You’ve got to love a good “alternative” engagement ring, though the style has been relevant for so long at this point that the umbrella term now shelters a host of microtrends all its own. At some point the word alternative became as common as halo in the engagement ring category, and you began to know what to expect: sapphires, rose-cut diamonds, and—increasingly—pearls.
So when something really different catches your eye, transcending any and all expectations, that’s quite special. And that’s the case with one of the latest custom designs from Michelle Oh.
The evening of Valentine’s Day I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while half–paying attention to Letterkenny on the TV (romance!) when a post from the designer popped up on my feed.
In my opinion, the ring was clearly an engagement ring—daintily beautiful, three-stone setting, delicate detail around its golden bezels that is so often seen and appreciated with handmade work.
But that’s where the conventional properties end. It’s really the color that drew me in: this dark and brewing, velvety lush faded black, a storm I’d be happy to get drenched in. It was the moody hue of a gray blue spinel, a stone I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve seen.
The choice to pair the gem with black diamond side stones was genius. Where a pairing of diamonds would have made the ring far less dramatic (though no doubt still gorgeous), the black draws on the brooding quality of this beauty in a way that’s positively spellbinding.
The piece was custom, commissioned by a client that yearned for something different from the typical diamond fare seen near and far. Though a one-off, it’s a testament to what can be done for anyone looking for something out of the box, yet in a relatively classic silhouette that’s wearable for a lifetime.
“She mentioned wanting a rock and roll–inspired engagement ring that was as far away as possible from the white diamond solitaire style,” designer Michelle Oh tells me of her client for this piece. “So for colors, we naturally gravitated toward these deeper tones. We chose to mount the side stones in millegrain setting styles that were popular in vintage rings, to give it nostalgic flair. The center stone is held in a modern six-prong setting to echo the grains of the side stones while keeping the main focus of the ring clean and contemporary.”
As for the three-stone silhouette and customer demand for something different, Oh tells me that both are strong and growing trends. “For us, we are definitely seeing more brides asking for more unusual styles that express their individuality. The trilogy/three-stone ring has been a big trend for some time now, but we are seeing people ask for ways to customize that style in more unusual ways, whether that’s using colored stones or interesting shapes, to put a spin on the classic silhouette.”
It seems this neoclassical aesthetic is maintaining its stronghold in the wedding jewelry arena, and it only gets better thanks to designers like Oh.
Top: Custom three-stone engagement ring in 14k yellow gold with 1.2 ct. round brilliant spinel and 0.36 ct. t.w. pear-shape rose-cut black diamonds, price for similar on request; Michelle OhFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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