By Rachael Taylor
Nothing says engagement like a classic solitaire iced with a brilliant round white diamond, but for brides-to-be who want to nod to tradition without following the herd, unorthodox dark diamond engagement rings can offer a wonderfully offbeat solution.
These alternative engagement rings are still set with a single diamond, but you might not recognise it as such. It may be brownish or grey in colour, or perhaps cloudy or heavy with inclusions - specs of dirt trapped within diamonds that usually lower a stone’s value.
Rather than trying to cover up such imperfections with clever cuts, designers are championing their differences. “These diamonds are the underdogs, they come with a story,” says DECÏ London founder Dessy Tsolova, who caters for what she says is a growing alternative engagement ring market with diamond slices, lightly facetted rough stones, and darkly coloured included diamonds. “When I talk to people about the inclusions within stones, I call them wonder specks, because every time you look at them you see something different.” Tsolova says these designs attract couples seeking out an alternative to the mainstream, but who still want a diamond engagement ring. “It is a diamond, but it doesn’t look like a diamond,” she says.
While these stones can offer a more affordable option when compared to their more sparkling cousins, they can still be a luxurious purchase - particularly rough diamonds. The Embrace collection of unique engagement rings by New York brand Diamond in the Rough wraps rough diamonds within a crossover of platinum or gold, set with polished diamond pavé. The most expensive ring in the collection wraps a 4.2ct rough diamond in 18ct yellow gold and has a price tag of US$45,000.
“The value of the natural, rough diamond dictates the overall value, whether it goes on to become a polished diamond or not,” says founder Daniel Eskapa, who says that the most common question he faces from clients is about the value of the stones. “It is commonly believed that the cut of a diamond determines the price, however the price always lies in the value of the original diamond itself. Just like polished diamonds, carat, clarity and colour are also considered when assessing the value of a rough diamond.”
These alternative diamond engagement rings are certainly an acquired taste, but for brides confident enough to turn tradition on its head, the sentiment they embody of finding perfection in imperfection is a beautiful message to carry into married life.