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Engagement rings. Their meaning extends far beyond their material value and they deserve to look spectacular. But choosing the perfect ring for your perfect partner can be a challenge. You want something that feels unique and suits their personality.

Round, brilliant cut diamonds still dominate the market, with the popular shape making up 70% of all diamonds sold. Why? It’s the only symmetrical diamond cut to perfectly reflect light equally from within its facets. So it’s no surprise that it’s a classic, safe option when planning a proposal.

However, times are a-changing and in the past decade or so, trends in engagement ring buying have started to shift; for one, newly-engaged couples are more keen to find a bargain than they were 10 years ago, and two, brides and grooms are increasingly abandoning tradition in favour of more distinct shapes, stones, bands and settings. So, if you’re considering proposing to your loved one and need some bang-on-trend inspiration, here are six of our favourites…

1. Non-round diamonds are on the ascent

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Unconventional shapes are definitely growing in popularity. Before we go on, it’s worth noting that while diamond shape is often – somewhat misleadingly – referred to as ‘cut’, the phrase in its strictest sense refers to how well the diamond is polished from its raw state. Find out more in our Diamond Education Centre 4 Cs article.

Any cut other than the round brilliant is defined as a ‘fancy shape’ and come in all sorts of varieties, heart-shaped, pear and emerald cut to name a few. Some of our customers have recently opted for less-common shapes, such as the radiant cut – an alternative to the princess or emerald cut that looks like a blunt-cornered, elongated rectangle. The radiant cut creates a lot of sparkle and is often used to exaggerate the hue in fancy coloured diamonds, hence the name.

The cushion cut diamond provides another interesting, popular alternative and combines a square cut with rounded corners, giving the appearance of a pillow, or cushion. It once enjoyed a reputation for being the most popular cut when it was introduced more than 200 years ago. Many people are attracted by the antique look and feel of a cushion cut.

Elegant, brilliant and subtle oval-shaped diamonds, a close relative of the round cut, are also enjoying renewed popularity and add an individual touch to an otherwise simple engagement ring. The oval shape can act as an optical illusion; seeming a lot bigger than diamonds of equal weight. For this reason it’s a great one to elongate short fingers.

2. Platinum outshines other precious metals

Far rarer than gold though rarely awarded the same prestige, this precious metal has been an increasingly popular request for some time now. Naturally brilliant white in colour, hypoallergenic and very dense, platinum engagement rings are less likely to break than gold engagement rings and do not tarnish in the same way as white gold, which can develop a yellowy-hue over time. This tarnishing is worth considering when choosing your ring metal, so opt for platinum if you would rather have a ring that does not require re-polishing and re-plating over the years.

3. Thinner bands for thinner hands

Because certain engagement rings will enhance a hand’s best parts, many more brides are actively seeking finer, more delicate bands to offset their stone of choice. Narrow bands create the illusion of longer fingers and so are a popular choice. If you have short and slender fingers, a thinner band can look beautifully dainty. However, very delicate bands can look out of proportion on longer, larger hands.

4. Experimenting with brightly-coloured diamonds and gemstone rings

Emerald-Engagement-RingAn affordable and striking alternative to a white or colourless diamond, gemstones and diamonds with a fancy hue offer an original twist to an otherwise similar format. Yellow and pink diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies all make a statement and are proving popular with brides on a budget. Bonham’s has also noted a marked increase in buyers showing preference for coloured diamonds and gems in recent years.

Sapphire experienced a surge in popularity after the Duke of Cambridge proposed to Kate Middleton – now Duchess of Cambridge with his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales’s large 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds. Sapphires are also one of the hardest, most durable gemstones after diamonds, which make them perfect for daily wear.

The other advantage to purchasing a coloured diamond is that clarity becomes less of a priority, as inclusions – blemishes or imperfections within the diamond – are normally masked by its colour.

One of the simplest ways to enhance the appearance of a brightly-coloured gem stone is to add a circular setting of fractionally lower carat white diamonds, reflecting light into the stone and bringing the centrepiece to life using the sparkle of the surrounding diamonds.

5. The Triple Ex Factor

When starting prices are affordable, extras like superb clarity and extravagant diamond settings become more attainable. At Diamond Rocks we have seen a noticeable increase in brides requesting more premium stones, such as ‘Triple X’ or ‘Triple Ex’ diamonds – an informal name awarded to a diamond that has received excellent cut, polish and symmetry grades. Cut affects how much the light bounces through the diamond’s angles and back to the eyes, and these really are the pinnacle of diamond cutting. In short, they have maximum brilliance and sparkle with perfect optical qualities.

6. Diamond encrusted bands and settings

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Brides to be are also playing around with diamond wedding bands as opposed to plain metal ones. Microset halos, double halos and diamond shoulders are popular with brides who choose to swap their centrepiece diamond for a more affordable gemstone, or are less concerned about inclusions as long as their diamond appears clear to the naked eye.

If it’s thinner bands you’re after, unique engagement rings, or you would just like to clue yourself up on the basics of engagement ring buying, head to our Diamond Information Centre for all the help you could need before you make your ring purchase.