If the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that nothing can stop the love. Despite the stress-inducing news cycle that rages on, couples are pinning the best engagement rings and mailing out wedding invites now that (semi-)crowded dance floors and buffet tables are a thing again.
For the last few years, brides-to-be have gravitated toward alternative stone shapes and unique settings in their engagement rings. An unconventional approach to this once super-traditional item continues in 2021. Yes, classic diamonds will forever have a place on the market, but even the most timeless of engagement ring styles are being subtly revived and revisited, according to four industry pros: Katie Zimmerman, chief merchant officer at Blue Nile; Dayna Isom Johnson, trend expert at Etsy; and Jess Hannah Révész and Chelsea Nicholson, cofounders of the direct-to-consumer brand Ceremony.
“A lot of the trends we’re seeing aren’t necessarily new; they are an updated take on traditional style,” says Zimmerman. “The influence of the trends are a mix between customization options and modernization.” Shoppers are moving away from round diamonds, which have long been a favorite for brides-to-be, in favor of so-called fancy-shaped diamonds, like oval, pear, emerald, cushion, and marquise. She says, “Fancy shapes have been around for many years, but they are becoming a stronger trend than ever before. I’m seeing it heavy in engagement, whether it be as a single stone or used in a three-stone setting to mix and match shapes.”
Isom Johnson describes this change in taste as “being real” with engagement rings, with brides exploring options that are more aligned with one’s personality than with what’s traditional. “For generations, the diamond has been the ultimate stone for proposing, but today’s bride isn’t tied to the norm,” she says. “Couples are moving away from cookie-cutter bling and opting for one-of-a-kind engagement ring styles instead, which can often come with a lower price tag than a traditional diamond ring.”
Hannah Révész agrees, adding that there’s a “general shift in values” when it comes to shopping for engagement rings, as shoppers become more conscious of ethics, sourcing, and recycled materials, as well as adopt a bigger “focus on design and less on having the biggest, flashiest ring possible.” If you or your S.O. are weighing options between the best engagement rings, she says, it’s about “prioritizing good design, quality craftsmanship, and materials.”
This isn’t to say there aren’t certain stylistic elements that are sweeping the industry. According to these experts, some popular elements include vintage-inspired bezel settings and Art Deco details; toi et moi (a French term for “you and me,” referring to two stones) and three-stone rings; and simple bands replacing a solitaire ring altogether. Should you pick out something that feels of- the-moment now and have your tastes change down the line, it’s all good—you can always reset a stone: Zimmerman says to “[not] be afraid to try a trend because down the road you can trade up. The best thing about a natural diamond is it carries value. You can reset your diamond into a new setting or change the way it looks and feels on your finger with added bands.”
Whether you’re eyeing a fancy-cut solitaire or are drawn to the simplicity of a band, check out these eight engagement ring trends, and shop 33 of the best engagement rings of 2021.