The Evolution of Solitaire Rings: From Classic to Contemporary
By TOI Staff July 29, 2023 Update on : July 29, 2023
If there is one piece of jewelry synonymous with an engagement, it’s a solitaire ring. Though they can come in many different styles, the design remains the same. A solitaire ring is a band featuring a single center stone. Some are simple, only having a round gem on a plain metal band. Alternatively, others are intricate, adding channel set stones or scrollwork on the shoulders of the band to maximize sparkle and detail.
Though trends have come and gone, the solitaire ring has remained popular. It has become a timeless symbol of a couple’s promise to one another. While it’s true that the first “love rings” were little more than bands of iron, as found in the remnants of Pompeii, as soon as adding gems to rings became popular, no other design could compare to the solitaire ring. Its simple appeal and lasting sentiment are why we still love it today!
What Exactly Is a Classic Solitaire Ring?
In the beginning, or at least the beginning of wedding and engagement rings, Romans gave each other bronze, ivory, bone, or iron bands. It wasn’t until 1477 that our modern idea of an engagement ring came into existence (although in 850 CE, Pope Nicholas I officially defined the engagement ring). That year, Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring to honor their engagement.
Fast forward to the late 1800s, and the iconic Tiffany & Co. jewelry business was getting ready to launch something monumental – the “Tiffany setting.” Their one-of-a-kind setting used six prongs to proudly display the gorgeous center stone, allowing light to enter it and create unmatched sparkle and fire. Until then, being able to see the entire gem wasn’t possible due to more structural, bezel-type settings. When Tiffany & Co. revolutionized the setting and put the focus on the gem itself, there was no going back. Many solitaire rings still use similar settings because, with a solitaire, it’s all about the bling.
A Look Back at History
Tiffany & Co. set the stage, but each decade had to put its own special twist on the solitaire ring. For example, the Art Deco movement loved geometric patterns that were bold and intricate. Many of these details were engraved directly into the band, adding interest to an otherwise simple solitaire ring. During the Great Depression, though, it was back to understated (affordable) rings featuring a plain band with a single stone. Smaller solitaire diamonds carried through into the 1940s, but smaller, feminine details like flower engravings were added.
Halfway through the century, glamor started to take over, and the trend shifted to larger, more opulent cushion-cut diamonds. De Beers launched their “a diamond is forever” campaign in 1947, which sealed the deal, and diamond engagement rings became the norm.
The solitaire ring never truly disappeared, though its popularity ebbed and flowed. For example, in the mid-1950s, many wanted to emulate Jacqueline Kennedy’s ring, which featured an emerald and emerald-cut diamond seated upon diamond-encrusted leaves. But the elegant solitaire persisted, though in many forms, like the square-shaped diamonds of the 1970s or the yellow gold set diamonds of the 1980s. The solitaire ring is again back on top thanks to a resurgence of minimalism in modern times!
The Solitaire Ring Today
But don’t mistake today’s solitaires for the “less-is-more” rings of the 1940s. Current designers have reimagined solitaire rings, pushing the boundaries of traditional design. Many still equate a solitaire ring with a round brilliant diamond as the quintessential solitaire engagement ring.
Nevertheless, feel free to break away from the traditional by exploring alternative gemstone choices. We love sapphires as popularized by Kate Middleton, a vintage-inspired emerald, or fancy-colored diamonds that have become a common choice for many modern celebrities.
Alternatively, you can change up your ring’s setting, metal choice, or band style. For example, hidden halos have become trendy for those who want to add extra sparkle. Split shank bands offer more detail while not venturing too far from the traditional solitaire design. Of course, picking between a cool-toned metal versus a warm one is perhaps the easiest way to make your ring reflect your style.
The Growing Trend of Customization and Personalization
What could make your ring more sentimental and special than customization and personalization? Whether it’s engraving, a striking gem cut or shape, or including side stones symbolizing each of your birthstones, these meaningful details can make your ring an enduring heirloom piece.
The Solitaire: Stylish and Sentimental Choice
There are many reasons why the solitaire ring has persisted through the decades. It’s the ideal canvas for creating a gorgeous engagement ring that captures your personality, taste, and unique love. Have fun exploring your options when it comes to design, details, gemstone choice, and metal, creating the perfect ring for your one-of-a-kind proposal.Read more: The Evolution of Solitaire Rings: From Classic to Contemporary