companies are offering loaner rings so that a partner can select a ring for his or her intended, but then bring it back when it’s time to order a forever ring.
Suzanne S. Brown is the former fashion editor of The Denver Post and a contributing editor to Colorado Expression.
Top right photo: Courtesy of Engage
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