Chronology and Evolution of Rings

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laura gordon photography
It seems to happen in the blink of an eye—a new fashion trend gains momentum and the previous one fades into the background. The same is true of jewelry trends, which is why certain eras are characterized by specific design elements and metal usages. Although some aspects of jewelry have shifted with time, many different kinds of engagement rings, styles, and designs have adapted to fit the current trends. Watch how the most popular wedding ring styles have evolved throughout the years, from the Victorian and Edwardian eras to modern day!


isla vistaskypoint diamond ringdove canyon diamond ringarlington The solitaire is still one of the most popular wedding ring styles, upholding its reputation since the late 1800s. True to its name, a solitaire ring draws attention by prominently featuring a large centered stone. In the Victorian era, prong-set solitaires were the top choice, as this type of setting allowed more light to reach the stone and made it appear larger. Though detailing on bands was minimal in the 1890s and early 1900s, this all changed going into the Edwardian period, as evidenced in the stunning Sky Point. During the Edwardian era, master jewelers artfully manipulated platinum into ornately detailed designs, often incorporating smaller accent stones. While a simpler solitaire could still be found, band detailing, like that in Dove Canyon, continued into the Art Deco and Retro periods. Then the bezel setting became the new craze—this is where the stone is partially surrounded by precious metals to hold it in place and protect it, rather than prong set. It wasn’t long before the prong setting would make its triumphant return, though. The 1950s contemporary rings were all about glamour, and the bigger is better attitude started to reflect in different kinds of engagement rings as well.

Three Stone

redfern ringparkslope ringinnsbrook ringcobblehill ring It’s no wonder that three stone rings have been popular for hundreds of years—they symbolize the past, present and future of a relationship. This style has certainly shifted since its debut, moving from round and colorful gemstones to a focus on a center diamond with bold accents. Queen Victoria was well known for her love of colorful gemstones, showcased in Redfern, meaning many different kinds of engagement rings from the Victorian era included gemstones such as emeralds, rubies and opals. These, among other bold-colored stones, were often the star of three stone rings during this time. While most stones in Victorian-era three stone rings were typically round, the outer stones began to change shapes moving into later eras. Like in the rings from the Edwardian era, during the early 1900s, bold gemstones were out and diamonds were in. This has remained the trend over the years: a diamond center with surrounding gemstones that vary in shape and color. True to most designs of the Art Deco period, box settings rose in popularity in the 1920s, which eventually shifted to ovals and pears. However, there is good news for those who love a pop of color—vibrant gemstones are making a return in contemporary three stone rings!


sapphire-diamond halo cluster ringnatural ruby diamond ringpaloalto ring glittering engagement ring Cluster rings have given women a lustrous sparkle for years, but while that mega-shimmer factor has stayed the same, the style itself has seen a few makeovers. During the Victorian era, jewelry was often inspired by nature, so popular wedding ring styles often had a very floral appearance. Round, precious gemstones were usually surrounded by multiple smaller round diamonds and set on simple, yellow gold bands. Like many different kinds of engagement rings, the detailing ramped up with the Edwardian era, evident in Orchard Park, circa 1910. Bands often included platinum and featured embellishments, such as flower petals and leaves. Additionally, the round center stone began to shift to an oval shape. By the late 1930s, a colorful oval stone was often at the center of a diamond cluster ring and white gold became the go-to metal. Present-day cluster rings, like the Hillspoint, are returning to their Victorian era roots with sapphire and gold, while also staying true to today’s trends.


diamond rose cutravennaredroof ring rockwood ring   Similar to the cluster ring, halo rings are perfect for those who want something to revitalize a larger stone. While clusters tend to feature diamonds that are similar in size than the center stone, a halo is often a series of smaller diamonds that seamlessly surround the large center stone. Furthermore, while most clusters are prong set, halos are generally bezel set. Like the other Victorian era styles listed above, the main stone in a halo ring was usually round, along with its halo. Mixed metals were also popular during this time, such as a platinum setting with a yellow gold band. Though mixed metals continued to be popular in different kinds of engagement rings moving into the Edwardian era, the actual halo became more innovative. In fact, some halos, similar to Ravenna, didn’t include any gemstones at all! White gold and other metals were often engraved with intricate patterns and milgraining for a unique, yet simple look. During the Retro era, bright hues made their way into the halo portion of the ring, breathing new life into the style. Red Roof, a classic style, is still around today, even worn by celebrities such as Olivia Wilde. While diamonds were still frequently used in popular wedding ring styles as the centerpiece, other gemstones, like sapphires, emeralds and pearls, now drew much more of the spotlight. Comparable to its cluster counterpart, the halo ring slowly shifted from a very round shape to more of an oval. Nowadays, it is still possible to find the traditionally loved aspects in halo rings, but in even more daring shapes, including pears, hearts, and squares.

Bezel Set

victorian era cornflowerplatinum sapphire diamond engagement ringashland ringyellow gold charter oak A bezel setting encircles all sides of the gemstone, often extending beyond the gemstone itself in different kinds of engagement rings. This type of setting helps to prevent scratching and chipping, and securely holds the gemstone in place. The transformation of the bezel setting is actually the opposite of what might be expected. Unlike many other styles that start off simple and become more opulent over the years, these rings started fairly intricate and transformed into more subtle designs with time. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, intricate detailing, such as milgrain edges, were extremely popular in rings with bezel settings. The regal sapphire was a frequent attribute in different kinds of engagement rings that were bezel set, while metalwork and extensive detailing were often the main focus. When the 1930s rolled around and the Art Deco era was in full swing, rings like the Ashland became the new vogue, and detailing gave way to smooth edges and shanks, mimicking the sleek lines of machinery and architecture during this revolutionary period. Although oval-shaped gemstones eventually began to replace more unique shapes in the 1960s, the most popular wedding ring styles throughout the contemporary era tend to have round, bezel set stones.


lakebaikal ringmeadowlark ring vintage sapphire ringstonefalls Today, the princess cut is all the rage, but before it hit the contemporary jewelry scene, women were fawning over its predecessor—the emerald cut. Many different gemstones were transformed with the emerald cut, but one of the most frequently used was the sapphire. Along with the deep blue stone, halo detailing was very common in this style of ring for many years. While the latter eventually faded out, the regal sapphire has remained a favorite among different kinds of engagement rings with square cut gemstones. Lake Baikal, with a sapphire as blue as its namesake, is a perfect example of the Victorian emerald cut style, while Meadowlark is a prime illustration of its Edwardian counterpart. Halos were popular until shortly after the Art Deco period, when rings like Lausanne entered the arena. Around this time, not only did jewelry designers scale back on halo detailing, but the trend of using mixed metals were replaced with singular use of white gold or platinum. Today, rather than elaborate detailing, different kinds of engagement rings have had the focus shift to the quality of modern stones and their flanking gems.


yellow gold ringvintage delicate ring hamiltontwinbridge This style might not sound as familiar as some of the others listed above, but it is immediately recognizable upon first sight. A bypass style ring usually has a top and bottom component that conveys motion, flowing gently from diagonal lines through swirling shapes, and often appears to wrap around a center stone or the finger. Many different kinds of engagement rings that fall under this style feature an element of symmetry for a more uniform look. Using multiple metals in one piece was a common practice in earlier eras, which is why Victorian pieces often have yellow gold alongside platinum or other materials. This gave the rings a very distinct appearance. The representation of nature in jewelry and the mixed metal trend fizzled out during the Edwardian period, where bows and milgraining reigned along with romantic stones like diamonds and pearls. As popular wedding ring styles shifted with the Retro era, the well-liked round cut transitioned into cuts that were more angular, such as the stones in Hamilton. Square and baguette cut diamonds found their way into many rings in the 1950s, Twin Bridge is a testament to the trend, and the vibrant colors that the late 1800s were famous for, slowly started to make their way back into the mix.

An Evolution Revolution

Jewelry fashions are ever changing, but timeless themes always return, creating a seamless pattern throughout the centuries. Take a journey through time and explore over 200 years of different kinds of engagement rings and popular wedding ring styles. Don’t wait for the next new trend to emerge before you start searching for the ring of your dreams—find it today at Trumpet & Horn!

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