Fine Jewelry

How To Choose Contemporary Wedding Jewelry

Wedding season is back in full swing and, as nuptials return to their former full-scale glory, wedding jewelry is proving more precious than ever, says CHARLIE BOYD

Clockwise from top right: ‘Pleated Solitaire’ tanzanite ring, Retrouvaí; gold and pearl earrings, Mizuki; ‘Ice Cube’ diamond ring, Chopard; diamond and enamel necklace, Emily P. Wheeler; ‘Chiara’ gold and silver diamond earring, Eéra; ‘Quatre White Edition’ gold, ceramic and diamond ring, Boucheron; ‘Bisou Perle’ gold and pearl single earring, Sophie Bille Brahe

While the wedding industry has endured a tumultuous few years, most large-scale events can proceed as planned this summer, with minimal restrictions impeding post-pandemic celebrations. So, with guest lists largely unlimited, exotic destinations once more within reach and everyone up for a damn good party, it’s inevitable that weddings will dial up the glamour again. And, while many elements of the big day are fleeting and vanish Cindarella-style at the end of the night (think food, drink, flowers), jewels are a precious memento that will last forever – and they’re leading the charge for couples determined to dazzle. Here, we explore the key pieces for every modern bride.

A striking engagement ring

In the 1950s, a round diamond solitaire was the go-to style for virtually all brides, but this identikit design has gradually dwindled in popularity over the decades. That said, the fundamentals of a classic solitaire still apply – after all, it’s important to select a ring that is timeless enough to be worn with anything, and will withstand daily wear and tear. Stone-wise, diamonds and sapphires are most hard-wearing, while emeralds, opals and pearls are much more fragile. Spend some time exploring different settings and consider contemporary trends, such as yellow gold, too; Google reports that the search term ‘gold engagement ring’ increased by 90 percent in 2021, while searches for ‘hidden halo’ rings increased by 150 percent. And remember: the same diamond or colored gemstone can look unrecognizable when placed in different ring designs, so play around with styles before deciding on ‘the one’.

A timeless wedding band

So much thought, time and energy (not to mention money) goes into selecting the right engagement ring – yet wedding bands are often an afterthought, sometimes slipping to one of the last items to be purchased before the big day, when budgets are at their tightest. They do warrant careful consideration however, as they tend to be worn consistently and long-term – unlike engagement rings, which are often upgraded further down the line or reset to reflect a change in trends. Many women find that wedding bands are far more practical during the early years of motherhood, too, and choose to pop their engagement ring away for a while (spoiler: protruding, sharp-pronged solitaires are not nappy-friendly). With this in mind, consider unusual finishes, how a wedding band will embrace your engagement ring and whether it will work in a curated, cohesive stack – you may want to add eternity bands into the mix further down the line.

A sleek pendant

While most brides choose to leave their décolletage bare, certain necklines leave the collarbones wanting more. Consider the length of your chosen style carefully – for example, a necklace shouldn’t compete with your dress, but it should elongate the neck. If you’re wearing tailoring, choose a long and sleek sautoir instead – a useful, extra-long style that can also be worn backwards with a plunging, backless gown.

Modern pearls

Pearls don’t have to be prim and proper. In recent years, jewelry designers have repositioned them as the heroes of contemporary jewels, and their modern cachet has been bolstered by celebrity engagements such as Ariana Grande and Emma Stone, who both revealed pearl and diamond engagement rings. Loved for how they light up the complexion with their natural luster, the ethereal aesthetic of pearls makes them the perfect choice for brides. A simple string of petite pearls can highlight an elegant neckline, while pearl earrings offer a softer touch than diamonds and effortlessly complement a loose chignon or delicate veil.

Something blue

While many old wives’ tales and wedding customs have died out, there is an endearing quality to the ‘something blue’ tradition, and jewelry can present the perfect opportunity to indulge in superstition. Sapphires remain popular for engagement rings, but aquamarine, blue topaz and tanzanite offer a wide range of alternative blue hues, from delicate pastels to a punchier royal shade.

Eye-catching earrings

Low-key ceremonies over the past two years saw many brides opting for an insouciant dress that left room for play and embellishment in the form of exquisitely crafted statement jewels, particularly earrings. However, if a striking, oversized pair feels too bold, consider a carefully curated collection of diamond studs, ear cuffs or a single earring – after all, these are the pieces that can deliver a scintillating accent to dressed-down denim long after your celebrations have ended.