Over the New Year’s holiday, a number of couples got engaged – including my twin sister! Now more than ever, the range of styles for engagement rings grows ever wider as consumers search for more unique designs. While white metals have primarily dominated the engagement ring domain for the past century, the nostalgic effect of yellow gold has won over an increasing number of brides-to-be in recent years.
For centuries the diamond has been the preferred stone of an engagement ring, its hardness and indestructible nature came to symbolize the fidelity promised with marriage. The first recognized exchange of a diamond ring with wedding vows occurred in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with the letter M spelled out in tiny diamonds. During the 15th and 16th centuries, early – and rather primitive – diamond cuts such as point, table and triangular granted goldsmiths a simple focal point to surround with increasingly elaborate settings in yellow gold.
From around the 16th century onward, no royal marriage was complete without a diamond ring. Not too surprisingly, diamonds were also the stone of choice for people of wealth, who prized its rarity, beauty and value. During this period, the art of the goldsmith could be seen in the intricate gold settings of diamond rings, whose embellishments included quatrefoil bezels, engraved scroll or ribbon ornaments, and bright enamel decorations.
As more sources for diamonds were found in Brazil beginning in 1727, the increased supply incited new and innovative cuts as well as more diverse settings. Up until the 20th century, the diamond was often set in silver-topped gold bezel settings, sometimes in cluster-style designs with smaller stones, with yellow gold bands of varying design.
The rise of platinum, which was preferred over gold for its light weight and neutral color, began at the turn of the 20th century. Though yellow gold enjoyed resurgences in popularity in the mid-1930s and after World War II, platinum has ruled as the metal of choice for a diamond engagement ring.
While platinum’s popularity will most likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, the uniqueness of yellow gold settings, whether in new or vintage rings, will certainly challenge convention in the engagement ring arena. Just as yellow gold jewelry has returned with gusto over the last decade, I think yellow and even rose gold diamond rings will continue to win favor among ‘millenials’ and future generations.
Here are a few of my favorite yellow gold engagement rings, both new and vintage:
This post is brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold.