By Åse Anderson
The designer engagement ring of your dreams is literally just a swipe away thanks to the new high-tech bridal apps available on most smartphones or tablets.
From the comfort of your home you can browse thousands of unique engagement rings, creating wish lists and sharing your finds with friends and family.
Tiffany & Co. was one of the first to launch a bridal jewellery app five years ago and the American jeweller continues to set the benchmark when it comes to innovative, interactive features. In iconic duck egg blue, its easy-to-use app allows you to scroll through a selection of 50 Tiffany engagement rings and compare what they look like set with different-sized diamonds, from 0.25ct to 2.5ct. The rings can be viewed up close or actual size and from various angles, and even with your choice of wedding band.
The recently launched ring sizer allows users to physically place a ring on the screen and align it with a circle - in Tiffany blue, of course - to determine its size. Brides-to-be can also have hours of fun with the "Try it on" feature. Take a photo of your hand on your phone or tablet and see what style of Tiffany engagement ring best suits you. Personally, I'm rather tempted by the Harmony round brilliant diamond engagement ring with a tapered platinum band that suits my pale skin tone and elongates my finger.
Tiffany & Co. is by no means the only jeweller to dip its toe into the wonderful world of bridal apps. The average British household now owns at least one smartphone while 7 out of 10 households also have a tablet. These devices are often the first port of call to research products, including designer engagement rings and wedding bands, before committing to a purchase.
Launched last summer, the Chaumet Marriage app features the French jeweller's extensive selection of unique engagement rings, wedding bands and bridal jewellery. There is also a "For Him" section with watches, cufflinks and rings aimed at the groom. The simple, chic layout makes the app easy to navigate and users can browse Chaumet engagement rings, from Joséphine and Liens to Bee My Love, and narrow down their choice by diamond cut or carat size. Again, rings can be saved as favourites and shared via email, Facebook or Pinterest.
The De Beers bridal app uses four simple steps to guide brides-to-be through the process of choosing a De Beers engagement ring, including matching it to a wedding band or eternity ring and selecting bridal jewellery for the wedding day. It also features videos of diamond experts explaining the 4 Cs and advising what to look for when selecting a designer engagement ring.
De Beers recently launched another app as part of its in store "For You, Forever" bespoke engagement ring service. The in-store iPad tool allows customers to view each diamond individually through the De Beers iris that replicates different light conditions to demonstrate the beauty and sparkle of the gemstone.
Stylish and unique engagement rings are a mere click away with Van Cleef & Arpels' bridal app, designed to be used exclusively on iPads. With dreamy graphics and romantic music playing in the background, a cute butterfly flutters from one ring to another, taking you through the Maison's bridal jewellery offer, including the iconic beaded Perlé rings. A comprehensive ring size guide caters for customers based in five different regions, including the UK and US, while the FAQ section helps demystify the world of diamond engagement rings.
While it's true that nothing can replicate that feeling when you slip the perfect diamond ring onto your finger, these bridal apps certainly come close. Most importantly, they're great for helping turn the process of choosing an engagement ring from daunting to fun.