Wednesday, July 15, 2009



When a bride walks down the aisle, the elegance and luster of her jewelry pay tribute to her gown. As she exchanges rings with her groom, precious metals and dazzling diamonds make an enduring statement of love and commitment.

The importance of wedding jewelry has stood the test of time. In fact, the romance of the past is inspiring highly decorative styles of engagement rings, wedding bands and bridal jewelry.

Vintage Bridal Ring Styles

The intricate details found in vintage engagement and wedding rings from the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s have caught the eye of today’s brides looking for ornate, delicate designs. Bands accented with small diamond settings and filigree, in which the metal resembles lace, are two common antique features that appeal to current tastes.

“In the fashion world, women are enjoying wearing a more classic, feminine look, and we’re seeing that preference reflected in their choice of engagement and wedding rings, too,” says Holly Jackson, manager of San Antonio Jewelry. “One of our designers, Natalie K, has an antique collection that incorporates the fine diamond settings and exquisite metal craftsmanship found in the Art Deco era.”

Antique-style bands are typically thin, and often use bead or pavé settings, in which small diamonds are positioned close together to complement the center stone. Many of the fine settings can be created with precision because of computer technology.

“With high-tech methods, we can set as many as 100 stones to create a softer, more elegant piece,” says Ernesto Jergins, owner of Ernesto’s Jewelry Factory in New Braunfels. “We are able to design the ring on the computer, and push a button so that tiny needles carve out the wax molding in ways that human hands are not able to do.”

White Gold or Platinum

Anyone shopping around for rings has probably noticed that markets for both gold and platinum metals have experienced price surges. In response, brides and grooms are increasingly selecting white gold since platinum has experienced an even greater price upswing.

“Many of our customers are deciding that, at the end of the day, the two metals look the same,” Jergins says. “Platinum is a more complicated metal to work with, and it’s more expensive, so white gold is a popular alternative.”

Jackson agrees that the cost of platinum has impacted how wedding couples allocate their wedding jewelry dollars.

“Many of our customers are choosing white gold over platinum, and then deciding to spend more on the center stone,” she says.

However, one vendor only offers platinum settings for engagement and wedding rings with diamonds. Interestingly enough, platinum was en vogue during the Art Deco period.

“Our wedding couples are investing in jewelry for longevity,” says a sales representative of a local jewelry store. “We have chosen not to offer some of the less expensive metals simply because we know that in the long-run our customers are looking for durability. We are extremely quality-conscious.”

Though white gold and platinum still dominate bridal engagement rings and wedding bands, other golds are making a subtle splash of color. One of the vintage-influenced designers, Michael Beaudry, works primarily in platinum, but also uses yellow gold and rose gold embellishments. Some of his designs include hand-engraved scrolls and leaves as well as filigree in colorful golds.

“His hand-crafted accents infuse the pieces with a very unique quality,” jeweler says. “These little touches are part of what gives them their distinct, vintage style.”

What Men Want

As for grooms, while white gold is the metal of choice, they are more likely to choose yellow gold than women. Their designs remain streamlined, with most of them opting for plain bands or bands with a brushed finish or milgrained edges. For a little flair, they may include small brilliant round or princess cut diamonds.

“Over the years, the preferences of guys haven’t changed much,” Jergins says. “They tend to keep their bands simple.”

One metal that is fairly new to the groom’s wedding band market is tungsten, a very hard and dense metal.

“Tungsten is a strong metal that is very scratch-resistant and has a graphite color many men like,” says another San Antonio jeweler. “It has a highly-polished finish, and pricewise, it is very reasonable.”

Stunning Diamond Cuts


Though some brides may use sapphires or rubies for engagement ring accents, jewelers say diamonds are almost exclusively the center stone. The round brilliant diamond cut is the top choice, but many brides are discovering the cushion cut, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The cushion cut gets its name from its pillow-like shape which is square or rectangular with rounded corners. It is usually placed in a solitaire setting with at least four prongs.

“The cushion cut resembles the round cut, but it has large, open facets that really highlight a diamond’s clarity,” Jackson says.

Still very much in demand is the princess cut in which the top of the diamond is cut in a square shape so that the facets emit a bright fire quality.

“The sparkle of the princess cut diamond is very beautiful,” a local jeweler says. “It works well for a center stone on a Tiffany-style mounting as well as within a row of diamonds on a wedding band.”

Glamorous Bridal Jewelry

Traditional pearl and diamond studs, and pearl necklace strands are still the mainstay in bridal jewelry, but the antique movement has also made a prominent appearance in bridal jewelry.

“We have custom made white gold and platinum choker necklaces with vine or floral themes which display diamonds all the way around,” says one jeweler. “Brides are also asking for longer earrings, for example, white gold with falling diamonds or a white gold chain with a pearl at the end.”

Another popular necklace design spaces a few diamonds individually set along a white gold or platinum linked strand, Jackson says.

Still, as the winds of change blow through the jewelry fashion world, one element remains on the top of the wedding jewelry checklist--quality.

“Whether we’re talking about the cut, clarity and color of a diamond or the durability of a precious petal, brides and grooms want to know that their money is well-spent,” a jeweler says. “They are very conscientious about making sure the jewelry they love now will be the jewelry they will always love.”

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