By Rachael Taylor
If you like your diamonds like your men, and you fiancé is not exactly the suited and booted type, then a rough diamond might be just the unique engagement ring the two of you are looking for.
“I was never much of a sparkly girl myself,” says Beth Cyr, a designer-maker in Athens, Georgia, who specialises in jewellery made from recycled precious materials. “Although I have grown to appreciate the beauty of a clean and faceted stone, I really love rough stones.”
Cyr, whose designs include grey raw diamonds submerged in hammered gold bands, is one of a number of jewellers eschewing traditional cut and polished diamonds in favour of alternative engagement rings set with rough stones.
“Uncut diamonds always appeal to the less traditional bride – a woman who loves the symbolism of a diamond but wants something a little rougher and more organic to complement her unique style,” says Olivia Ewing, who studied design in Paris before setting up a jewellery workshop in Brooklyn, New York. “Guys often say to me that they really want to get their girlfriend a diamond but just can’t see her wearing something sparkly, which makes her the perfect candidate for an uncut stone.”
As rough diamonds are not faceted or polished, their shapes are irregular, and as such fit well with organic, handmade ring designs. New York jeweller Todd Reed, whose tagline is raw elegance, has some fantastic examples.
Often rough diamond engagement rings have a little help from polished stones. Oregon’s Chinchar Maloney has set an internally flawless, K-colour octahedron-shaped rough diamond – the shape deemed the best to work with by diamond cutters, making it even more special to be left untouched –within a squared bezel studded with round brilliants.
Seattle’s Point No Point Studio also plays on this theme with an engagement ring that has a 1ct rough diamond at its centre, looped by a halo of uniformly faceted gems.“The inspiration for the halo setting is the contrast between cut stones and diamonds in their most raw form,” says Point No Point designer and founder Julie Stark. “It’s like the ring is telling its own origin story.”
Stark speaks of rough diamonds as being magical, and that’s a description reiterated by international jewellery house De Beers. While explaining the inspiration behind its Talisman rough diamond jewellery collection, which was extended this year, De Beers refers to the ancient past when rough diamonds were used by royalty to bring good luck and prosperity.
If De Beers’ tales of talismanic powers are true, rough diamond engagement rings may offer so much more than a break with marital convention.