To Have and to Hold
London is home to what is arguably the widest choice of engagement, wedding and eternity rings in the world.by Claire Adler
There’s nothing like the story of a romantic wedding proposal – especially when it doesn’t quite go as planned. A gentleman recently came into Bond Street jeweller, Boodles, and left with a beautiful solitaire diamond engagement ring. He then booked a hot air balloon, bought a giant tin of white paint and daubed the words “Will You?” on a field, with the intention of proposing mid-air. He didn’t anticipate strong winds sending the hot air balloon in the opposite direction. Fortunately, the couple are happily married today. When it comes to buying engagement rings... Use the arrows or page numbers below to continue reading this article
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When it comes to buying engagement rings there are two kinds of men, says Joey Hardy, London-based senior jewellery specialist at Sotheby’s. “Many bold men buy a ring prior to the proposal. This shows a big commitment, and many even delay proposing until they can bid for and secure the perfect ring. Other men prefer accompanying their fiancées to choose the ring after getting engaged.”
Today’s most popular model - the classic solitaire with a round brilliant - came to prominence in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian presented his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, with the first recorded diamond engagement ring in history.
The current vogue in rarefied circles is for larger and more intricate rings. At Graff, where creating a single piece involves several hundred hours of handiwork, engagement rings are becoming increasingly bigger, according to a spokesperson. A new 11-carat cushion cut pink diamond at De Beers is sure to dazzle any prospective spouse. Leviev and Tiffany, meanwhile, are reporting demand for exceptionally rare coloured diamonds and stones. Purple, pink, yellow or even padparadscha sapphires are now in fashion, according to Tiffany Group Vice President and UK Managing Director Melvyn Kirtley.
Lifestyle is an important factor when choosing diamond jewellery for everyday wear. “My diamond ring is a rub over as opposed to a claw setting,” says Sotheby’s Hardy. “But I’m constantly getting on and off my motorbike, so I need a robust style.”
If jewellery design reflects the culture we live in, perhaps it’s hardly surprising that De Beers are noticing increasing requests for civil partnership rings. Elsewhere, divorce rings are on the rise. Hirsh recently introduced a double row style eternity ring design for a client who had twins. Blue sapphires are increasingly creeping into Moussaieff’s engagement rings, while British designer Stephen Webster says brides now routinely give grooms personally engraved pieces. Webster famously made Christina Aguilera’s husband a ‘Wedlock’ pendant instead of a traditional wedding ring.
The most expensive engagement ring ever given is thought to be the $2 million, 12-carat emerald cut solitaire Donald Trump presented to third wife Melania, made by Graff. Should you too be thinking of making a splash, Leviev’s flawless 52.29 carat emerald cut diamond, flanked by four baguettes totalling 5.23 carats and set in platinum, should impress. Love may not always last forever, but jewellery is eternal.
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