You would think, in my eight years and counting at JCK, that I’d have an overwhelming catalog of jewelry brands committed to memory—and, I do. But that doesn’t stop me from discovering a new brand (most often, more than one), every single day. I’m not being facetious: I literally find a new jeweler every day on Instagram. And I still manage to be amazed with each discovery.
Instagram is cool like that, in the way it helps you to find out about all things new. I spent hours this week, accompanied by a dozing baby, scrolling through feed after feed of new-to-me brands. I followed so many new accounts, I’m probably in danger of being marked as spam by Instagram. But I love the platform’s suggestions and devour them eagerly, scrolling through the feeds of just-learned-about designers and naturally, making mental lists of all the new jewelry I want.
Instagram’s suggestion feature is designed to offer up similar accounts to the ones that you already follow, its algorithm searching for closely related users or similar audiences that a potential follower might align with. So often, if you fall down the suggestion rabbit hole like I did this week, you’ll probably notice a theme. My theme this week? Alternative bridal.
I’m amazed at how many jewelers and designers I came across that labeled themselves as alternative bridal in their profiles. It’s a buzzword for sure, right? One that’s relatively new to the industry and attracting hordes of admirers—and new makers, too. I love what it entails, as I’ve often been drawn to things like rose-cut and raw diamonds and appreciate the delicate touch of handmade jewelry, the perspective of a gifted designer. Clearly, I’m not alone. According to Google Trends statistics, keyword searches for “alternative engagement rings” and “alternative bridal” are seeing an upward trend—particularly in New York, California, and Florida. Is it a big-city, millennial thing? I mean, yeah, maybe. But for how long?
Because what happens when the “alternative” part of the alternative engagement ring just becomes the norm—it’s got to go mainstream at some point, right? I certainly don’t think it’s going anywhere, particularly from a design standpoint, but in name? I’m not so sure. This is a premature point, though—it could take a decade for this sort of thing to go viral in retail terms—or just a really high-profile celebrity with the right ring (and even if J-Lo gets engaged again, you can bet she’s gonna do it with a big old “classic” diamond).
All this to say, there are some really, really good options out there for shoppers avoiding the (more or less) traditional route, and they’re just a few taps away on Instagram—I know this, because I spent a lot of time checking them out this week. Whether their offerings will be considered “alternative” in a few years time, we’ll have to see. I think, either way, their offerings will be worthy of an engagement ring finger, a right hand, a ring stack, a pinky ring, and any other way we can think of to wear our rings (that’s another discussion for another time).
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(Top image via: @capucinnejewelry)