rowsing online for the ring of your dreams, if an engagement is on the cards, is a great way to narrow down your options, especially in 2021 when the rulebook has been well and truly ripped up. Diamond or coloured gemstone? White gold, yellow gold or platinum? What kind of cut and what style of band? Do you have a design in mind already?
Just as much fun is visiting a brand’s boutique in London to try a dazzling selection on, or to kickstart conversations about creating your own bespoke engagement ring with its designers. The lockdowns may have put plenty of weddings on hold but engagements continued full steam ahead, and there’s no time like the present to drop some hints to your other half, or shop with them too, to make sure that ring you’re wearing for decades to come is one you love as much as them.
If it’s a brand with longevity and a centuries-long commitment to immortalising true love in diamond form you're after, then Boodles, ‘In love since 1798’, is the place to start.Before browsing, start by reading Boodles' useful, digestible Diamond Guide. Its five engagement ring collections are, descriptively, named Vintage, Brilliance, Harmony, Petal and Three Stone. Across the collections, among the more familiar cuts, you'll spot the word Ashoka; Boodles is the only British jeweller to offer the Ashoka cut, which combines an emerald cut with a brilliant cut. Less than two per cent of diamonds mined can be cut in this way, so these diamonds are a USP at Boodles. And while classic diamonds are queens here, also consider the delightfully modern options too, such as a spectacular vintage oval blue sapphire ring.
For details of Boodles' five boutiques across London, visit boodles.com
From Promise to Paragon via Icon, Flame, Legacy and Constellation, the evocative names of Graff’s engagement ring collections nod to a passion for gemstones, and an understanding of the emotion that the jewellery housing them can arouse. Attention to detail has been a cornerstone of the brand for its six-plus decades; a member of the Graff family still selects every stone used. Every Graff diamond, it emphasises, “is responsibly mined and traceable to its source; many are also laser inscribed, ensuring their exceptional provenance”. A truly unusual version of a classic engagement rings can be found in Graff’s Promise ring, set with a heart-shape diamond, flanked by tapered baguette-cut side stones, and its Promise ring with a startlingly beautiful, radiant-cut yellow diamond at its centre.
For details of Graff's three boutiques across London, visit graff.com
For a conversation-starting engagement ring that exudes storytelling and eccentricity from its very core, it has to be Tessa Packard. Inspired by “Victorian curiosity cabinets, juxtaposition and all things whimsical”, this designer aims to create alternative, magical worlds in miniature. Take, for example, the celestial Antarctica ring in yellow gold, set with a hand-carved quartz star and pave diamond detailing; it tells the story of a new land mass, which came to be called the Unknown Southern Land, discovered in the late 15th century and later identified as the frozen expanse of Antarctica. Slightly less ostentatious but quirky nonetheless is the Silver Lining white diamond ring, its cloud shape and name perhaps a nod to a private aspect of a relationship. If you can imagine something even more fantastic(al), get in touch with Tessa to discuss bespoke commissions.
Lark & Berry
Expect a thoroughly 21st century engagement ring shopping experience at Lark & Berry, where every ring houses a cultured diamond – also known as lab-grown diamonds, or manmade. “The New Sustainable Luxury,” declares Lark & Berry. They are chemically, optically and physically the same as mined diamonds, and will last just as long. In keeping with the nod to nature in the brand’s name, the engagement rings, offering the full range of cuts you’d hope for, are named after trees, from Maple with its beautiful twisting band to the delicate curving Wild Cherry. Lark & Berry’s 5th C? Cultured, and proud of it.
Lark & Berry, 52a George Street, London, W1U 7EA. To book a private appointment visit larkandberry.com.
For Vashi Dominguez, when it comes to engagement rings, “the biggest thing for me has always been, ‘Where is the emotion?’ This is the most emotional purchase that you are ever going to make. You're fusing the story of one of the world's most precious gifts – diamonds – with the most precious story anyone has themselves.” True words indeed. Vashi not only stocks a sparkling selection of engagement ring designs but also offers a brilliant build your own service. In ten easy steps, either online or through an in-store consultation, you’ll choose everything from style, setting and metal to diamond shape, carat, colour grade and clarity. Whether you are creating a piece of jewellery for yourself or as a gift, Vashi will also capture its journey, and the inspiration behind it in a complimentary, personalised hardbound book.
For details of Vashi's six boutiques across London, visit vashi.com
Many high-profile women have sported engagement rings by King of Diamonds Harry Winston over the decades, and with excellent reason; they are quite simply world-class. Aristotle Onassis proposed to Jackie Kennedy Onassis with a show-stopping 40-carat Lesotho III diamond from Harry Winston in 1968 and more recently Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez in 2002 with a pink diamond Winston ring, bringing coloured jewels firmly back into the fashion spotlight. By this point in your engagement ring journey, you'll know about the 4 Cs – carat, cut, colour and clarity – but at Harry Winston there’s an all-important 5th C: Character. Whatever dazzling diamond design you desire, you’ll find your perfect match here.
To schedule a private appointment visit harrywinston.com
My Heart, My Eye Ring
Rex Three Stone (Emeralds) Ring
Silver Lining Ring