Designer Engagement Rings, The Independent Way

As we continue to see a growing demand for responsibly sourced and made jewelry, so increases the sales and interest in designs featuring both lab-grown and vintage stones.

But there is another category of jewelry highly relevant to this demand, and it’s one that connects consumers to the artists and creators of their purchases—the offerings of the independent designer.

Valerie Madison Zara engagement ring
Zara engagement ring in 14k white gold with 2.23 ct. salt-and-pepper diamond center, $9,825 (starting price); Valerie Madison

With many indie designers, you know their faces, you learn their stories, you begin to recognize their aesthetics. For shoppers in the market for an engagement ring or wedding band who find themselves concerned with the environmental and social impacts of their purchases, many of these artists are a good source.

Anna Sheffield Hazeline engagement ring
Hazeline solitaire ring in 14k yellow gold with 0.5 ct. sapphire and diamond pavé, $3,360; Anna Sheffield

Consumers will want to seek designers who have dedicated their businesses to creating responsibly, using fair trade or ethically sourced gemstones, recycled materials, and, when possible, in-studio craftsmanship. This allows shoppers to get something that’s new when vintage either isn’t to their taste or timeline (sometimes the hunt for the perfect vintage piece can take ages, part of the appeal, but perhaps not when it comes to an impending engagement). It may also help them to score the custom-made creation of their dreams, enriched by the expert hand of a talented artist.

Jemma Wynne yellow diamond ring
One-of-a-kind East-West ring in 18k yellow gold with marquise canary diamond and pavé diamond prongs, price on request; Jemma Wynne

Shoppers will pay more when they go this route for an engagement ring (especially for bespoke) as opposed to some of the more readily available consumer models that have proven favorites for shoppers wanting easy customization and often classic, reliable design—a backbone of many retailers’ wedding jewelry businesses.

Shahla Karimi Mid Century Kahn ring
Mid-Century collection Kahn ring and cigar band in 14k rose gold with 2 ct. lab-grown emerald-cut diamond, $4,790; Shahla Karimi

That highlights another important selling point for these customers. Just as they’re concerned with where their purchases are coming from, they seek to understand how their contributions factor in to the equation. The smaller a business, the clearer an idea shoppers can get on where their money is going—materials, business expenses, labor. What these shoppers do have to accept are the more abstract elements of the equation—paying an artisan for not only their time and materials, but for designing minds and creating hands too. Ultimately, shoppers will come away with a piece that has been helmed to their specifications and tastes, unlikely to be seen in the exact same image anywhere else. This appeals to a large audience, as more people seek to stand out and embrace what makes them unique.

Whether purchasing a ready-to-ship engagement ring or working with a designer to create a custom piece, the work of independent designers is appealing to more shoppers looking to get engaged.

Top: Collet engagement ring in platinum and 18k yellow gold with 1 ct. cushion-cut diamond, $7,800; Ashley Zhang

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JCK Contributing Editor

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