My parents were married in a civil ceremony in Leningrad—the once and future St. Petersburg—on a spring afternoon in 1973. Like most Soviet-era weddings, the service lacked pomp and circumstance (to say the least). The reception took place at their tiny apartment, where friends honored them with shots of vodka and champanskaya. They exchanged plain yellow gold bands that day, but there was no engagement ring. The event was a straightforward, if not entirely sober, affair.
In other words, I don't have a lot of expectations about weddings—or wedding jewelry. I've attended destination weddings, ethnic weddings, city hall weddings, church weddings, backyard weddings, beach weddings, hotel weddings, even a surprise wedding—and no two were alike.
The one kind of wedding I have yet to attend is a same-sex wedding, though it shouldn't be long now. My gay friends are starting to talk marriage, which is another way of saying they're starting to talk rings. (Except, that is, when they're talking watches—as a friend recently did, when he proposed to his boyfriend at the St. Regis in Kauai with a precision Swiss timepiece.)
Here's the thing about today's bridal jewelry: There are no rules to account for the complexity, nuance, originality, and sheer variety of ways to symbolize people's commitments to each other. So why not make your own?
My mom and dad exchanged simple gold bands during their 1973 wedding, a civil ceremony that took place in Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg).
Scott and Jessica Udell did just that when they came up with the idea behind Two by London, London Jewelers' new bridal-only spin-off (see "London Jewelers Goes All-Bridal, All-the-Time"). The boutique, which opened at the Americana Manhasset in Long Island just before the holidays, is pioneering the bridal jewelry shopping experience by combining technology, interactivity, and custom design with good old-fashioned customer service.
One of the bridal brands Two by London offers is Forevermark, De Beers' big new idea. As a product that's come to market through a traceable supply chain, the diamond brand speaks to another issue preoccupying us these days: the growing demand for a chain of custody that illuminates the origins of the materials in fine jewelry.
For a fresh look at the phenomenon and why it matters to retailers big and small, read senior editor Rob Bates' incisive feature "Chain of Custody Battle"—then check out this issue's Store We Adore subject, D&H Sustainable Jewelers, which is putting its money on traceable sourcing and eco-friendly design without sacrificing its chic aesthetic or comprehensive selection.
Finally, for a sobering read about the origins of some of our most popular gems, turn to "Beautiful Lies," Stuart Robertson's opinion piece on the slippery slope of gem treatments. In the case of glass-filled rubies, the real question is: Are these rubies with glass filler, or glass with ruby filler? And if the latter, can we honestly still call them gems?
With so many members of the trade in Tucson this month for the gem shows, it's a timely topic. So, for that matter, is same-sex marriage. As a brand-new community of bridal buyers heads your way, now seems like the right time to set a precedent of serving all brides- and grooms-to-be with pride.