Experts reveal what wedding ring trends we'll be seeing lots more of in the new year
As the days get colder and fairy lights begin to twinkle in the streets, many are eagerly anticipating the arrival of one thing and one thing only - Engagement season!
Sparkling Christmas lights provide the perfect magical backdrop for a special proposal, and along with popping the question usually comes another 'something sparkling' (no, not the Champers, although that's an important one too.)
Whether you're in the market for an engagement ring come the new year or not, it's always interesting to see what unusual and new gems brides-to-be will be donning come 2018 and beyond (remember - an engagement ring is not just for Christmas!)
And with that in mind, we turned to six very different designers and jewellers in Ireland to find out what they think will be the top trends in engagement rings for 2018.
Here's what they have forecast...
"The trends in jewellery move much slower than fashion so there is always a want for more timeless styles like vintage or a classic single stone," says Madeline Hanlon, shop manager for luxury Grafton Street jewellers Boodles, "but we are seeing an increased interest in more unusual cuts e.g. Ashoka, Oval cuts and Cushion cuts."
The Ashoka cut diamond (pictured above on platinum, with halo of pink diamonds set in rose gold) is exclusively available through Boodles in Ireland, which Madeline believes goes down particularly well with customers as they are not likely to see the same style on their friends.
Although more unusual diamond cuts are being called for, Madeline reveals that customers are moving back to a cleaner look, and are becoming more interested in the quality of the diamond itself. She also notes however that she has seen a 'growing interest' in coloured diamonds.
"Coloured gemstones rather than diamond," Ann Chapman, owner of Stonechat jewellers in Dublin's Westbury Mall, says is the biggest trend continuing into 2018. "People are becoming more adventurous and moving away from the traditional thinking that an engagement ring has to be diamond.
"There is so much choice when it comes to coloured gemstones now," she adds, "why limit yourself to diamonds?! Morganite and Tanzanite are relatively new stones and are inexpensive as well as beautiful.”
Ann believes that for many couples, engagement and wedding rings are becoming more personal affairs - "much like the wedding ceremonies themselves".
Seamus of Voltaire Diamonds agrees, and says that he is also seeing more of an interest in coloured gemstones, as the 'Kate effect' perhaps continues to trickle down to jewellery.
"The likes of blue sapphires in trilogy and antique settings" are still a huge trend going into 2018, as are halo style morganite stones, which Seamus says provide the size a client might be looking for - without breaking the bank.
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The diamond or setting of course isn't the only aspect that needs to be considered when it comes to finding a ring for life. The colour band is also an important choice. While in recent years, many couple have been opting for a modern white gold, Seamus says he is now seeing a call for the more traditional yellow gold.
"We have noticed many clients recently requesting styles set in 18 ct yellow gold," says Seamus, "which in the past would have been associated with antique style rings or might have even be seen as ‘old-fashioned’."
"We are really seeing two huge trends," says award-winning jewellery designer Chupi, whose flagship store can be found in Dublin's Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, "gold instead of white gold and non traditional rings are two of my favourites."
Chupi specialises in jewellery inspired by nature and the wild, and her new range of engagement rings are making waves with modern, non-traditional brides since she launched her dedicated range last year.
"Our One in a Trillion ring (pictured) is set with a sparkling oval Morganite flanked by diamond triangles is utterly joyous and is set to be our bestsellers into 2018.
"Brides today want something unique," she adds, "it's a trend I love."
For Maeve Lynch, at Kilkenny-based jewellers Rudolf Heltzel, split shanks are becoming an increasingly popular choice for couples looking for a variation on the more traditional halo ring.
"Split shanks and so-called 'East-West' settings seem to be taking hold for the year ahead," says Maeve.
"Also, rose gold seems to be holding appeal for couples who want a slightly different look."
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"Halo style rings have been popular for the last number of years," says Voltaire Diamonds' Seamus, "however, in 2018 we predict the emergence of a more unique take on the traditional round halo."Geometric styles will come to the forefront, as celebrity engagement rings such as that of Pippa Middleton, will inspire countless brides. We forecast that even more intricate, antique style halo rings will grow in popularity in 2018."
Deirdre O'Donnell has been designing bespoke and elegantly understated' jewellery from her studio for three decades. For her, the trend of re-cycling and looking to the past for inspiration will steer engagement ring designs in 2018.
"With the recent revival of recycling and looking to the past for design influences, I feel that engagement ring designs that will stand the test of time are the ones that take an influence from the past," says Deirdre.
This traditional influence is echoed in her designs, which take the classic diamond solitaire and move it into a more modern incarnation (above, left).
"The most traditional engagement ring has always been a diamond solitaire – we have designed a collection of solitaire diamond rings that are a solitaire ‘with a difference’ as seen in our 18ct white gold ‘Bamboo’ Collection."