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Classic vs. Modern Engagement Rings: Which is Best for You?

classic engagement rings, contemporary diamonds, engagement rings, modern engagement rings
4/2/2021
Classic vs. Modern Engagement Rings: Which is Best for You?

With so many available options, it can be difficult to choose the perfect piece of jewelry that will stay on your finger for a lifetime. As one of the most important purchases of your life, it’s important to select an engagement ring that will suit your ever-evolving style and make you feel comfortable for decades to come. Read on for recommendations for choosing between modern and classic engagement ring styles.

More Options than Ever

With the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, modern consumers have been exposed to glam shots of engagement rings with everything from black diamonds and cathedral shanks to rare colored gemstones and even rings with eye-catching coffin-shaped salt-and-pepper diamonds. This has shattered the perception of what an engagement ring "should” look like.

At the same time, plenty of brides-to-be still prefer traditional looks over contemporary designs. Much of this depends on the person’s individual style. Whether you prefer something minimal or edgy, timeless or unique, it helps to know your available options. It all starts with understanding what to expect from modern or contemporary ring styles.

Classic vs. Contemporary

One of the biggest differences between classic engagement rings and modern engagement rings is the way the diamonds are cut. A gemstone's cut refers to how the many angles and "facets" work together to reflect light. A diamond’s cut helps determine its brightness, fire and beauty. A well-cut stone is perfectly proportional and made to maximize the light return of the gem.

Classic engagement rings traditionally feature a diamond gemstone with a princess, round or oval cut. Depending on the design, some may have more distinctive, ornate vintage styles, while many are more simple and understated like a solitaire setting.

For a vintage ring, there's even more to consider. Since vintage diamonds were often cut deeper, they usually appear smaller than contemporary diamonds with similar carat weight. Many vintage diamond cuts, such as the old mine cut, for instance, were cut so they would sparkle in candlelight since there was little, if any, electricity available at the time. This is why vintage diamonds will usually have a different kind of sparkle to them that can often feel a bit warmer.

Today, contemporary diamonds are cut to be brilliant, and this is why most feature cuts like round brilliant and princess. Modern diamonds are almost always cut in a way that maximizes their light return.

Dazzle modern engagement ring by John Atencio

The Dazzle Engagement Ring by John Atencio blends a halo design with art deco influence--a perfect example of contemporary ring style

With all that said, it’s important to note that “classic” doesn’t always mean vintage. The most popular current trend in engagement rings is actually a sort of updated retro style. A good example is shiny platinum rings crafted in soft floral styles that are somewhat reminiscent of the 1960s.

“Classic” engagement rings essentially mean any style that was common in the past, whether it was a decade or a century ago. Quite often, classic styles are simply a large solitaire diamond on a simple, plain band, or some type of variation, such as one princess-cut diamond in a relatively plain band.

Which Is Best for Me?

The style of your ideal engagement ring depends on your unique preference and personality more than anything else. You can purchase just about any basic style of ring on almost any budget, so it’s generally best to initially focus your attention on an overall look.

Would you prefer a ring that’s modern with channel set diamonds? Would you rather have a warm, bronze-colored gold ring with colorful diamonds that would fit flawlessly amid a renaissance-themed engagement party? Maybe you’d like a soft yellow gold ring featuring lovely floral patterns. These are the types of thoughts that can get some ideas flowing.

Imagine yourself at all the places you go, surrounded by the people in your life. What would others expect of you? Would you like to meet their expectations or raise eyebrows by bucking your own personal trends? Whatever the case, your ring should be a statement of your personality while also blending harmoniously with your existing wardrobe.

Of course, money is often a major factor for many people. A second-hand vintage ring may be less expensive than a brand new platinum engagement ring that looks like your favorite piece of contemporary art. That said, classic, understated rings will typically retain more of their value and usually fit better with modern ensembles.

In the end, only you can choose whether to go trendy, modern or classic. It can help, however, to have input from a skilled designer. As a talented artist and seasoned jeweler, John Atencio brings a unique perspective to the design of every engagement ring. It all begins with a uniquely inspired, hand-sketched design and ultimately results in a stunning piece of artistry made to reflect your distinctive taste and lifestyle.

Visit one of our locations where our attentive experts can guide you toward the one best ring for your one-of-a-kind love story.